FAN ACCOUNT: Team H Osaka day 1, October 16th 2016
By Zozie Jo
Zozie Jangeo, Team H Party, Osaka October 25-26 2016
It's 2.04am and I've had a total of about five hours of sleep in the last three days but I want to go to another Team H Party RIGHT NOW!
Most of you know that as much as I love JKS solo, JKS in Team H is what pushed me over the brink of sanity into eeldom. There was a lot riding on this... my expectations were sky high... and they were surpassed. Oh, how they were surpassed! From the boneshaking thud of 'Intro' and the dropping of the screens to reveal JKS and BB standing back to back, dressed head to toe in white, to the final verse of 'Wow' (approximately the 382nd verse because they kept continuing - they just seemed to be enjoying it too much to stop) as they disappeared into the stage, it was the most incredibly exciting and joyful experience.
I will write more (much more, probably, you know me) when it is not a ridiculous hour of the morning. Watch this space for Suk's smile, bollywood dancing, and seriously naughty touching.
OK. Full account.
We got up early despite having had an horrendously long day after a very long journey. We were motivated to get up because we wanted to buy merchandise and then go and see JKS arrive for rehearsal.
We walked over to Osaka Jo Hall, which was about half an hour from where we were staying. When we got there we couldn't see where to queue up so we wandered along the road until we came across eels already camped out to see him arrive. We ran into the Japanese eels we had met at the airport who had helped us figure out the system there. Using google translate we asked where to go for merchandise and found out that we were on completely the wrong side of the concert venue.
As we were walking back we finally managed to meet Chris, whom we had been trying to find without success for a while. She was as lovely as expected and took us to the right place for the queue. We sat on the floor next to the river, surrounded by several hundred eels who were already queuing and who were much better prepared for it than we were, with little folding seats, waterproof sheets, and picnics(!) Poor us, we had nothing but ourselves!
Fortunately some eels had brought speakers and were playing Monologue. We got very lucky when the queue shifted forwards a bit and were able to sit on a bench rather than the floor for the majority of the stationary waiting time and we used the time to practice singing the new songs (very sorry, everyone else in the queue). We did stand out a bit and once the queue stared to move very slowly forwards we got quite a lot of attention from the eels queuing in the other direction.
It was very hot and sunny so I spent the whole time sheltering under an umbrella. Unfortunately this did not do the trick and by the time we actually reached the merchandise stalls I was roughly the colour of a lobster, rather than my usual ghostly hue. I parted with rather more money than was entirely sensible but acquired a t-shirt, bag, and some sweets. We then met up with Siew Hin and the other Singapore eels, who had our tickets and also a bag full of Monologue CDs that we had ordered for the European eels. We also met the lovely Nako. By this time I was resembling some peculiar cross between lobster and packhorse. We decided to walk back to the apartment to drop off some of our purchases. Unfortunately Suk had arrived for rehearsal while we were still queuing to give him all our money so we didn't see him.
At some point, Tree J tweeted about the evening’s show and Twitter’s translate function translated it as ‘the first day of the Osaka team sex party’! Possibly this bit was mistranslated but the gist of it was that it was going to be a bloody good show and you'd be daft to miss it. I had thought that it was impossible for me to be more excited but I was wrong.
When we got back to the venue, it had naturally started to rain so hundreds of eels were sheltering under quite a small bridge. There was an air of anticipation and I was already starting to feel my pulse speeding up and was occasionally forgetting to breathe. As we started to move towards the entrance we met Yayoi, who continued the eel tradition of being even more lovely and beautiful in person than online (I am sorry people, but I was brought up to believe that people on the internet were all weirdos, so at least one of you must be going to turn out to be an absolute monster…)
We finally made it to the front of the queue and entered the venue. As you go in you get handed a plastic bag containing a poster for the concert, a feedback form (all in Japanese so I have no idea what it asks) and some sort of advertising for the venue or koari or something). Eva and I had applied together for all the shows so we were sitting together (and we are at the others too). Most people seemed to have one night in the stands and one on the arena floor but our seats were in the stands, not at all the front row tickets we had been hoping for! Next time maybe! Our block on this first night was on the opposite side of the arena from the entrance so we walked all the way round, looking in at the arena where we could see a stage with two arms sticking out and in the middle, black sheets of fabric hanging down with ‘Team H’ and ‘Monologue’ on. Beams of light were sweeping across them and music was playing. I couldn't believe that I was actually there, about to see a Team H concert!
Our seats for the first night were at the back at one of the central blocks (N) so although we were quite far away, only a few rows from the back, the view was really very good. The stand seating went round about two thirds of the arena and then the main stage took up one of the long sides. There was a central extension from the main stage, which came out to another central stage, from which two long arms went off diagonally towards the corners of the arena. The black hangings were on the central stage and the console was on the back of the main stage. The lights went down and ‘Intro’ started playing. Everyone had on their keunsagi wrist lights, which were somehow remotely controlled so that they all flashed the same colour at the same time. The effect was really magical! My heart was thudding so hard I thought it might break one of my ribs! Then…the dream moment I had been waiting and hoping for since first seeing a Team H video came true. The hangings fell away and there they were, standing back to back, all dressed in white. For what seemed like a really long time they didn't move at all, then JKS shouted ‘hello Osaka’ and they launched straight into ‘My Story’.
I was really happy with Suk’s outfit. He was wearing a normal length white tshirt and tight white trousers and his hair was in braids along his head that were tied with colourful bands. He had a white bandana around his head. It looked like he had lost weight since the latest episode of Candy, or maybe it is just that cameras add pounds. Anyway, he looked fantastic. The best part was that he looked happy. His smile was better and seemed more genuine and he really seemed to enjoy himself. Compared with It’s Showtime and Endless Summer he seemed like a different person. He was dancing freely and seemed much more similar to the man I first fell for than I have seen for a while.
I had been listening to Monologue on loop for the previous few days so was able to sing* along to all the songs (*yell). I had thought it was a fantastic album but having seen it live… It is a complete triumph. I am so grateful to BB for writing such amazing songs and for persuading Suk to make the album and shows happen. This fact just makes me feel all the more guilty that I remember next to nothing about what BB looked like or was wearing… although mid-way through the concert we did notice he was blonde!
It may not have delivered quite what the Tree J tweet seemed to promise but it was certainly a very hot show. JKS was being very sexy and dancing provocatively and even the cameramen seemed to be affected - the big screens kept showing close ups of his hips (and everything else in that area!); this was particularly enjoyable during the ‘Raining on the Dancefloor’ dance. At one point Suk and BB were dancing together in a way that is usually reserved for the likes of Drake and Rihanna (pauses for self-congratulation on making a current pop culture reference). During the song ‘Wet’ Suk performed his ‘aaaaaaan’ moans very enthusiastically and I'm sure I'm not the only one who felt a little weak at the knees on hearing him. The dancers were also in the mood, running their hands all over, and I mean ALL OVER him during a couple of songs. I definitely heard a few sighs from eels around me.
After the first few songs Suk took himself off backstage and the cameras followed him, as is tradition. He sprayed a few people with water and trapped one poor security man against the wall for a considerable amount of time while doing a grinding sort of dance. The man was a very good sport about it and got quite involved himself! When he came back in, he entered the arena through one of the public doors so that he was on the floor and went round dancing and singing so close to the lucky eels standing in the first few rows. He shot them with the smoke guns and water pistols and fired a couple of streamer cannons further back into the crowd.
His second outfit consisted of slightly looser red trousers, a dark tshirt and vest, and a hat (grrrr). The trousers had several chains attached, but these came loose pretty quickly. During the first rendition of ‘Wow’, when he and BB passed each other on one of the stage extensions Suk had hold of the chains and shook them in an exasperated way so BB knew they were broken, it was a very cute and un-choreographed interaction. He somehow managed to detach the chains and threw them to one side of the stage but then his trousers wouldn't stay up and he kept having to hold on to them and pull them up! It was adorable but also impressive that throughout this wardrobe malfunction his performance never dipped even fractionally. He is such a professional.
So, his dancing… Oh, his dancing. It was perfect. He is perfect. I hadn't realised how much I missed seeing him dance how I always think of him dancing! There was shuffling, the pointing his fingers at his eyes and then out, the hip wiggling… everything. I was in heaven watching him. There are also some excellent new moves. There is a particular dance they do for ‘Wow’ that they encourage everyone to join in with parts of and which is really happy and funny. The highlight for me though was during the song ‘Yoga Fire’, in which the dancers and Suk did some Bollywood style moves! It might be the cutest thing I've ever seen and was even more adorable because he looked ever so slightly sheepish while doing it as if he wasn't 100% sure he was pulling it off… However, I can tell you now, he definitely was. Another part of the choreography that I really enjoyed was at the start of Like a Zombie. At the end of the previous song (Beautiful Change) Suk had collapsed on to the floor and the lights went down. The lights came up gradually to show he was still lying there and the dancers were zombies, moving towards him in a sinister fashion. Then they fell on him and started tearing at him with hands and teeth and completely covered him. The lights came fully up and the dancers lifted him from lying to standing in one smooth movement! My description isn't great but it looked very effective.
There was a quiet section where Suk and BB sat on the edge of the stage and talked. Obviously it was all in Japanese so I didn't follow it, although JKS was so animated and expressive that you can get a rough idea of topics at least! I did catch Suk making reference to his (now absent) ponyo. Also they talked about their ideal types again and BB pretended he was going to pick someone out of the audience. They asked if their were any proteins in the audience and only two men called out, poor BB. He mocked BB quite a lot for his lack of Japanese and kept trying to make him speak. As if that wasn't enough, Suk was also teasing BB about his dancing. He made BB stand up and try and do part of the dance from Wow, then Suk showed him how to do it and made BB do it again…there was quite a contrast! It was really fun.
Towards the end JKS went up on a platform that rose up out of the stage. It was very small with only a little rail at the front and a chain across the back so although I was happy to see him more closely I was too panicked to make the most of it… I know he is scared of heights and so am I, so I get very anxious for him! Also towards the end streamers exploded everywhere and lots of giant coloured balloons were released; it looked really cool although we were too far away to be involved with that. The final song was a repeat of ‘Wow’ (they seem to have replaced Gotta Getcha with it! I love both and am really happy I got to hear/dance Gotta Getcha at Suk's solo shows because I think I would have missed it otherwise). Everyone - Suk, BB, the dancers, and eels - were all really loving it and they played a really long version of it. At one point BB got off the stage and stood on the railing around the arena seats and Suk mimed behind his back that he was crazy.
And then…it ended. It was without doubt the best concert I've ever attended and was up there with the very best experiences of my life. I had such high expectations and they were so far surpassed. I loved the music, I loved the emotions, I loved the dancing, and most of all of course, I loved Suk. It had gone on for over two hours and they had performed about 22 songs, including all of the songs from Monologue and many of my favourite old songs too, but it went by in a flash and I felt like it could have gone on for two or three times as long and I would still have been left wanting more. Fortunately, there were three more to go.