A FAN of Scandal for 10 years, Justine Mendoza lived for the day she will get to see the all-girl, J-rock band perform live on stage the songs she knew very well. She got her wish, and so did a thousand more fans on June 24 who, just like her, trooped to the Mall of Asia’s SMX Hall for the Scandal “Honey” Asian tour in Manila.
Anticipation for this very first Scandal concert in the country proved to be sky-high with fans who already lined-up in the venue even before the break of dawn on concert day. One admitted to showing up as early as 1 a.m. just to secure the much-coveted first spot on the queue.
Fanboys Michael Sarmiento, Ariel Espareon, Wami Chi, Emil Andres and Austin Perez were particularly looking forward to Scandal’s high-energy performance—an all-too familiar scene from their concert videos. Perez, a fan of six years, admitted that the first attraction was the band members’ individual looks, but his admiration goes beyond that: “They don’t have just face value; they’re also so talented in making music. Being all girl-band, Scandal serves as an inspiration to young girls in pursuing their dreams.”
As Japanese high school students, Haruno Ono (vocalist), Mami Sasazaki (lead guitarist), Tomomi Ogawa (bass guitar), and Rina Suzuki (drummer) dreamed of being rock stars and started to write songs, rehearse and perform in the streets of Osaka.
Two years and many gigs later, the band caught the attention of a major record label that had them debuting formally as Scandal in 2008.
On the Oricon chart, all of Scandal’s albums debuted on the Top 5 rankings, while Honey entered at No. 3.
First time in Manila
WITH a growing number of fans in Japan and worldwide, the band embarked on its first world tour in 2015 and performed in sold out concerts in cities in the US, Europe and Asia. In this year’s Asian tour, Scandal finally added the Philippine capital as one of their stops while they promoted their eighth album, Honey.
In the appointed hour, Scandal members walked onto the stage and opened the show with Platform Syndrome, a cut from the latest album.
Actually, the group performed the complete Honey tracklist which covered OVER, Oh! No!, Short Short, Mado wo Akitara, Futari, Midnight City, Electric Girl, Take Me Out, and Koisuru Universe. The songs Scandal Baby, Kan Biru, Departure, EVERYBODY SAY YEAH!, Space Ranger and Flashback No.5 completed the night’s setlist.
The obvious crowd favorite was Shunkan Sentimental, the ending theme song of the popular anime series Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood. For the encore, the band dished out Sisters and LOVE SURVIVE.
Without eye-popping visuals, colorful costumes, heavy makeup or antics, Scandal rocked the stage with heavy guitar riffs, solid drum patterns and steady vocals.
An exception was when Sasazaki buckled with her lyrics in Oh! No!. She shook her head the second time in disappointment when she faltered again, although the audience didn’t seem to mind at all.
For the most parts, the band’s intense performances were met by applause, coupled with a lot of jumping, dancing and occasional singing by fans. Some carried light sticks that added to the spectacle—a rarity in J-rock concerts, while most others stuck to twirl their official band towels—a practice copied from Japanese fans.
During the spiels, the crowd cheered enthusiastically as Suzuki shared that her favorite Filipino food was lumpiang shanghai while Sasazaki chose a famous Filipino burger brand.
Following the ban on taking photos as well as audio and video recording, fans at the surrounding the stage were glued on Scandal members’ every move and didn’t even dare to use their camera phones. This spared most fans from cell phone screens blocking their line of view of the stage. Sadly, it was a different story at the back, where several fans were caught taking photos and videos of the performances. As a consequence, they were reprimanded by security, while repeat offenders were escorted out of the venue. There were also several complaints over the sound quality and stage lighting but generally, the fans were ecstatic over the presence and entertainment brought by Scandal members.
Wishes and bananas
THE day before the concert, Filipino fans and members of the media were able to meet Scandal in a brief and intimate gathering at the function halls of the World Trade Center in Pasay.
During the Q&A portion, Ono confirmed that the band was made aware of the fans’ wishes for a concert through Twitter. “So, we are here doing our live [act] today,” she responded.
When asked for their musical influences, Sasazaki said she likes the music of the Foo Fighters, Suzuki gets inspired by Pink, while Ogawa shared that she’s a fan of Prince. Ono revealed that she follows many Japanese artists and get inspirations from reading novels as well as listening to different types of music.
Earlier that day, they were able to enjoy snacking on some banana cue (sugar-coated banana fritters) and shared that they were looking forward to sampling more Filipino dishes. Now that local Scandal fans got their wish, they had begun to anticipate more interactions and live performances from the band.
“We want a comeback. Hopefully, they’ll be back next year. We waited 10 years for this concert, so what’s another year?” Espareon rhetorically asked.
And based on the turn out, this can’t be far off from becoming a reality. You can bet your bananas on it.