A bowl of breakfast cereal was still had at the hostel after a noodle breakfast at the market. I convinced myself it will hit a spot in the gut of satisfaction, and it did. That day, a Sunday, fans will have lunch with the ladies of Yanamyu. There’s not much else on the itinerary. Maybe parlor games? Maybe a Q&A?
It was another long walk to reach the metro. The metro itself was not a far cry from the super-tech ones in China, but a mere fever dream for a place like Manila. I got to the restaurant with no incident, oh but just that one wrong turn that was easily remedied.
Six small tables, and just the right amount of air conditioning. It didn’t take too long for most of the participants to fill the place. Thai, Japanese, one white face, and two other Asians who bothered to book a plane trip to see idols -the best idols!- me and Den, from Malaysia, with whom I needed to bunch with since we don’t do Thai nor Nihonggo.
Bangkok looked like a better Manila, a Manila that could be. It didn’t take too long for this to sink in last Saturday morning, navigating the streets, in the muggy heat, sharply contrasting with the sub 10 degree weather in Shanghai, where I was at just the night before.
I was here for a concert for Japanese idol rock group Yanakoto Sotto Mute. I’ve started following them a few years ago, when I was more than eager to discover more acts in the ‘alternative idol’ space. They’ve eventually taken the position of being the best out there for me. When an overseas concert in Thailand was announced, I was in. When Japanese idol groups do this, there’s bound to be a smaller, a more intimate crowd setting. Plus, there was no visa caveat in it for me.
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.
When Yennung handed me over my gig ticket last Sunday, the big relief that came wasn’t the overwhelming sort, maybe because the physical fatigue I’ve went through to be there (spent the night at the airport for an early morning Shanghai to HK to Taipei flight the day before) was still very present. More than a week ago, Yennung was an internet stranger who heeded my call when I showed interest in going to a concert in Taipei by posting on a Facebook fanclub. I wasn’t asking for anything specifically, but about 2 days after we chatted, I was looking at a photo of an electronically printed piece of paper that, figuratively, had my name on it.
The year 2016 wasn’t much of a change from the routine. I watched the usual post-rock shows, but had on normal listening rotation a thing, this thing that I didn’t get into because I’m into music that just should not be regular, or even hip. There was simply an invisible hand, a gravitation towards it. There’s no definitive tag to it, so let’s give it the loose term it’s been given by fellow fans: alt-idol.