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Buono! in Paris, 12th February 2012

So, at last I have an opportunity to sit down, compose my thoughts, and spam with wordcount.

Of course, it wouldn't be possible for me to do this without some incentive, and the incentive behind this particular post, were it not already rather obvious due to the title, is that Buono! came to France for a gig.

Unless you've been living under a rock I suppose that's probably not particularly surprising, so I'll say it once again just to be annoying.

Buono! came to France for a gig.

And such begins this tale of woe, regret, tragedy, heartbreak and FUCKING AWESOME TIMES.

Preamble:

Right, so I shall start at the beginning. Generally this is where most stories start, so I guess once again I'm thoroughly not surprising... anyone. But still, starting at the beginning makes it make more sense in general, so I'll just start there.

So, going back a while now, I left on Friday. But of course, the journey started last November, when the sudden announcement was made, and amidst a flurry of activity that consisted of a few Japanese wota tweeting about it and then Maoh kindly providing some good info. The info was simple. Buono! were coming to Paris for a gig.

Actually, come to think of it, the journey started three long years ago, the arduous nature I charted somewhat in this post and this post.

But anyway, yes. Returning to a time slightly less ancient and more modern in nature, when the tickets for Paris went on sale, they sold out pretty much like lightning. After the pointlessly slow burn and flicker of the ticket sales of SJX, this was amazing. Sold out completely within a week. In Paris. That was amazing.

Anyway, as the time drew closer, we wondered whether it would be them flying in, playing, then flying out, or whether we'd get anything else.

Three weeks before the concert, a "special event" on Saturday was announced, the details of which would be forthcoming.

We waited patiently.

Less than a week before the concert, they announced a signing session after the concert itself, limited to 100 people, and they'd have to register on a site at 12:02pm on Thursday, France time. The hour came, the site crashed. Never a more ridiculous plan had ever been attempted. 120 people maybe saw the form out of the 800 that tried, so that was a stupid idea. The day after they announced a signing on the Saturday, that you had to queue up for. In -5C...

Well, at least there was a chance.

Day One:

So, friday. It arrived and I awoke to find Huddersfield... snowing. "Oh shit," I thought as I crawled my way out of my dim and dreary bed, "I hope the flight isn't grounded."

Luckily, my luck was good and I caught my train on time (it was on time, then delayed 3 minutes, then delayed 5 minutes, then 10 minutes, then was on time again. Yay train speeding). At Manchester, Pete (sswishbone, H!O's very own Voldemort who cannot be named) boarded the train as well and we travelled onwards to Manchester Airport, which was surprisingly well equipped and big. After easily getting through the security due to Manchester Airport's wonderful NAKED SCANNERS (they don't save the image, honestly...), we walked around a bit, had 4 games of table hockey (I won by three games to one), then made preparations for jumping the Ryanair queue of stupidity.

Unfortunately, we had chosen the wrong side of the departure lounge to stretch in. After walking at full speed a good 700m down the lounge, there were already about 20 people in front of us in the queue. This luck would haunt us most of the weekend.

Anyway, flights are boring so I'll skip it, suffice to say we arrived in Paris Beauvais on time and with minimal fuss. The place was tiny and grotty, and I knew I was in France.

After finding a ticket vendor and grabbing a bus ticket, we grabbed a bus and headed towards Paris. I say towards as Beauvais is nearly 100km away from Paris. The bus trip actually took longer than the flight. Anyway, after some interesting discussions and silliness we arrived in Porte Maillot, headed into the Métro and sorted out a five-day pass (because 4-day passes don't exist). After a few line changes we ended up where we were going, Place de Clichy. After a bit of getting lost (face it, no trip is decent unless you get lost finding the accomodation), we got to the Ibis hotel, paid, went up to the room and ran into some trouble. The room we had booked, back in november, was a room with both a double and a single bed (as there were no twin rooms left). What we got instead we a double bed and a little tiny cushion thing on a cramped space.

Shamelessly ripped from Pete's blog.

So, a phonecall to reception and a visit later, we had a room with... just a double bed. Until a janitor decided to barge in, stick a key in the wall and pull a bed out from the wall itself. Good job.

The view from the hotel was interesting though. Rather grim, I must say. I enjoyed it. The resting dead just outside my window, behind a blackout blind so powerful we overslept most days.

Dead but dreaming...

So yes. Our lovely view.

After sorting out our stuff and enjoying the view, we decided to head out and grab some toiletries and scout out the venue. After dodging a 50 year old hooker and the other perils awaitingthe unsuspecting tourist down Blvd. de Clichy, we headed back to the hotel in order to crack open the wifi and see how bad the connection was. It was shit, but I managed to get onto H!O and somehow summon me up a Kenshin to go drinking with.

We headed back down to La Machine to wait for him to turn up, which he eventually did after finishing his fag, and we wandered off to the lovely Irish pub called Corcoran's. The beer was quite expensive, but the atmosphere was nice and the "beer garden" was quite warmer than it should have been, considering it was outside. After some conversation and some alcoholic beverages, we headed back inside for another and grabbed a seat inside for even more warmth. After this we headed down to another Irish pub (the name of which I forget, but it had sofas) and had another drink. Kenshin helpfully flirted with some of the female punters and failed to recognise "Happy Birthday" being sung in French, so we headed off to our final desination, the drearily named "Clichy's Tavern". To call it a ripoff would be unfair to ripoffs, it was fucking ridiculous. The prices increase by 50 cents per half-pint after 10pm. So I ended up shelling out €8.50 for a pint of Guinness. Would have been even more expensive had I sat down at a table like I intended. After finishing that drink, we decided to call it a day and head off, rather lighter in pocket than when we had set out.

Day Two:

After getting up with a slight headache at 7pm, I showered and we headed off to the signing. Of course, it was slightly annoying as there were already 100 people when we got there at 8:30ish. We were met at the Métro station by Tiffany, as well as Lolli and Kea who'd come to pick up the Dutch girls who we ended up talking to for most of the day. It was slightly annoying as I was number 107. However, instead of going away and getting more sleep, which would have been sensible, Mike (who seemed to be doing some part-time gig whilst queuing due to his trilingual ability in French, English and Japanese) told us that there was a chance that if the numbers remained lower than 120 there was a chance, however slim, that we might still get in. So we waited for 3.5 hours. In the cold. Our feet suffered, then stopped suffering as they became numb and ineffectual. We met Maoh, who had once again come over from Japan bearing gifts (in this instance, a copy of the "cutest" photobook for us each) and we spent a while chatting to him, and the Dutch girls (Miekie1991, KeriChan12 and Angela, whom I amused with my terrible Dutch pronunciation of naughty phrases), and Lolli and Kea whenever they came back in the queue. So, the time ticked on, and eventually it was announced that they'd start handing out the tickets early due to there already being slightly more than 100 people blocking this tiny little street. So at 11am the queue started moving. Slowly.

The queue.

We finally arrived at the front, and the guy who was #101 in the line was let in, and came out with a ticket. We had hope. Yet the next person who went in, (I dunno her number, but I'm assuming it was #102) came back out after a while looking rather annoyed at the staff. Eventually the head of Soundlicious, someone we all wanted to punch by the end of the weekend, came out and told everyone to piss off because there were no more tickets.

Our time wasted, Pete, the Dutch girls and I headed up to the McDonald's near the Métro station. Pete and I hadn't had breakfast so needed something to eat, and the Dutchies just needed to get warm. So after eating we went our separate ways, to meet again at around 4pm where we would hopefully get a few up-close glimpses of the girls.

In the meantime, I went back to bed while Pete showered and we tried to use the internet again. It worked, slightly. So at 15:15pm we headed back out for a final assault.

We arrived and spoke to a few people. Lolli and Kea had managed to get to the front, and the Dutchies were hanging with them so we just ignored them and got a good spot on the side of the street, where I got out my camera and started trying to set it up for best results in the freezing cold and weird light conditions.

Test shot for my camera
The time ticked slowly on, at 15:45 it was getting a bit warmer, I removed my gloves and started to take a few more test shots of the crowd, one of which was okay...

I think the people on our side of the street outnumbered the ones who got a signing space...
But at 15:50, the time arrived. An inconspicuous white van pulled up. The doors opened. The screams began. I raised my camera and started snapping like a paparrazo, only for my flash to overload and stop working half way through. So the motion blur on some of them are a bit annoying. Still, I got some generally decent results (or so I thought, until I saw Miekie's epic shot of them right in front of her)...








So, yes. Score one for paparazzi.

Miya impressed me quite a lot with how restrained and normal she was. Airi was just in shock and Momo was just grinning like an imp the whole time, whereas Miya seemed to exude an aura of awesomeness. I guess she's moving up my rankings a bit now...

The girls went into the café, spent a while preparing, then the signing people started going in. Lolli and Kea were near the front of the queue so they came out quite quickly and I grabbed a snap of the Buono! France CD that was the only thing they would sign for this session.


Interesting to note how they wrote the names of the recipient for these in katakana, yet in the post-gig signing session it was all in Latin alphabet...

Anyway, that done, and with Maoh also being out quite quickly, we headed over to hang with the Dutch girls and a suspiciously hyperactive small kappa.

Said kappa was, of course, Chobineko. She was accompanied by LeMonAmoururururururu (however many ru's are on there nowadays), who I was shocked to find was actually male. I guess not bothering to look on anyone's profiles burns me occasionally. But yea, after introducing ourselves (Chobi's reaction to Pete's being banned was hilarious. Shouted over to everyone on the other side of the street, "THIS GUY GOT BANNED BY KRUSHA!!! HAHAHAHA!") and suffering the complete normalcy of no one at all being able to pronounce Krv, we got chatting. And I got envious of Miekie's picture. But oh well.

Nicked from Chobi's blog as it's one of the few pics I'm actually in from all weekend.
 As everyone was pressed up against the glass trying to see into the signing, and as Chobi is tiny, I suggested she get on Pete's shoulders, as he's about 6'2" and Chobi couldn't have weighed more than a large sack of potatoes.

Lo' and behold, it worked, and the happiness she got from seeing Airi again was tangible. I've a feeling if they made Airi in drug form, Chobi would be the happiest addict in the world.

After an hour they moved us away from the windows because the girls were leaving soon, so we got a spot on the other side of the street where they had came in from, ostensibly so that I could get pictures of them that could rival even Miekie's. Unfortunately, my hands had frozen a bit more in the meantime, and we were surrounded by a gaggle of excited Miya fangirls. When the time came for them to come out (following a few false-alarms and a chorus of boos whenever someone tried parking anywhere near the vicinity), the white van pulled up again, and they came out. I tried going into paparazzi-mode, but to say my shots were terrible is pushing it. They were shit.

I got one shot of Airi right next to me, looking at me, smiling and waving. Only I'd been pushed from behind by one of the fangirls and hit the shutter when I was still focusing...

Quite easily my worst photographic luck ever.

Incidentally, the focus point in this picture is Miekie's blonde hair in the background. Obviously she was purposefully scuppering my shot... *shakes fist...*

The only other salvagable shot from this frankly terrible ordeal was one of Miya sitting in the van, which is so paparazzi-ish it's disturbing...

White van peace...
But yea. My luck had folded and they drove off into the ether.

On the other hand, we now had a mission to attend to. Pete and I had to pick up oroboras, and Lolli and Kea had to pick up Shirow. Both from Gare du Nord, both on the same Eurostar, unbeknownst to them.

After navigating the stupidity of Gare du Nord (how many ticket barriers to get out do you need?) we found the wonderful Eurostar platform and as we arrived it started to pull in. And in the surging mass of humanity that followed, we somehow managed to pick out the two most worthy and add them to our group.

Shirow had to go with Lolli and Kea back to their place, whereas orob had to go somewhere silly near Gare du Nord. He had a much more grim looking hotel than the one Pete and I were in, with an elevator that could only hold three people and narrow as hell hallways. However, the problem was much the same, they needed a double and a single bed, yet only a double was provided. How helpful.

Eventually the staff gave him an extra z-bed, but was still a waste of time.

After this, we set out to Blvd. de Clichy again as we'd promised loads of people to meet at 7pm. orob had to head before we even arrived due to numerous withheld calls which turned out to be from Aardvark (Tomasz) who was supposed to be sharing the room with orob, so he had to go back and let him into the room.

So Pete and I headed down to Corcoran's, and found no one. We figured maybe people were meeting up at La Machine, so we headed up there and bumped into Maoh coming out of O'Sullivans Irish bar (easy mistake to make), but found no one else. After grabbing a drink in Corcoran's, I was annoyed by the lack of people so I headed back to the hotel and grabbed my PSP and managed to again summon up Kenshin and nimrahwt to drink with. Added to orob and Tomasz returning, and we had a nice little party, first in Corcoran's, then in Black Sheep up the road a bit. Afterwards, when orob, Tomasz and Maoh had headed back to get some sleep, the remaining four went into a Subway to grab some quick food, and nimrahwt pulled out some million-scoville chilli powder, which I eventually tried some of and wasn't blown away as much as I thought. Still, was a good night. Headed back to the hotel to try and grab some sleep, but knew that after the queuing on saturday, we wouldn't be queuing proper until rather late on Sunday...

Day Three:

The blackout blinds doing their job too well convinced me that it was still 3am when it was nearly 9am, so eventually we dragged our asses out of bed and went to enjoy a "continental" breakfast in the Ibis. €9 a head is pretty damn expensive, but it filled us up slightly well. I went and grabbed my camera, and headed out to get some shots.

The light was horrible. The sun was constantly on the queue, and getting focus where I wanted it was almost impossible.

LeMonAmourururu, unsuspecting test model and holder of everyone's belongings.
Mike, the Risako wota of three fluent languages.
Before there was any semblance of order in the queue.
At one point a huge crowd sprang up at the side of the pavement, as some crazy Norwegian guy known as nin0bb who was selling loads of stuff he'd grabbed in Japan. He wasn't even interested in the gig, but was funny to talk to, so I spent ages whiling away the time with him when the barricades went up.

Some of Nino's collection.
But I've skipped ahead. Also met up with Paul Thomas of the esteemed Hello!Blog, and grabbed some stroopwafels from the Dutchies. Legendary snack. Also went with them down to Starbucks and grabbed some quick drinks because it was cold. Headed back to the queue and got a bit blinded by that small kappa again.

Don't think she stopped grinning all weekend. Also, lol that the peace sign threw her out of focus.


Chobi's glowring rig.



After this, I headed back to the line where Paul, Shirow, Lolli and Kea were hanging, when Buono! arrived. Of course, there was a massive surge forward to try to see them, so in the circumstances our group did what any normal people would do. Take advantage and move forward about 30m. Get in.

After the girls had gone into the venue and the crowd had calmed and wandered back to their places, only to wonder why five Brits and a French-Italian were now in the way, Pete and I headed back to the hotel to grab our tickets, get rid of some clothes and glowstick up.

When we returned a barrier had been erected, but we managed to get through and back to where we were supposed to be. Nimrahwt also jumped the barriers, and I just spent the next few hours talking to Nino (who was sat outside the barricade completely uninterested in queuing...).

At about 17:00 the queue started moving, slowly, as the bouncers had been trying to arrange the queue into A-L and M-Z and were only letting in small groups at a time. I couldn't have been further back than 200 yet when I got in there were no Airi towels left at all. Good thing I got 6 glowsticks and a good slot near the left hand side of the stage.

They were playing PVs from various H!P units, as well as DMM, Kikka, Kitahara Sayaka and Up Up Girls, before ending with a double header of Hatsukoi Cider and Deep Mind. Then we got a VTR of the Paris concert announcement (along with some terrible dating at the bottom on the interspersed music videos...) before the intro kicked in and the lights went down...

Setlist:
  1. Hatsukoi Cider
  2. We are Buono! 
  3. Nakimushi Shounen
  4. Rottara Rottara
  5. Minna Daisuki 
  6. Kokoro no Tamago 
  7. Hontou no Jibun
  8. Independent Girl
  9. DEEP MIND
  10. JUICY HE@RT
  11. Bravo☆Bravo
  12. Renai♥Rider
  13. Warp!
  14. Kiss! Kiss! Kiss!
  15. Rock no Kamisama
There were a few MCs in there too, the first with an annoying Nolife lady who kept telling everyone to shush, and the rest with just the girls and the crowd. The first MC was before Rottara, where they were trying to teach the crowd how to do the dance. Was amusing. Others involved trying to read a letter in French and some other stuff.

The crowd were great, with the exception of a spazzy little Momowota and her boyfriend in front of me who kept trying to jump into my nose. The sound quality was okay, though there were a few problems with the mixing desk, one in particular being that they accidently looped Miya's mic and replayed it a few times before realising their mistake, but overall the sound carried well and I was impressed by the energy of the performance.

I did my part, growling and screaming like a deranged banshee for the duration of the concert, occasionally pogo jumping, waving my glowsticks, etc. Didn't really get to do any wotagei as there was no room, but I suppose that's to be expected in a crowded venue with no seating. 

There was only one costume change, from decent outfits to some incredibly sexy outfits that left me drooling over Airi's belly for much of the rest of the concert, but oh well...

After the last song (which they said in Japanese would be the absolutely final song, but no one bothered to translate it), I was trapped in a crowd that would not move, demanding an encore for 20 straight minutes before they bothered putting the house lights back on. Then the Soundlicious woman returned and made us all want to punch her even more by telling us all to piss off again. So we who didn't have any signing stuff did just that, and ended up in the Quick next door. Grabbed me a Dark Jedi burger and some surprisingly nice chips (plus coke with no ice in it. Quick are after my heart). Had some funtimes talking with Paul, Kenshin and Maoh, and the Dutchies joined us and we pretty much ignored them. Because we're nice like that.

After we finished eating we headed off to the Café Oz, an Aussie bar much cheaper, nicer and spacious than any of the Irish bars we'd been frequenting until that point. Eventually the numbers swelled and at one point we had over 30 people in there buying drinks and having a damn good time. Got to practice my Japanese skills with Maoh and a couple of other oddfellows (one of whom was from Chikoku, and said that anyone who likes more than three idols is DD, before pulling out a load of photocards from the local Chikoku idol group whose name I have completely forgotten). Also finally met Crazed Lurker who was in the same Ibis as Pete and I, and probably a few others turned up I didn't even have a chance to talk to. However, after a beer and a wonderfully named cocktail known as a Cumshot, I was getting a headache and talking was becoming immensely difficult in any language.

Eventually, however, came kickout time. We left in sort of an orderly fashion, and then, after getting a load of group shots with some of the Japanese wota, we made our ways back to the hotel for a long, draining sleep for the return journey, slightly miffed at the new information Crazed Lurker had provided us. Buono! had been staying in the Mercure Hotel right next to the Ibis the whole damn time, and we'd not seen or heard anything of the sort. 不幸だ。

Day Four:

So, we woke up again. Despite Crazed Lurker promising to meet us for breakfast at 9:30, he didn't, so we did a quick clear-out of the remaining foodstuffs (and I tried to make a slightly normal cuppa, which didn't quite work) and then went back up to the room, backed and headed out. We had a good three hours to kill before our bus back to the airport, so we took our time walking our way over Montmarte, rejoining the road near a Quick, grabbing a drink each (their strawberry milkshakes are the best I've ever had), and then headed out to walk along the Métro tracks following Line 2. Eventually I found what I was looking for, the briefly glimpsed but amazingly frozen solid Canal Saint-Martin.

Anyone missing a tent?
The temperature had risen slightly by Monday, so it wasn't quite as spectacular as I'd hoped, but was still worth the walk. We grabbed a train at Jaurès to take us back to Porte Maillot, where we found we still had an hour to kill.

As such, we headed into the Palais des Congrès, an exhibition centre and possibly the most upscale and exclusive-looking shopping centre I've ever seen. After availing ourselves on the expensive looking toilets and looking around, we found a nice little Japanese restaurant to blow most of the rest of our cash on. It cost me nearly €30 for four yakitori (two lamb, two chicken), six pieces of karaage, miso soup, rice and a ramune, and it all came in little prepacked boxes and was microwaved to reheat it, but it was fucking delicious. Any restaurant that can make me capable of ingesting miso soup deserves major props, so here they are.

Anyway, we grabbed the bus back to the airport, hopped on a plane and eventually landed in cloudy, boring Manchester. But it was warm. Or rather, above freezing, so that was a nice surprise. But yes, overall it was a fabulous weekend, one that had a purpose (unlike the Sweden meet), and the people I met and the idols I saw were brilliant.

Here's to the next one!

Pozdrav,
Krv

4 comments:

  1. haha win, absolutely awesome, was great to be there, catch up, watch Buono!, get smashed and have a corking time, until the next one!!

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  2. Woah gread review ,buono was so awesome ,the time in the irish and australien bars was so cool.

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  3. Hi,
    On the photograph where you're with kappa girl, is this a picture of Hitomi Arai (from Tokyo Girls' Style) on her chest?

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    Replies
    1. Nope, it's Suzuki Airi, from C-ute and Buono (amazingly enough...)

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