On the weekend of August 25-26, 2012, I got a chance to check out J-Pop Summit Festival 2012 at Japantown in San Francisco, CA. I have to say that it was probably one of the most fun events I have been to in a while. There was a lot of great music and entertainment to be had.
To start off on Day 1, I caught the Glowing Stars, a two-person chiptune band that focuses on using video game sounds into their music. As a fan of 8-bit music from my love of video games, I found their music to be quite entertaining and upbeat. Unfortunately, the duo said that they were going to end the band after November 8, 2012. I would have loved to see them again next year.
I decided to walk around a bit and went into the New People building (which is amazing, by the way). What I saw was the world-famous Nico Nico streaming live from the event and talking to a variety of cosplayers. Pretty cool sight to see and I even got caught on stream while walking past the reporters (props to the guy in Gintama cosplay). I also went to check out the Evangelion Pop-Up Museum on the 3rd floor, which contained a wide variety of EVA artwork, sketches, figures, t-shirts and other merchandise.
Afterwards, it was back outside as the LIZ LISA fashion contest began. The girls all looked pretty cute and a variety of notable judges (including J-Pop Summit’s main headliner, Kylee) gave the top 3 girls some pretty awesome prizes. “A fashion fusion of the retro and trendy that accentuates a girl’s charm”, huh? Sounds like my type of girl. Am I right, guys? 🙂
Did I mention that there were awesome food trucks at the festival to serve food for attendees? All types of Asian food were available, but there was one food cart that caught my eye and it was Onigilly. All of their rice balls were made with brown rice. I decided to make it my lunch spot for both days. There was a cute little picture on the cart of one of the members of Counting Crows who said that the Miso Tuna rice ball was “f*****’ delicious!” I wholeheartedly agree with that statement.
h.NAOTO took the stage next with its “GRAMM & FRILL” fashion show and debuted its new line of clothes for the Autumn/Winter seasons. It was nice and the music played fit the show.
Next up was the Tokyo-based, all-female “blues rock” trio, Akabane Vulgars on Strong Bypass. And boy, did they bring the house down. Performing some of their hits along with new songs, Akabane Vulgars showed off why they made a great impression at their first overseas appearance at SXSW 2012 earlier this year. Yumi Uchizono’s (guitar & vocals) voice was the perfect mix of rough and sweet. Her sister on bass, Miki Uchizono, was very charismatic as she heavily put her hands up in the air to get the crowd going. Lovely, soulful energy from this band. Akabane Vulgars are on a U.S. tour right now and they might be heading towards your area. Check them out if you love punk rock, blues, and soul. You won’t regret it.
Finally, the main event of Day 1: the Vocaloid Dance Contest. To tell you the truth, I’m not that familiar with Vocaloid music. This was my first, in-depth experience with Vocaloid music. After seeing all the contestants pour their heart and soul out, I can see why Vocaloid has captured the imaginations of people all over the world. It’s perky, catchy, and the dances being performed are well-done. The end was adorable as many young folks went on stage to dance with the contestants. In my honest opinion, Vocaloid makes huge sense for a event such as J-Pop Summit.
That’s about it for Day 1. Stay tuned for a recap of Day 2 (featuring Rome Kanda, BABY, THE STARS SHINE BRIGHT, and Kylee) and some final thoughts on J-Pop Summit! See you soon!
All photos were taken by Tony Yao.