Monthly Archive for September, 2009

Japanese Idol Group AKB48 American Premiere concert at Webster Hall NYC

I haven’t written anything here all summer. I have no excuse – I’ve been lazy! :)

Anyway, It’s fall now, and It was the time of year for The New York AnimeFest. I had to work part of that weekend, so I was trying to figure out whether or not I could go on the last day of the con, that Sunday. I figured I could swing by Javitts Center and check it out.
Then I found out that on the same weekend of the Animefest Con, there was the Octoberfest at the Bohemian Hall & Beer Garden in Astoria (aka Archiebunkerland), Queens.

About three weeks or so before that weekend, I got an e-mail from my friend Taeko , who does American promotion for her NYC – based event media production and marketing communications company, “newyork-tokyo” that there was going to be a concert at Webster Hall featuring some sort of a Japanese Girl Group that I never heard of before, called “AKB48

The only Japanese Idol Supergroup that I am remotely familiar with is Morning Musume. I never heard of this AKB48. But then again, I don’t follow the Japanese Pop Music scene.

But Cute Japanese Girls + free event?
Definite WIN all around!

Here is the info from newyork-tokyo.com…

AKB48
U.S. DEBUT CONCERT IN NYC
SUPPORTED BY SKY PerfecTV! HD

SEPTEMBER 27 (SUN) 5:00PM
WEBSTER HALL NEW YORK CITY
GRAND BALLROOM
125 E. 11TH ST.
FREE 18+ EVENT WITH RSVP:
www.newyork-tokyo.com/wp/akb48

” We are happy to announce the US debut of Japan’s popular music group AKB48. AKB48 will perform at a full concert at Webster Hall in NYC on Sunday, September 27.

AKB48 is a very unique, theater based, all-female music group created by famed songwriter/producer Yasushi Akimoto in 2005. AKB48 consists of 66 female members ranging from ages 14 to 26 (as of Sep. 2009). The group is divided into four groups – A, K, B, and Trainee. With the concept of “Idols you can meet everyday”, the group practically performs almost every day at their own exclusive AKB48 Theater in Akihabara, Tokyo. Their stage presence is an eye candy to the fans due to their multiple costume changes throughout the show. These busy pop stars take on diverse challenging work by hosting their own TV show and appearing in movies and commercials. Not to mention their multiple collaboration work with artist Takashi Murakami. (Their recent single CD cover was illustrated by Murakami).

AKB48′s first international appearance was at the Japan Expo in Paris this past July. Now they are set to arrive in NYC with select members preparing for the best possible US debut! They will show what Tokyo girls are about in show business. In addition you will get to experience their cute fashion and full smile power. ”

“SEP. 27 (SUN)
Full Concert at
WEBSTER HALL NEW YORK CITY
GRAND BALLROOM
125 E. 11th St., NYC
Doors open at 4:00 PM
Concert starts at 5:00 PM”

Free 18+ event with RSVP

I sent in my RSVP, and I also told my friend Adamonkey about it as well – he also like Japanese stuff, even went to Japan ( Unlike me.. :( ). I sent him the AKB48 link too.

I did manage to go to the Octoberfest at Bohemian Beer Hall event that Sunday when It opened at noon, and it was raining, so there was not very many people there. I was supposed to meet up with my boss from work there, but he was running late. I passed the time talking to a friendly old Irish guy for a while. After I had my second pitcher of some nice tasting dark Czech beer ( that I didn’t get the name of, unfortunately… ), my boss finally showed up. But it was nearly time for me to leave to go to the AKB48 concert ( it was 3:30 PM, and the doors officially would open at 4:00 PM ). I didn’t want to leave my boss high and dry at the Beerfest, considering that he wasn’t feeling well that morning ( he ate some bad food at some street festival the day before, so he wasn’t up to drinking any beer ). But then I remembered that on my e-mail confirmation for the concert, it said that I could bring one guest.
All I had to say was ” Japanese girls”, and my boss said, “Yes”!
Hehehe..

We managed to get to the Webster Hall around 4:20 pm, but it seemed that they didn’t let anyone in yet. I saw my friend Adamonkey on line, and I introduced him to my Boss.
The show was supposed to start at around 5:00 pm, but they didn’t start to let people in until almost that time.
Right before we went upstairs to the Grand Ballroom, where the event was going to take place, I had to go to the bathroom (all that beer I drank earlier!). Afterwards, I checked the merchandise at the AKB48 sales table – lot of the stuff was just too expensive and the ir posters were $16 dollars ( something like $ 6.oo for a picture of each girl or something… ). Their CD music was like 35 dollars apiece ( must be Japan prices! ).
But I did like the big Webster Hall Promotional Posters of the event, I would have bought them.
I think.
Anyway, I went upstairs to the Grand Ball room, and talked to my Boss and Adamonkey. We three seemed to be the oldest people there, the rest seemed to be mostly people in their 20′s. Alot of them seemed to have come from the NY Animefest over at Jacob Javits center that was just finishing that day. The hall was not as filled as capacity, but they were pretty enthusiastic – They looked like dedicated Japanese Idol fans. They are more known in the industry as “Wotas“, which is another name for “Otaku”, but to differentiate themselves from them, they altered the spelling somewhat.
My Boss was chatting with a Japanese girl for a while, before her friends dragged her away (hahaha ).
The concert itself was interesting, I later found out that the sixteen girls that came to America were combined members from two of of AKB48 three component “Teams”, “A” and “K”. I personally liked the opening number when they were all in their Schoolgirl uniforms costumes ( Because I like that… :) ). My Boss wasn’t feeling well, and had to leave a half an hour in, and my friend Adamonkey left a half an hour after that ( He’s married, so I was surprised that he managed to stay as long as he did…LOL! ).
Before Adamonkey left, I ran into one of my old Metro Anime friends there, so I hung out with him for the rest of the concert, which had one or two encores, I think.
The girls were cute, in a Japanese kawaii sort of way, but the one that really stood out for me ( I mean, not acting or looking typically Japnesese ) , was a girl from “Team K”, named Sayaka Akimoto. Not only was she the tallest , oldest, and most-in-charge girl there (frontwoman?) at the show, she had the best command of English out of all the girls there. And she was the sexiest….( besides, I’d feel far more comfortable drooling over her, than AKB38′s other mostly underaged Moe-type team members – hey, this isn’t Japan! LOL! )
Nevertheless, I think Akimoto-san made another American fan that evening…. As you can see below.. :)

( Unfortunately, she didn’t wear this at the American concert….. :( )

Now, as for AKB48 itself, personally, I think they would do very well in the American Anime convention circuit ( Time out New York referred to them as kind of the ” Japanese Spice Girls (!) ) , but I don’t think they would make a dent in the greater American music market. But there are some talk of opening an American branch of AKB48 girl group here in America ( “Team C” ?.
If this ever happens, I don’t know if they will have imported Japanese girls, or will use local talent and do some sort of “High – School Musical” thingy for American tastes.

Here is a video of the concert:

AKB48 NY WEBSTER HALL

And here is another….

AKB48 @ Webster Hall – Member Introductions

I would have taken my own video ( let alone pictures ) but the e-mail from newyork-tokyo said that no recording devices were allowed. But at the concert, almost everyone had a camera or videocamera.
So much for me followig the rules… :P

After the concert, I hung out in the basement concert events for a while, There was a really nice local New York City “Japanese horror-comical freak” punk metal(!) band called GELATINE ( I needed an antidote to all the mostly sugary goodness of AKB48 hahaha ). the lead singer, Seiko is pretty intense! I bet she could / would eat the AKB48 girls for breakfast! ( no double entendre intended… :) )
I would definitely check this group out in the future!

After their set ended, I stuck around for a while, then my age started to show, and I was getting pretty tired ( I just cant hang out at concerts like I used to when I was younger.. ). While exiting Webster Hall, I had to go past these huge bouncer type security guys on the steps ( they seemed to be more concerned about people coming in, than going out hahaha ) and I saw the huge white tour bus outside the place, on the street. Must have been AKB48′s bus. If I was twenty, or even ten years younger, I would have stayed, and waited around to take a picture of the girls leave and stuff, but I was tired, not to mention hungry (and just simply not in the mood to be a Wota stalker LOL! )
That was basically it. I liked the event ( considering that it was free, and I would have had to pay a pretty penny to see them in Akihabara in Tokyo ) and I was not creeped out at all going to a Japanese pop Idol group concert which half consisting girls under the Age of Consent in NY state.
But that’s just me…. :)

AKB48 seems to be pretty popular in the Japanese Idol world – There is even an internet forum for English speaking AKB48 fans :

The STAGE48 Forum

The Webster Hall event thread at The STAGE48 Forum is here :
AKB48 LIVE IN NEW YORK

Those Stage48 forum people seem to be / are pretty hard core WOTAs It seems. Maybe I’m just too old, and / or not that fanatical, ( I don’t think I’ll end up like these Japanese guys…I hope… ) but I’d rather stick with Anime and Manga stuff, personally. and the only Japanese Idols I be interested in would be the Gravure kind… :)