An Cafe’s ANCAFESTA ’12 SUMMER DIVE: Day 1
Some might have considered September 8 to be Autumn but the sweltering heat ensured that An Cafe’s 2-and-a-half-year-revival live title, SUMMER DIVE, was well within its rights. In the foyer, fans celebrated in advance, taking photographs with cardboard cut-outs to show off their myriad examples of Harajuku-style fashion in tribute to the Kings of Harajuku, now returned to their crowns.
A suitably triumphant fanfare greeted the rise of the SUMMER DIVE banner and a cheerful circus tune brought the band back to their dutifully waiting Cafe-kko. In fact, An Cafe entered from amidst their fans, appearing in the stands and making their way through the arena to the stage while waving joyfully and slapping hands within reach.
Screams resounded with the opening strains of almost every number but the pent-up excitement exploded with cheers for the bright, vibrant start of “Smile Ichiban Ii Onna” and blue and silver streamers flew out over the crowd, settling into grabbing hands, thousands of which chopped the air in time with the music. Endlessly waving arms and heart signs greeted the first solo of the evening from guitarist takuya. Meanwhile, miku whirled his mic stand like a quarter staff, deftly confident and obviously thankful to be “home.” “Touhi Kairo” began with smoke jets and a growl from miku, blood-red light blanketing the stadium. Yet the heavy piece segued mysteriously smoothly into a cheery chorus. miku finished the song with a growl that sounded something like “Red guitar, trash bastard.”
If the opening number received a roar, “Takaido” earned a veritable. cacophony. The member-calls were loud and proud, but none as vigorous as the “NYAPPY! NYAPPY! NYAPPY!” practice round or the final shouts of “An Cafe! An Cafe! An Café!” miku was jubilant. “Yoyogi, Nyappy! That long-awaited ‘Nyappy’ feels wonderful!” he admitted to which the crowd chorused their own long-awaited words, “Welcome back!”
“It’s like meeting your friend for the first time after a long summer holiday,” miku mused, though he soon grew up. “Today is the honeymoon, so let’s enjoy it!” Green lasers beamed out and the show’s title song brought some real rock to the show. Despite miku’s mellow vocals, the instrumental side of “SUMMER DIVE” was full of gritty guitar and kanon kept it real on bass throughout the verses. The band was surrounded by 360 degrees of dedicated furitsuke (detailed hand choreography), jumping and the visual kei standard, oritatami (folding from the waist). “Wagamama Koushinkyoku” saw miku, kanon and takuya shuffling back and forth across the stage, then the vocalist began leaning forward in response to the crowd’s outstretching hands before returning to moshing like a party clown. “Everyone copy me!” he encouraged, though An Cafe fans proved the vocalist to be braver than they. A sweet vocal solo leat a moment of gravity to the number before teruki drove the song home with punchy drums.
A circle of green pinpricks rotated about miku who danced and twirled, a fun beginning to the traditionally festive yet hyper “Tekesuta Kousen.” Dancing and clapping enhanced the festival atmosphere though miku’s half-growl brought about a round of violent diving into the musical accents. The crowd sung their lines with relish, hands curling into hearts while onstage kanon fervently rocked out and miku sent his mic stand toppling carelessly to the floor, his attention 100% focused on the fans.
“We’re going to re-write this as your best summer memory and if there is anyone who didn’t have fun in the summer then this will be the best memory yet,” miku announced.
teruki reflected upon his best memory: A trip taken together with kanon. “There was a small frog in the bath which surprised kanon,” he revealed with a laugh.
“I just want everyone to explode today,” came takuya’s take on the summer.
Not letting yu-ki get a word in edgeways from behind his keyboard, teruki was full of revelations. “yu-ki has a lot of free time. miku suggested we put fliers in post boxes so yu-ki stood looking at his own post box for a very long time before putting an end to that plan by deciding our fliers wouldn’t fit.”
yu-ki was quite happy to return to business, instructing the crowd in the intricately complicated actions he personally designed for the track “Blooming saku-” of the recent Amazing Blue release. After three practices adding first rhythm and then vocals, the crowd frantically rehearsed as the band talked on and soon got their chance to try their hands with the real thing. Despite the sweet simplicity of the tune, the actions added a touch of straightforward expression and the crowd certainly enjoyed the new number. “Wow, you were all together!” miku praised. Their reward was the maturely jazzy “Koi no Dependence.” miku’s mellow tones suited the number to a tee, kanon’s bass solo and suave verse backing in tandem with teruki’s drums bringing the adult time to a peak as miku sunk to his knees in supplication.
From out of the darkness, a deep blue glow lit “Jibun Setsumeisho (self instruction manual).” Star wands flared to life around the stands, waving side to side and twinkling magically in concert with the lovely, gentle tune.
Disney-ish music and a voiceover explaining that the pirates were in a pinch began a strange performance. Voices raised or lowered in pitch and extended to cartoonish tempo, the band took on their pirate personas. kanon called out “Yahoo!” to the sea, shocked at hearing it reply and was soon greeted by teruki. “Good morning, kanon. I studied all night so I haven’t slept.” The two soon established they were hungry and wondered if yu-ki was cooking breakfast as he should have been.
“I’m not cooking yet,” yu-ki announced unabashedly. “takuya is supposed to gather the ingredients but I haven’t seen him.”
“The fish just aren’t biting!” takuya complained, appearing with convenient timing.
“I’m hungry, too,” miku droned in a comically slow, character voice.
All of a sudden, a storm broke the peace of the ocean and the band was set upon by Ikachichi (squid daddy). He counted four humans, confused by the squid-smell coming from yu-ki which alerted the band to the fact that he could not see. Even so, Ikachichi set a challenge for them to overcome.
Long story short, the band were forced to take turns one by one to sing the viral phrase from a Japanese bathroom deodorant commercial–“Shoushuu riki”–correctly, all failing for various tonal and lyrical issues until the crowd were roused to sing with them, not once, but three times. “If you don’t sing out at full strength this time, we’ll be stuck in ‘shoushuu riki’ time!” miku warned. The crowd seemed to take him at his word, belting out long and loud and finally earning a pass.
“At last, we can finally advance!” the band cheered. However, miku wasn’t satisfied until he had the crowd singing out an encore of “NYAPPY!” fingers raised in the traditional hand signal.
“NYAPPY in the world” took off boldly, first arms flying, then heads. miku hefted a plastic hammer and talked the crowd through. “Oi, girl there! Hey, you, boy! No resting!” As the crowd headbanged, he posed a question. “Who do think has the least ‘experience?’” he quizzed. Though the unanimous consensus was “miku!” the vocalist must have been wearing earplugs, for he heard “yu-ki!” and proceeded to ask the keyboardist about the depth of his “experience.”
“In gaming?” yu-ki asked, an invisible anime-style sweatdrop materializing in his nervous tone.
“Are you a man?” miku jeered. “No really, is it less than the capacity of this venue?”
yu-ki elected to pass on the question and miku let the issue drop. “Ok, music start!” he called, and the song wound on, ending with an unfortunate Donald Duck impression clarified only by the sock puppet miku held aloft.
“Do you remember what time this is now?” miku asked. One girl made her knowledge known with a shout of “Nagata!” impressing the band enough to make her raise her hand for acknowledgement.
The segment featured teruki who explained, “Our staff renamed all the set lists with ‘teruki’s Monomane (impression) Revenge’ but I never lost! I was never competing, so how could I lose?” All the same, he treated the crowd to his secret seventh impression of Gian (Jaian) from Doraemon with a few others on the side. Wiping the slate clean with an overwhelmingly adorable “Kun-kun!” teruki certainly succeeded in his revenge if there was any to be had.
“Raise your lights!” cried the vocalist, the pretty twinkles just as effective for the upbeat “Amazing Blue,” waving along to the slight funk in the beat. Towards the end, yu-ki took the spotlight, rocking down off his podium, his inner family-friendly-hip-hop artists shining as brightly as the stars lighting the stadium. Swift drums and exciting cymbals made the transition into “Bou K Mental Clinic (You-know-who K Mental Clinic)” and the crowd shouted along with miku. Green lights zeroed back and forth between kanon and teruki for short, solo exhibitions. Meanwhile, the vocalist kept active, taking off down the ramp, sitting on the far stage-right rail and heading up to the cat-walk above the stage to greet the fans behind. He pulled out all the stops for a heavy turn to the music, the instrumentals supplying all the power needed to propel the crowd back and forth before a proud return to the song’s winning chorus.
“Yoyogi, toss your heads!” miku yelled–and heads flew. A literal bang blasted off “OmochaGangu,” sparks bursting onstage, soon cooled off by smoke jets that exacerbated the down-and-dirty angry rock. The contrast with the blindingly bright finale was marked, and only served to further highlight the positivity of “Kakusei Heroism.” Arms flashed towards the stage as the catchy melody was brought to life by yu-ki’s dramatic synthesized accents. His input made the number truly special and finished the show with a dynamic flourish.
“Mou ippai (literally, “one more cup of coffee”–the unique, Cafe-kko way of asking the band to play one more time)!” shouted the crowd and they responded with simpering cries as the band returned to them.
“It’s been a long time,” miku began. “I never thought it would feel this good. How about you, kanon?”
“It’s like sinking into the very best bath at the sento (public bath-house),” kanon replied.
miku soon turned serious, thanking everyone for waiting while yu-ki backed him up with an emotional keyboard melody. “I pushed myself to become an adult but I think An Cafe is to us–and to everyone out there–a land of dreams; a place for children. You’re all working hard at your jobs and at school but when you need a little cheer or to let off some steam, I hope you can come here—to us. That’s what I wish for An Cafe’s return. With these feelings fresh in mind, please listen to this song:” “YOU” made a suitable conclusion to the speech, from loud and proud instruments to miku’s soft vocal melody, his sequined mic sparkling with all the joy and love directed to the stage from thousands of viewers.
Energizing and playful, “Ese Uranai” broke the serenity with a cheeky beat and groovy bass. miku led the difficult choreography, taking a dainty curtsy as the number paused. “Daisuki da (I love you)!” he shouted, and the crowd responded in kind. At miku’s prompt, the entire venue bloomed in a field of red, An Cafe towels raised and stretched out around and below. As if loathe for the night to end, the band dragged out “BondS~Kizuna~” with varying instrumentals, the crowd shouting from start to finish until miku wound it up, headbanging himself to dishevelment. “Did you re-assign today as your best summer memory?” he asked, and the crowd roared.
“Every day people told us they were waiting for An Cafe,” teruki began emotionally. “We were able to come back because of you Cafe-kko.”
“Having a place to say ‘I’m home!’ and being welcomed ‘home’ is truly amazing,” takuya added.
“Even though we practiced a lot and had lots of preparations to make, I didn’t really believe we were reviving until I got up on this stage and saw you all out there,” miku confessed. “Thank you all.”
The spectacular revival accomplished a sound re-affirming of the bond between An Cafe and their fans, leaving no doubt that the band is ready for a fresh start. That was the sensation inside the stadium at the end of that first of two consecutive celebratory shows.
- Smile Ichiban Ii ♀ (Onna)
- Touhi Kairo
- SUMMER DIVE
- Wagamama Koushinkyoku
- Tekesuta Kousen
- Blooming -saku-
- Koi no Dependence
- Jibun Setsumeisho (Self Instruction Manual)
- ~ Etcetera THE SUMMER ~
- NYAPPY in the world
- Duck no Magical Adventure
- Amazing Blue
- Bou K Mental Clinic (You-know-who K Mental Clinic)
- Kakusei Heroism
- Ese Uranai
There are 17 photos in this visual kei exclusive.