Is it Okay to Kecha? Iitomo! Gyu-No Fes Studio Alta Live Report!
Photo by Kenichi Inagaki
Studio Alta, the location of the long-running daytime television show Waratte Iitomo which saw Tamori host a Guinness Record 8,054 live shows over 32 years, took on a completely different tone on March 26, 2016 when entertainer, farmer, and event promoter Gyuzo took it over for a day full of (slightly) wild lives and an evening of compelling rakugo. Special thanks go to sponsors like Ken’s Cafe Tokyo, Booth Net Cafe & Capsule, and the town of Shioya, Tochigi for helping make such a unique event possible.
Gyu-No Fes Studio Alta Dengeki Jack Part 1
Maneki Kecha showed why they had moved up to major label status with a performance that showed the rapid growth they had in just a few months since their previous appearance at Gyu-No Fes Vol. 9. With the cherry blossoms starting to bloom across Japan, it was seasonally appropriate for them to perform “Moso Zakura”. While they were performing their major label debut song “Kimiwazurai”, the mood was so overwhelming that even Bucho stopped by to throw out a few kechas towards them before he realized that he had to get ready because Death Rabbits was up next. With fan favorites “Joudan Janai ne” and “Ai Kotoba”, Maneki Kecha did their part to warm up the bodies as well as the hearts gathered in Studio Alta. Gyuzo encouraged Maneki Kecha to aim to surpass groups like Berryz Kobo, who had somehow been appointed “Tochigi Future Ambassadors” in 2014, despite having no members from there. With members Mayuka Fujimoto and Rin Miyauchi being from Tochigi, they should have a chance at getting that title someday, no?
The studio lights handing from the ceiling spun, scattering beams of light everywhere as Death Rabbits took the stage, starting off with “Nande?”. There was a different feeling to the live as for once, Bucho had his name called during the self-introductions by a little girl standing at the front of the stage. Usually all the cheers are for Karin, Yuzu, and Emi; fans even cheered loudly when they announced that Bucho would not be at their product table after the live! Taking advantage of the rare opportunity, Karin did an “iitomo” call and response with the fans. All the hopping around during “Usagi no Kimochi” and bon dancing during “Omatsuri JAPAN!! Kokuhaku Night” earned Death Rabbits the one and only warning of the day as Gyuzo humorously asked the audience to “mosh lightly and slowly” after receiving a notice from building management.
Shiina Pikarin emerged from her demon world in her first appearance at a Gyu-No Fes event, unleashing her bloodcurdling death screams through a megaphone and headbanging wildly as her backup dancers descended into the audience to dance with her disciples. She expressed her gratitude at being given such a rare opportunity where decades of Japanese television history were made (even a 21,000 year old demon may have watched a few episodes of “Waratte Iitomo”?).
Other artists have towels for their fans to swing around; Pikarin has panties instead, which flashed through the air in a blur of red and white. The makaijin (her fans) crawled around on all fours in a circle, several of them fortunate enough to receive a bite on their forearms from Pikarin as her dancers blew soap bubbles. Just when it seemed that the live was over, Pikarin returned wearing some dark sunglasses (like the kind Tamori, the host of “Waratte Iitomo” wears) as the makaijin had already begun kneeling and bowing deeply in anticipation of her last song “Dogeza Nai 〜Omae wo Hizamazukasete Yarouka〜”. She walked on the backs of the makaijin as they scrambled to stay underfoot, and even piled on top of each other so that she could go up another level.
It was a special day for POP as it was one day before Yua Yumeno’s birthday (March 27) and many of her fans were there with T-shirts they had made special for the live, a Pokeball on the back and her name printed like the Air Jordan logo (complete with a Jumpman-style silhouette of her) on the front. After blasting their way through “Hashiru”, “who am I?”, and “Happy Lucky Kirakira Lucky”, POP paused to introduce themselves, Ao Shigusawa rattling off a quick succession of “iitomo” call and responses. The birthday surprise revealed itself as soon as Yua turned around to sing her lines during the final song “pretty pretty good”, she was met by the glow of pink cyalumes and paper sakura petals fluttering in the air.
Gyu-No Fes Studio Alta Dengeki Jack Part 2
The afternoon event began with a reminder that any “moshing” should be done lightly out of consideration for the shoppers in the department store located on the floors below Studio Alta. A competition between Rena (Vanilla Beans), Kai (BELLRING Girls Heart), and Yuuhi Yasui (BILLIE IDLE®) drinking coffee made with both pure natural spring water and normal Kabukicho (Shinjuku’s red-light district) tap water to see if anyone could taste the difference between the two. Gyuzo warned them not to be too confident as known coffee lover Megu (Negicco) had previously failed the task. Rena commented that the last time she took the challenge was the first time in her life drinking coffee yet, she was full of comments that made her sound like a connoisseur. Kai might have been the wrong representative for BELLRING Girls Heart as she seemed to be miserable no matter which cup she drank from. Yuuhi gulped down the first cup and couldn’t help making a pun using her name when it came to the second one, remarking, “It’s easy to drink (nomi-yasui)”. In the end, it was Toyama native Yuuhi choosing correctly and winning five 2L bottles of the spring water, a welcome change to the usual Tokyo tap water which she admitted to drinking.
Stylish Shibuya-kei duo Vanilla Beans began their set with a pair of Pizzicato Five covers (“Sweet Soul Revue” and “It’s a Beautiful Day”), moving behind their microphone stands gracefully and clapping their hands high above their heads. They mentioned how they were grateful that Vanilla Beans had successfully avoided disbanding in their 10th year as fans had assembled to help them reach a sales goal for their recently released single and album. The mood shifted into the current era with the electropop of “Lady Survivor” and towels whipped through the air during “BOYZ&GIRLS” before closing out with another Pizzicato Five cover “The Night is Still Young”. Rena teased Gyuzo that she thought that Vanilla Beans weren’t really his type of idol, expressing her shock when she and Risa saw him wearing a BiS T-shirt.
BELLRING Girls Heart
BELLRING Girls Heart is notorious for their wild performances, and in the wake of their nearly show-stopping appearance at the previous Gyu-No Fes at Shin-Kiba 1st Ring, most of their fans were surprisingly docile that day, sitting on the floor. BELLRING Girls Heart stormed onto the stage brandishing toy guns and bandannas tied about their faces like bank robbers, and got things going right away with the ’90’s alternative of “c.a.n.d.y.” and British Invasion sounds of “Hornet’98” and “BEYOND”,being shot dead before resurrecting during “ROOM 24-7”. The fans in the front of the stage abided to the rules of the day as they duck-walked in a circle for the ferocious “asthma”. Not even “Circus & Renai Soudan” would break the peace, with only a few standing (to simulate lifting) when it came time for Kai to take her picture from the top of the human pyramid onstage.
BILLIE IDLE®, making their first appearance at a Gyu-No Fes, exploded onto the stage, starting with “Darlin’ ni wa Naranai”. Momo Momose gunned down the fans with her finger pistols and Yuuhi Yasui shook her fists energetically (from drinking all that coffee?). First Summer Uika fixed a fierce glare on her face and stuck out her tongue during “anarchy in the music scene” before breaking into a smile and joining the others in the cheerful choreography. Uika commented on how it was their first time being at Studio Alta and mused about the decades of television history that had been made there. Raising their fists high from behind their microphone stands BILLIE IDLE® belted out the ballad “Toki no Tabibito” as a sizable contingent of IDLE FELLAS (fans) sang along.
Gyuzo made a hilarious appearance on stage during “Konnin Tokode wa Tomaranai”, holding out a marriage registration form, which was promptly crumpled and stomped on by Nozomi Hirano. Things heated up further with “Furare Kibun de Rock ‘n’ Roll”, their cover of the TOM KAT 1980’s classic, Uika and Momo delivering their commanding fire and ice mix of vocals. Nozomi took center stage with “humanoid”, being lead around by the wrists as synth melodies cut through the air. Ramping back up with “Heisei Rock Star” and “Kanata ni…”, BILLIE IDLE® brought their historic Studio Alta live to a big finish with “be my boy”. They might not be the easiest post-BiS group to keep up with but, BILLIE IDLE® is definitely worth the effort as it was yet another solid performance which should not be overlooked.
Gyu-No Alta Yosei Shiraku・Danshou Futari-kai
When the doors reopened at 7:00pm, the mood was drastically different then it had been for the first two events. Rakugo is a traditional Japanese form of storytelling done by a single person seated on a cushion in the middle of a stage using only a handkerchief, paper fan, facial expressions, body language, and different voices. Using only those tools, the rakugoka (person who does rakugo) plays all the parts in their stories, pulling the audience into the world they have created.
Danshou Tatekawa lived up to his name by keeping things light and humorous, spinning several anecdotes about weird new fusion eateries around Shinjuku station’s west gate staffed by workers who spoke unintelligible Japanese. He finished up with a tale of a notorious cheapskate turning into a zombie at Disneyland and asked the audience to help him call out Mickey Mouse. After a few failed unenthusiastic responses, he changed it to fallen celebrity Becky, and got a booming reply. Even after Mickey was successfully summoned, the zombie actually turned out to be a Terminator!
Shiraku Tatekawa’s tale was extremely complex, dealing with the death of “Rakuda”, a disliked member of a small community. Switching between several dozen characters as the police detective made his rounds of the usual suspects to investigate the case, it seemed like he didn’t even have time to breathe as the conversation did not seem to end as acquaintances and enemies celebrated the demise of such a despicable character yet vehemently denying that they had anything to do with it.
Shiraku, Danshou, and Gyuzo returned to the stage to talk about how they felt about performing at such a famous television studio before it was to be closed down. Shiraku wondered why he was chosen to appear since, he had never been on or seen Waratte Iitomo, shopped at Shinjuku Alta, or even met people in front of the building before. Gyuzo explained that one of the reasons he wanted to hold the event was for his fellow Tokyo Shock Boys member Juugo Sango, who loved rakugo but unfortunately passed away on March 3, 2015 after battling cancer so it was a farewell to his comrade as well as Studio Alta.
The audience that had been sitting quietly and listening intently was finally able to take out their cameras and take pictures and many of them even gathered around the stage for a group picture like the ones that had been taken during the idol events that took place earlier in the day.
Photos by Kenichi Inagaki
To read about past Gyu-No Fes events, check the links below!
Gyu-No Fes Road to Tochigi!!! Tochigi-ken he no Michi Dai Kick-Off〜Mankai! Haru no Gyu-No Idol Matsuri〜!
Shin-Kiba Studio Coast
April 10, 2016 (Sunday)
Open: 12:00pm Start: 12:30pm
Presale: 4,000 yen Door: 4,500 yen (+ 1 drink minimum)
VIP: 20,000 yen (January 26 – April 9)
Scheduled to appear: BiSH, Afilia Saga, Faint⋆Star, Girls q/b, Idol College, Iketeru Hearts, Let’s PocoPoco, Maneki Kecha, Asuka Satomoto, Tochiotome 25, Watarasebashi 43, Maison book girl, notall, Stereo Tokyo, Zekkyo Suru 60-do, sora tob sakana, POP, lyrical school, Guso drop, Electric Ribbon, Koutei Camera Girl Zwei, PassCode, BELLRING Shoujo Heart, callme, Hacchake-tai from PASSPO☆, Petit PASSPO☆, Aoyama☆Saint Hachamecha High School, Oyasumi Hologram, Koi Suru BEAT, Avandoned Idol, Death Rabbits, P.O.P, and Shoujo Kakka no International, Idol Renaissance, Nao Fukushi (SKE48), Kuroneko no Yuutsuu, marronni☆yell
Gyu-No Fes Official Twitter: https://twitter.com/gyuno_fes
Gyu-No Fes Official Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/gyuzofarmfes
Sponsored LinksShiina Pikarin
[Breaking] Umika Kawashima Announces Graduation from 9nine
Risa Satosaki Reveals Everything in the MV for “S!NG”!