Tuesday, August 9, 2016

# 2016 # A9

ALTERNATIVE 2nd Season + オルタナPUB feat.Saga

Probably my most anticipated event of the year, The Alternative Season 2. Those of you who has been following me for a while now would know, or maybe you don't, I wasn't quite sure if I've been tweeting lots about my regrets about having to miss season 1 back in March there. But yes, I've been waiting for this day since March, since they announced that there will be season 2 on Nao's birthday. Such a highly anticipated day, I'm just so glad it lived up to my expectation, and then more.

There's so much, so much I want to cover, and being both these events happened in the same day I do not want to split them into two posts. So before you read on, be warn that this is going to be at monster length. I'm sorry - really not sorry - about that, because I really have so much to share, so much that I want to note down before it lost in the memoryland that I could not dig out from anymore.

Before we waste more precious words on random stuffs, let us start on my day on 31st July 2016 now shall we?

July marked another short trip to Tokyo, slightly longer than the last, I'm staying For 3 days this time. Booked my B&B near the event venue. It's a nice little place to stay for sure, quiet neighborhood and the venue is within walking distance - well its 18 minutes walk according to Google Map. The day started nice, a little cloudy, it should be the perfect type of weather to queue for live in if it has stayed (note if). Me being me who has always such early schedule when I'm in Japan, I arrived at the venue by 10.15am. Not too tough a walk, but I did passed by the venue without noticing it. Passing by the car park next to the venue, there was this car sitting there with the engine running. Someone was sitting inside, someone with a head of golden hair and a pair of sunglasses on... Hold on a moment, he looks familiar! *Me looked up from the phone and at him for real* *Me gasped* That's Nao!!! Sitting inside his car so relax with his hands pillowing behind his head. I have no doubt there was music playing inside the car, and aircon, of course, summer in Japan is already killing me and I'm from the country near the equator. Walking by, I feigned casual - and really I was still looking for the venue, it must be near here... And finally I found the sign for Basement Monstar.

I wondered did I look calm as I walked back towards the venue, internally I was freaking out. Already freaked out on the chat with my friends, asking them what should I do because I really have no idea. I stood by the side for a moment, and Gakki-san came out. Well, nowhere to run now, I'm sure he recognizes me. So there I stood, by the side, watching them taking things out from the car, and watched Nao drove away.

He returned not long after, after two more fans joined me waiting there. Nao appeared with a friendly smile - that smile so bright even I could tell he was smiling even though he has both mask and shades on - and greeted us all "ohayou gozaimasu" as he passed by. Cutie Nao, I like you.

Judging from the situation, I was pretty sure Saga hasn't arrive yet. So I did have my hopes up, and glad that I was not disappointed. Our bassist arrived in a cab, and I recognized its him immediately once I laid eyes on him - That skinny guy at the back of the cab who has a hat on. He came in without makeup today, wearing a mask though that doesn't help to cover the dark eye circles under his eyes. Hey, have you not been sleeping enough? Busy with rehearsal and writing songs these days? He's nice today though, greeting all of us "Ohayou gozaimasu" as he passed by. He even meet and hold my gaze this time, thank you!!!

Goods sales start at 12.30pm, got our stuffs and headed over to Starbucks and chill.

Perhaps we were too chill, there we kinda let time pass until it was 2.30pm that we gone back to the venue, they has started calling numbers. >.< Both of our numbers has passed, however, thank God it's not too bad. Although we missed the seats, I managed to get us space standing first row right behind the seated. The view is good, since everyone in front of you were sitting down, you get to see the stage clearly. The bad choice is to have chosen to stand at Saga's side, our shy bassist never even turn around to look at us once - OK, he did once, or twice I think, when he has his sunglasses on I am not sure if he's looking at us or not - throughout the session, his face is always turned to look at Nao as he talks to him. Certainly a good way to avoid meeting our gaze there yo~ :-/

View for Alternative Part 1

The show started with a bass and drum session, not sure if it is a cover of a song, but they did so well, I really would give anything just to see them two play again. Following the opening was a small talk and they took out their sunglasses. Saga wore that Cyclops glasses I'm pretty sure belongs to Nao's, and Nao donned on another, normal looking pair. They covered Lady Gaga's Judas with the shades on. And with the shades on, Saga did turned and looked at us for about 2 times, that's mainly all the time he has facing us fans sitting on his side.

After I return home I did some of research on the songs he covered that day - because no, Paige doesn't know most of the songs he sang that day, I'm still pretty new into Japanese songs here so forgive me. One of them that I found, it's called ゴーゴー幽霊船 (Go Go Ghost Ship). Saga did a bit of rearrangement to it, the Alternative version has more of a rock feeling to it. It's nice but at the same time, I find the music is a bit too loud and it covered up Saga's beautiful vocal. Maybe it is just me, I prefer to hear his vocal singing to the softer melody, where its full potential and beauty could be heard.

Saga and Nao chatted quite a bit in between every songs, talking about music, about A9, some nonsensical jokes, and throwing praises at one another. Nao asked us "Saga's voice is very nice isn't it?" after Saga done with a cover song. "Yes!" the crowd replied. Of course, how could we disagree with that statement?

Funny how much mishaps Nao has gotten into that night, like forgetting the arrangement of their setlist, knocking over the mic (or made it drop from its holder) several times, you're such a klutz Nao! Even Gakki-san gave us a meaningful look as he tried to not laugh out loud. But seeing how adorable you are at it, I forgive you. XD

They did a drum and bass cover on Coldplay's Viva La Vida, it was nice, I like how good our rhythm team sounded together. And high-five, Saga, I do not like the original version of that song much either. :-x Your version is... acceptable. *nods* (or maybe I am just bias *wink*)

After Gakki brought out the cake and Nao took a bite of it - it is a chocolate cake, Nao said he was glad it is chocolate, haha! - the boys went ahead and prepare for another song. Nao played guitar for this song! And it is obvious that he doesn't play it usually. He was so cute, sitting on the tall stool his legs dangling midair, he has his thick-rimmed glasses on. He had some trouble tuning his guitar at first that even Saga offered to help him do it, LOL! Finally he got the guitar tuned *\(^o^)/* they played the song that has every fans' heart melted that night, Ozaki Yutaka's I Love You was so beautifully done.

This is the first time for me hearing Nao sings, his voice is so cute, adorable just like he appears to be. While Saga's voice is beautiful as ever, smoothly bringing every notes passed his lips to life. Just what we did to deserve such angel in our lives here? <3333

"Is it true that Nao is Saga's Pokemon?" That sentence came out somewhere between the conversation, I wasn't sure what led to it anymore, I think is some questions Saga got from someone, those someone from band "A" with initial "T", "S" and "H", you know *wink* Saga also did an imitation on playing Pokemon Go onstage, it was so cute!

They also told everyone to please take care/ be careful while playing Pokemon Go~!

Saga did an acoustic version of Dead School Screaming, it was beautiful. I love all the A9 songs he rearranged so far, this makes me look forward to August live to see what he has done to those many of their old songs!

His singing to Dead School Screaming sounded so good too, never would have thought that song could be acoustic, Saga's voice singing it just make it so right in this version, beautifully melodic, there is this kind of jazz/ R&B feeling to it. I am pretty sure I will never get tired of listening to this version of DSS if I can get my hand on a copy of it.

Saga-san, do you mind to make us one? An Alternative mini albums perhaps? However I believe you would have to go through tons of copyrights issues if you include those rearranged songs by other peoples like you did in lives though. :-/

They played a demo of the new song Saga wrote during the Spring tour that day too, and apparently the rest if the A9 hasn't heard it yet. So fresh off the oven, we are the first to listen to it - apart from Nao - regardless if it will become an A9 songs or not in the future. The tune was really refreshing, I think I find a bit of Blossom and a bit of Silver in it. It is the kind of song that you can jump/ bounce to the to the beat, very upbeat and easy to like, at least the way I remember it. And it has a cheerful presence, the tune is pretty easy to remember as well, like a song you'll find repeating in your head hours after listening to it. I can still repeat the chorus of it to you now, if only you can hear me, hahahaha!

If that song would make it into A9 next album, I am pretty sure it will be a beautiful one.

Due to some mishap, Saga and Nao played the song twice that night. The first round was stopped somewhere near the end of the song. Out of nowhere there appeared some random beat patterns playing from the speakers. Saga's reaction to it was so adorable. "Ehh???" he went, several times with his hands on his hips. The expression on his face is like that laugh-crying smiley you find on your phone, especially when he was told they are to do it all over again. XD At least Nao managed to fix his player and we - lucky us - get to listen to that demo once again (hence yes, the tune got stuck inside my head ever since xD).

The wonderful afternoon session ended with the ALTERNATIVE team covering one last song, Sayonara Rosalia by Volland Gump. After it was all done, Nao and Saga hugged, and that marked the end of Alternative afternoon session at Ouji Basement Monstar.

Now, let's take a quick moment to cover the bits and pieces of talking I've missed above. Apparently, this is out Saga-san's first time to Ouji as well, and he mentioned that he didn't know the way - come on, you were in a cab! The conversation eventually led to Nao saying that there is a prince (indicating Saga) in Ouji (Ouji means Prince in Japanese) today. Saga's responded saying that because today's Nao's birthday, the true Prince should actually be Nao. (Aww~)

Nao has his session on goods introductions, Saga helped to hold the bag like a good boy as Nao introduced their goods to us. It seems like they had made a typo in the artbook. On one of the page where it should be written as "Saga on Bass" became "Saga on Bess", hahaha! Yup, you'll definitely find the same thing when you get your copy. Mine as well *laughs*.

Saga opened an うma棒 to eat he was so surprised that he went "びっくりした (I'm surprise)!" there upon seeing the package inside. Hahaha! But it's a very nice snack, cheese flavored too, I like it.

As Saga took a bite of the うma棒, Nao commented that even when Saga is eating he looks cool/ handsome. Saga was so embarrassed. Hahaha!

So Shou actually asked Nao where he got his outfit from, and commented saying that he couldn't keep up with Nao's style anymore. Well, Nao does have a very unique taste that looks like it won't fit anybody else doesn't it?

The afternoon session actually went over 40 minutes (as per Saga tweeted). We went out of the venue and have a quick breather/ some quick break for snacks, before we have to start queuing to go in again. There was again a little mishap at the numbering - our fault this time, not gonna say more because there's too much explaining to do - but we managed to get into the venue soon and got a seat, sticking to the left side of the venue this time so I can get better view of my prince.

View from AlternaPub. <3

As I had not gone to get my drink during the first round of the event, I went ahead and got one. I picked the non-alcohol wine they have on the menu, because well, it should be celebration right? To my surprise, my drink came in a pretty glass~

With their logo on it too! We're allowed to keep them!

It didn't take long to start, soon after everyone came in - some even got their drinks and some still queuing for it - there came on the Disney birthday song Saga managed to play on everyone's birthday (I am just waiting to see if that song appears on Tora's party now!), and Nao and Saga came out arms around each other's shoulders, both holding their glasses of drinks high. It was a very warm scene, their loves for one another hovering thick in the air~ We started off with a cheers  (乾杯!) and Nao gave speeches thanking us for our attendance.

And start the documentary, both boys went to sit near the edge of the stage and watched it with us. Lots of precious moments there. Saga did the voice-over. They started off showing us Nao's studio, inside there with his drum set, guitars, and if I didn't remember it wrong he also has basses there, Saga's bass, and some really expensive looking sound systems - don't ask me what they are. And then it showed a flashback of photos of Nao through these years. Our drummer has not change much hasn't he? The same case could be said for all the members. But Nao, I seriously still can't figure out how he is 36 and still looks that way.

A9様 ah, can you share me your secrets on keeping your youthful look perhaps?

The documentary is really a gem, it showed interviews of Nao's family (mom and brother) and his close friends,  and the those who know him. I can't remember the whole thing, neither can I understand most of what they said, so most of what I'll be writing below are mainly things I've noticed. So sorry about this and please bear with me about my slow progress on learning Japanese here.

You can always check out translations/ tweets on the night from @itsmish_o Twitter account. ^.^

One thing I noticed immediately upon seeing Nao's family, they all share the same smiles. Especially Nao's mom and his, they are exactly the same! Same curve, same warm, same friendliness. The way when Nao speaks too, is similar to his mom's, the way I feel. Nao's mom is a very beautiful lady, that kind of lady I can see will greet everyone she meets down the streets with the brightest smile on her face.

From the way she speaks, I can see that she's very proud of Nao, which isn't all that surprising of course. I mean, I would be proud if I have sons like the A9, wonderful, creative, and still staying true to themselves after living such long time in the entertainment industry. From the way his brother spoke too, I can tell that even he is very proud of his big brother.

Several video cuts of Nao from his younger/ children time were shown that night, Nao was so cute there dancing with his schoolmates at assembly (or at least it looks to me like an assembly), Nao there fighting with his baby brother for a toy, young Nao made his brother cry when he couldn't get the toy away from him (aww!). There was so much cuteness, we all laughed out loud - like really, even Saga was there laughing out loud as he watched, giving me a busy time for a moment trying to decide just which direction should I watch, the screen where young Nao was being innocent and adorable or that adult Saga there being innocent and adorable.

Speaking of the bassist, he managed to finish his glass of whiskey during the first part of the documentary - well, I've finished my glass of non-alcoholic wine too, hahaha, but that's waaay different! Even Nao was so surprise to see that he has finished his drink so soon (LOL, don't you already know your best friend is a drinker?).

So there was this one scene from the documentary showing Nao going to this Ramen place in Akihabara. As they have shown us the shop, and Paige managed to remember the name, I headed over next day. It is called 田中そば店 秋葉原店 (Tanaka Soba-ten Akihabara-Branch), nice ramen, I love the rich broth and the texture of the ramen there, definitely another place I would return to and recommend for all of you to go try when you visit Tokyo. You can find it easily by Google map (which was how I found my way there and everywhere in Tokyo, really). XD As for which one is nice, well, I suggest you to ask the staff there for recommendation, they are a pretty friendly bunch there. XD

Coming back to the night itself before I get too far off track. Nao and Saga ended the Alterna Pub with last two songs, first one was Nao and Saga singing duet covering Ito by Nakajima Miyuki. There was so much love in that song, that I felt. Have you experience that feeling? That feeling when your chest, your heart felt so full that you don't know what to do with all those feelings? It is almost like physical pain but not quite, because it will be better to feel physical pain where you can get it treated. I almost cried there, thank God I didn't, because I would really curse and swear at people if I'm to leave a dark trail of makeup down my cheeks there. LOL!

The last song ending the night was the acoustic version of Stargazer, Nao was the one singing to it as Saga plays guitar. Watching him play, there was this smile on his face so bright. His happiness was shinning, and so contagious too. I am sure he had lots of fun that night, those twinkles in his eyes as he watched his partner sings. I am pretty sure he is very proud of the drummer of his band too.

They said thank you, they've went backstage. We were told that the boys will greet us and clink glass (and I really have no better description to call that action of clinking glass, because that's mainly it, they are clinking our glasses with their empty ones, so I can't really call it cheers. But that really doesn't matter does it?) with us on the way out. We decided to hang back and go near the end, moreover Angel and I still yet to redeem our second drink so we went ahead and get that, and then we joined the queue to head out.

My heart was jumping underneath my chest, like I literally feel it pounding against my rib cage and wonder how no one else are hearing it's beats yet, that was how nervous I was there, waiting for my turn to clink glass with them. Funny enough, I think I will get nervous at the thought of seeing Saga no matter how many times I get to see him. I just like him that much I guess. Their voices were loud, firmly telling every fans "Arigatou". In my mind, I silently rehearsed what I wanted to say to each of them.

I went second after Sam. We were to clink glass with Nao first.

"Nao-san! Do you remember this? This jacket?" was my first sentence to him.

Two things:
First, why didn't you tell him Happy Birthday first now, Paige? What is wrong with you that you're here on his birthday event and you didn't even bother to tell him Happy Birthday? You being too nervous is just an... inexcusable excuse! And you've planned it! You planned to tell Nao how he shares the same birthday with Harry Potter, and planned to ask him is he a wizard! How could you forget THAT? You're so fail Paige, I am so disappointed at you.

Second thing, I am sure you are all here wondering about the jacket. What jacket indeed~ Well, I think I tweeted about it before, I've got that last December, during their Christmas live. I wonder does anyone else remember that lucky draw? They were selling lots at ¥1000 each, and they included special prizes like "Member Personal Belongings", the life size hug pillow, as well as "Tour 2015 Re:birth -天翔–" member's costumes? Well, due to some mishap and stuffs somewhere along the way, I've ended up with Nao's jacket, which I've wore to Alternative that day.

What I've anticipated: Nao's thoughtful expression when he tries to recall about the jacket. He probably remembers it, seeing he wore it for about 3 - 4 long months the year before, so I am also expecting realization to hit him, and I was expecting him to smile in that surprised way and perhaps say something like "sugoi" or somewhere along the line.

What actually happened:
Me: "Nao-san, do you remember this jacket?"

Saga (perhaps he was just free and bored, seeing Sam has already done talking to him and walked away, or perhaps he heard my sentence and he was curious why I asked Nao that. I spoke in Japanese): *He lean over to look at the jacket too* "Oh?" *recognition dawned on his face* "OOOOOHHH!"

While he and Nao has both let out the dawning "Oooooh" at me, Saga managed "Oh" louder than Nao.

Oi! I wasn't asking you the question, you know? *blush*

Yup, that done it, I totally forgot whatever else I planned to tell them. Basically, I was panicking. Yays!

Paige (under panic mood): "Erm... I am your fan from Singapore" *held up peace sign*

If those guys think that I've officially lost it, yeah, I think that's the case. Even I didn't quite know where I was trying to do there.

OK, well, I was actually wanting to let them know, 'hey, you know this jacket flew all the way to Singapore!' but my limited Japanese couldn't string those words into a sentence, especially not when I was panicking.

What have you done to me, Saga-san? Why are you so nosy and come responding to the question that wasn't meant for you??!

Though, if they were lost by my sudden random sentence (and peace sign. Dear Paige! Seriously Paige?) they didn't show it. Both Nao and Saga went "Suge*!" multiple times at me. Especially Saga, he repeated it so many times and he said it so loud like he's very impressed. And that makes me a very happy girl. It meant a lot to me, even though he was probably just impressed at the fact that I flew over to see them.

** Suge: is a slang from sugoi, kind of like cool! Or awesome! An impressed expression.

Well, it is a good thing that you to feel impress, perhaps that will help you remember this face here.

I clinked glass with both of them on the exit, a little too overwhelmed to remember to tell Saga what I planned to tell him (which are so many. I wanted to tell him that his voice is beautiful and hence please sing for us more, I wanted to teasingly ask him on a pizza date just to see his reaction), I settled on repeating "Arigatou" back to him instead. A little regretful about that, because I really wanted to tell him all those, but his reaction to me over Nao's jacket is priceless. It is already one of the best thing ever happen to me on live.

Nao, Saga, thank you for your precious reactions~~ <33333

After that, few of us waited for the two handsome men to finish up and come out. It took them somewhere around 45 minutes to an hour. Nao came out first, he headed off to retrieve his car, and drove around, letting the staffs load equipments into it. It took a while but not too long, enough time in between for Nao to even get himself a can of drink from the nearby vending machine - and he held it up cheers to us fans - finally, finally our bassist is readied, he came out, shyly nodded to all of us there waiting - not that many really, less than 10 people - got onto Nao's waiting car and they drove away.

Yet another memorable live, one that leaves me more questions than before I go - pardon me if I'm not sharing them here. But really, crazy as the rest of my month is, getting by with just cold food or instant noodles for lunch/ dinner for the past several months, but I don't think I regret a single thing here - well perhaps with my dorky reaction when I'm interacting with the boys. I really need to get a grip on myself. >.<

So, a long entry, and so sorry this post took like forever. My life had a bit of disagreement with me for a while there. All is good now however, except my next drawing, one that I'm not sure if I can complete in time - and I still want to do individual drawings too. D: I meed more time~

My next live, is at the end of August that's not too far away. 28th August 2016, A9's 12th anniversary. I think it'll be a good one! After which I'll have a little break until November's FC trip with the boys. Keep looking out this blog for future updates alright? And feel free to comment, if you want to fangirl over the event that happened, or if you have something to say regarding my writing style, I'd love some feedback!

Also, for more reports/ translation for the Alternative, please feel free to check out @itsmish_o and @alicerainbowsTwitter!

I'll see you soon!

And pictures!

So glad to have met this beautiful girl, we had so much fun! Look forward to see you on Anniversary live!
The pretty girls I met. <3
From Alternative S2 Artbook, please go get your copy for more beautiful pictures.
The Postcard Set~
Flyers from the live!

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