November 11th, 2012 – Shibuya O-nest Live Report
Hello YUI-Lovers & FLOWER FLOWER fans!
This is just a post from your YUI-Lover Admin: gotchi.
Time sure does fly…there’s only a few days before yui’s 27th birthday (mine too xD)! It’s also been awfully quiet with the lack of yui/FLOWER FLOWER updates. At the same time, it’s been unfortunate that news reports broke out about her health condition but as a fan, all that matters is that her health is taken care of before she enters into any kind of strenuous projects. Therefore, we shall wait patiently and continue to support yui and FLOWER FLOWER when they are ready.
In the meantime, I thought it would be time for me to finally share my experience from attending three of FLOWER FLOWER’s lives from November 2012. I’ve finally set some time aside for this and it probably helps that I’m not working on the YUI-Lover Collaboration CDs that we would normally to make yearly.
A little background on how these opportunities presented themselves to me. To put it simply, I was extremely lucky (almost ridiculous, thinking back on it). I found a $400 roundtrip flight deal (more of a human data entry error) to Japan and bought my flight tickets 4-5 months before even knowing about FLOWER FLOWER’s private/”secret” lives. I just so happened to also plan (all the pre-booking hostels/activities, etc.) my vacation in Japan coincidentally when FLOWER FLOWER’s lives were scheduled in Tokyo while I was in Tokyo. Nevertheless, my 5 week vacation to Japan ranks as my most memorable, thanks to the wonderful people that I met and travelled with. Ultimately, seeing FLOWER FLOWER was thanks to YUI-Lover’s Kikino and his trusted sources, so…thank you again!
The music FLOWER FLOWER has been working on, really is a step forward in yui’s artistry. I really appreciate the experimentation as it is refreshing to listen to (especially outside of the “mainstream pop music” styles). The bandmates have a great synergy and you can tell that they’re all creatives. There are an array of new tracks that has some new styles (for yui) and tracks that still have the essence of the “classic yui” feel that people love. I just look forward to when their future album finally drops!
Warning: Text heavy (excuse my run-on sentences + mix up of tenses…). I’ll probably dive into other memorable things that had happened which may not be directly related to the actual performances.
Disclaimer: When I am describing the music, these are just my opinions or interpretations of what I experienced. It may be different for others as I am writing this through my perspective and as a foreigner.
Anyway, let’s get to it!
November 11th, 2012 – Shibuya O-nest
November 12th, 2012 – Shimokitazawa LOFT
November 15th, 2012 – Kichijoji CRESCENDO – upcoming post!
November 11th, 2012 – Shibuya O-nest
After having lunch with some French foreigners by Yoyogi Park, I made my way towards Shibuya. I’ve never been to any of these venues so navigating with my iPhone was pretty important, especially since I was on my own now. I was a bit anxious as only knew random Japanese phrases/words (I could understand more than I could speak). Navigating my way through Shibuya, I noticed a band set up in the middle of the road with a small crowd surrounding them. I didn’t want to be late so I glanced quickly and continued on.
When I got to the general location, I realized there were two buildings with a similar name. Both buildings had some sort of line up, so I went up to some locals to ask who they were lining up for. They were nice enough to point out the other line was for me.
There weren’t any signs visible to me so I couldn’t tell who was performing. I waited in line, hoping to see if I could recognize anyone (from previous lives). This was an earlier show that started around 4:30 pm. Even though, I got there around 3pm and there were 6-8 people in front of me. A lady opened her mobile phone and I quickly saw that she was using a YUI wallpaper. This put me at ease as it confirmed I was at the right place.
If you’ve never been to Tokyo before, you gotta weave your way through the tall buildings and up elevators/stairs to find what you’re looking for! Anyhow, the line up was outside and led into the building where there were only elevators. It started to rain a bit but I continued waiting.
It was around 3:30pm when I noticed a silver van that pulled up by the road where I was standing by. First person that came out was Murajun with Saji-san, and then yui. Yui had her hair tied back in a low ponytail with two strands of hair as her bangs. She was wearing a pair of light blue overalls that had a white polka dot pattern, with a stripped blue/white long sleeve shirt and a pair of red sneakers. She looked super casual as she grabbed her guitar case and continued walking by everyone in line. She ducked her head a little low (with no make up or just mascara) and made her way as her manager also came through. Everyone in the line was pretty calm and I just smiled excitedly as we waited to enter the building. The thought of “oh maybe she’ll recognize me?” crossed my mind but realistically, I know don’t exactly look like a foreigner that would stand out (I’m Asian Canadian) so I highly doubted it but really who knows…
Back in October, I met a YUI-Lover member’s friends at some of the live houses. As I’m waiting in line, I recognized one of them and we both acknowledged each other. It was awkward because his English level was 0 and I could only say so much. Finally, the line started moving in.
We went up the elevator and the floor we arrived on had a bar with some chairs tables, lockers and *surprise* another line up! So the stage floor was actually a stair level below but we got to line up inside to get our tickets. At this point, I was carrying some omiyage gifts that I bought during my trip through the country. I wanted to pass this off to yui and to the friends I met at the previous live houses. All this was pretty heavy, along with my DSLR/backpack. Judging from the environment and situation, I realized it was too much of hassle to bring in to the actual concert venue so I threw it all into a locker.
Thanks to Kikino’s sources, I was able to reserve a ticket, When I got to the front of the line, they asked what my name was under and who I was there to see.
Doors were open, so we we made our descent down the spiral staircase to the stage floor below. There was a man in front of me who was surprisingly tall but I managed to get a spot in the front by the stage (it was a standing venue).
The other performers weren’t as memorable:
1st band had a Western style while singing with Engrish lyrics.
2nd band was an all girls group with no vocalist but they had a great drummer.
3rd act was band with a male vocalist who started off warming up with Cindi Lauper’s – Time After Time.
4th act was FLOWER FLOWER.
It was quite the dark venue as seen in the picture above. The lights were really low as the stage was being set up. Once the instruments were setup, Murajun warmed up on the piano playing some arpeggio keys, Mafumafu checking the bass, and Saji hitting up some drumbeats. Yui came out in quite a different outfit from what she came into the building with. I’d never seen her wear this style of clothing before but later I realized, it might’ve been inspired with a photoshoot she had with JILLE Magazine.
Yui came out with a big Russian fur hat (like the picture above) wearing bolder make up including bright red color lipstick. Her hair was similar to the picture above (“loosely curled?”), wearing a long dark blue dress with flower patterns with a beige blouse underneath. She also wore a long necklace of white pearls that was looped twice around.
Setlist for Shibuya O-nest Nov, 11, 2012:
1. Intro – “Remember Me”
FLOWER FLOWER had performed this last month at FEVER but hearing it again this time around was very captivating. It was probably because of the way she was dressed along with the small space being barely lit and underground that created this “serious, dark, jazz” tone in the air. The sound system levels were all properly checked and you could really hear each instrument and yui’s vocals very well in this small space. She steps up to the front with the microphone only.
This “bossa nova/jazz” song starts off with a few repeated strings from the bass, then a quick touch of piano and enters the drums. Yui kinda “scats” lightly with her kind of “YUI-go” singing. She repeats the words “Remember me…” along with another repeated short phrase while holding out some notes throughout the song. She introduces the keyboardist, Murajun, and the song/lyrics slowly fades out. She then announces the band, “FLOWER FLOWER-desu onegai shimasu…”, and the audience applause as the band moves right into a new song.
2. Untitled? – [New Song]
This was the only time I heard this song during all the lives I was able to attend. It’s an upbeat song that really jives off the beat of the drums + keyboard joined with the bass. The pacing of this song is fun as it changes between being steady, then slows, speeds, skips and so on. There’s just a nice mix of patterns that build up and how they flow/intersect each other that make this track exciting to hear.
The drums start a countdown …2,3,4…and begins the rhythm while the piano staccatos between two chords at every few intervals with the bass mimicking this repeated “beat bass”. The audience claps along to the beat. Yui starts the lyrics and once again, it sounds like “YUI-go” language lyrics (mix of “engrish/japanese”) “..beat-o ii..don’t wanna que, steppuri…i wanna….”. She kinda scats the lyrics out (not like quick scatting like you would hear in jazz songs but would scat over 3-5 words and mix it up with others). It’s really catchy and it’s fun.
Yui continues singing the repeated lyrics as the piano staccatos in a new chord more frequently while still playing its original “beat bass” sounds with the bassist while all in rhythm with the drums. The song begins to build up/escalate as the drums start a different pattern, the keyboard stops it’s staccato chords and plays a melody, as yui sings into a new set of lyrics. This becomes the kind of “hook” in the song that leads into the main chorus. The song pattern plays out with the drums with yui singing and the piano playing out the melody. The keyboard adds some synth chords in to highlight (giving the song an extra texture) before entering a verse again. The instruments build up and pressuring up to this point which is almost “hangs in silence” then guided back into it with yui’s singing. Reaching near end, all the instruments progessively build up together and then ‘stops,’ leaving you with the left over reverb from drummer’s cymbal completing the song.
Audience claps, and yui begins speaking. She says,”Today is Aki?-matsuri (some festival–this probably was why I saw a band outside on the street earlier)…” and makes a light comment. I could only understand ” but did you eat?”. Next she introduces Murajun, the keyboardist again, then drummer, Saji-chan, and bassist, Mafumafu. And says a few words about being a MC and talking.
She has her guitar at this point and begins playing into the next song.
This is another new song that I did not hear in previous lives. It was really nice to get the chance to hear and see her perform with her guitar. The song’s core instrument is the acoustic chords, with the band supporting. It starts of with yui strumming chords on her guitar as the keyboard synth plays out some elongated notes as the bass + drums hold the beat. The keyboard eventually switches back to regular piano chords and notes accompanying the guitar.
This is probably one of my favorite songs. It kinda is a “classic” yui song with your verses and choruses but it has a much more mature tone. It’s not a slow nor fast paced song but is steady. Yui sings with completed lyrics in this song. Even though I did not understand a chunk of lyrics, this song felt personal with how she was evoking the words. She sings in a lower key and slightly “softer” from the previous performance. The entire song, it’s tempo, melody, and how she sings just has this overall bittersweet sound quality that’s mellow, which, absolutely matches the title of the song. As a listener, the song evokes a sort of reflective/introspective mind set (which I personally would do with a cup a coffee xD straight black please). The song plays out and slightly builds up with a hint of this feeling of passive aggressiveness but mellows out with almost a calm “I’m done with this” kind of attitude as the song stops on a dime (an idiom meaning: stops quick and precisely).
Audience claps and the bass starts a string of notes which starts the next song.
This song has a jazzy laid back kind of pleasant sound. The bass guitar and piano are more prominent whereas the drums are played lightly just creating the basic beat and some progression. Yui’s vocals and lyrics weave in nicely into the music. There are lot of little dynamic moments for each instrument and pockets where yui’s voice where she holds out notes that make this song so good. I just really like how in each of FLOWER FLOWER’S songs, each instrument has a role and always has it’s little highlight. There was nothing I would take away or add that would make this song better. The song ends fading away lightly with some lightly brushed chimes + lightly played higher octave piano notes.
Audience applauds. Yui speaks again and mentions something as being very cute (sugoku kawaii). She then begins to introduce the next song.
Yui speaks in a whispering manner and was very soft spoken. She hopes that everyone is enjoying themselves. Next, she briefly explains the backstory of this song that is about someone that’s very important to her. She speaks of a mother and her children and about being really loved. If you’ve been following as a yui fan, there was a television broadcast of yui speaking of a family who’s parents who loved each other very much and took yui in at times into their home. She’s probably referring to at the 2012.12.23 Music Lovers television broadcast (more info in the forum on the backstory).
The last time I heard this song performed was at Shibuya LOOP where it was just yui & murajun on the piano. This time, “Takaramono,” was performed with the full band. Presently, most of us have heard this song from the au KDDI PERFECT SYNC performance back in June 11, 2013 held at ?????. It’s one of my favorites as it just hits with you so much “feels.”
Hearing this song with the full band was nice but I actually prefer this song with yui playing her acoustic accompanied with the piano. This is probably because you can really focus and catch onto the subtleties in yui’s voice.
The song ends, and yui whisper speaks to the audience thanking them arigato gozaimashita and says that this is the last song and to have fun at the “aki festival/matsuri.” The next song is titled “Heart Beat” (pronounced in Japanese).
6. Heart Beat
This funk jazz song repeats the main “Heart Beat” verse a few times throughout the song but progresses fast and louder with all the instruments like in waves throughout the song. It starts off again with a couple of bass strings playing a short loop. Soon enough the drums sneaks short beats between the loops till altogether with the piano’s chords, they all go off and continue the music. Audience claps along to the beat. Yui starts “scat-singing” the words Heart Beat in different ways with other rhyming words which eventually lead to some varied lyrics and her belting out a short “yeeooow”. The music pattern changes with piano go from chords to into playful moments (finger dragged across the keys playing a quick scale), the drumming goes steady, fast, and soft, while yui changes up the way she sings each of the repeated verses till it hits a point where it fades out with her voice for a second and then everything picks up again. The drums’ patterns vary so much making it sound messy but it really isn’t. Yui’s singing or scatting also varies from soft matching the more softer drumming patterns to singing loud with all the instruments. Eventually, yui holds out some elongated notes while repeating the song’s title “Heart Beat” till you only hear her voice singing “Heart Beat” one last time ending the song. Again, yui thanks everyone and says this the end now as the audience claps.
This was probably the highlight of the night just because this song was super upbeat and full of energy. She was very into performing it. She actually missed the timing with one line of “Heart Beat” and just continued right away.
FLOWER FLOWER was finished their performance, yui walked backstage with the band members following. The audience clapped one last time as Murajun does a quick bow to us.
After travelling for 3 weeks and coming back into Tokyo, I was pretty excited to watch this live. However, unlike the ones I experienced in October, this show felt a little disconnected to me. Maybe it was just the crowd or the venue itself but it definitely wasn’t as intimate as the ones Kikino and I had attended in October. Yui did speak to the audience but it felt like it was just another performance and she was just saying a few things just to bridge the silence between songs. Perhaps it was the unfamiliar songs or maybe her new “look” she had on exuded a different presence towards the audience but throughout most of the performance she was entirely honed into the music. Maybe it was a mix of these things along with myself being there on my own that had made the performance feel a little more distant than the ones before.
Anyway, the show had ended, and a new band was setting up for their turn. I looked behind to find my friend’s friend again who was with another person that I had met back in October. We all went back upstairs as I grabbed my things from my locker. We were waiting in the bar area again and redeemed our drink tickets. It was a little awkward but the new person could speak more English and I was able to converse. They introduced me to another yui fan who was a girl that was much shorter than me but it was finally nice to meet another female fan. We waited for a while but debated whether or not FLOWER FLOWER or yui would come up. We saw Saji-chan walk about but nobody else showed up. After an hour or so we decided to leave and to have dinner together.
The whole “disconnected” feeling I had changed as I was going to be having dinner with a group of local yui / FLOWER FLOWER fans. This was totally unplanned and I was a bit anxious as I had no idea what to expect. Everyone was very nice and tried their best to speak the little English they could. Some gave me extra stickers and goodies they had as some of them had attended the Honey Bee Studio meetings before. We were able to talk about my travels and then being at Yui’s Hong Kong concert where I was one of the “es.car” dancers. I found out one of them had flown on the same plane with Yui / band into Hong Kong! It was pretty fun being able to chat about something we liked even with the language barriers. I was grateful to how welcoming they were and for their kindness. One of them actually ended up paying for my meal! I felt horrible as some of them were still students and were picking out cheaper meals out >_<. I thanked them and was ready to meet some of them again at tomorrow’s live.
It was a quick day for me but it was nice to hear a few new songs from FLOWER FLOWER. Though I was a little surprised with yui’s outfit and style, it looked great on her (I was surprised because it was so unexpected and so different from when she entered the building!). I was looking forward to what the next performance was going to bring!
If there are any questions or things you want to discuss, please join the forum here.
November 12th, 2012 – Shimokitazawa LOFT
November 15th, 2012 – Kichijoji CRESCENDO – upcoming post