See part one of this series here.
Venue: Umeda Akaso
Location: A few blocks away from HEP Five in Umeda
Additional costs: ï¿¥500 for a drink coin
This standing-only venue is my least favorite. In fact, I think itâ€™s a fire hazard. Doors open about half an hour before the concert begins, but they let everyone in based on your ticket number A 1~300 followed by B 1~300, if I observed correctly. If you have a B ticket, donâ€™t bother showing up early. If you have an A ticket, be sure to get in, get your drink, and get as close to the stage as possible. Iâ€™ve already said how much Iâ€™m not a fan of standing concerts, but this venue is pretty much one giant room with a stage, a bar, a bathroom, and hopefully some emergency exits hidden somewhere backstage. Basically, good luck seeing the artist if you canâ€™t find a good spot to stand or pray to the concert gods that all the tall people in front of you stand in such a way that you can see the artist in between their heads. If you can avoid it, stay away from this deathtrap of a venue.
Event: KOTOKO Robotic Lizard May 8 (æ—¥) 2016
This concert was an interesting exploration into KOTOKOâ€™s music. Usually of a pretty typical anime style, I was surprised to find that her music has more of a techno-y hip hop spin to it. Because of the venue, the viewing conditions were abhorrent and it got really stuffy and hot. Her mostly male fans were very into the music though, and it was on occasion entertaining to watch their crazy dancing and awkward interactions with female fans. You know a concert isnâ€™t the best, however, when you find yourself wondering, is this the last song?
Event: Yanagi Nagi Follow My Steps May 29 (æ—¥) 2016
Having not learned my lesson from the KOTOKO concert/really hoping to hear some Nagi no Asukara or Amnesia music, I arrived when the doors opened for this concert with the plans of getting a better viewing spot. Those hopes came crashing down as I learned their admission procedure. Having a ticket for something in the B 200s, any shot of getting a spot close to the stage went down the drain along with all the droplets of that rainy day. The spot that I finally managed to snag, though, wasnâ€™t half bad. I was able to see Yanagi Nagi for most of the concert, though this involved shifting around a bit, and standing my ground when others started encroaching on my personal space. Her music was on the light girlish side for a typical anime music artist with a touch of occasional rock. It reminded me of Sakamoto Maayaâ€™s music a little bit, perhaps what it mightâ€™ve sounded like in her earlier less experienced days. Overall, the concert was acceptable and as a nice little bonus, Yanagi Nagi had a stamp made for the concert that fans could stamp on their ticket. Yay!
Venue: Osaka Billboard LIVE
Location: Near Nishi Umeda close to the Hanshin Line/ Herbs Ent
One of my favorite venues of all time, Billboard LIVE lets you see the performers up close. With not a bad seat in the house, the more expensive table seats close to the stage allow you to order food if youâ€™d like to enjoy dinner there before the concert, and the less expensive bar-stool-like seats facing the stage at the back give you more freedom of movement between the bathroom and the bar if you happen to need to get up in the middle of the performance. Your ticket comes in the form of lanyard like badge (which you give back at the end), and it includes one free drink. You can purchase the artistâ€™s CDs and pay for your meal at the end of the concert, so donâ€™t be confused by the lines. Because this is a smaller venue, at the end of the concert, sometimes the artists will do a meet and greet and sign your CD or give you a hug. With lots of international and local artists performing at Billboard, be sure to catch one of your favorite artists at this nice, intimate venue.
Event: Kina Grannis Concert September 12 (é‡‘) 2014
One of my first concerts ever in Japan was going to see Kina Grannis two years ago. Sheâ€™s an artist that became famous through making YouTube videos of cover songs as well as writing her own. At this time, she had just released a new album called Elements and played a bunch of her new songs at this concert, mixed with lots of her songs from her first album Stairwells. I had a fun time singing along with songs like â€œValentineâ€ & â€œIn Your Armsâ€, and really enjoyed hearing â€œImpermanentâ€ & â€œForever Blueâ€ for the first time. The feelings in her songs were palpable in the air and combined with the acoustics of the venue, allowed you to really feel the music beating through the table and your seat. She and her band were incredible. <3
Event: Priscilla Ahn May 27 (é‡‘) 2016
I became acquainted with Priscilla Ahnâ€™s music through one of the newer Ghibli movies ã€Œæ€ã„å‡ºã®ãƒžãƒ¼ãƒ‹ãƒ¼ã€(When Marnie was There). I really love hearing the live version of songs that I enjoy and I was not disappointed. About halfway through the concert, she played two songs from her Marnie album, one being â€œFine on the Outsideâ€. It was really nice to hear more of her work and discover new songs. I especially liked her song about living in a tree called â€œIn a Treeâ€ and another about asking the rain not to go away called â€œRainâ€. She now has a baby boy, so she also sang us some songs that she wrote for him, which was really sweet. The concert was also the perfect length, not too long, or too short, which was just nice cuz it was the late 9:30pm show, and so it left plenty of time to not catch the last train home.
A week before this concert, I was in Tokyo with Brittany and we went to Seiseki Sakuragaoka to check out the town that ã€Œè€³ã‚’ã™ã¾ã›ã°ã€ (Whisper of the Heart), my favorite Ghibli movie was based off of, and as magical icing on the cake would have it, Priscilla Ahn sang the movie version of â€œCountry Roadsâ€ which she said sheâ€™d first sung on the very same stage five years earlier. X> It was fantastical.