UPUPGIRLS (KARI) Part Stormy Skies with a Summer Beam at Hibiya Yaon!

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UPUPGIRLS (KARI) Part Stormy Skies with a Summer Beam at Hibiya Yaon!

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The forecast was for stormy weather but, the only “UPUP Typhoon” was on stage when UPUPGIRLS (KARI) landed at Hibiya Yagai Ongakudo (Open-air Concert Hall, also known as “Hibiya Yaon”) on July 5, 2015. Titled “Upga no Natsu! Yaon no Natsu!”, the live was half Japanese matsuri, half EDM dance party, and 100% Upga (abbreviation of the group’s name)!


Rain fell lightly to the beat of Martin Garrix’s “Animals”, one of the EDM tracks playing before the concert started as the audience began filing in wearing clear plastic raincoats and towels on their heads. As the mix shifted to 1990’s classic Underworld’s “Born Slippy”, a countdown began with 2 minutes to go. When the countdown hit zero, the music switched over to a Japanese matsuri version of the UPUPGIRLS (KARI) overture, fans shouting out the names of the members, who took the stage in black and white outfits with spiked accents on the shoulders. They draped towels like long kimono sleeves as Akari Saho began singing the enka-influenced intro to “UPUP Typhoon”. However, instead of allowing Konatsu Furukawa to cut her off so they could start the song, she kept singing, waving to the audience as if she was at the NHK Kouhaku Utagassen. Ayano Sato tried to snap Akari out of her fantasy, finally ripping off her sash (which read “Today’s leading role”) off from Akari’s shoulder so they could start. Accelerating almost instantaneously, towels whirled furiously as UPUPGIRLS (KARI) launched into the festive fan favorite. Azusa Sekine was lifted up and carried around the stage while Saki Mori ran back and forth while waving the giant flag from their appearance at the YOSAKOI Soran Matsuri.


Keeping the traditional Japanese mood going with “Zenryoku! Pump Up!!”, several thousand wrists snapped to the percussive Tsugaru shamisen intro before clapping along and jumping to michitomo’s uptempo anthem to hyperactivity. Taking a break to celebrate that it had not started raining despite the clouds still looming overhead, Ayano Sato emphasized “currently, now, it is not raining!” and Akari Saho performed a kata as the members introduced themselves to the estimated 3,000 fans gathered in Hibiya Yaon. Leader Minami Sengoku vowed to “cut everyone’s hearts!” and challenged the fans to “fight” alongside them. Manami Arai ran along the stage riling up the crowd, simply because she wanted to do it. Azusa Sekine made waves with the back of Ayano’s top during the intro of “ENJOY!! ENJO(Y)!!” before she and Konatsu Furukawa went into the audience to take selfies with their fans (which you can see if you follow them on Twitter and Akari rode around the stage on a bicycle, which is actually a special collaboration product with the group, Miyata, and Natalie store. After putting away the bike, she pulled out some nunchaku and Saki Mori waved the giant flag while standing on a raised platform. Citing the group’s athletic reputation, Akari expressed her desire for them to all get bikes for themselves and ride them to their remaining tour dates but, was quickly shot down.


Manami Arai and Azusa Sekine expressed their problems with living so far away in “Respect Tokyo” and alternated between playing imaginary baseball and stomping their feet while assuming power stances while singing to the driving rock of “Kira Kira Mirai”. Fans swooned when Azusa blew a kiss to the crowd and did the first of many “Miiko” chants for Minami Sengoku during the flirtatious “Bare Bare I LOVE YOU”. The concrete ground of the outdoor amphitheater trembled from fans jumping up and down as the set list transitioned into “Mecha Kyun♡Summer ( ́▽ )ノ”. “Sekki” (Sekine’s nickname) fans were given an extra helping of cuteness when she peeked through a heart made by Manami Arai and Konatsu Furukawa’s arms to point at a lucky fan and shyly whisper “Suki dayo!” during “Niji Iro Mosaic”. As the sun began to set, UPUPGIRLS (KARI) slowed things down with “End Of The Season”


As darkness fell, Saki Mori commented, “Everyone’s penlights are so pretty! It’s like a rainbow!” Ayano Sato added, “Even though it’s a big stage, everyone is so close!” Debuting their new song “Appaare”, an uptempo Latin ska EDM mashup, UPUPGIRLS (KARI) took to the seating area once again, this time armed with water pistols. Feeling unsatisfied with the lack of “firepower”, they took turns misting the audience with high-pressure hoses.


UPUPGIRLS (KARI) lead the audience in a heated “No Music! No Idol!” call and response with Akari Saho doing her trademark head banging and chopping down the front seating area. Konatsu Furukawa nearly kicked herself in the head several times (as usual) during the ending breakdown as well. The stage went dark and laser lights sliced through the air as the yagura (a traditional tower/bandstand at Japanese festivals) turned into a DJ booth and Japanese matsuri-accented EDM music blasted throughout the outdoor amphitheater.

Returning to the stage in fluorescent two-piece outfits, UPUPGIRLS (KARI) cut and slashed their way through a bass-heavy remix of “SAMURAI GIRLS”, kicking off the rave-themed second half of the concert. This began a 10-song nonstop medley that closed out the main performance. The outfits glowed under black lights during the intense and ferocious “Bijo no Yajuu”, the members stomping and clawing as the tension redlined. The ending roar transitioned right into the ticking clock intro of “Survival Girls”, strobe lights briefly interrupting the darkness on the stage. Taking full advantage of the big stage at Hibiya Yaon when it came to the part of “Uppercut” where it was time to rest, they sprawled out before continuing their dance blitzkrieg. Konatsu Furukawa whipped her hair from side to side as she punched the air and Manami Arai yelled for the fans to give them more energy as they ran through the final song of the set.


The encore began with UPUPGIRLS (KARI) appearing with penlights in their hands. Azusa Sekine calling for the fans to turn theirs on to help them perform “Cyalume”. Surrounded by the darkened night sky, the view of all the 7-colored lights was breathtaking. Azusa blinked away tears, exclaiming “I don’t want today to end!”, the audience clapping louder and louder until she cut them off with a Tamori-style clap, admitting that she had always wanted to do it. Akari Saho added, “We were all certain that it wouldn’t rain. We can do anything together! There’s nothing to fear!” The resurrection of the popular High Spurt series of 2-hour nonstop lives was announced and Ayano Sato raised the stakes by declaring that UPUPGIRLS (KARI) were aiming to appear at Ultra Japan. With the way that they had the crowd moving, why couldn’t such a thing be possible?


Because the Hibiya live marked the beginning of summer, it was fitting that “Summer Beam!” would be the last song of the night. Ayano ran back and forth on the stage asking the audience if they were ready as ominous-looking tubes were pointed directly at the front row seating area. Foam began pouring out of the tubes and UPUPGIRLS (KARI) ran through the seating area once again after unzipping their tops to reveal swimsuits and their toned abdominals forged through countless hours of dancing. With their water pistols reloaded, they sprayed down the fans as they made their way through the aisles. Manami Arai was unarmed so she settled for tossing the foam in the air as if it was snow.


UPUPGIRLS (KARI) are not just an athletic group, they seem to take on any and all challenges. Having climbed Mt. Fuji to perform, training with the Japanese Self-Defense Forces, and running the Honolulu Ekiden before a live, they have their sights set higher and lower at the same time. Despite exerting their willpower on nature and preventing rain from soaking their first outdoor solo live and biggest stage in their history as a group, the goal of the Nippon Budokan remains unconquered for 2015. In a press conference held before the concert, Saki Mori jokingly mentioned that after performing on the highest peak in Japan (Mt. Fuji), the next challenge would be to perform at the lowest part (Suruga Bay). Konatsu Furukawa admitted that making it so they could be heard singing underwater was one of the problems with such a plan. Azusa Sekine expressed the desire to perform a 24-hour live, which is something that Manami Arai would be able to legally participate in once she turns 18 (child labor laws prevent minors from working after 10:00pm). Even though it was joked that UPUPGIRLS (KARI) might find it difficult competing for an audience when the Olympics come to Tokyo in 2020 because leader Minami Sengoku would be nearing 30 by that time, with the amount of training that they do, why wouldn’t they be able to stand as proud representatives of Japan 5 years from now? No matter the circumstances set before them, UPUPGIRLS (KARI) will be aiming for the top!

Set List

00 ~overture (KARI)~
01 UPUP Typhoon
02 Zenryoku! Pump Up!!
03 ENJOY!! ENJO(Y)!!
04 Respect Tokyo
05 Kira Kira Mirai
06 Bare Bare I LOVE YOU
07 Mecha Kyun♡Summer ( ́▽ )ノ
08 Niji Iro Mosaic
09 End Of The Season
10 Yuudachi! Through the Rainbow
11 Appaare
12 Jumper!
13 Chopper☆Chopper
15 UPPER ROCK (ScreeeeeeaMix)
16 Starry Night (SEKITOVA & Shu Okuyama Remix)
17 Runway
18 Itadaki wo Mezase!
19 Bijo no Yajuu
20 Survival Girls
21 (KARI) wa Kaesuze☆be your soul
22 Wild Seven (y0c1e Remix)
23 Uppercut!

E1 Cyalume
E2 Summer Beam!

UPUPGIRLS (KARI) Zenkoku 47 Todofuken Tour 2015 RUN! UPGA RUN DASH

July 22, 2015 (Wednesday) 7:00pm Toyama MAIRO (Toyama)

July 23, 2015 (Thursday) 7:00pm Kanazawa vanvan v4 (Ishikawa)

July 24, 2015 (Friday) 7:00pm Fukui CHOP (Fukui)

August 3, 2015 (Monday) 7:00pm Shunan TIKI-TA (Yamaguchi)

August 4, 2015 (Tuesday) 7:00pm Saga GEILS (Saga)

August 5, 2015 (Wednesday) 7:00pm Nagasaki DRUM Be-7 (Nagasaki)

August 7, 2015 (Friday) 7:00pm Mito Light House (Ibaraki)

August 11, 2015 (Tuesday) 7:00pm Akita Club Swindle (Akita)

August 12, 2015 (Wednesday) 7:00pm Morioka CLUB CHANGE (Iwate)

August 26, 2015 (Wednesday) 7:00pm Wakayama Shelter (Wakayama)

August 27, 2015 (Thursday) 7:00pm Shiga U☆STONE (Shiga)

September 13, 2015 (Sunday) 3:30pm Aomori Quarter (Aomori)

September 18, 2015 (Friday) 7:00pm Matsuzaka M’AXA (Mie)

September 19, 2015 (Saturday) 3:00pm/7:00pm Gifu club-G (Gifu)

September 20, 2015 (Sunday) 2:00pm/6:00pm Hamamatsu Force (Shizuoka)

October 4, 2015 (Sunday) 2:00pm/6:00pm KashiwaPalooza (Chiba)

October 25, 2015 (Sunday) 2:00pm/6:00pm HEAVEN’S ROCK Saitama Shintoshin VJ-3 (Saitama)

UPUPGIRLS (KARI) Live House Tour 2015 “High Spurt RAVE FESTIVAL”

November 23, 2015 (Monday)
Nagoya Diamond Hall (Aichi)
Afternoon – Open: 1:30pm Start: 2:00pm
Evening – Open: 5:30pm Start: 6:00pm

November 29, 2015 (Sunday)
Kyoto FANJ (Kyoto)
Afternoon – Open: 1:30pm Start: 2:00pm
Evening – Open: 5:30pm Start: 6:00pm

December 6, 2015 (Sunday)
Zepp Tokyo (Tokyo)
Afternoon – Open: 1:45pm Start: 2:30pm
Evening – Open: 5:45pm Start: 6:30pm

Related Links

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Kai Okudara

Writer, researcher, photographer, foodie, KSDD

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