By 6AM, the morning of the concert, I was regretting buying the breakfast pasta I got from McDonalds, because I didn’t know it was actually macaroni soup. See, I was intent on bringing food I could eat while queued up for the gig, and this obviously wouldn’t work.
I arrived in Hong Kong early afternoon the day before, settled in at Casa Hotel, was not too surprised how small my room was, but soon realized, even if I just finished work at 8AM earlier that day, I will probably have sufficient, but not too satisfying, sleep. The bed was harder than expected, and the 5 hours of slumber halted around 4AM, when I checked the Hong Kong Perfume fan group and read that people will start lining up at 8AM. Thirty minutes went by, I didn’t think I’ll be able to catch sleep again anyway.
The cab driver knew where I wanted to go to, which was what the hotel staff told me as I asked them to write down the concert venue address in Chinese. There wasn’t a line to speak of, and I went around the building to be sure of this. Fifteen minutes later, Theo, a Hong Kong student, clad in the t-shirt he designed for the local fans, showed up and introduced himself.
We were able to peek at the actual stage when we decided to enter the building, and it didn’t take long before a half-dozen more people showed up. An organizer instructed us to build a line instead on another floor, where I had the surprise that I wasn’t the first one there. There is, objectively, really no time and place to stereotype people based on appearance, but there was no way this person who is now officially ahead of the line will be watching the concert. He couldn’t even name his favorite member of Perfume when asked.
This part of the experience wasn’t expected. I was prepared to be out in the sun, asking to be excused from the line at times when I needed to, and being bored out of my wits. We were indoors, had strong wi-fi, less than a minute walk to the washrooms, an elevator a few steps away which leads to the other floors, with restaurants, cafes, and a 7-11. I had the unfortunate state of not having a spare charge for my phone, and being camera-less as well, but snaps were taken when I could. Who could resist the cosplayers?
Token sighting: Mikiko, Perfume’s infamous choreographer, was at Starbucks when I was getting coffee myself. Unfortunately, she was sitting and in an involved conversation with someone else. I frankly wouldn’t know what I would’ve done if we were both around the counter, where a short chat wouldn’t be too bad an idea.
The best parts was when the fans would drum up conversations, and actually share things with you. I was given two local magazines earlier that day, where Perfume was featured during their promo tour for the concert. Later in the afternoon, a (now unnamed!) super-nice Perfume fan from Tokyo started talking to me, asking initially if I liked Perfume, left, and came back with photocopies of early Perfume memorabilia from the members themselves -way before the arena tours, right about the time they were considered a pop indie idol group- and artist drawings from someone who went to the group’s recent JPN tour. I heard the most awesome “Sugoi!“, when I told him I was from the Philippines. He also showed me his copy of a JPN photobook, where I’ve seen scans online, but only realized how beautiful it was in print.
I wasn’t too fond of A-chan’s photo from this series though.
By mid-afternoon, I wasn’t all wrong with my earlier assumption: a tall dude who fits well with the crowd talked to the person in front of me, and took his place. Turns out he was from Taiwan, and flew in for the concert. The queue by this time was in a good, jolly swell. More cosplayers showed up, and Nihonggo was spoken rather frequently along with Cantonese. Admirable is the word, when Japanese fans themselves -my rough count: two dozen- would support Perfume like this. I even saw someone from their group holding up a sign later that day, saying that they had spare tickets to provide anyone else who wants to watch.
At about a quarter to four, I found my place on a second queue: for Perfume tour merchandise. My loot? A shirt, a towel, a shopping bag, and all the discs they were selling (JPN, the JPN Tour DVD, and the Love the World compilation CD). I fought with myself if I should wear the shirt for the concert, but there is no other better occasion to wear it anyway.
Before seven, with my belly partially full of spaghetti I was hoping, real hard, will agree with my digestion, the security came to our floor to organize the queue.