On January 2nd I once again attended Tokyo Idol Project x @JAM’s yearly New Year Premium Party. Because of scheduling conflicts with other activities in Tokyo around that time period, I was only able to attend the first day of the event. However, this report should give those of you out there who have never attended a Japanese idol festival a small glimpse of what the experience is like.

Obviously, this event report is coming out a little late. Some outside personal circumstances unrelated to this site prevented me from meeting posting this article a timely manner. Even though this is a couple of months overdue I believe in better late than never when it comes to articles such as this. With that in mind here is my account of the first day of New Year Premium Party 2018.

I arrived at Zepp Tokyo around 20 minutes before the opening ceremony. Luckily it was not too crowded and I found a spot around the third row with a good view of the stage. For some reason Motley Crue’s Dr. Feelgood album was playing on the speakers during the pre-show. It seemed odd for an idol event to me but everyone else around me didn’t seem to care or mind.

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The opening ceremony started shortly after 11:00 and featured appearances by some of the groups performing at Zepp Tokyo. It was not anything elaborate but it served its purpose. After a short intermission PASSPO arrived on stage as the first act of the day. This was similar to last year’s event with one difference. They were not in band formation. This year it was straight up idol formation for the entire performance.

They performed a blend of recent tracks from their last studio album Cinema Trip and sprinkled in a few older songs during their 40-minute set. In a way it was similar to their New Year’s Eve 2017 set at Astro Hall I had attended earlier in my trip only with less MC segments. PASSPO put on a fun performance and it was a great start to the day.

After PASSPO’s set was over I had an hour wait until predia took the stage. Luckily, they happened to be performing at Zepp Tokyo so instead of wandering around Odaiba I decided to scope out the merchandise booths at the venue. None of them were open yet but I at least got a good idea of what I would have to buy to get the predia 2-shots I was looking for.

With nothing else to do I went to a vending machine outside of the venue, got myself a drink and sat on a bench waiting for predia’s performance time. Normally an hour isn’t that long of a wait but it felt prolonged due to a strong cold wind going through the area that day.

At 13:00 I re-entered Zepp Tokyo and found a temporary spot to stand during the tail end of sora tob sakana’s set. Having never seen them perform in any capacity before I thought they were okay but in the end they were not really my cup of tea when it comes to idol groups. When their set ended the great circle of life began as wota not sticking around for predia exited while predia fans moved up to get a better spot for their show.

I ended up in a similar position to where I was last year facing center stage. This time I was only a few rows further back. After the opening VTR predia started with their 2017 single Kindan no Masquerade. After that it was an aural assault of their singles and a few b-sides for their 40 minutes. I have never been to a true predia live, but this small taste of what they do is enough to make me consider checking out one of their shows in the future.

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Once predia’s performance was over I immediately got in line for their merchandise table to buy photo sets. I bought all 10 individual photo sets which equated to 10 tickets for their 2-shots at the Fuji TV building later in the day.

By the time I was out of Zepp Tokyo it after 2 PM. I had another 2 and a half hours to wait until Idol Renaissance’s performance at Zepp Tokyo. I decided to try and get lunch in the food court of the Diver City Mall. “Try” being the operative word since the place was packed with peeps. In the end I ended up getting a supermarket sandwich, a 7-up and ate outside staring at the ass of the new Unicorn Gundam statue.

By the time I was done with my late lunch it was starting to get colder outside. I had heard of tsuribit so I figured why not go in and watch them while staying warm at the same time? After slowly descending the stairs in Zepp DiverCity. I found a spot in the back to watch. Having very little exposure to them beforehand much of what they were performing was all new to me.

Once their set was over I left feeling impressed with their music and also fairly warmed up. I walked back to Zepp Tokyo and arrived just as callme’s performance was starting. I was vaguely familiar with them having come across their single Bring you happiness during my browsing on Apple Music Japan.

They were one of the few mature idol acts on the days roster and were even garnering calls of “Nice body!” from some of the randy members in the crowd. Which I thought was appropriate but also really strange to hear from wota who normally more passive when it comes to such things. Their performance felt more like a highly trained female vocal group rather than an idol group. I thought they were great and are definitely an act I will keep an eye on in the future.

When callme’s set was over I moved up a little for Idol Renaissance. I had seen them perform at Shibuya WWW X on a few days prior to NPP2018 and while I was happy to see them perform again I was not joining the rows of crays who were their hardcore fans. I can say I had at least a somewhat closer view compared to where I was in for their solo lives at Shibuya WWW X. Meaning I wasn’t leaning against a service ladder sipping on colas and hoping tall people would not stand in front of me.

Much like at their previous shows I left impressed and was looking forward to seeing them again the next time I was in Japan. Little did I know that NPP2018 would be the last time I would ever see them perform as they announced their disbandment on January 22nd with their final performance being on February 24th.

The last act of the day for me was the one I was going to end with on January 3rd of last year before I left Zepp DiverCity in an ambulance. That act was SUPER GIRLS. I arrived at the middle of Tokyo Performance Doll’s set in order to get into a good position to move up for SUPER GIRLS. I ended up getting very close on the right side of stage surrounded by a bunch of SUPER GIRLS faithful.

These guys were doing stretches and light cardio to warm up for the performance ahead of them. I was wondering why until the actual SUPER GIRLS concert started. Those dudes were jumping and dancing around like mad men. So much that I actually had to move back a bit to avoid getting accidentally hit by flailing arms and legs.

When it came to who was on stage I can say I can see why the people around me were getting so hyped. SUPER GIRLS put on a fun show and even though I was unfamiliar with the majority of their music I was still highly entertained. I’ll probably add them to the list of idol groups whose discographies I will investigate further.

I have attended this event for the past two years and other than heading to the hospital on the final day of the event last year I had nothing but great experiences when it came to the performances and fan activities. These types of festivals are an economical way of getting to see a lot of idols perform in one day. They also serve as a way of discovering new acts whose music may have flown under the radar due to various degrees of inaccessibility outside of Japan.

There are only a few pieces of solid advice I can give to folks who are looking to attend an idol festival like NPP2018. The first is to know what your schedule is going to be before you arrive. The timetables for the performances and fan events are usually posted ahead of time on the event’s official web sites. Looking up this information gives you dirty DD’s out there a chance to prioritize who you really want to see and whose events you want to participate in.

Speaking of those, be prepared to shell out a wad of yen if you want to do the whole 2-shot, handshake, meet and greet or whatever thing. (a.k.a. buppan or the act of buying merchandise before or after a performance) Depending on the artist you may have to buy a certain kind of merchandise or spend X amount of yen to get tickets to participate in the tokutenkai. (a.k.a. the whole 2-shot, handshake, meet and greet, etc. stuff)

If you really want to give those extras a shot you will have be willing to dust the cobwebs off your wallet. Oh, and bring cash with you. I have yet to see a vendor who has a credit/debit card machine or mobile payment device on the table. Maybe others have in their experiences, but none so far for me.

Lastly, if there is an act you desperately want to see up close then show up a few sets early even if you don’t even know who is playing. Use the intermission time to move your way up as close as possible to the stage. Just remember, some of the other wota will be employing the same strategy so be prepared to compete for space.

Anyway, that is it for my report from New Year Premium Party 2018. It was a lot of fun being around so many different types of idol fans. If you happen be in Tokyo around early January and want to check out some idols give this festival a try. I certainly hope to make it out to Japan for the 2019 edition and do it all over again.

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