From May 21st through the 24th I was in Southern California to see one of my favorite bands play two shows on their “Hello World” World Tour. SCANDAL has been on tour since early this year and their two California shows were at the tail-end, with just one final show after in Hong Kong. But before that final show, the SCANDAL weekend in California happened… and it was fantastic!
The first show was at House of Blues on the Sunset Strip and the time was 7:30. I arrived at the venue at 2:30 and there were probably about 40 people in line already. Not too bad! I heard the first people arrived at 3am! Of course, these die-hard fans earned their front-row positions on the rail right in front of the band.
Anyways, at around 5:30 the VIP ticket holders (of which I was one) was moved to the back of the venue by the back entrance. It was near the parking lot and what was really cool was that we could hear SCANDAL doing their final sound check inside! I even heard Haruna practicing her English.
Soon the staff started letting the line in, and told us that we would first drop off any gifts in the boxes, then have our cameras ready to give to the camera-man who would take our photos with the band. When I entered the building, I could already see Tomomi, Haruna, Rina, and Mami standing there taking photos with other fans. It was sort of surreal to see them in person!
As we got closer, I dropped off the gifts I had brought for Mami (a Funashi hat) and Tomomi (some chocolates) in the gift box and then made sure my camera had the correct settings for the band photo. It was nice that we were allowed to bring in non-pro cameras, and my Fujifilm XF1 was perfect!
When it was my turn for the photo, I was surprisingly relaxed (although I can’t remember many details). I was wearing my black Converse and Rina had on a pair too, so I told her that we were wearing the same shoes. (I can’t remember if I said it in Japanese or English) Rina said “Hontou da!” and I was pretty stoked. And I like to think that is why she is lifting up her foot in the photo! I’m so glad I decided to wear those shoes.
After the picture, I thanked them, got my camera back and went to the merchandise table to buy a shirt, signed the American flag with a message to the band, and then got a space to watch the show. I was about 5 people behind front row. (The second night, I was much farther back, but still relatively close because House of Blues Anaheim is pretty small) One other perk of the VIP ticket was that we got signed posters from the band, and also I think the merchandise table closed down early, so regular ticket holders were pretty much out of luck if they wanted a t-shirt. That happened to me the second night. 🙁
(At this point in this blog post, I will just combine both nights into one)
The crowd was really fun, and filled with hardcore SCANDAL fans. Everyone had so much energy and were very friendly which made it a really good atmosphere. While we were waiting, they played concert footage on a big screen, and many people were singing along. It was pretty cool. This was my first concert which had a huge otaku draw so it was a new experience for me. A couple times it was a little overwhelming how into the band these guys and gals were, but it was really awesome too that you can be so engrossed in something and have the opportunity to totally go wild with others who share that passion. I might not have that same level of enthusiasm, but now I can certainly appreciate it, and there were a couple times (when they played a couple songs that I love) where I really got into it and joined in on the yelling and chanting. It was so fun just going crazy!
About 45 minutes after the official showtime, and after plenty of chanting from the crowd, the lights dimmed and SCANDAL took the stage. Everyone went bananas. It was awesome. I can’t remember what song they opened with, but I’m sure someone will post the setlist later. Every song was amazing, but the highlights for me were Rina singing “おやすみ” while strumming her shiny red Telecaster, Mami’s cool guitar solos, expressions, and head-banging, Tomomi’s cute hopping, and Haruna’s cool factor. She is a great front-woman.
There were a couple short breaks where the band spoke in English which were fun and cute and of course everyone went crazy again. Here are a couple links to videos of them speaking in English to the audience at Sunset Strip & at Anaheim. And here’s the crowd singing Happy Birthday to Mami. That was a really great moment.
For the encore they returned wearing concert t-shirts and played two or three more songs. On the second night, one of the songs they played was “Harukaze”, my favorite one of the set, and totally unexpected since they didn’t play that one the first night. That was an incredible moment hearing those first notes. Chills went up my spine! It’s something I will remember for the rest of my life, and that moment alone made the trip and money spent worth it. Of course meeting the band (albeit briefly) wasn’t so bad either! 😉
One special thing about the SCANDAL concert was that small cameras were allowed in the venue and they didn’t care if you took photos and video! It’s pretty great because now there are many videos on Youtube of these performances. (I even took a few very short videos, which you can find on my Youtube channel) It’s something that you can never do in Japan. I was really expecting them to announce to the audience not to take photos, but it never happened! The only thing I regret was that on the first night, I did not have my camera settings correctly set to take photos. But the next day I did some research on my particular camera and got a good default setting so I was ready for the second show. I’m pretty happy with the results. And, really, the photos are all just a bonus since I wasn’t expecting to be able to take any pictures at all!
To wrap up, I am so glad that I spent the money and time to go see SCANDAL play the two shows in California. It was such a fantastic experience and makes me think that life needs to be celebrated, in whatever way is the best for you. I got a great firsthand peek into a scene that I had not been exposed to before, and it was really fun. I can’t wait for the next event, whenever that is!
M1.love in action
M6.Kagen no tsuki
M8.Hon wo yomu
M12.Taiyo to kimi ga egaku STORY
M13.Yoake no ryuseigun
＜Encore at HOUSE OF BLUSE SUNSET STRIP, LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA, USA＞
EN2.EVERYBODY SAY YEAH!
＜Encore at HOUSE OF BLUSE ANAHEIM, ORANGE COUNTY, CALIFORNIA, USA＞
EN2.EVERYBODY SAY YEAH!