Nov 22, 2007

SOG's Puffy Concert Review - Super Extended Director's Cut

Not an actual picture from the concert. Thanks, Slim's!

November 15, 2007 - Slim's, San Francisco, CA, USA

So it’s been a week since the Puffy concert, and I’ve finally come back to Earth. It was awfully tempting to come here and post the second I came home from the show, and tell everyone how F’N SWEET it was and how it blew every expectation I had out of the water and into a million tiny pieces. But I decided to let the adrenaline rush settle, to pull back and write with a clearer head. I wanted to give myself the time to ask the questions people need to ask after finally witnessing something they were so excited about that that they’d already convinced themselves beforehand that it was great no matter how it turned out:
Okay, how did they really sound?
How did they really look?
Am I glad I went? Would I tell anyone about this?
Would I spend my money to go again?
So, my head is clear is a bell, my pulse is at its normal rate and my feet are firmly on the ground – I will say in all honesty that the show was F’N SWEET and completely surpassed my expectations.
The night officially started when I picked up Rangudon at his place and collected the money he owed me. You have to hand it to Rangudon – you only have to threaten to tear off one of his ears before he pays up. We wasted a few precious minutes talking about J-pop, Puffy, Namie and what a piece of trash Tsuji was for missing the concert before we were on our way to meet the third member of our party. He never gave himself a cool YODC codename, so I’ll give him one: ChubbyChaser. Don’t ask. ChubbyChaser is not a Puffy fan, or even a J-pop fan, but he wanted to tag along because his life is completely empty, and who am I to pass up free bridge toll?
The line outside Slim's. Cameras are not allowed. Not at all. Have we made that clear, people???
We got to Slim’s with plenty of time for the 8pm start time, and there was a line forming. We got our tickets at will call, where we were given the first, and one of the only, bummers of the night: no cameras were allowed at the concert – a fact that the kind people at Slim’s decided to reiterate to us approximately 34,000 more times before the show started.
The Honeysweeper tour towel
Slim’s is a nice little bar. It’s about the size of a walk-in closet but has a remarkably clean bathroom. Half of the floor is completely clear in front of the stage for standing fans, the other half has tables for diners. There was a small booth selling Puffy merchandise by the door and I got a few things, including a t-shirt featuring a Puffy takeoff of the old RUN-DMC Adidas logo. Unfortunately the largest size they had was medium and it fits so tight that it makes me look like I’ve stuffed Ami, Yumi and maybe their keyboard player under it while they desperately try to escape.
My "so tight it makes me look even gayer" Puffy t-shirt.
First highlight of the night: the table was run by a very hot babe. So hot in fact, that if it had been anyone else headlining that night I would’ve spend the whole show leering to my left pretending to want another t-shirt.
My slightly better-fitting Honeycreeper shirt. The bird is a honeycreeper.
Rangudon, ChubbyChaser and I found a table, ordered food, then proceeded to suffer through an opening act that sounded like The Cure without the giddy exuberance and zest for life. I swear, who found these guys? Again, if it were anyone else headlining, I would’ve jammed our bendy-straws up my nose and poked out my eardrums from the inside. But in a way they may have been the perfect warm-up, as they made Puffy seem even more fun and energetic. And in between their mind-numbing songs they’d say things like, “Are you ready for Puffy?” “Did you know Puffy has a MySpace page?” and “We have a couple more songs then Puffy’s coming out.” With their depressing music and shameless namedropping, they really had me looking forward to seeing my girls. Of course, these guys could have me looking forward to a prostate exam from Nosferatu, but enough about them.
People trickled in throughout the opening act, and before we knew it, the little club was packed tightly with fans (roughly 200 I’d say), mostly adults, some young teens and about an even mix of Caucasians and Asians. As they prepared the stage, I left ChubbyChaser and Rangudon to maneuver my way through the sardine can of an audience and wedge myself firmly front and center.
And after hours—days—weeks—months—hell—years of waiting, I finally saw Puffy take the stage in San Francisco.
I can say this without the least bit of exaggeration: if two angels fell from Heaven, crashed through the roof of a dimly lit bar and landed in the middle of a crowd of sweaty otaku scum, they would look exactly like Ami and Yumi.
Seeing them in person for the first time, I was shocked at their size. These are two petite girls. More often than not, pictures and video make celebrities seem physically larger than they really are, but these ladies look they could fit into a snow globe. And although both of them are reaching their mid-30s, they’re amazingly just as fresh faced and pretty as they were when they debuted 11 years ago.
Both of them sported the big hair they had in their Gap ad.
Ami’s outfit: Black sleeveless t-shirt that read “Stay Gold Soc’s” (a reference to The Outsiders), blue cotton pants, black Chuck Taylors.
Yumi’s outfit: Red sleeveless t-shirt with Bugs Bunny on it, black jeans, black Chuck Taylors.
The perfect brew of kawaii and rockstar.
The show started with “Boom Boom Beat” from their new album Honeycreeper. It got the crowd bouncing, and we never really stopped. Their set featured about five or six songs from Honeycreeper, a few from Splurge and some old stuff that whipped the crowd into an even bigger frenzy. Here’s the set list from what I remember (the order gets fuzzy in the middle):
1. Boom Boom Beat
2. Tokyo I’m On My Way
3. Electric Beach Fever (an old song that they used to end shows with)
4. Teen Titans (as you can guess, this drove the audience berserk and everyone but ChubbyChaser was singing along. It is literally impossible not to chant T-E-E-N-T-I-T-A-N-S-TEEN TI-TANS-LET’S GO when Puffy leads)
5. Kimi to Ootobai
6. Mogura Like (complete with dance)
7. Joining a Fan Club
8. Kuchibiru Motion (possibly the best song on Honeycreeper, IMO)
9. Puffy the Monster (aka Ghost Puffy)
10. Oriental Diamond
11. Radio Tokyo
12. Closet Full of Love
13. Hi Hi
14. Complaint
15. Red Swing (with red light bathing the stage)
16. Basket Case (Green Day cover that blew the roof off)
17. True Asia (Puffy’s very first single. It was awesome to hear this one live, and the crowd was singing along even though most of us didn’t speak Japanese)

18. Wild Girls on Circuit (One of their BEST songs)
I think that’s all of them, although I may have missed one or two songs. If you know their material, you’ll see that they did mostly “rock” sounding songs as opposed to the more “pop” sounding songs.
As far as their performance went – it was incredible. There’s no shortage of Puffy live footage on the web, and some of their shows are…spotty. The girls walk around in circles, look down at the stage and avoid eye contact with the crowd while screaming their lyrics. While still eager to see them perform, I was half expecting that. But thankfully that’s not what we got.
What we did get was Ami and Yumi singing in harmony, dancing energetically, interacting with the crowd, smiling, laughing and genuinely appearing to have a great time. At one point Yumi even grabbed hold of a pillar on stage and hung over the first two rows as she sung (it’s impressive if know how small Slim’s is). Both of them have such presence that you can’t take your eyes off them for a second, despite the fact that they’re so little you could trip over them.
After every few songs, the girls would pick up little spiral notebooks and read statements in stilted English and classic Kawaii fashion. It was interesting to see Yumi stomping around the stage and Ami throwing up devil horns one second, then both politely giggling (while covering their mouths, of course) and saying “Arigato, arigato” in sweet mousy voices the next. The capper was Ami gently telling the crowd: “This next song is from our new album, Honeycreeper. Please listen.”
By the way, Ami's English accent is very good. No mixing up Rs and Ls for her. I remember her doing most of the talking.
NOTE: You know you’re geeking out when you laugh hysterically at jokes like “The weather here is nice. We were just in Seattle and it was soooo cold,” and “I love clam chowder.”
The band sounded great – loud as hell but not so loud that your ears were ringing for a week. And fortunately they didn’t tinker with the songs too much. They were played the way were supposed to be played, only with more volume, more guitars and more pounding drums.
Hearing “True Asia” was kind of a surprise to me. They must’ve performed this song a few thousand times in the past decade, but they sung it with a lot of enthusiasm and didn’t change it around at all. That was good news for people who’d never heard the song live before.
After “Wild Girls on Circuit” the girls said their goodbyes and were gone. Their performance started just before 9pm and ended around 10:30, so that chump Tsuji could’ve come along and still gotten plenty of sleep for his morning shift. ChubbyChaser was pleasantly surprised, saying that the concert was “more rocking” than he expected.
Yes, it would be great to see Puffy in Japan, where they’re in commercials, ads, and more importantly, they play live regularly. But seeing them in such a small venue was a surreal experience. They were so close to me I literally could’ve reached out, grabbed them by the ankles and dragged them into the abyss with me. It’s hard to imagine watching them in an arena (not that I wouldn’t), where the first row would be at least 20 feet from the stage. Any further back and they’d probably look like two multicolored dots bouncing back and forth. Yes, there’d be more lights, more fireworks, and more elaborate outfits, but I recommend to any Japanese Puffy fans that want to visit The States to plan their trips around the girls’ American tours if possible. You’ll most likely never get closer to them or see them in a more casual setting. If they ever do take off in this country, it would most likely be the end these kinds of shows, and that would be a shame.
So was this the greatest experience of my life? I don’t know; I’ve had a lot of great experiences. Pitching my first game in little league. Graduating college. Seeing Freefall Jones get busted on To Catch a Predator. This show is certainly up there, because there are only a few minor things that could’ve made it any better:
2. More T-shirts in large size.
3. Ami and Yumi whisking me away and making me their personal man-groupie/shameless errand boy.
Without a doubt, I want to see them again. Who knows if it will ever be as exciting as the first time, but if they perform anywhere near my area, I’m going to be there, and I recommend everyone do the same. Their energy, charisma and charm will even win over people who aren’t fans. It’s just an all-around good time. Let’s hope they don’t take another two years to hit these shores again.


Rangudon Argeru said...

Yumi truly was looking like an angel that fauckin hot

craig said...

It's good that YODC has through first hand experience found the good in what it seems many others have been complaining about (the small venue).

Rangudon Argeru said...

i think having it at a small venue is why the concert was so great..I was sitting towards the back of the room and still had a excellent view of the the girls didn't look like tiny ants

Tsuji Eriku said...

nice review, I would have been there if it wasn't for the $ & work situations

Tsuji Eriku said...

that hit fun shirt is awesome, it sucks they don't make bigger shirts I'd wear that

Radicalpatriot said...

Saw the same show at the Key Club in West Hollywood the next night (and, yes, I screwed it up in my blog and callled it Jim's instead of Slim's. I'll fix that!). Man, you hit it right on. it was, for me, a show for the ages. And to think I could get right up next to them in a small club with hellfire acoustics! It does not get any better than this!

Son of Gigan said...

The original venue for the show was the larger Fillmore, but it got moved to Slim's. I say that was good luck for us, as the smaller area made it easier to get to the stage. I heard that Honeycreeper is going to be released in The States next year. Let's hope this info is right, and let's hope they tour in support of it here. Bring them back to another small club!

Freefall Jones said...

Excellent report -- is your new pad Puffy themed?

Son of Gigan said...

Just wait...the grand unveiling is coming...