For anyone interested:
Kyary Pamyu Pamyu @ UNSW Roundhouse, 23 March 2014
On Sunday I went to see Kyary. I wasn’t really looking forward to it, since I only really listen to her music out of some allegiance to Nakata. I can’t even do that well. Despite owning the albums and most of the singles, there’s a lot of songs I’m not familiar with. Many of the songs annoy the hell out of me, and there’s not a day that goes by where ‘Minna No Uta’ isn’t stuck in my head, which I consider a hate crime.
Also, the concert had been moved from the Sydney Metro (a great smallish venue, where I often go to see “real” bands. I was there for chvrches last month for example) to the much bigger UNSW Roundhouse to accommodate for demand. The Metro is great because you can see the stage no matter where you are in the crowd. The Roundhouse is the opposite. Anyway.
We arrived at the venue at the opening time of 7pm. My sister is a Nakata fan who loves Kyary the most of all his artists, so she was very excited to be there. I also dragged along my fiance, since she is even less interested in Kyary than me and I was being sadistic. The line to get in the doors was about 500m long (since they were funneling people in one at a time). It gave me a good chance to check out the type of crowd that Kyary can draw. I figured there might be quite a few Japanese people in attendance (Sydney has one of the highest percentages of Asian immigrants and visitors of any city, mainly because we are the closest Western country, and also have a “working holiday” visa, but I digress). Anyhow, it.. was mostly just Western kids wearing lolita stuff. There were a lot of families as well (it was an all ages show). Also I saw more than one person dressed up as Sailor Moon. Because Japan? Some guy had the audacity to point and laugh at me because I was wearing a pink t-shirt. Presumably his poor little mind was about to get blown by the sheer pinkness of the concert.
Once inside the venue, I rushed to check out the merch booth. I usually can’t help myself with this kind of stuff, my apartment is littered with unopened band merch stuffed into boxes. I’d hoped they’d be selling her latest singles, since I haven’t bought any since Nandacollection. Unfortunately it was just t-shirts, stickers, hoodies and towels (see photo). There was also an offensively cute inflatable bunny rabbit thing that was really awesome. The shirt designs weren’t as awesome as THIS, but I still wanted one. Seems the entire crowd felt this way, and they had sold out of all of the designs by the time I got to the front of the line. Size S was apparently the first to go, if you want some statistics info on the most popular size of an Australian Kyary fan.
After this, we went to check out the crowd. As expected, it was impossible to get anywhere near the stage. Stupid Roundhouse. Just like when I saw Sum 41 there in 2003. My sister left to try and worm her way to the front (and was successful - she took all the awesome photos below), while we stayed around the back, where you could at least see some of the stage (but only the top half of the performers). Everyone was waiting excitedly for Kyary to start - there was no support act.
3 minutes after the estimated start time of 8pm, the house lights went off and the crowd went nuts. Out came Kyary with her four dancers. She launched straight into ‘Invader Invader’ and my mouth dropped. Hearing this song on such a huge soundsystem, with the “Nakata” DJ character from the PV projected on the stage, combined with seeing Kyary dance live…. I was like “shit this is the greatest thing ever, maybe I do love Kyary after all.” I was all like “yeah, this dub-step part is awesome actually!”. I was all like “yeah, Kyary doing Eminem Lose Yourself-style movements to this dub-step part is awesome, no doubt!”
This elation continued into the next song. Don’t know what it was, but it was awesome. Then ‘Ninjari Bang Bang’. More gold. Kyary has this odd mix of dancing, where her hands are very controlled and mannered, but the rest of her body is kind of loose and goofy. It worked for her, and her freakish backup dancers were in perfect sync (and mouhting along to all the songs). In person Kyary also looks a lot more “human”, which makes her more relatable than the insane thing you see on album covers and PVs.
After this, she spoke to the crowd a bit, mostly in Japanese (the audience cheered), although she did read out some cute English story about meeting a koala (about the same as going to New York City and bragging about seeing the native grizzly bear at the Bronx Zoo but whatever). Then she introduced ‘Family Party’ “this song about robot”. I’ve actually never heard this song, only read how terrible it is, so I was intrigued. Didn’t know it was about robot. Anyway it was OK. She did some robot dancing, which was passable. Then she did ‘Kyary-ANAN’, which is awful but who cares. Anananananan. ‘Furishoden’ was in there too I think. This concluded the first segment.
At this point there was a costume change. A giant rabbit came out and danced with a candy cane while Kyary was off the stage. When she returned… things kind of lost pace a bit. She played ‘Mottai Night Land’, which I was hearing for the first time. My opinion was that it blew. The crowd unfortunately seemed to share this opinion, as everybody was kind of still. She then performed about 5 songs which all sounded the same (musicbox instruments and big shouty, no-melody type vocals). It was like getting battered with a glittery pink candy hammer. The people around me sat down on the floor. Nobody was moving or dancing. I texted my sister about ‘Mottai Night Land’ sucking, and she replied with news from the front: ‘No it’s the best song EVER, all the songs are amazing and the crowd is really rude because nobody is dancing’.
Then she did ‘Super Scooter Happy’ and I was conflicted. One the one hand… CAPSULE live. On the other hand… when placed into her setlist, it really stood out as a song that wasn’t as strong as ‘Invader Invader’ or ‘Ninjari Bang Bang’, and sounded pretty similar to the 5 or so songs that came before. The crowd was restless.
Another costume change, and she screened some non-sequitur video about Kyary posing with a motorcycle and playing an intense game of poker. It was odd. People were into it.
Kyary returned to the sounds of ‘Kyary no March’ from Moshi Moshi Harajuku. I was pretty excited because I thought that signaled the arrival of ‘PONPONPON’ - “her only really good song”. To my surprise, she stuck to the tracklist and played ‘Cherry Bon Bon’ next, which was cool because I think that song is OK. Then came the hit that everyone was waiting for, and it breathed life back into the audience. People were dancing around again. Then it was time for Kyary to say goodbye to everyone in English, and announce her last song - ‘Fashion Monster’… I thought it was odd not to close out with her biggest song, but oh well. It’s another song that is pretty OK by my standards.
After she left the stage, there were chants for an encore - although not exactly raise the roof type stuff. Nevertheless, people cheered when she came out for a final encore. At this stage Kyary was wearing her own tour shirt (torturing me because I couldn’t get one) over her previous outfit. It was pretty cute, and once again “more human”. To my relief, she then launched into ‘CANDY CANDY’, thus checking off all the songs I “wanted” to hear at the concert. Except ‘Minna No Uta’ >:o. ‘Drinker’ is OK too, but she didn’t play that. Anyway, she closed out the set with that goodbye song. You know the one. I’ve heard it but can’t remember the title. She left the stage and people were cheering and all that other stuff that happens at 95% of concerts.
I guess the general mood was positive - my sister certainly said it was the best night of her life. The rest of the crowd wasn’t quite as into it as I was expecting… almost like they were more into her image and not her music, and got kind of worn out having to listen to a whole setlist. You get the idea.
Anyway it was fun. I definitely don’t regret going. As I said, the whole thing humanised Kyary a bit for me, and she did put a lot of effort into performing professionally. I even forgot for most of the concert that she was probably lip-syncing… honestly I couldn’t quite figure it out. Definitely towards the end she was, as the vocals matched the recorded versions exactly. I couldn’t really see her mouth, so it was hard to tell. The mic was definitely on.
Anyway then we all went home and lived happily ever after the end.
Bonus material from her ‘Sunrise’ taping in Martin Place
There was an event earlier in the day at Martin Place (it’s like our Times Square… ahem). Kyary taped a performance for a morning talk show called ‘Sunrise’. I didn’t go (I prefer to sleep in), but my sister did. Kyary came out into the crowd after performing, and, as you can see, my sister took a photo right in Kyary’s goddamn face. Also some guy was wearing a Ninjari Bang Bang costume, so props to him I guess.