(More posts to come, about older goings-on, but since I had this one written already, I decided to go ahead and post it)
July 5th was the Alice Nine Fan Club Only ‘FLASH LIGHT from the Past’ concert. In hindsight, it really wasn’t all that different than other Alice Nine concerts, not to say I didn’t have a blast! Tour merchandise, as always, went on sale earlier than admission, starting at 3 o’clock. The various members of Alice Nine had actually designed special T-shirts for this fan club only concert, all but Tora’s using photographs Hiroto himself had taken (his shirt actually had a picture of his own lips on it, though it was graphic-designed up to look trendy and flashy). Unfortunately, not wanting to wait around for 3 ½ hours, I decided to wait until 4 to go, and by the time I got there, all the T-shirts were sold out. : (
I might mention that on top of rain, the humidity was about 130% on top of the 90 something degree temperature outside and everyone, packed in the first floor of Shibuya O-East, trying to stay out of the rain, was sweaty and all but melting. I was lucky in managing to secure a locker (though it cost $3 every time you open it), so for the first time ever, I didn’t have any baggage when I went into the venue.
Because of the sheer number of people packed in, they started admitting everyone a little early, and with ticket number 435, I was let in well before half of the crowd got through. Earlier, when I bought my obligatory towel, pamphlet and other goods, I had to get my ticket stamped and show my Fan Club ID card, so by the time I got up the stairs, it was no time before I was in the venue.
After a minimal amount of weasel-ing my way through the crowd, I managed to get closer to the stage than I ever have at any concert ever. I was dead center, fourth person from the stage (though by the end of it, I was a bit farther back). I met a nice Canadian girl who lives here, and we chatted for the remaining time before the live kicked off. As is always the way, the concert didn’t start on time, but after a 15 min. delay, the lights went off, everyone screamed, and a piercing, blinding, rotating circle of lights shot out toward the audience. In due time, the members came on stage.
I won’t give the blow-by-blow of every song and everything that happened, as the concert was 3 ½ hours long and it would take forever (and I’d be sure to forget something any way). But, suffice it to say, I was close enough to see the sweat running down their faces, the intricate detailing on their costumes, and the glitter on Saga’s half exposed chest (that’s Saga for you).
At one point, toward the end, Shou attempted a stage dive that didn’t quite work out since no one was really expecting it and it turned out being a surprise to everyone involved. Had I been adamant enough, like some people, I could have leapt over the tiny Asian next to me and touched his arm or something, but I heeded the advice of the stage hand when he asked everyone to get back and helped Shou back on stage. After that, during the encore, Saga attempted a stage dive and pulled it off successfully. For my part, I’m not much of a mosher or headbanger myself, but that didn’t stop me from getting shoved around and stepped on until I bled (my poor shoe choice for the night didn’t help). But who am I kidding, it was SO worth it.
The Mcing was long and I can’t really remember much of what was said. Saga talked about his computer, Nao talked about Akihabara, Hiroto talked about his photos and designing the T-shirts, Tora hardly talked at all. Same old, same old. However, at one point the band made as if they were going to go off stage, and then, as Nao, always the last to exit, was about to disappear behind the curtain, he jogged backwards to his place behind the drums, and in due time, Saga came back out and, taking up his bass, led a chorus of ‘Happy Birthday to You.’ It was Shou’s birthday after all, and as Tora pushed him back out on stage, from the opposite side, Hiroto and their manager came wheeling out a two tier cake decorated with tall, lit candles. The band and the audience sang another chorus, the lights dimmed, and Shou blew out the candles, or at least attempted to. Everyone congratulated him and Hiroto handed him a fan which was decorated on one side with Shou’s angel bunny, and on the other had all the bands icon characters. Shou had to use this to extinguish the few obstinate, straggling candles that remained lit. It came out then that Nao had hand made the cake, and upon looking at it closer from my standpoint, I could just make out the homemade-ish icing job, and the green gel flowers decorating the sides. Shou stuck his finger in it and pulled out a chunk, tasting it and proclaiming it delicious, then after saying he was so happy about the homemade cake (‘Meccha Ureshi desu’), he jogged up behind the drums and gave Nao a hug. There was a little more talking, then Shou started singing Happy Birthday again, and everyone was baffled. Confused as we were, the audience took up the song halfway through and discovered, by Shou’s lead, that we were singing this time for Saga, who’s birthday just passed. Then, from the side of the stage where Shou had earlier emerged, their manager wheeled out another cake with candles, unlit, that was covered with roses and carnations. Hiroto stepped forward to light the candles and Nao explained how everyone felt bad that Saga’s birthday didn’t fall on the day of a concert (nor does Hiroto’s it would seem, as he proclaimed himself jealous), and so they thought they’d make up for it tonight by celebrating it then. Saga, embarrassed, protested that they shouldn’t have gone through the trouble, then blew out the candles and received his fan, saying he’d been suspicious of Hiroto for a while, thinking he might have something planned.
After that the concert got underway again. Shou, in reference to a promise months ago in a magazine interview he’d done with Tora, actual did some Djing with two turntables that had been set up on stage, playing with the commercial jingle for Meiji chocolate (the choco-la-to song). That got everyone stirred up again.
They finished with an encore of heavy songs and after exiting the stage, the lights stayed off and two big screams began playing the music video for ‘Senkou,’ which was phenomenal and only reconfirms my suspicions of it being my all time favorite Alice Nine song. (During the concert, they had also played the other new songs on their new, unreleased album, btw). After the video was over, there was a short montage of pictures of Nao, with his red hair and oversized sunglasses, baking Shou’s cake, and then the lights went up and it was over.
Standing there I felt like I was either going to suffocate or die from the heat (you were pretty much drinking in body heat the whole 3 ½ hours without letup, but thankfully, it didn’t take too long for everyone to filter out.
Instead of spending the money on train fare, I decided to go ahead and walk through the heat back home, since the venue was already sort of down that direction. From downtown Shibuya, it takes about 25 min. to walk to my apartment, but I decided I’d much rather contend with the heat at a slow pace, then with packed trains in Shibuya, and since it wasn’t raining, I just walked home. After stopping by the conbini (convenience store) across the street from my place and buying the customary soda, carton of Jasmine Tea, small individual ice cream and spicy udon with gyoza that you just heat up (the same thing I get after every concert, without fail), I hurried into my cool apartment and collapsed.