December 22, 2011

Chaos Party Special 2011

I finally have enough time around the holidays to put my notes together into a blog post. Although I was excited to see Amagami SS seiyuu, Chaos Party Special 2011 was the first "real event" for me. After all, the main reason I even considered a 2nd trip to Japan this year was to go to some Sakura Saori events.

This year's Chaos Party was hosted on November 20th at Kawasaki Club Citta, a venue with special significance since it was where the first ever UNDER17 live DVD was filmed.

I arrived early to buy ave;new goods, and met up with friends @mandimandi and @eliasross in line soon after.

Around 1pm they started letting us in by number order. The hall is pretty big as far as live houses go, about the size and shape of a tennis court. A large otagei pen (about 20 ft x 20ft) was squarely in the center-rear area of the floor and labeled as such and there was a balcony on the far end with seating where staff and guests could look over the floor. I was only able to recognize ave;new's a.k.a.dRESS there.

The performance stage was flanked by two huge speakers. It was low and wide, with enough room so all the band members had their own personal space. A cleared area in the center was for the main singer, but due to lowness it was not possible to see the lower half of anyone that night.

First up was Riryka. She appeared to be popular with fangirls who were constantly yelling "Riryka-sama" but I didn't know her songs at all. She had a big black costume and a bit of a gothic theme going on. As soon as the music hit, the room lit up with lights of every color and people started jumping everywhere. I took a moment to really appreciate the kind of atmosphere these events create since the crowd for the last concert I went to just a few months ago (Montreal) was so lethargic. Her songs had more of a "cool" feeling to it so at first it didn't really seem suited for calls but the group somehow made it work.

1. 硝子のLoneliness
2. In the Dark
3. Bravin' Bad Brew

For her last song, Riryka introduced marie, a popular singer from various game openings for a duet. I sort-of knew her thanks to listening to GWAVE compilation series but wasn't too familiar with her set list today except the last song. Marie performed 4 songs, and drew some impressive degree color coordination of glowsticks. Koi no recipe went all pink and went over well, but Clover Heart's was the most popular. There was loud cheers when she announced it and everyone switched to green lights and yelled out lines of the chorus. The screams of "Clovers Hearts" were deafening.

4.Double Moon, World Fusion
6.battle royal
7.Clover Heart's

After marie, the lights went out and a shadowy figure came on the stage without introduction. At first, the silhouette made it look like she had huge hair but the lights came on to reveal Sakura Saori in a red dress and a gigantic frilly bow on her head. "Now it's my turn" she yelled in her ridiculously high voice. I was starstruck immediately. I saw Saori once before at Anisama 2008, but circumstances were different back then. 1. She was so far away I could barely see her, and 2. I was only a casual ave;new fan at the time. Now that I've drank the ave;new koolaid and Saori herself was less than 20 feet away I was going "ohshit-ohshit-ohshit it's really Saori, it's REALLY Sakura Saori." This is one of those moments that you can only get one or two experiences per artist when you FINALLY see them live after years of anticipation (Momoi at AX in 2007, KOTOKO in 2010) or something insanely awesome and unexpected happens (Momoi at Hawaii and Fanime in 2009). I thought I was used to that voice from radio by now but hearing her do it live during MCs in person was unreal. It's just so insanely, mind-bogglingly high.

Once I got over my giddiness, I joined with a huge group of ave;new fans in cheering. Being an ave;new fan in the US is so very lonely, and sometimes you feel like you are the ONLY fan in the entire area. But in Japan, that is not the case at all. There were so many people wearing ave;new shirts and wristbands that I'd estimate close to 20 percent of Chaos Party attendees considered ave;new the primary draw of the event.

Saori started off with true my heart aka "kishimen" (by her own admission). It's a truly difficult song to sing properly. I know from torturing a captive audience at karaoke with my failed attempts in terribad falsetto (sorry everyone ^^) but that's another story. Even Saori has a little trouble hitting all the notes singing and dancing live, but compared to the 2008 performance at Anisama, it was a lot better. It's very clear her singing has improved to a other new level, so those years of voice coaching weren't for nothing. Plus there was no random DJ going "What, what" this time. The choice of Eternal Wish was also very good.

8. true my heart
9. Eternal Wish
10. 超越↑↑恋してナイしょ☆メア!!

Before announcing the final song, Saori asked if she could request a small favor from the audience. She sang a bar from the song and requested "When I say 'Chu chu chu chuu chu chu chu', you jump and say 'Ole'" Everyone erupted in "OOOOOOOH" from recognition. The band went into overdrive, many UOs were cracked and the next 5 minutes were intense. At the end, while still doing her signature voice, Saori thanked everyone for coming and gave a tiny shout out to American fans (us) that she knew were in the crowd.

Next was AiRI, the artist formerly known as UR@N, probably most familiar to western fans as the singing voice for Kirari in Kira Kira. I last saw her at AX in 2010 where she performed in a traditional yukata, but here she was wearing more rockish clothing and had longer hair. She played three songs, none of which I knew, but I do enjoy AiRI's high pitched singing style (a different type of "high" than Shaori), and they were all very catchy and had an immediately recognizable style to them similar to the d2b songs I knew. Usually, I never really get excited for songs I hear for the 1st time and it always takes a few tries for something to grow on me, but her setlist was good enough that I could appreciate even listening to it once. During MCs, she was pretty coy with her name change, pretending as if she were an industry newcomer and then "surprising" people with her past identity while the audience humored her. "You know, I used to have a different name." She even had us redo some of her old UR@N chants swapped with her new name and had the whole crowd going "Airi-chaaaannn." She did end up giving a pretty sincere sounding speech about how this was a major year for her though and thanking everyone for supporting her for so long.

11. 運命
12. learn together
13. Pieces
14. Reincarnation ver.2011

For the last song, she called up ASTLYRE. I didn't know ASTLYRE or what to expect, but he turned out to be a guitar player and acted as an extra band member for the next few songs. Once AiRI finished up, Ishida Yoko took her place. At first we were surprised she only did one song but then realized it was really just ASTLYRE's set cycling through artists.

15. Over Beat ver.2011

After Ishida, a short rotund woman in a poncho came onto the stage. To my suprise, the audience started shouting Rekka. So it came as news to me that woman was in fact the respected Katakira Rekka well known among various circles. In photos online, her face was always hidden behind a cat mask. The poncho was a very odd and visually jarring choice for live attire, but I guess maybe she's a little self-conscious about herself. Not that voice fans really care that much. Certainly, there were a lot of Rekka fans in the crowd and she got a big reaction for almost every song, especially Tamayura. The opening of the last song was particularly amazing and I was marking out unbelievably hard for how well they built up the tension. It's a cool song in its own right, but when I listened to it late on Youtube I realized I had been permanently spoiled by the live band version.

16. ときめき☆ガーディアン ver.2011
17. Fate Through The Regret
18. パラダイムシフト
19. 魂響

There was a much needed intermission after the triple combo of Saori, AiRI, and Rekka. During the break, we moved to the back to escape from the heat and desperately fan ourselves and exchange drink tickets. Since most of the artists we were interested in already performed, we were planning to hang back rather than suffer the front again for the last few artists we wanted to see, but then YURIA came out right away so we squeezed back in.

YURIA said she thought a long time about what kind of songs to play from her long and varied career. These years she has been part of Pinky Doodle Poodle, which I admit I haven't really followed, but she decided to close out her set with a specially picked song from her Honey Bee days: Plastic Smile. According to her, it's a song she hasn't played in a long time so I felt very lucky to hear it this trip.

21. Samsara
22. プラスチックスマイル

Next was milktub. bamboo, who AX con-goers are probably very familiar with, came out to join the rest of the band members (who had been playing for every artist) in full makeup while wearing Mickey Mouse pants/gloves/ears over a skin tight black body suit that showed off a prominent gut. During Amaenbo Shogun, he actually changed out of his Mickey gear and came back with a topknot wig and shogun outfit (while still wearig the black bodysuit). He also brought out a dakimakura of what appeared to a grotesquely muscular naked 2D version of himself as a prop.

Bamboo is actually more popular than I thought, and everything he sang had custom moves to it which became fun to imitate even when I didn't know the songs. Unlike other sets, he also did a lot of talking with fans between each song. During one MC, he started attacked us with various imaginary guns and swords (think of Yukarin's meromero stick) and got all the band members to come up with their own unique slashes.

23. 月曜はキライ
24. 甘えん坊将軍~大奥は抱き枕編~
25. バカ・ゴー・ホーム

Baka Go Home was the most energetic out of those, but there were a LOT of milktub shirts in the room so almost every song went over pretty well. Following milktub was Misato Aki, looking a lot older and and sounding more polished than from when I first saw her at Anisama. She actually has a lot of singles and albums for someone who was only active the last few years, and she has been to many many overseas conventions (several in Asia and South America, one in the US). Unfortunately I couldn't really get myself interested in her style so I went through this set mostly on autopilot.

26. 最後のエデン
27. Jewelry tears
28. Spread Wings

Already having done one song earlier with ASTLYRE, Ishida Yoko returned to finish up her set with 3 songs. Oddly, I did consider myself a casual fan of Ishida Yoko, but I only knew her "official works" from anime OPs and Para Para stuff. So I went in expecting that, but instead I didn't recognize a single song she performed that day and was left slightly disappointed. Carnival was decent though, even hearing it for the first time. Later I found out from friends that they were all songs released under her alternate NANA name.

29. Carnival
30. 恋する神通力
31. 太陽のプロミア

Just as I was getting slightly bored, the legendary last act Satou Hiromi came out. Back in the day, I was a huge Hiromi fan, and before the live I was a bit afraid I wasn't up to date on her newer stuff - as always due to a lack of time. But as soon as she started the first song, those worries melted away and I knew I was in for an awesome ride.

32. Angelic Symphony
33. Guri Guri
34. ラブレター

That's right, that set list does not lie: fucking "Angelic Symphony" with a live band ~hoooleeeee shit~. And then Green Green OP and Love Letter? I don't know how many times I looped those songs in my teenage years. And the best part was all of these work really well with a live band. In half an hour, I pretty much relived my high school senior year. Hiromi-nee's performance style is great too. She was going all over the stage like a rockstar and really pumped the crowd into a frenzy. It was an excellent choice to end the show with her and I consider it my second favorite performance all night after ave;new. A general theme for MCs from these veteran artists was showing a lot of gratitude to fans for their long careers and Hiromi-nee followed suit.

After, there was a brief wait and relatively short encore chant before everyone came back out to perform the last song. Though, it was mostly just Hiromi who actually had the microphone so everyone else was doing background vocals.

35. ハローグッバイ

Finally, there was one last send-off where everyone lined up and each artist said a couple of parting words, the usual thanks and goodbyes while bamboo acted to organize them all. Once all the artists said what they wanted, everyone took a bow and the event came to a close.

Overall, it was a very fun event, and one that I'd definitely consider going to again next year if my schedule permits. Although there were some slow parts, the focus of the event around a narrow range of music kind of helped keep more boring points to a minimum (unlike the bigger range of Animelo). Additionally, the time of 5 hours was just on the limit of satisfying exhaustion without going too long, and that long time was helped by good distribution of bigger name artist appearances throughout the show instead of stacking them all at the end. As for sound quality, it was pretty clean, but a bit too loud - 2 hours later after dinner, my ears were still ringing. I picked up some earplugs the next day.

Event goods purchased:

ave;new T-shirt, towel, and wristband set with bonus postcard

Chaos Party T-Shirt and towel

Posted by Paranda at December 22, 2011 4:20 PM


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