We walk around Mexico City together, with our phones out, trying to use GPS to locate the venue where Japanese idol group °C-ute will be performing. We are lost and confused. It is then that a Mexican fan with whom we had communicated with online happened to find us and helped guide us to the venue. That scenario is indicative of the concert experience as a whole: camaraderie, love and excitement.
With some familiarity with the location, the next day we arrived at the venue at about 1000 and saw fans already lining up and getting excited. It wasn’t just enthusiastic Mexican fans, though; there were people from many places, including Canada, USA, Colombia and even Japan. As we heard the excited chatter within the line, we could see various vendors setting up a sort of market on the street. As we walked through the line, speaking to the fans, there was nothing but excitement. This was not only the first time °C-ute was performing in Mexico, and not only the first time any Hello! Project group was performing in Mexico, but it was the first time any idol group was performing there. Overseas performances are already a rarity, due to the tight Japanese tour schedules, so this was a pleasant honor for all the °C-ute fans in Mexico and North America as a whole.
Amongst those gathered outside the venue, there were some fans who dressed up in outfits from °C-ute’s singles. While there were several, the one that stood out the most was a group who were sporting the cute dresses from ‘Sekai ichi Happy na Onna no Ko’. They had taken a level of care and dedication in order to make sure that they reproduced the outfits almost perfectly. Meanwhile, across the street, there were fans performing dances from various Hello! Project songs in order to pass the time and get the energy flowing. They had a great time, and other fans would occasionally jump in to join them. As time went on, the excitement only kept building until about 1615, when the doors finally opened for VIP and we began shuffling through the doors and upstairs to where the goods table was located. There was an exclusive photo set, an exclusive T-shirt, a towel and wristband combo from their current tour and an exclusive CD which contained a special selection of songs selected by popularity as well as a handshake ticket.
As the tension and excitement grew, °C-ute finally came out and the crowd exploded with excitement. Nothing could prepare us for the energy and spirit that the Mexican fans were able to exude. The cheering was deafening. The energy was invigorating. They were completely and totally contagious. It was at that moment that we truly understood why °C-ute had gone to Mexico for their first North American concert. From the giant grins on °C-ute’s faces, I think they felt the same way.
Without further ado, °C-ute jumped right into the concert. They stepped out onto stage with black outfits with sparkling silver tones and a red undertone complete with red shoes. They started off strong with ‘Kanashiki Heaven’, which was a smart choice due to the heavy use of vocal skills for it. After finishing that song, and ‘Adam to Eve no Dilemma’, they jumped into their introductions. They did it all in Spanish, which was really impressive. For example, Maimi said she was looking forward to the day and Saki said “let’s have a blast.”
Following that they jumped right back into performing with ‘Soku Dakishimete’. They then lead into ‘I miss you’. Of particular note was how effectively they were able to sing that song, which is a bit complex on the way the vocals are timed. As is to be expected with °C-ute, they did a fantastic job making sure they interacted with the crowd as much as possible. This included the side VIP area which wasn’t in direct line of sight. From little waves, to winks and to hearts, every member made sure that the crowd was given attention (much to the delight of the excited fans). The second section contained a total of 9 songs, all of which were high energy and covered a good time period of their musical library. Of particular note was ‘Ookina Ai de Motenashite’, which is a particular favorite of mine and doesn’t get performed much anymore (this also happened to be my introduction to °C-ute). About halfway through the performance of the second section, they did a quick wardrobe change on stage into a cute red outfit (ripping off the higher layers and setting them on the rear of the stage for the crew to quickly pick up) to continue straight on with little delay.
With the close of the second section, Maimi and Saki were on stage while the others went to the back to rest and change. At this point, they had a lottery corner, which involved raffle numbers that were handed to us when we had entered the concert hall. As they called out the numbers to the glee of the lucky fans who won the merchandise, the appropriate member to whom the item was related signed the item on the spot. Maimi and Saki then went off-stage to rest and change while Airi and Mai came out to continue the lottery with their own items. It was shortly into this that Chisato came out wearing a gold luchador mask, claiming to be Mil Mascaras. It was one of the silliest and cutest highlights of the concert. Everybody chanted her name really loud. After flexing a little, she jokingly charged at Airi and Mai who reacted in appropriate fashion: by cutely acting scared. Chisato pulled off her mask to reveal that she was wearing a silver luchador mask underneath which matched their third outfits: a beautiful shiny silver with white lining. She eventually removed that mask too, which was undoubtedly hot to wear, and announced herself as Okai Chisato. After quickly fixing her hair, they continued to give out signed merchandise. Chisato signed the gold mask to raffle out. The merchandise included T-shirts, towels, a set of earrings from one of their outfits, the luchador mask, some clear files and even a plush of the Suu-san character created by Airi. These items were distributed to the lucky fans after the concert.
Upon conclusion of the lottery corner, they quickly prepared for the opening of the third section with ‘Tokaikko Junjou’. The crowd went wild and were so loud that it caused °C-ute to initially miss their cue. With exceptional skill, they jumped straight into ‘Tokaikko Junjou’ with amazing energy that radiated throughout the whole concert hall. Much to our pleasure, they also performed ‘The Middle Management ~Josei Chuukan Kanrishoku~’, which was one of their strongest performances at the concert. They closed out the third section with ‘Dance de Bakoon!’ which arguably elicited the loudest response from the crowd. ‘Dance de Bakoon!’ has very energetic and positive themes, so performing that was a beautiful way to close out with a bang.
After leaving the stage, the crowd went wild. They chanting various things hoping for them to come back for an encore, including a very unique chant that was entirely Mexican. They chanted ‘Olé Olé Olé! Kyuuto! Kyuuto!’ We were unaware of how long this went, since it was easy to get lost in the moment while cheering and chanting, though it was likely 10-15 minutes. They came out to thunderous cheers. They were sporting the concert’s T-shirts along with cute skirts with vehicles on it and frills matching their member colors. The encore kicked off with the cute classic ‘Sakura Chirari’. Messages from each individual member were then read to the crowd. Maimi thanked everybody for coming; Saki said that they had looked forward to meeting the fans; Airi expressed her happiness for being able to sing in Mexico finally; Chisato asked everybody to keep cheering for them so they could come back; Mai expressed her happiness with being able to connect with Mexican culture. They then told everybody that all the fans were also members of Team °C-ute and expressed much gratitude and love. Following this, they performed ‘Gamusha Life’ and closed out the concert with ‘JUMP’. These were especially fantastic choices because they allowed the girls to be a little more informal for the conclusion. The end was performed with a bit more interaction with the crowd, a very effective way to depart. It left the fans with awesome positive images.
As quickly as it felt the concert had begun, it was already over. The concert hall was then separated into two groups: VIP and non-VIP. The VIP members were allowed to have a quick handshake with each member followed by the non-VIP fans who had managed to snag the CD (which was the only other way to get the handshake ticket). The girls were extremely enthusiastic and kind as everyone proceeded through the handshake line. With really big and pleasant smiles, they gave everybody their heartfelt thanks. At the very end I managed to let Maimi know that I was from America and that they had lots of love from the American fans. Various fans had various messages for the °C-ute members, which they would similarly express to them as they went through the line. The VIP holders then grabbed their signed photos, CDs and handshake tickets (in case they wanted to keep it for the sake of collecting).
Exhausted, hot and with dissipated voices, we stood outside the concert hall and reflected on the experience. We had heard many amazing things about °C-ute being amazing performers. They not only lived up to this expectation, but went beyond it. Between the infectious positivity and energy of the Mexican fans, the extremely top-notch and enthusiastic performance from °C-ute and the amazing set list, we’d be hard-pressed to find something to complain about. As we walked off to grab a bite, we already knew that was going to be one concert we wouldn’t forget. A-To-J Connections was proud to be a part this momentous occasion.
Here’s hoping that °C-ute will be able to travel abroad to give more fans the opportunity to experience them as well.
◆ Yajima Maimi (矢島舞美, Leader)
◆ Nakajima Saki (中島早貴)
◆ Suzuki Airi (鈴木愛理)
◆ Okai Chisato (岡井千聖)
◆ Hagiwara Mai (萩原舞)
1. Kanashiki Heaven
2. Adam to Eve no Dilemma
3 MC (Introductions in Spanish)
4. Soku Dakishimete
5. I miss you
6. Forever Love
7. Massara Blue Jeans
8. Ookina Ai de Motenashite
9. Sekai ichi Happy na Onna no ko
10. Namida no Iro
11. Aitai Aitai Aitaina
12. Crazy Kanzen na Otona
13. MC (Lottery Corner)
14. Tokaikko Junjou
15. Love take it all
16. The Middle Management ~Josei Chuukan Kanrishoku~
17. Midnight Temptation
18. Kiss Me Aishiteru
19. Dance de Bakoon!
20. Sakura Chirari
21. MC (Messages)
22. Gamusha Life
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All photos ©UP-FRONT PROMOTION Co., Ltd. Used with permission.