Hana Shounen Baddies
A few weeks ago, I photographed a concert at Shinjuku Blaze, a relatively new venue in the heart of Shinjuku’s Kabukicho. I had photographed bands at the venue before, so wasn’t worried about the layout of the hall, or the other things you run through your head before a gig. No, what I was more concerned about was the band themselves. I always research the bands I’m shooting before I see them – checking out websites and Youtube videos – in order to get a feel for their sound, image and what they’re likely to do during a live show. And, well, with their upbeat brand of bouncy pop-rock and very おしゃれ（oshare – stylish) appearance the Hana Shounen Baddies (花少年バディーズ) just weren’t doing it for me. In fact, I was slightly worried that my lack of enthusiasm might affect my ability to do them any justice.
I was further discouraged when I got down to the press pit 15 minutes before the show was due to start. Two video-camera crew members were staked out on either end of the run, and didn’t seem like they were going to move. Cables trailed down from the smoke machines and mini-pyrotechnics sat on the edge of the stage, coiling into serpentine death traps all over the floor. And the handbags, pom poms, shoes and water bottles from the girls in the front-row were tossed all over the cables. Given my propensity for wobbling and clumsiness, I wasn’t betting on my chances of getting out of the gig with body parts or camera still intact.
As the stage lights dimmed and the crowd began to cheer in anticipation, myself and the two camera operators, plus a previously unseen 2nd photographer, all did our best to edge towards centre-stage. This set the precedent for the rest of the evening, in which all the cameramen and women bumped into, edged around, or jostled each other, tripped over cables or planted our feet in the audience’s handbags in desperate attempts to stay upright.
The first song is often a bit of a blur, but worries about my liking for the band were dispelled in the second song when drummer Hiroshi and guitarist Takuma rapped at the front of the stage wearing pink and black angel wings. The weirdness began there and continued on throughout the show, with a stage-invasion by super-bouncy tweenage cheerleaders, an appearance by members of horror-punk-metal band Mamono (one of whom came scurrying from the stage in a devil mask and trod on me), and all manner of other shenanigans which had me laughing outloud.
This was the band’s last show for a while as they are going on hiatus, so they really went all out for their last night. You can read all about it, and see more photos at Rokkyuu Magazine.