On the 5th of October 2014, I had the pleasure of attending SM Town Live Tokyo at Ajinomoto Stadium, Chofu. If you’ve been keeping an eye on all things SM, then you may recall this date as the one that happened to coincide with the arrival of Typhoon Phanfone.
As we’re still awaiting the arrival of SM Town on British shores, I thought I’d take the opportunity to give my account of events!
After fighting an internal battle with my better judgement, I set off in the pouring rain on my bike to arrive at Ajinomoto around 12:00 midday – doors opened at 2pm, with the concert to begin at 4pm. However, by the time I’d arrived many items of merchandise had already sold out! I was glad I’d arrived early, and even more glad there were cheering towels and t-shirts left at the merch stall : not to actually cheer with, but to try and dry myself off ! I then headed off to join the mob of fans hiding in the bike parking area, who had all brought sheets to sit on and snacks. Many people were dressed in fan colours, including previous tour shirts and jackets, fanclub items and even groups of cosplayers! I managed to spot a group dressed as Red Velvet, Red Light era f(x) and various Girl’s Generation teams. If it hadn’t been such bad weather, it would have been great to see some dancing! Luckily, people managed to keep their mood up despite the rain.
Upon entry into the stadium at 2pm, it took an hour to get to our seats – this included queuing, scanning our QR code tickets, security (actually just asking ‘do you have a camera?’, and not doing anything even if you do), being given an SM Town penlight, and eventually finding the right gate. It was very well organized, although I’m glad of my Japanese ability as there was no English anywhere. One large difference with English concerts is that you’re actually not stopped from bringing your own food or drink with you to the event! I wish I’d known this beforehand, as I could have easily brought a lot of snacks to keep going through the 4 hour concert, as well as my camera.
Although I admittedly had one of the worst seats in the house (which I found out the night before, having been randomly assigned via a lottery system), I was quite glad of this as it was still raining. Many fans around me had brought binoculars, which really explains how far it was! All of the fans in the lower tiered seating and the flat seating were rained on constantly for the duration of the event, which really could make people sick. Umbrellas were not allowed inside the stadium, so raincoats were the only thing protecting them from the elements.
With the concert in full swing, I lost myself for the four hours wondering if it was a dream. Despite the pouring rain, all of the artists worked their hardest and made it an enjoyable event for everyone. Most of the idols tried their best to speak in Japanese, despite some having to fall back on their translator. If there was a Japanese version of a song, it was sung in Japanese – with, strangely, the exception of f(x)’s Hot Summer. With that being their only J-song, I was surprised when the Korean version came out!
SM Rookies had quite a few stages. Taeyong being the standout. He had a solo rap performance,and a dance stage with two other male rookies joining him part way through. Despite being a trainee, he could easily hold the stage on his own! There was also a Growl cover by the male rookies, and a song by the girls. Even Red Velvet, despite having debuted already, were announced as ‘RED VELVET FROM SM ROOKIES’, which I felt was strange. Wendy did a group stage with EXO’s Chen, Super Junior – M’s Henry and f(x)’s Luna on top of their Happiness performance, but overall they were outstaged by the Rookies.
For me, one standout part of the concert SHINee’s Everybody – in the rain, it looked even better than normal and Taemin even managed to land properly from the throw despite how slippery it was! Another was the sheer power of TVXQ and their fandom. Despite everyone having a SM Town pink penlight, when TVQX came on the stage the stadium turned into a red ocean. The fanchants blasted through the air, and cchoreographedlightstick movements during Keep Your Head Down completely blew my mind. Props to you Cassiopeia, keep going strong!
The most disappointing part was a cover of Ariana Grande’s ‘Problem’ by Girl’s Generation’s Seohyun featuring f(x)’s Amber. Although Amber could be clearly heard, I honestly did not hear a split second of Seohyun’s voice – it was (in my opinion) completely lip-synched and Ariana Grande’s unmistakable voice was booming around the arena. However, this wasn’t enough to ruin my fun!
All in all, I felt like I more than got my money’s worth for the concert despite only being able to see pinpricks when the acts were on the main stage and being completely drenched for hours on end. I can’t wait for the next concert – even just feeling the energy from the crowd was amazing enough!
Banner credit belongs to S.M. ENTERTAINMENT JAPAN, all opinions are the author’s own and do not represent the opinions of JAK Wave as a whole.