If I could travel back in time a few years and tell myself “one day in the near future, you will not only witness a fantastic Idol group live but it will also change your current perspective on the scene!” I would’ve laughed at myself, cranked up SCANDAL on my headphones and walked on down the road. Fast forward to HYPER JAPAN Festival 2019; I’m crouching down in front of the stage, camera poised and ready to capture NECRONOMIDOL‘ s live set, completely oblivious to the impact the next 30 minutes will have on me.
This wouldn’t be my first experience with the Idol scene but one that would definitely leave a lasting impression. I’ve captured live photos of TOKYO FLAVOR, The Hoopers & SHOHJYOTAI to name a few from previous HYPER JAPAN events and while I found each act entertaining, post event I never had any inkling to seek out more info about them online or research their music further because, simply put: “I didn’t get it”.
As I get older, my musical tastes have expanded and grown a great deal from my ‘only Metal & Punk’ teen years. SCANDAL were the first band for me that opened the door into the world of JROCK and having that ‘Western’ style and sound, it was a simple transition and I felt right at home in an instant. Idol music always seemed out of reach to me. From an outsiders viewpoint, the fandom seemed quite intense and my first impressions were: if you don’t know the ‘call and response’ to each song, you’re going to look a bit of a muppet at [insert group] live show.
I’ve even had discussions with other Japanese music fans over the past few years and even their dedication and passion didn’t rub off on me! I think it was more of a case that I simply felt happier sticking to what I knew and not wanting to break out of my musical comfort zone. I’m glad to say it’s less of an occurrence these days, I mean KPOP bigshots: BLACKPINK are one of my most played artists on Spotify this year and I would never have seen that coming a mile off!
Back to HYPER JAPAN Festival 2019 and NECRONOMIDOL are simply winning me over with every track! The choreography is way more intense, precise and ‘story driven’ than I was expecting and each member is really giving their all to ensure both the fans and their energy levels remain high throughout their performance.
The fans at HYPER JAPAN are clapping, cheering the group on and raising their fists to the sky in support and being in between the fans and NECRONOMIDOL in the photo pit, the buzz really does create an air of electricity that I haven’t experienced until now! Before I know it, NECRONOMIDOL have completed their whirlwind performance and I’m left thinking: “Holy shit! That was amazing!!” I wasn’t expecting that response but I’m always pleasantly surprised when it happens!
I find myself listening to NECRONOMIDOL’s albums on Spotify during my journey home and even more so the following day when I’m editing my photos from HYPER JAPAN. I can’t seem to shake ‘SKULLS IN THE STARS’ from my mind! It’s a catchy number that has me hitting repeat time and time again!
It’s not long before I realise that the group will be performing in London two days after HYPER JAPAN and I now find myself in a situation I haven’t been in before: “Ok NECRONOMIDOL, you’ve got me! I’m intrigued… I’ve got to check out your full live show!” During the day at work, I catch myself humming ‘SKULLS IN THE STARS’ while I’m busy updating a few spreadsheets and quietly smirk at the idea that this would’ve been preposterous a few years ago!
I arrive at The Underworld, Camden in good time and bump into a few familiar faces, not only those I see regularly at many other J-music gigs but also a few new faces I met at HYPER JAPAN this year! It was great seeing YUKIKA perform again after meeting her and enjoying her lively set from last Summer’s HYPER JAPAN Festival but as the clock counted down towards 9.05pm, you could feel the excitement as soon as the house lights went down. It was time for NECRONOMIDOL to take the stage!
While there was a strong turnout for tonight’s performance, the hardcore fans were already at the front of the stage and had been since the doors opened at 7pm but I was content standing just right of centre and having a great (but cautious) view of the stage. I wasn’t here to judge, I just wanted to experience their full live show for myself.
It was (as expected), an expanded version of what we saw at HYPER JAPAN with intertwined, extended choreography, carefully linking each performance together and minus a few MC breaks to catch their breath, they didn’t seem exhausted at all! Even after 80 minutes!!
You might be thinking: “Well…were the fans as intense as you pictured??” Well, no. That might be a different situation in Japan but I found everyone nothing short of their full support and admiration of the talented group that were in front of them. Many fans did know the ‘call and response’ (apologies if that isn’t the correct term, I’m still kinda new to this! :P) and as the set progressed, I felt myself edging more into the crowd, not feeling like a muppet for not knowing all the moves but happy to get involved and throw my fist into the air and enjoy myself which to me, is what it’s about. The participation element and having a great time with the music you appreciate with like minded fans who feel the same and that’s what I love about live music!
All said and done, it was a very memorable few days. Of course, I’m not oblivious to the Idol scene and have been enjoying the sounds of ‘BILLIE IDLE’, ‘THERE THERE THERES‘, ‘ONEPIXCEL‘ & ‘DEVIL NO ID‘ fairly recently thanks to Spotify knowing more of what I enjoy then I do! However, this recent experience has definitely opened my eyes to wanting to see and experience more Idol acts live in the UK. I’m just hoping I won’t have to wait too long before my next gig!
A huge shout out to Chris and Dave at ORION Live for all their hard work, bringing the best acts to the UK for us to enjoy!
Check out my full NECRONOMIDOL HYPER JAPAN Festival 2019 live gallery here.