On April 21st 2015, GENERATIONS from EXILE TRIBE announced their first world tour. An extension of their recent tour GENERATION EX, they planned to perform 6 concerts overseas in Paris, London, Los Angeles, New York, Taipei, and Hong Kong. As a fan of GENE since their third single, I was ecstatic to see they would be performing in LA! Tickets were fairly cheap, 12$ for General Admission and 30$ for VIP, so I grabbed a VIP ticket the moment they were on sale and the seemingly eternal wait till the concert commenced.
The Paris and London concerts were successful. Fans sang Happy Birthday to member Hayato and posted photos and videos on twitter. The LA concert, and the first of the US shows, was set for June 16th, so on June 15th, when all GENE social media was quiet, I began to worry a little. It’s typical for music groups to post when they arrive in a country but I didn’t want to dwell, but after going through twitter, I can see other fans felt similarly. Maybe they were just exhausted from travel? Maybe they were too busy getting settled? Regardless, I set off to bed with my clothes and concert gear ready for the following evening.
At around 6am, the official facebook page for GENE made the announcement:
GENERATIONS WORLD TOUR 2015
Cancellation Notice for the “GENERATION EX” Los Angeles and New York Shows
We regret to inform all of the GENERATIONS fans that the GENERATIONS shows on June 16th at the Echoplex in Los Angeles and the June 19th show at the Santos Party House in New York were cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances where any and all visa issuance for travel to the United States were temporarily suspended.
We have been working night and day to overcome this problem but were unsuccessful due to it being on a scale that affected the entire immigration system. The members of GENERATIONS are truly heartbroken over this result and we apologize sincerely for this difficult decision. We would like to thank you all once again for your continuous support of GENERATIONS.
Information regarding ticket refunds will be announced through the ticketing websites from which you purchased your tickets.
The absolute last thing you want to see on the day of a concert you’ve been preparing for for a few months. The concert was absolutely cancelled and this was only cemented further when we received our refunds that afternoon. How could this happen and on such short notice? There was speculation that they were simply denied their visas because the US is strict about overseas performers. Others thought they just didn’t apply for visas ahead of time. According to the official statement and the cancellation email from Echoplex (The LA concert venue) the fault lies on the department in charge of US visas, but what does that even mean?
The situation was cleared up a bit when the US Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs posted an update about technological issues regarding passports and Visas. Basically, on June 9th the State Department experienced hardware failures in their computer systems, preventing transmission of data related to visas and passports. As such, there is a sudden and unexpected backlog of visas that cannot be approved or distributed. This problem is affecting people coming from and going to all countries, so the theory that this was related to the US being strict toward Japanese acts is debunked.
This computer issue is entirely to blame for the concerts being cancelled and is leading to similar trouble for anyone trying to enter the US for business or receive a new passport. (On a similar note, Japanese group CROSSFAITH is experiencing similar difficulty coming to the US for the Warped Tour.) There’s absolutely nothing they could do at this point. Despite the circumstances of their tour, they cannot receive priority on their visa request either (currently, only humanitarian travel and adoption related trips receive priority.)
This situation is tragic, to say the least, for both fans and GENE. Many fans planned trips to LA and NY for the shows and can lose money on hotels and travel. Others took time off work or changed their schedules around in preparation. The members of GENE must be heartbroken knowing they cannot see their fans over here or hold the performances they worked so hard training for. And while many fans are losing money on this, LDH is losing a lot as well. It’s unlikely they can get the deposit on the venue back, or the money spent on their airline tickets or hotels, and all the tickets have been refunded.
There was a lot of potential in this show. Personally, I was excited at the possibility of them performing the English versions of their single tracks. It would have been a simple, but powerful way for them to connect with the audiences over here. alavic_222 and myself planned a big A-to-J Connections review of the concert that would be vastly different from any we’ve published before. A successful GENE tour could have even lead to other EXILE family groups coming abroad. For now, we can only imagine all that could have come from the success of this tour.
While there’s no word yet on rescheduling the shows, maybe they will plan something later this year or early next year. I hope we can see such a thing happen so GENE can fulfill their wish to perform here. In the mean time, let’s continue to be supportive of LDH and encourage them to pursue returning to the US.
For more information about the Visa/Passport issue please click here.
◆ Rin Rigoni