A week ago, Sekai no Owari – billed “End of the World” for their American debut – had their final concert of their two-part U.S. tour. To be honest, I’m still not quite sure what hit me, in both a good and a bad way.
To adequately review the experience and as a tribute to their never ceasing 中二病 ridden lyrics, I split this article into three parts: the Good, the Bad, and the hideously Ugly.
A major part of the reason why I was so hyped up for Sekai no Owari’s August concert was due to the fact that their reputation as excellent performers precedes them. Luckily, that rumor was right on the money.
Every song performed was painstakingly rearranged for the live, with several altered so significantly as to be completely different from their studio version – a simple comparison of the song Question and Death Disco alone would show just how much preparation went into this live. The usage of the stage equipment was creative in ways that I didn’t even realize it could be used, cementing just how fantastic the show was. While it lasted, anyway.
In part, this was due to the fact that they limited themselves only to the songs they had proper English lyrics for. Having a ten song setlist – which includes one song that was sung twice – may be barely acceptable for a group like BABYMETAL which only had a single album out at the time of their first international tour (from which they sung everything). It is less understandable for a group like Sekai no Owari, which currently has three full albums and several additional EPs/Singles out as of this writing, in addition to a plethora of collaborative tracks.
Perhaps this was a deliberate strategy to separate their “End of the World” and “SEKAI NO OWARI” selves – but if that was truly the case, would it not have made sense to run the festival circuit instead? It was bewildering, especially given that the audience was predominantly Japanese and that other groups – such as One OK Rock or Kyary Pamyu Pamyu – have found much success and even sold out shows with a setlist made up entirely of Japanese songs alone.
Even more baffling is the precedent of BABYMETAL, which of all the Japanese groups has achieved the largest overseas success to date since the time of Yellow Magic Orchestra, despite only having a single song not completely in Japanese.
As a result, the concert, which started roughly half an hour late, ran only 50 minutes due to setlist limitations.
This is where things go from simply bad to ugly. For whatever reason, management decided to go ahead and oversell the number of VIP tickets for the New York City show. As a result, several advertised VIP exclusives were subsequently cancelled without warning. There was no pre-seating, the meet and greet autograph and photo session was shortened to simply just a handshake, and most fans left with a deep sense of buyer’s remorse. It was as if I had paid for perhaps the most overpriced AKB48 national handshake ticket ever, a sentiment I heard repeated in a plethora of languages by other concert attendees.
So would I attend another Sekai no Owari concert? Sure. Just not as VIP.