After having such a tremendous time at Emox4’s one-man live last week, I really wanted to catch them again as soon as possible. Luckily for me the group had a full slate of appearances scheduled during the current week, so it wasn’t a matter of “if” I would see them, it was a matter of which event…
I kinda bricked on seeing them Tuesday at Otsuka Hearts, which is really close to where I live. It just slipped my mind until Wednesday. I didn’t seriously consider their Wednesday show in Roppongi either, which left Thursday and Friday in Akihabara and Shinjuku. Thursday morning I was itching to get out of the house, so I decided the Akiba show would be a good choice. 800 yen plus two drinks, and I get a 2-shot cheki with that. Not a bad deal at all! I made my online reservation and received the usual enthusiastic response (from their manager?) thanking me and saying they looked forward to me being there.
I headed to Akihabara in the early evening. This particular idol show was titled “Akihabara Meister Vol. 1,” whatever that means. There were eight groups on the schedule, with Emox4 scheduled to appear last at 9 p.m. I figured I would show up around 8 p.m. or so, and catch the last few groups. Aside from Emox4, and Baka Shinu (who opened for Emox4 in Shibuya last week) I didn’t know any of the other groups, although I had heard of Aphrodite. I stopped off at The Hub near Akihabara Station for a couple cocktails and a light dinner before heading over to the venue…
Akiba Colors is on the far Northeastern outskirts of Akihabara off of Showa Dori. In fact it isn’t even in Chiyoda Ward, as their address is listed in Taito-ku. Still, it’s a less than 10-minute walk from Akihabara Station. As I walked up the street I could hear the music playing from a couple doors down. It was a quiet neighborhood, with one guy (one of the other group managers) outside smoking by the door. Just then I saw Emox4’s manager come outside. I knew I was in the right place. I went to check-in at the door, and the guy immediately knew who I was. (probably the only foreign name on the manifest) He got a kick out of me wearing the concert shirt from the Emox4 show last week. I paid my admission, got my two drink tickets, and headed in….
Oh my! This is probably the tiniest venue I have ever been in. I’m trying to think of a smaller venue. Ikebukuro Yes might come close, but you couldn’t put 100 people in this place. The stage was tiny, the fan area was tiny, and the bar and soundboard were shoved into an alcove in the corner. My original plan was to see the last three (or four) acts, but I entered in time to hear the fourth artist on the bill, a soloist named Mikicco finish her final song. Apparently they were running late, since according to the schedule it should’ve been the middle of the fifth group’s performance. So I guess I would be watching the 2nd half of the show in its entirety. Aside from Emox4, I had never really seen any of these groups before. (Baka Shinu had already performed) Actually I saw one of them briefly in Yokohama last weekend, but this was going to be a bit of an adventure. I will briefly describe the other three acts…
Unlike all the other groups I saw, this quartet were pretty much straight idols. No goth, no hard rock edge, just standard, cute pop. Their vocal skills left a bit to be desired. However, there was one member in particular who I found to be quite pretty. Her name is Asahi, and she was significantly taller than the other three (a running theme for the night) The group has a few indie releases, and have been around for at least a couple years. There was one cute moment toward the end of their set where one of the members (Seira) noticed my Emox4 shirt and started gesturing at me. By the way, she was the other member I liked since she had a huge smile on her face for pretty much the entirety of the performance.
This group walked by me while I was watching the previous act, and I was immediately struck by the tall member with platinum blonde hair. I wondered “Is this a foreign group?” as my initial impression was that she wasn’t Japanese. According to their official site they are a 5-nin act, although there were only four of them there; three chibi girls and the tall blonde. Speaking of the blonde, her name is Yomiga Eru, 170cm (I think that’s a low estimate) and from Fukushima Prefecture. The three smaller members were quite cute, especially the one in pink (Himeno) but Eru without a doubt had the biggest stage presence. As for their sound, definitely a hard rock style, but with a bit of an electronic angle. In fact, if I were to give the group some constructive criticism, it’s that their stage presence didn’t really match the music. Perhaps a costume change? Or maybe a bit more intensity. According to their website they are fairly new, so they have room to grow. I actually saw this group at the A-rin Collection idol live event in Yokohama last weekend, but only briefly.
I should also note when researching them I found what looked like a different group with the exact same name, as well as this one. I’m not sure what the relationship is, or if the one female member of the other group is also part of this one, but it was a completely different dynamic. (They were more like a band) Although the musical style wasn’t completely different, so I don’t know.
Let me begin by emphatically stating that I love this group’s look. Their costumes are “goth” without being too goth. Moreover, they are really sexy. The moment they came out I thought “these girls are on another level!” Their music was intense; heavy bass, gothic rock. In fact the bass was so heavy at times it was vibrating the entire room. Moreover, they were all extremely attractive. However, the group dynamic was a bit different from most idol acts. One member was definitely the main singer, then there was a second member who functioned as a secondary lead singer. The other three members mainly functioned as backup and chorus vocalists. I’m not sure why they chose that dynamic, but it made me feel sorry for the other three members. The two lead singers are quite capable, and the entire group embodies the theme and intensity of their music quite well.
By the way, their official site has very little info about the members, not even their names. The site also lists them as 4-nin, although there were five members performing. I’m wondering if the fifth member was brand new? She did sorta seem like she was “learning the ropes.” Not to mention she was at least 180+cm tall. Overall I like Aphrodite, and would see them again, although there was no member in particular who captured my fancy.
At one point in the show I headed to the “bar” for the first of my two drinks. The bar consisted of a refrigerator filled with canned drinks (both alcoholic and non-alcoholic) and their feature cocktail, shots of Jagermeister (I guess this explains the show’s title, XD) I have had “Jager” once in my life, and I woke up with a huge headache the next day, so I stuck with mango chu-hi for both my pre-paid drinks.
I also want to get one thing off my chest. Some otaku have this annoying habit of trying to ‘shoehorn’ the common idol mixes and chants into songs where they don’t belong at all. I noticed it with both AtoR and Aphrodite. I kept wondering “You are doing that at this point in the song? Why???” It was mainly that “slide up, slide down, <clap> <clap> uwa uwa” chant that is really popular these days. Please guys, stop forcing mixes when they don’t belong!
There was really no down time between groups, so I immediately tried to slide over to where Minase usually hangs out on stage, but I was blocked by three fans coming from the other direction. The strange thing is I could’ve easily gotten right next to the stage had I gone to the right. I notice this a lot, and not only with Emox4, but it seems as if the fans like to crowd themselves on the left side at a lot of shows I attend. Anyway, the members came out, and Minase was on the right! She moved over to her usual position a short time later. It was a 25-minute set, and it seemed like the first half was mainly their less-intense numbers. However, the show came to a fiery crescendo with their signature ‘audience participation’ song. Both Minase and Yui joining the fans in the audience. Minase had been trying to high-five me from the stage throughout the show, but I was a little too far way. But once she came down into the crowd she was all over me, at one point grabbing my green lightstick, which I had brought just for her. After the fans had expended most of their energy the group did one more song before the end of the show.
I grabbed my second drink as they were setting up for buppan. I’m not sure where the first four groups held their handshake/2-shot event, but it was not inside the venue. I positioned myself close to Emox4’s table while their manager got everything ready, so I would be close to the front of the line. Despite the small area, they had spaced the four groups out very well so there wasn’t too much of a clusterf**k. I mean it wasn’t perfect, but I’ve seen worse. While I was waiting I was watching Aphrodite do buppan at the next table. As I expected, most everyone was there for the two main girls. In fact, I couldn’t tell if the tall member was crying, or just hot, but she looked really uncomfortable. I considered offering her the uchiwa I had with me, but I didn’t want to lose my place. Yuiyui was calling the names of people who had earned free cheki tickets, and tentatively called my name. (she got the “Chris” part right, but mangled the “topher”) I told her she can just call me Kurisu. Anyway, after she handed out all the tickets Yui informed me that Minase showed her my blog, and she really liked it. I thanked her, and told her about the article I wrote for the Japan Times, and she should check it out too. A short time later the lane markers came out, and I was handed Minase’s. Cool, I was going first!
The irony of her message while I am making a goofy face, XD
Their manager took the photo by the table, then instructed us to move over toward the bar. As Minase was signing my photo she was telling me she really liked the post I wrote about their one-man live. She then pulled a slip of paper out of her pocket. What’s this???
Minase proceeded to read a speech she had prepared for me entirely in English. Apparently she saw my reservation, even complimenting that I do it entirely in Japanese. So she knew I was coming, and decided to prepare something. She basically said, in English, that she was happy I came to see her, she likes my blog, that I have a nice smile, and am very kind, thanking me for supporting her. It was extremely thoughtful of her, and I was really appreciative. She also gave me her speech notes as a keepsake, how cute!
I was almost tempted to buy another ticket for her on the heels of that incredible experience. But it was late, and I wanted to be getting along home. A small storm was passing through the area. Luckily I had an umbrella with me.
It’s interesting, Minase is a classic case of the concept “The idol chooses you.” I probably wouldn’t have ever found this group had she not mustered the courage to come up and talk to me on the street in Shibuya one fateful night. And now six months later I have developed quite the idol-fan relationship with her. She is really a sweet girl, and I caught on to that the first time I met her. I mean I get idols handing my flyers and trying to talk to me all the time, but this was one of those times where it paid dividends.
As I mentioned earlier in the post, Emox4 have another live scheduled for Friday night in Kabuki-cho. It’s a free live (plus one drink) so I am thinking about going. I’ll decide later today.
CK in Tokyo