PassCode in Taipei (2018)

PassCode played in Taipei again last October, and I did not hesitate to make the trip again that time. I didn’t have to apply for a visa now, due to some new tourist policy in Taiwan for Filipinos. All I had to do next was ask Yennung, the local fan contact I’ve made from the last time I went, to help me get a ticket. In a few short days after the tour announcement, I had photo proof sent to me of my concert entry stub. 

For 2018, PassCode has released new music, and it was even better, harder, than their last release. Their recent music videos were great, and the management has kept a good balance in getting Yuna -my favorite, she who screams for the group- highlighted in some songs. It also looked like they were appearing in more TV shows in Japan. All this has me thinking this loudol (loud idol) outfit will be set for more good things soon.

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I arrived at almost noon on a wet mid-October weekend, and the Taiwan airport had a good crowd of Filipinos lined up at immigration. The hostel room I booked was a capsule, which was a setup I’ve always been curious about. It was fine for what it is, but since then, I’ve convinced myself after to not pay for an overnight stay without a window.

Despite the strong rain, I headed off to tourist spot Jiufen soon after. I don’t recall eating much, except for the snacks I had at the teahouse. The tea ceremony was notable, in my small table for two, and the server was teaching me how to brew with the set in front of me, the time calculation, and that I didn’t need to hurry. The sun was down when I left to see if I could shoot photos. I struggled taking photos. It took longer than necessary to find my way back to the hostel, as I couldn’t find the right bus back.

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Yennung gave good advise that I didn’t need to be at the concert venue early, unlike last time, when I did greet the early Taipei morning before people were up and about. Tickets weren’t sold out. I was checking social media posts of the girls, and Hinako posted a photo of bubble tea. I found the shop she got it from, which was across the street from the venue. Small victory, I’d like to think. This was past noon.

The familiarity of it all leveled off my excitement. A few minutes before we were allowed in the venue, we were all bunched up a the mall’s staircase. Yennung came a lot later than the rest of the crowd. When he showed up, he offered beer, but I had to refuse since I don’t drink. I hope my gratitude still showed with the small talk we had that time.

I took an off-center position, to the right, front row, my hands on the stage barrier. I had not paid close attention to their setlist myself, but it most likely was:

Tonight
ONE STEP BEYOND
TRACE
Never Sleep Again
all or nothing
Taking you out
bite the bullet
UNTILL THE DAWN
Voice
Maze of mind
Nextage
Scarlet night
Club Kids Never Die
Ray
MISS UNLIMITED

A third of the songs were new, and the fans were just taking in these from from the music videos. This was harder, heavier PassCode. Every member was in top form. Yuna was putting much cleaner screams, and the fan in me was relieved she wasn’t struggling to perform on stage anymore.

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My mind was set during this trip was to make up for the missed opportunities of not getting the chance to sit beside Yuna, have a photo with Yuna, last year in Japan. See, this is how idol shows work. The two shows I’ve seen that time, Yuna was recovering from an illness, and she could only accommodate ten fans for the post-concert activities. It was painful heartbreak every time.

I got three photo/cheki tickets from the merch table, and their new tour shirt. There was no intention to meet any other member. It was all Yuna now. When I got to sit beside her, I did my usual introduction in Japanese, that I was from the Philippines. Two photos were taken together, and the second photo was a pose I got from photos of fans with her online, where they cup her chin with one hand, based on a Japanese social media trend that time. I got out of my seat for the third, and she said “Solo?” and I nodded.

Yennung was nowhere to be found, and he later messaged me that he needed to leave early. I was out fast as well. I went to a night market that night, eating milkfish soup and oyster cakes. The food was average, but my heightened emotions dominated. I achieved what I came for, and there was satisfaction.

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The Beitou hot springs area was just a few stops away from central Taipei, and that is where I was that Sunday, the day after the concert. I had what was touted as authentic ramen in the area. I maybe spent a good hour soaking my body in a hotel’s outdoor bath area. A few hours later, I was in a huge tattoo shop, getting a 5-inch koi fish inked on my left forearm. The artist had a good Instagram portfolio, that it only slightly unnerved me that he has only been tattooing for a year. He told me I should visit this popular beef noodle shop before I leave Taiwan, which was what I had for dinner.

No colors filed in yet. Done by John.

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2019 is another year I’d expect I’d be Taipei-bound, for the same reason as the past two years. PassCode’s tour this year didn’t take them out of Japan though. My mixed sentiments of their latest album notwithstanding, I was fine with the situation. I was back home for a two week trip to meet friends, go to the beach, get more tattoos. Japan? No, not this year.

If there was one thing that continues bothers me, it was this one tweet where a female fan tweeted out a photo, showing FIFTEEN photos with (and without) Yuna, after just one concert. Keeping that in mind makes me feel so, so small.

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