There’s an ad currently airing in the US in which children imagine an island made of candy. On this island, waves from a soda pop ocean crash onto a beach of granulated sugar. A volcano spews hot fudge lava. The skulls of long-ago shipwrecked pirates consist of rock candy, and the bats and spiders are made of licorice. And if such an island existed, who would be performing cute sugary pop songs in its gingerbread theater? Kyary Pamyu Pamyu of course, wearing brightly colored cotton candy dresses with ribbon candy bows.
On April 12th and 14th, Kyary brought her “100%KPP World Tour 2013” to Los Angeles and New York City, attracting devoted fans as well as curious onlookers to packed houses. And for the duration of these performances, she and her dancers did their best to transport their audiences to that imaginary candy island, where they could all frolic together in an orgy of cuteness.
The Harajuku fashionista/model/performer first captured the world’s attention in 2011 with her stunning PONPONPON music video, and she’s been delighting fans with her “creepy kawaii” style ever since.
True to its name, her show provided a “100%KPP” experience: crazy colorful costumes; surreal video clips; beloved songs like Candy Candy, Tsukema Tsukeru, Cherry Bon Bon, Furisodeshon, Fashion Monster, and of course PONPONPON; her giant white rabbit mascot, Pamyurin, who (as it was pointed out to us) has “vivid pink teats”; and a troupe of amazingly energetic and expressive dancers who smiled, winked, and grimaced as they scampered frenetically across the stage (a style that is also seen in the affiliated group Tempura Kidz.)
And in the middle of it all was Kyary, looking cute and content as she sang along with her prerecorded tracks, danced, and exhorted the crowd to jump, clap, or follow along with her choreographed hand motions during the choruses.
The LA and NY shows were identical, except for a couple of minor details. In LA, she decided to don a pair of fuzzy pink bunny ears for her encore, and she also wore them during the post-show meet-and-greet with the fans. And, also in LA, there was a slight mishap when one of Pamyurin’s ears accidentally smacked Kyary in the face; but of course that only made their dance that much cuter.
One special treat for the LA and NY shows was the debut of a new song, Invader Invader. It was very well received by the American audiences, who were especially excited by its dubstep elements.
After each show, there was a meet-and-greet event for those of us who had paid extra for the privilege. We all lined up and waited for our turn to be photographed individually with Kyary. The staff members were hustling us through pretty quickly; there was only time for “hello, snap the pic, and goodbye,” although some of us managed to sneak in a handshake or a gift presentation. In LA, I gave Kyary some fan art that was made by a friend of mine, and Kyary posed with it during our picture. In NY, I shook hands with her, and then I formed half of a heart-shape with my left hand and asked, “Haato?” while gesturing toward her to indicate that I wanted us to do a hand-heart together for our picture. This made every Japanese guy in the room laugh, for some reason. (Maybe it was dorky enough and funny enough to make it onto the DVD?) But Kyary understood, and sweetly obliged, and it resulted in a wonderfully epic photo that I’ll treasure forever.
All in all, Kyary’s shows were very entertaining, and I think all the performers were successful in showing the American audience what the KPP style of music, dance, and fashion is all about. If I had to sum up the experience in only two words, I would say: “Super kawaii!”