Second concert in Japan during JET! Most of our total concert experience took place outside the building, actually. We couldn’t get tickets to their Hiroshima concert, so we took the Shinkansen all the way to Fukuoka (Marine Messe Convention Center).
I haven’t been keeping up very well with popular music in Japan lately, but I still keep up with certain bands, and Bump of Chicken is one of them.
First off, the name “Bump of Chicken” is supposed to mean, quote, “cowards strike back,” and ALL the websites I checked to try to figure out this translation said the same thing, so I figured they were all just copying and pasting something wrong without bothering to think about it or check. Turns out, they were right. I checked Japanese Yahoo answers, which gives basically the same phrase in Japanese, with a rumor about where it may have come from. I asked my friend, a teacher I work with, who told me that the “chicken” part is supposed to refer to cowards, and bump…we couldn’t figure out “bump.” Apparently, the attempt to translate it didn’t really work, but they kept it anyway. I don’t even notice it anymore.
What got me into them during college was songs like “Makkana Sora wo Mita Darou Ka” (lyrics) and “Sainoujin Ouenka” (lyrics). I liked how the song sounded already, and when I looked up the lyrics, I realized they were really good, and started liking the band a lot.
Their most recent single is “Ray,” from their album of the same name, which also has a Hatsune Miku version. (Hatsune Miku is a digital singing girl character. She has her own concerts.) My friend and I agree that the Hatsune Miku version is a little weird, but also kind of fascinating, since Bump of Chicken and Hatsune Miku feel like they’re from two different entertainment worlds. They don’t really match, but you can’t look away. She didn’t appear at the concert, but I think I’m okay with that .
3 Notable Things
From outside the concert hall.
Since they’re so popular, getting tickets is a pretty cool thing by itself. Bump of Chicken doesn’t have a fan club, which for popular groups is usually the first step to being able to even enter a lottery to get tickets (like to see Arashi). My friend entered and managed to get us tickets, but you see how it can be. And, as a result:
1. The line to wait for band merchandise was so. long.
My friend and I agreed that we have never been in a line this long before–not even at Disneyland. It took us two or three hours to get to the front of the line, inching along.
There is a fun advantage to walking back and forth past people in a long line all afternoon. I recently got a Japanese 3DS, and I turned it on so I could use Street Pass to add lots of people’s characters my “friend plaza” automatically as we passed each other. I only had five other people’s characters in my DS when I started waiting in this line, but by the time I turned the DS off to go into the concert hall, I think there were like thirty. I’d walked up and down the Shinkansen aisles to get characters on my way here like a friend had suggested, but waiting in that crazy line worked a lot better.
Eventually, you get almost to the end of that line, and as you climb the stairs to enter the inside of the building where the band merch is, you get to look down on the new line forming–people waiting out in the hot sun for the concert hall to open up.
Well, at least it wasn’t raining! Otherwise, we’d have been standing for that whole time. People in the second line were all sitting down to wait. It gets really hot out there, too–which brings us to our next point.
2. Get or bring a towel, Hitchiker-style.
Two essentials for merch to buy, if you’re going to buy it at all, are the towel and the t-shirt. If you have to boil it down to one, it’s always the towel. At the last concert I went to, I liked the band okay, but not incredibly much, so I just got the t-shirt, since none of the stuff is cheap. I was watching after that, and almost no one buys just a t-shirt and doesn’t get a towel (although towel but not buying a t-shirt happens often enough.)
The towels were either blue, or black and white, and the blue towel was more popular; so in the picture above, of the crowd that survived the line and is waiting to enter the concert hall, you can see blue everywhere, because nearly everyone who bought something got the blue towel.
The towel serves many functions, as the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy suggests it does. It soaks up the sweat on your neck during the concert, and you can wipe your face with it. It can keep the sun off your shoulders while you wait in long lines during the day, and help warm you up after you leave the concert hall and it’s cold. A lot of people (like me) hung them over their heads to keep cool from the sun in place of hats.
The towels are also an identification tool. In the second picture, there’s a girl with a red towel. That’s from a previous tour. The towels they sell change each time, so you can tell when devoted fans are back for another tour.
For the concerts I attended in the U.S., and also the two concerts I went to in Japan when I was studying abroad, it didn’t seem to matter whether you bought band goods before or after the concert, and the wait was never incredibly long. This concert, and the one I went to the month before (Radwimps), had long lines to wait in, where you purchased the stuff you wanted before the concert had even started. It’s a little weird for me to buy the band’s stuff before I’d seen them live yet–because, how do you know if they’re good live and whether you want to get their stuff until after you’ve seen them, right? I feel like the fact that fans are willing to wait in a line this long before the concert has even happened shows their commitment.
3. Another thing that is a “thing” are the band trucks.
At both of the two concerts I’ve been to on JET, the band parked their trucks outside the hall, and fans took turns taking pictures of the trucks and in front of the trucks. My friend and I were waiting in line, so we took turns holding our place in line so the other could go take pictures of the trucks. The first truck had the band’s name; here’s one that had the concert name (RAY), the theme of the concert (Will Polis), and the tour number (#14).
The plane and blimp were an airship that appeared in the really cool animated sequence at the beginning of the concert.
The line, the towel, and the trucks were all consistent with my experience at a Radwimps concert the month before, and they’re pretty popular too, so I think you can assume that these experiences will hold out for any popular rock band in Japan that is difficult to get tickets to see. It was hot, there wasn’t always a lot of shade, and we had to wait a long time, but I would still recommend it because it’s fun to wait excitedly for something with everyone!