~Nekocon 2010 Friday~
Friday got off to an early start since the hotel's breakfast service ends at 9am on weekdays, so You and I were up by 8 or so to get ready and head down to eat. One of the first things You said to me after the "Ohayo~" exchange was that she noticed I'd left Yuu-kun on the couch last night instead of taking him to bed with me. Aww. XD; Then she asked if I'd managed to sleep at all and I told her about 2 hours... she looked all surprised and concerned, aww. ♥ Anyway, I decided to hold off on showering until after breakfast and went down in my sleep stuff and infamous colorful piggie slippers (which nobody noticed yet, but that would change >>). You, Hiro, Yuichi, and I went on first and started through the long, busy, soon-to-close breakfast line. We were still doing that some time later when Daisuke and Tak finally came down, and when Daisuke saw me he made it a point to stop and smile and say "Ohayo~ :D" Gah so sweet...
Breakfast was fairly uneventful though... I finally finished getting my food and went to join You and Yuichi at their little table (to be completed by Hiro's addition later on). They took lots of interest in all the different food offerings, and I learned that Hiro is the big eater of the group, which shouldn't be a surprise since he's about twice as tall as the other four. XD Yeah, he ate like three plates, LOL. Anyway... Daisuke and Tak sat somewhere else, but it was cute when Tak wandered by later and saw the cereal and milk in my bowl, and he said "Oh, so that's how you eat that!" XD;; Another fun moment was when Daisuke stopped by our table with his video camera running, making comments like "Amazing, isn't it? We all only slept for 2 or 3 hours, yet everyone was good and got up for breakfast~" XD
But otherwise not much was really going on, so I excused myself a bit before the others and headed upstairs to grab my shower. By the time I finished, the rest of them had returned to our floor, and we laid out their schedule for the day - sound check around 11, opening ceremony at 3, then a few hours off until line check that evening at 8 followed by the concert at 9. They debated a bit as to whether they should get into makeup for the opening ceremony or wait until after, since they'd be done up aaaaaalllll day if they did it beforehand, but they decided to do it anyway since it would be the con attendees' first glimpse of them and they wanted people to know what kind of band they were. So they decided to allow two hours for that, meaning they'd end sound check around 1pm to start getting into makeup.
With that settled, some of them asked me if they would be able to go check out the main events hall where the concerts would be held, just to get an idea of things. It was probably 10ish at this point, quite some time before we'd planned to start their sound check, so after calling Roger to make sure the hall was open I gathered the band to walk them over. This was also their first time actually walking to the convention center and through the inside of it, so they took a lot of interest in how close it was to our hotel, how things were laid out, etc. And of course, when we got to the main events hall, they were FLOORED by the size of the place. :D They ran around checking things out from all angles and exploring the stage and finding things they'd want to have changed, adjusted, added, etc.
After a few minutes of this, they were so excited that they asked me if they could just go grab their equipment from the hotel and start sound check NOW. I said sure, since I had been told that the hall would be open and ready for them anytime they were ready, and off they went to get the stuff while I waited behind. I had also been asked to request a bigger box for Daisuke, or a second one to stack up since the one they'd arranged for him was lower than he was used to... and Yuichi also had me ask if they'd be able to get wireless guitar cables. As I relayed all this to the engineers, I also let them know that the band might be starting sound check a bit earlier than planned... but they ended up taking longer than I expected getting their stuff, so it was almost 11am anyway by the time they did get started. Ah well, heh.
Sound check was... sound check, pretty much. It was a bit later before Roger finally showed up to the hall, but things still ran pretty smoothly from start to end. The engineers did have wireless cables for both guitars and the bass (which made those three very happy :D)... but not as much success in finding a box (or combination thereof) in the height that Daisuke wanted. They found a second one of about the same height to stack under the first one they'd brought him, but after trying it out Daisuke decided to just go with the original single low box and leave it at that.
One less-than-optimal thing about the sound check, though, was that even though they had basically a full two hours for it, we had to rush them through the last half hour or so in order to leave them enough time to get into their makeup for the opening ceremony at 3pm. It was maybe 1:15 when they finished up and headed back to the hotel to do that, and I had been instructed by Don sometime during sound check to meet him at the booth sometime so I could get the con badges for myself and the band. So I did that as the band returned to the hotel... and also sold one copy of Hachi and helped Don with a bit of quick equipment repair while I was there, lol.
Finally I returned to the hotel, but not much was going on since the band was all busy getting into costumes and makeup... then I tried to take a potty break only to find that all of a sudden our toilet wasn't working. So I had to call the front desk to send someone up to fix it. Some minutes later I answered a knock at the door to be greeted by Yuichi in almost-complete makeup and costume, complete with the crazy smudgy black lipstick. You was near the door too so she laughed at him and said "Scary, isn't he?" Which got a big silly smile out of him. XD But yeah, then he pointed behind him at a maintenance guy standing nearby, whom I waved in to fix our toilet. Meanwhile Yuichi told us that the guy had somehow knocked at HIS room first, so when he opened the door in his makeup and stuff the poor guy just stared at him in blank shock. XD;;; Heh, too bad I missed that...
Not much else went on as they finished their makeup, and soon enough it was 3pm and we were rushing on our way to the convention center. The goal was actually to have them backstage by 2:45... they didn't make it, but the MC guy was just starting his opening speech when we got there and the band wasn't set to take the stage until somewhere in the middle of the program anyway, so we were good. I ushered them backstage and filled them in on what would be happening - Roger and Male Angel would take the stage first to work the crowd, then they'd call the band up, each member would give a quick comment, I'd be there to translate, and we'd be home free. So we waited while a few other guests had their introductions first, and then our time came. I followed Yuichi, the last member in line, onto the stage, and he was the first to give his comment... as well as the only one to speak in Japanese and require my interpretation. The other four showed off their English skillz. Talk about making my job easy. XD; Oh, but Hiro's introduction was AWESOME. He started by shouting "MY NAME IS...!" over and over, inserting breaks to let the crowd scream for a moment before repeating, and finally ending with a tiny, barely audible "...Hiromitsu." His real name. XDD Then he returned to shout mode with "CALL ME HIRO!" Audience screams... "CALL ME HIRO!!!" Audience shouts "HIRO!"... and finally he jumped onto Daisuke's box thingy, yelled "SHUT UP!!!" and walked back to his spot in the line. XDD He is a riot, haha.
And that pretty much concluded our part in the opening ceremony. We all filed off the stage, shared a few laughs over Hiro's stunt :P, and then Roger brought me a pile of menus to show them and decide what they wanted to order for lunch. Among them were Chinese, pizza, subs, and... a couple other things... so they discussed for a moment and finally decided on pizza. There were a couple different pizza menus there, one for Dominos and one for a smaller, possibly local type place, and they decided to go with the smaller one because, as Tak said, "We should get something you can't find in Japan." Since apparently they do have Dominos in Japan. Yeah, definitely loving these guys' attitudes toward food. :D
So in the end, a couple of them ordered pasta, one or two went for a salad, and they rounded out the order with a large combination pizza to split amongst everyone. So with that done we were ready to head back to the hotel to chill for a couple hours... right after Roger lined them up there in the hallway to take a very cool group picture for the Tainted Reality Twitter. Also right after that, the band wanted a little photo session outside the front of the convention center and handed me no less than five cameras to take some group shots in front of the entrance. Hehe. But yeah... with that done, we returned to the hotel.
We estimated at least 40 minutes before their food would be delivered, so the members asked me if they'd have time to go find a bank and get their money exchanged since they apparently couldn't do it at the airport. You said she knew where to go since she'd asked an employee for directions, and it sounded like it'd be just a block or two away, so we decided to give it a shot. They were still in full makeup and costume, but at least they decided to take out their contacts first. XD;
So after a few minutes we met up in the hallway to go find the bank (except Hiro, who fell asleep lol). The trip got off to a very amusing start when, after just a couple minutes, we heard a car horn honking endlessly and finally turned to see the car driving past, with its driver waving his arm out the window and screaming "WOOOOOO!" at us. The band got a kick out of that, naturally. :P They asked me if that was normal in America and I was like, "Not really..." So the next question was "But a lot of people do it?" And again, "Not really..." XD;; The population of Hampton decided to make a liar out of me that day, though, as they were called out/honked at/questioned at least three more times by the time we turned off the main road, haha.
Unfortunately, though, we never found the bank. You's directions were "turn right just past the gas station and it's right there," but we turned right just past the gas station... and walked and walked... and no bank. We had almost reached Walmart before everyone finally decided to give up for the moment and return to the hotel. After we got back, it was just You and me in our room for a while, starting to get ready while You turned the TV on for some background noise. I did a little channel surfing, but didn't find anything of interest, so I went off to do something else... and when I came back she had landed on Nickelodeon, where Spongebob Squarepants was on. I asked her if it was popular in Japan too and she said yeah. I had been wondering about that for months so it was good to have it cleared up >_> haha.
But yeah, shortly after we got back Roger dropped in to wait for the pizza with us... and sure enough it soon arrived, so the rest of the members were called in, pastas were distributed, the pizza was opened... and the band was fascinated. XD Roger had warned them that a large pizza here in America would be LARGE, but nothing could have prepared them for the monster they were given, haha. Score one more winning reaction shot for the TR Twitter XD
So after a few minutes of epic reactions and photo ops, the food was distributed and all the members grabbed a (huge) slice of pizza. They then invited me to have some too, so I happily accepted. :3 So we all sat around watching whatever random cartoon was on Nickelodeon while we ate, and then all the members went their separate ways to do whatever they needed to do before the concert - fix makeup, tune, change strings, sleep, etc. Most slept, I think. Though a few minutes later Yuichi came back to our room to talk to You again, and she laughed and pointed out that all the black lipstick was rubbed off of his lips since he'd eaten, and just the smudgy edges around them still remained. An amusing image, and another big silly smile out of Yuichi for that one. XD Other than that though, all was pretty quiet... until Roger burst in a little while later to ecstatically inform me that all the brackets in Tainted Reality's first gaming tournament were filled. >> But other than that, not much to speak of.
So I used this quiet hour of prepping/napping time to work on my reports and reflect on how things were going so far - which was, honestly, PERFECT. Though we got them to the opening ceremony a little later than planned, it didn't affect the program at all, so we basically managed to keep on schedule or even ahead of schedule with everything we'd done so far. Amazing for any con. :D I also often ended up filling downtimes like these just mentally sorting out my impressions the band members, which were finally starting to solidify a bit by this point. Obviously I knew You was a total angel, since she was my roommate and thus the one I'd talked with the most... and it didn't take long before I felt completely comfortable just starting up random conversation with her, which is saying a LOT for me. ^__^;; Absolute sweetheart, she is.
And we've established that it took me all of 10 seconds after the first glance to become fascinated with Daisuke, right? *dies* Honestly - tiny and adorable and beautiful, sweet and good-natured and agreeable, always watching with attentive eyes and a little smile on his face, laughing all the time... and whenever any kind of music was playing within earshot, we'd see him bopping around, dancing, air guitaring to the beat, even singing along... just having a great time. Total pleasure to be around. ♥ Awesome fashion sense too, omg. And I would learn even more about him over the next couple days that would exponentially multiply my admiration for him... gah, seriously. Such an amazing man.
And I had quickly learned that Hiro was a... very interesting sort. XD;; As I said, he was one of the first ones to grasp that I was their interpreter and actually approach me to start conversations/ask questions in Japanese... and from this I also noticed that he's a very fast speaker. o_o I kinda appreciate that though, haha... good listening practice. He also seemed to come off as the big, quiet, stoic type a lot of the time, yet he'd also be the one to do the really crazy out-there stuff, like almost ordering a burger with EVERYTHING on it at Five Guys >>, his crazy self-introduction at the opening ceremony, and, well... other stuff that I'll get to when the time comes. XD Also, he was the first band guy I've ever worked with who always called me "Becky-san." LOL
Annnd yeah... Tak and Yuichi were the ones that took the longest to get to know, as they both seemed to be the most reserved around new people... but by now I was learning that Tak was quite the sweetheart too, as he was turning out to be the one most likely to hold doors for people, let everyone else into/out of elevators first, etc. ^^ As for Yuichi... interestingly he originally seemed like one of the quieter, slower-to-open-up guys in the band - but he was also good at working crowds, whether from the stage or when walking around normally and having people recognize and shout out to him/them. And I don't think I'll ever forget those big silly sheepish smiles every time You made fun of his makeup, LOL.
And my impressions of the band as a whole by that point... can be summed up as absolute love. They were all so laid-back and sweet, so trusting and appreciative toward all of us on staff, so excited and impressed by everything going on, so happy to be there and eager to experience everything and just YES. And of course as I mentioned in the beginning, I loved that they didn't have that habit of wandering off by themselves like certain other band guys I know. XP Like, they almost never went anywhere without asking me to go with them or at least asking me if it was ok first (except a couple instances I'll get to later... lol). It's nice working with band guys who are so easy to keep track of. :P But best of all I could tell that they were all really close, worked well together, had fun together, and shared the same passion and goals for the band. Also, I could tell that the three youngest members really had a lot of respect for Daisuke and You. They really are like the daddy and mommy of the band, haha. ♥
Hmm, anyway, picking up again... now that You was awakened by Roger's obnoxiousness, we did a bit of random chatting while she set about putting some finishing touches on her costume and makeup. This might have been the downtime when she asked me if I liked beer or wine or anything (did I mention she's a diehard drinker? XD), and I explained that I couldn't drink much since I have an ulcer, and she was reeeeeeally sympathetic. Aww. ;_; Oh, also, sometime during the afternoon Roger had me explain to them that there would be two or three VIP pass winners who would get to meet them backstage before the show, take pictures, and receive a few signed goodies from the band, which of course they wholeheartedly agreed to. In fact, as we were in the final stretch of preparations before the concert, You dug up a handful of photos of the band and asked if they could sign them to use as VIP gifts too. Aww. :D So we quickly cleared that with Roger and all the members met in the hallway to sign the photos while we waited for the last members to finish up and get moving.
Fortunately it didn't take them long to put on their finishing touches and sign the photos, and we were soon on our way to the concert hall. I noticed on the way there that Daisuke was wearing his fuzzy shoes, and thought maybe he planned to change into boots or something when we got there, but no. THEY WERE HIS COSTUME SHOES TOO. *dies* I found that so awesome - he's so tiny, but he doesn't try to compensate with crazy mile-high platforms and has no problem going on stage in custom fuzzy shoes made from old sandals and leftover costume fur. XD Buuut ahem... they had about half an hour for a quick line check before the doors were set to open at 8:30, but there were a few more adjustments they wanted to make that got us off the stage a wee bit later than the engineers had hoped (not LATE-late, just not quite on time >>;). Then the VIP pass winners and video game tournament winners were brought backstage to meet the band and have their photos taken with them, which only took a few minutes, and then the band set off to do whatever last-minute preparations they needed to do. I was pretty much free for a while, so I used that time to head back to the PA rig and find all4cyanide to chat for a bit. :D I think we had a bit more time to hang out than we did last year - we actually got to sit down and talk about various stuff, and she gave me some Aiba stickers she'd found in the dealers' room 8D and it was good times~
But eventually the doors to the hall were finally opened (I don't think I ever heard why this took so long, but it caused the concert to start half an hour late...) and things got noisy again, so I returned backstage in case anything was needed while everyone waited for the show to start. Roger and Angel would actually be taking the stage first to present the winners of the Killer Instinct gaming tournament, and to have the champion play a round against Angel for a $100 prize. Champ lost, but they made a pretty darned good show of it. :3 The band certainly had a good time watching it from the back of the giant screen set up beside the stage, hehe. That presentation didn't last long though, and soon enough Roger was beginning his introduction of the band. I looked over to see the five of them standing in a tight circle, hands joined, while Daisuke gave a little pep talk and they concluded with a cheer just before taking the stage. Aww. :D And yeah... as they started to take the stage, I slipped out onto the main floor to watch the show from off to one side (Yuichi's side, it turned out), and The Sound Bee HD's first US concert was underway.
Actually, the show began as Hiro took the stage first, hopped onto Daisuke's box thingy to rev up the crowd a bit... and just about fell on his face stepping off of it when he was done. XD;; He had to pause and get the box, setlist, light, and everything else back in position before heading off to the drum kit, haha. Otherwise... yeah, concert. Long story short, they rocked that convention HARD. :D Not a lot of elaborate choreography or over-the-top fanservice, but the show was absolutely solid - rocking solos and back-to-back duets, high energy, running all around the stage... they just had the time of their lives. It pretty much goes without saying that Daisuke is an incredible, gorgeous, passionate lead vocalist, but I was also really impressed by Tak and his intense solos, fluid movements, and that heart-grabbing ability to make his guitar sound like it's crying, screaming, wailing, bleeding... *___* Just... wow. You was really fun to watch as well - such a tiny, pretty little thing, but she can seriously rock that bass. :D (And those who have read my con reports before should know that I likes me some good bass, haha *shot*)
That's not to say there was NO choreography or fanservice or otherwise entertaining moments though. Most of the choreography simply involved leading the fans to put their fists in the air (which they VERY happily did - the crowd was excellent!), but my personal favorite was during the song again, when Daisuke would clasp his fist over his heart and belt out that "Da-KISHIMETAIIIIII" part of the chorus with every fiber of his being. Ack, that song was a shot straight to my heart to begin with... ;___; And on the more "fun" side... it was pretty awesome when, sometime during one of the last songs, Hiro did a little nifty trick in which he'd toss one drumstick behind him, immediately pull out another one, use it for a couple beats, then throw it behind him again and repeat the process, never missing a step. He's a pretty wicked drummer. :D And of course I must mention how, also during one of the last songs, Daisuke had a bit of fun stripping Yuichi. XD As in pulling his jacket-thingy halfway off, then pulling his very scant chest wrap up and down to flash the audience a bit of nipple LOL. Yuichi just stood there trying to hold still and not fall over laughing while keeping up some semblance of playing his guitar through the ordeal XD
I actually missed a couple of the songs near the end as I had to make a few runs to the merch/signing booth that Don and the girls were setting up outside the concert hall, so there might have been more entertaining moments I missed, but overall I had an awesome time watching the show. I probably could have watched from the very front like I usually do with our bands - one of the con staff who remembered me from last year even asked me why I didn't do that, haha - but ah well. I was able to see the whole stage, the whole band, and the whole audience having a blast, so I was more than satisfied. ♥ And as far as I could tell, there was only one minor problem when Daisuke's mic stopped working in the middle of a song and he had to switch to one of the other members' chorus mics... but he kept his cool, followed through, and still put on an incredible show.
When the concert was over I ran out to the booth again, but only by force of habit since they had plenty of staff to sell CDs this time... lol. For the moment I was mainly in charge of getting the band out to the merch booth for the signing event as soon as they were all cleaned up and ready, so I was soon backstage again to wait for them. The first thing I noticed as I was watching them clear off the stage was how HAPPY they looked. They were all smiles and excitement and I'm pretty sure I even remember some actual bouncing up and down going on. :D And of course there was music playing over the speakers as the hall converted from a concert venue to a rave club, which meant we once again got to see Daisuke bopping around and dancing and grooving to the music the whole time. ^___^ He's so cute, omg.
Finally they were ready to meet their adoring fans, lol... so I led them out to the tables where they sat down ready to start signing autographs. Of course, this pretty much went off without a hitch. Only thing that really stood out to mention was when someone asked if they'd be signing objects thrown from the stage during the show, like picks and water bottles, and I had to ask Daisuke about that since they had come with strict orders to only sign purchased merchandise. At first when I asked him, his response was a cheerful nod and "Sure! ^__^" But then our staff had me remind him of Kiwamu's merch-only rule, and Tak spoke up from next to him with "Oh, yeah, he did say that..." which made Daisuke pause and rethink his answer, lol. In the end they stuck with Kiwamu's rule, of course. But even when he had to say no, he was all cheerful about it - "Ok, I guess we'll stick with that then ^__^;" haha ♥
Anyway, as usual the signing event was followed by a session of taking photos with fans - which gave me another opportunity to see how sweet and good-natured they were, because they matched their poses and expressions and gestures with whatever the fan they were posing with was doing. Like, one fan made a heart with her hands, so they all did the same thing... someone dropped the obi from her CD case, and one of the guys quickly picked it up for her... :D Such awesome people, this band. *glomps them* But yeah... pretty typical photo session otherwise, so when it finally ended we all trooped back to the hotel, probably around 1am.
Shortly after we got in, You told me that the band would be meeting up in our room after they all had a chance to shower and change, to munch on leftovers and work out their setlist for the next day. So she got cleaned up and started to sort through the food offerings - a couple leftover dishes of pasta, a bit less than half the pizza, and of course, the monster gift basket sitting on our kitchenette counter. The first component of it that she took interest in was some kind of pound cake, which she immediately sliced up and sampled and encouraged me to try too. It tasted kinda like Dr. Pepper, which was interesting. o_o
After a while Yuichi poked in to report that the net connection on his computer had ended, and asked me if I could help him set it back up. Of course, my connection had ended too, so he and You and I headed downstairs to deal with it at the front desk again. It was a much easier process this time - not involving any calls to tech support, at least - so we returned upstairs, and after I got mine up and running I headed over to Yuichi's to repeat the process, and then we returned to 422. Soon enough the other band members started to file in for their meeting and food... so they heated up the leftover pasta and pizza, and between that and the gift basket goodies, at last our band was fed. There was one sad part of the evening: Daisuke had decided that he would just grab a quick bite and then head to bed, because he'd caught a cold right before they came to the States and after the concert, his throat was totally shot. ;_; Poor guy... He did hang around for a while though, long enough to eat and be the first member to notice the infamous Pigs of Many Colors. XD;; He pointed at them and chuckled and said "Cute~ You like cute things, huh?" LOL aww...
Anyway, yeah, so they all nommed away on their food... and after a while a couple of them asked me if I wasn't going to have any pizza. I wasn't really hungry and a few bites of the gift basket snacks were enough for me, so I said I was ok... and that led to Yuichi commenting that he hadn't seen me eat once since they got here. You had to remind him that we'd eaten at the same table at breakfast that same morning, and I had to remind him that I'd shared pizza with them before the concert. >__> Then You brought up that I hadn't really slept more than 2 hours either, and they all looked so shocked... Yuichi was like, "You don't eat, you don't sleep... are you even alive??" ...>_> *kicks him* Haha, nah, I played along and agreed that, yes, I was already dead~. They all got a chuckle out of that. :P
Anyway... finally things started winding down and everyone decided to call it a night around 3am. After our room cleared out, You asked "Aren't you sleepy?" To which I replied "I think I finally am..." Because, yeah, by that point I was pretty much the walking dead. :p So she told me to go ahead and sleep while she got her shower and stuff... and this time I took her up on it, haha. Pretty sure I was out like a light before she even got out of the shower. And this time, as she noticed while she was getting her shower stuff ready, I remembered to take Yuu-kun with me. :3;;
Moving along to part 3...