Naturally, Kyary Pamyu Pamyu’s Roundhouse gig ended with a confetti canon. Which is how I decree every gig should end from now on. Even Slayer.
So, we went to Japan last year for our honeymoon. It was as weird as it was awesome. But in between the delicious food and sweltering heat I noticed there was also this strange young girl who seemed to be everywhere we went.
You saw her face on TV, on billboards, in magazines, always wearing the most outrageous outfits you can imagine, and her music was pumping out of every shop you walked past. I discovered she was none other than cutsey J-Pop mega star, Kyary Pamyu Pamyu.
At just 22 she seemed to be pretty much the most revered person in Japan. So when we heard that she was playing at the Roundhouse in Camden this year, we couldn’t NOT go. I had to see how crazy this chick was in real life.
I was not disappointed.
Sundays are never a great day for a gig but a couple of weeks ago Kyary turned a grumpy end-of-the-weekend London crowd into a ball of cheery optimism. She bounded out with a blast of electro-pop wearing the first of three outfits that night, a rainbow coloured puffy mini-dress with oversized lapels, lots of petticoats, a long purple wig and a huge matching rainbow bow in her hair.
Kyary was surrounded by a entourage of dancers all wearing different mis-matched outfits and masks, with a DJ dressed as a gorilla. The big screen above her was playing cute Japanese animation on a loop and the stage lights were non-stop. It was like being absorbed directly into a Nintendo game. This girl is not one for minimalism.
Anyone not familiar with Kyary’s music should know that she deals in the most upbeat, happy, smiley pop in the world. The choruses are catchy, the verses are chipper and everything is sung with a smile. She will inevitably have you clapping or bopping along to something either absentmindedly or at her demand. There were even a couple of moments of audience participation where she encouraged us all to follow along with her dance moves and cutsey-bootsey hand gestures.
This may sound like the kind of music that only appeals to 12 year old girls, but not so. That night at the Roundhouse the crowd was made up of a surprising amount of white middle class 25-45 year olds. I did later discover a healthy portion of Japanese people there too but it seems that smiley pop music is not just for girls.
Some of my favourite moments of the gig were when I turned around to look at the crowd behind me and everyone’s face was lit up with the biggest grin ever! Men and women, young and old. They all looked like children experiencing Christmas for the first ever time.
Now I am going to be honest, I am not overly familiar with Kyary’s entire back catalogue but I believe that she did play all of her biggest hits: I definitely heard ‘Pon Pon Pon’, ‘Candy’ (twice), and ‘Luck’, which was the song that seemed to soundtrack our honeymoon.
Anything else she played was just so happy and dancey that you found yourself bopping along even though you had never heard it before. She also played a song called ‘Crazy Party Night‘ which was, quite possibly, the happiest and most bizarre Halloween song I’ve ever heard.
Half way through the gig there was a slight interlude where Kyary disappeared off stage for a costume change and left the dancers and DJ gorilla to entertain us. She was back in no time wearing a short, red and black striped, puffball dress and black bow in her hair. She looked a bit like Minnie Mouse and made me think that this must be the exact opposite that Banksy was aiming for when he created Dismaland. Her final outfit was a more minimalist (?) striped skirt, t-shirt and bright pink, furry bunny head piece with big floppy ears. But of course.
In terms of a performance it was like a well-oiled machine. Every song came with it’s own choreographed dance moves which were note perfect, and she occasionally stopped to speak a few words of English about how much she loved London and how happy she was to be here.
Kyary was eminently professional and you could tell she has done this 10,000 times before. Her singing was spot on (a little too perfect, maybe?) and the music sounded great but I am not convinced our friend the gorilla DJ was actually doing anything back there. It seemed to me that he only had three buttons on his decks: play, rewind and air-horn.
But any criticism I had didn’t really matter because the whole thing was just so gosh darn fun! Everyone was smiling and the night ended on a confetti canon. Which is how I decree every gig should end from now on. Even Slayer.
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