I already expressed my love for Jason Voorhees’ favorite idol band on this blog and it was about time I go to see a Alice Project live show in Akihabara. A rainy saturday convinced me that it was better to go to PARMS live house for a couple of hours than to wander in the streets of Akihabara looking for doujinshi shops.
So I will now indulge myself with a report of this experience.
First contact : flyer-handing idols in the streets of Akiba
Alice Project idol units are still ‘underground’ and to get the word out, the members spend hours between shows and events in the streets handing out flyers. Like maids and high-school girls. Except they wear hockey masks and carry chainsaws. If you walk around Akihabara, they will be hard to miss. Just go ahead and talk to one of them, she will gently give you all the information you need.
Alice Project live shows are held three times a day during week-ends : 11am, 3pm and 6pm.
The 3pm show is free. So just go there and enjoy the fun!
There are daily shows during the week also. I think the price is 1000 yen. Still cheap compared to a regular and boring one-hour set in a maid cafe.
Step Two – Enjoying The Performance
The show of Saturday featured three units : OZ, Alice Juuban and Steamgirls.
The first one to take the stage was OZ, a fairy tale/magical girl themed unit with 6 members :
I wasn’t expecting much because their image is not as exciting as the other Alice Project units but their performance turned out to be pretty great!
As soon as they started the show, I understood that idol performances are happening at least as much in the crowd that on the stage. OZ fans just went nuts from start to finish! Dancing, singing (sometimes louder than the band!) and basically performing Wotagei with total fervor and conviction! That was so great to see everyone spending a good time just watching and supporting 6 cute girls singing silly songs and dancing in silly costumes.
OZ music isn’t groundbreaking or anything (it is like cheap techno-ish pop) but, I don’t know, it was cute to watch and the up-tempo tunes were kinda cool. They have a catchy killer tune during which the whole crowd went shouting some ‘woo-woo’ and ‘woa-woa’ at specific key moments. Well, it’s hard to transcribe with words but it was nothing less than overwhelming.
Maybe the fact that I already drank two beers at this point explains things.
Intermission – Drinking beers
Ok, I conceive that drinking beer is not the most moe thing to do. But Alice Project staff thought everything out and even prepared some goodies for the beer lovers in the audience. For each beer you drink (except the one you get with the FREE DRINK ticket), you get one of those :
Of course you cannot choose which one you get. So you keep drinking until you get your favorite girl!
I already got 3 out of the 25 girls (if I counted right but I can be mistaken), at this pace in three months I may own the whole collection (even if I only care about Meru-chan but shhh!).
Next was the most popular Alice Project unit :
As you can see, Alice Juuban is the most bad-ass idol unit Japan has ever produced. Chainsaws, hammers, blades, hockey masks… How cool is that?
It’s approximately x1500 cooler than AKB48, that’s how freaking butt-kicking Alice Juuban is.
I was a bit disappointed that they spent most than half their show WITHOUT their mask on but I guess you have to show cute smiling faces if you want to achieve success in the idol music jungle.
Anyway, Alice Juuban performance was great. With ten members on stage, there is always something going on. Also the choreography is well-thought, shifting from standard idol moves (you know, the always efficient ‘next time the will do a spin I will see their underpants’ kind of thing) to crazy headbanging when the heavy guitar riffs kick in.
Because yeah, Alice Juuban mix j-pop with metal. Mostly crappy nu-metal influenced stuff but it still works well because of the contrast it produces with the cute and cheesy choruses. And it brings guys wearing Madball and Suicidal Tendencies shirts to Akihabara…
But it is mostly the use of various props on stage that spices things up. Apart from the plastic weaponry and the Friday the 13th masks, there is a song during which the leader ride a rubber ring and get carried across the room by the staff (I would have loved it if the fans were allowed to do that but, come on, it is not a hardcore punk show) and other little surprises.
Last but not least was the multicolored Steampunk idol unit :
With costumes mixing gasmasks, smoke guns, lingerie and colorful dresses and socks, Steamgirls can give you epilepsy just by walking on stage.
They begin their set with shooting lasers all over the place with smoke machines blasting at the sides of the stage. They delivered a highly energetic performance and even if I am not too fond of their music (reminiscent of 90’s parapara and also trying to step into Skrillex territory at times), they are a fun act to watch and their set list is tight, without slow numbers and useless things like that.
Steamgirls is part of these acts which are better on stage than on record.
I don’t know I’ll try to grab one of their record next time and give it a try.
Final Step : Handshakes and Photographs!
This is the weirdest part of the live show for anyone (like me) who never went to an Idol event.
Just after the show finish, all the girls go behind their respective merch tables and lines form before them. So I joined the line leading to the OZ table.
Once you get to the table, you pay 500 yen to get a polaroid photograph of one of the girl from a big ‘blind’ box (once again you cannot choose which girl you want) and then you have the honor to shake hands and chit chat quickly with each member. That was kinda fun and awkward at the same time as I really didn’t know what to say… Anyway, the girls are nice and polite (that is their job after all) and the thing ends immediately.
Then I tried to line up for the Alice Juuban table (I wanted to get a CD) but it was already over! Like you cannot buy merch from different units at the same show because they run a schedule so tight the girls have to stop shaking hands and line up on stage instead.
I was curious to see what will happen. Another big line forms before the stage. So I joined once again. Without really knowing why but hey! I wanted to live the complete experience.
So you line up to the stage and then you are asked to choose a girl. I chose the cutest and then you can talk a little bit more and have your picture taken with her. Two sizes of photographs : small for 1000 yen and wide for 2000. She signs the photograph and it is finished…
Well, not completely! Because you can still get the DVD of the live show you just saw! These guys are so fast at making exclusive goods and other useless stuff to sell to the fans!
And they got me. I thought that would be nice to keep a souvenir from the show and so bought a cheap DVD-R with no hard case for 2000 yen.
Before I left, I was asked to put a Support Chip (you get it at the door when you enter) into the box of my favorite member. Every girl and unit have a box where fans put chips so the staff can measure the popularity of each one.
I went home having spent way more money than I expected. But I also spent an unexpected fun evening.
Anyway, be sure you will get some news from Alice Project idols on DIRECT JAPAN blog in the next weeks!
This is not over!