Thursday, August 24, 2017

Mike Toole's Anime Boston Puffy Concert Write Up (Part 1)

Here is the long promised show report for Puffy's Anime Boston appearance.  What I can say is this may be the biggest concert Puffy has done in the states and from Mike's (and other's reports) it was a fantastic show.  Mike Toole is the Editor-at-Large for Anime News Network and has a column and is the point man for music on that site.  The site seems to be under maintenance, so I cannto provide links.  I am deeply honored he took the time to do the write up and is willing to share that with us Puffy fans.

So without further delay, here is the first part of Mike's Anime Boston write up.  All words beyond this point are his!


Since there was a lot of "What's an anime convention like? Are the tickets included?" chat when Puffy's Anime Boston appearance was first announced on Amiyumidas, I'll explain a bit. Sometimes concert tickets cost extra at conventions (Anime Expo and Otakon, the two biggest anime cons in North America, have big-deal concerts with 2-4 idol singers and nationally-known bands, so they now charge some extra money for tickets), but usually the ticket is included with membership. This is both a good value for the attendee, and an attractive proposition to the band in many cases - they still get an appearance fee, and usually draw at least 500-1000 fans to see what they're all about.

For Anime Boston, Puffy had four events scheduled - two free autograph sessions (also a nice value, as celebrity guests often host paid autograph sessions), the concert, and a rare focus panel, where fans could assemble in the audience of one of the convention ballrooms and chat with Ami and Yumi.

The Puffy stuff was all on Friday and Saturday, because they were leaving for LA and their mini-tour on Sunday morning. I ran to queue up for autographs on Friday, but the line had been capped. I _did_ get to see and compliment these girls, and their photo-perfect cartoon version Ami and Yumi costumes. I had no idea at the time that they'd made it to Ami's instagram!

Photo Credit: Ami Onuki

Now, I know most of the senior staff at Anime Boston - to me, they're old friends. I also do a lot of programming stuff - I run several popular panels, and this year, I acted as moderator for a panel featuring the Japanese-American culture journalist Roland Kelts and ex-Studio Ghibli production runner/storyteller Mr Hirokatsu Kihara. As a return favor for moderating, the staff let me crash the VIP section of the Puffy concert.

I made a note to arrive early for Saturday's autograph session and headed off to enjoy the con until the evening concert.

Mike's view of the show.  Photo Credit: Mike Toole
The seats weren't perfect - just near the sound board, halfway back in the GIANT auditorium. But I was very happy to get seated there, because the Hynes Convention Center auditorium, in this configuration, seats 3,000 - and it was nearly full when I arrived, so I would've been stuck in the back if I didn't have the VIP access! I've seen several acts at Anime Boston - the Pillows, JAM Project, and Halko Momoi to name a few - and the Puffy concert was by far the fullest I'd ever seen it. The crowd estimate was around 2,500.

Anyway, I took my seat... and then was asked to scoot over by a pal who was helping with guest relations. So I sat about 10 feet directly behind the sound board, next to this one guy who kept getting up and making comments to the audio team. He was an older Japanese man, scruffy, ponytail, glasses...

Yep, it was Kaz. He was working, so I didn't bother the man. But hey, that was neat!

I'll also point out that, while the Puffy ticket was included with the con membership, it wasn't just a situation where you could flash your attendee badge and wander into the concert hall - fans had to seek out and get tickets in advance (one per person) for the purposes of headcount, and plan to attend in advance. So this was a crowd that was very interested in seeing Puffy.

As reported by your pal Chanel, this time Puffy also played with a 3-piece band. I thought this was a gutsy choice, but they sounded GREAT - better than when I saw them at the Paradise in 2002, I think! One interesting note - the guitarist was Koki Okamoto of the band OKAMOTO'S, who've lately done some collaboration with Puffy. They were also on the bill at Anime Boston, so this made sense.

As for the set list, I didn't take detailed notes. Like their other stops, they opened with "Puffypipoyama" and "Call Me What You Like." Later, the crowd went nuts to their renditions of "Teen Titans Go" and their own cartoon show theme - lot of cartoon nerds at Anime Boston, naturally. ;) They ended with "Electric Beach Fever" and "That's the Way it Is." If I had a complaint about their set, it's that it was too short. They only did 45 minutes! This is actually pretty common for bands at these conventions, but I was hoping they'd play a bit longer.

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