Alice (nono_forever) wrote,

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Best Weekend of my Life!


So A Cen has come and gone and it was fan-freakin'-tastic. It was probably the best weekend. And not because of the convention. The con was maybe slightly better run than last year, but the staff had no clue what was going on and were total dicks to most of the con goers.

But all of that was made up for by the sheer fact that I MET HALCALI. As will be detailed in this incredibly long rant, complete with pictures of awesome.

And holy crap this is probably the most i've ever written on LJ.

So A Cen.

It started off kinda crappy.  Our TomTom navigator kept telling us to turn into walls or one way streets.  So we were officially in Chicago at 9AM, but didn't find the hotel or convention center until about 10:15.  I ran in ahead of everyone else.  Tony and Caelin ended up having to wait in line for a very long time to get their badges.  I had mine mailed and it was such a nice feeling to just stroll into the convention center ahead of all the silly non-pre-reggers. 

As soon as I get inside I find the ticket/info booth where they are handing out tickets.  I wanted to make sure that I got my ticket for the Friday concert just in case they happened to all disappear.  Con goers were only allowed to get one concert ticket per badge, so you had to choose what day you wanted to see HALCALI.  I'm definitely one of the first few people to get a ticket as they were still marking our badges with a sharpie on the plastic (they ended up hole punching them later on).  So I rubbed off the sharpie and got a Saturday ticket with my badge as well.   I also, through mysterious ways and connections, get a dealer's room badge and used it to pick up another Saturday ticket for the concert for one of my friends.

Eventually Alison, Apple, and Tony get into the con and meet up with me and we attempt to find the HALCALI panel room so that I can be there super early and get a front row center seat.  A Cen, being poorly run, has a total lack of signs and it takes us about an hour to find the room where the panel will take place.  We get there about an hour before the panel and the lobby in front of the room is completely filled with people.  I of course get immediately depressed and think that i'm too late to be the first one into the panel.  Then a staff member came out of the room and said, "AMVs are canceled, they will be held at 4PM instead.  HALCALI panel will run on time at 2PM."  Everyone immediately clears out of the lobby, leaving the four of us and two other guys as the only people there to actually see HALCALI.  This was almost as depressing as me not getting a good seat.  Come one people.  You'd rather see silly AMVs that you can download online than the guest of honor?!   The new generation of American anime fans sucks. 

I ask the staff member what door they will be letting people in through for the panel and he tells me it's the one i'm at and that i'll definitely be the first person in for the panel.  Yay!  I'm all excited and bouncing around in my HALCALI shirt with my bag full of their merchandise.  The two guys who had been waiting as well walk up to me and we start talking about HALCALI.  I show them all my stuff that I brought to get signed (which amounts to their 11 singles, 4 albums, 1 DVD, and their limited shirt that you won by mail in raffle in Japan).  They think this is way hardcore and we have a good time.   Eventually the panel room opens for people and... they open the door at the far end of the lobby, not the one i've been waiting at at all.  Booo.  Alison and I book it over to the door and rush in front of everyone anyway (totally justified as I HAD been waiting for an hour longer than anyone else there). 

The room is set up terribly, with a stage in the front, obviously where HALCALI would sit, and a dance floor in front of that.  All the chairs for the room run along the two sides.  I was kinda sad, thinking i had waited for an excellent seat and all of the chairs weren't in front of HALCALI at all.  Then this guy, who I assume was their American promoter(?) says that everyone can sit in front of the stage.  I immediately run over to sit front row center in front of the two chair where HALCALI would be sitting.  Yes!  Tony and Alison sit next to me and their Promoter guy(?) stands on the stage and starts talking about HALCALI for those who don't know about them.  Which is a majority of the room.  Including their promoter (?).  The guy obviously learned about HALCALI from the blurb in the A Cen book and said a few factual errors in his talk.  He asked the audience what anime HALCALI had done music for.  The one hardcore Eureka boy shouts out that series and the rest of the panel room is filled with chirping crickets.  Seeing that no one else knew, I shout out Getsumen and PPG.  The dude says that i'm obviously a fan (come on i'm wearing a HALCALI shirt!).  He gets off the stage and says that the girls will come out after a video intro.

The video starts up.  It mostly consists of 2 minute clips of all their PVs post Sony switchover and some Paris live footage.  I'm enjoying them, and as soon as Twinkle Star comes on I start to tear up with the thought that I would soon be meeting my favorite group ever.  I look over at the doors behind the screen and see Yucali poke her head into the room and I flip out and start attacking my friend Tony, who happens to be the unfortunate individual sitting next to me.  Movie ends...

...and HALCALI walks out onto the stage.  I'm clapping as hard as I can and everyone else seems pretty happy (by now the panel room is filled by about 25 people...urgh).  Halca sees my shirt and points to it and is all excited.  They sit down and the panel begins.  Promoter guy (?) asks them genericly generic questions and there could have been so many better ones.  He asks the audience if they have any questions for HALCALI as well.  I of course have been thinking of what I could ask them for the past several months and have settled on the one questions that will make me the biggest ass-hat tool in the world.  So I get called on and say, "First of all thanks for coming to Chicago.  Meeting you is literally a dream come true for me.  And my question:  Can I be your number one  American fan?"  Yucali and Halca seemed amused and Yucali says yeah, which is good enough for me.  By the end of the panel they also announce that HALCALI will be at Japan Day in NYC on June 1st.  Well there is me spending another several hundred to go see them.

After the questions segment they open up a table for signatures.  We get in line and promoter guy(?) announces that they will be signing official merchandise first and that there is some on sale at the back of the room.  I toss my wallet to Alison and tell her to buy me two of everything and hold the line while she does so.  I've been saving for this trip for a while now, so I wanted to go all out.  She comes back with two of every style of shirt for me, plus one for Megan!, and pin sets.  I give her the shirt for Megan to get signed and get out my limited edition shirt for me and HALCALI's DVD and Bacon for Tony and Apple respectively.  Girl and Promoter guy (?) come around with little post it notes so that they can write people's names on them and stick them on the things that are getting signed so that HALCALI can spell everything right.  I tell her that my name is Alice and get a sticky note.  She turns to Tony and he says that his name is Alice as well, and upon getting a weird look from her, adds that it is a family name.  Apple does the same. 

We finally make it to the front of the line and the staff is a little bit in shock at the number of shirts i've bought.  Heh.  Alison gets the shirt signed for Megan and it's my turn.  I walk up and put my limited give away shirt down on the table and both HALCALI and staff are shocked.  HALCALI gets all excited and ask me if it's the shirt from France and I say that it's the one from Japan from the giveaway.  (keep in mind they ask things in Japanese and I attempt to answer in Japanese but fail horribly because i'm so excited at this point).  They get even more impressed by this and are all excited.  They sign it and I wait at the side as Tony brings up my HALCALI DVD.  They see that the name on it is Alice as well and look back at me and laugh.  They sign it and give it back to him and notice the adorable panda tattoo on his arm.  They think it's awesome and ask about it and he tells them that I made it for him.  They are like "whoa, Arisu!"  Apple then walks up with my HALCALI Bacon CD, complete with Alice post it on it, and they look at me again and laugh.  I shoot them a thumbs up and am like "YEAH!"  They point to the now discarded large pile of post it notes, all of the ones on top are Alice ones.  The shift through them and are like "Arisu mo Arisu mo Arisu!"  Everyone is happy.

Signing is done and the guys who had been waiting outside the room with me let me know that they taped me interacting with HALCALI and i'm thrilled and ask for copies for myself.  HALCALI starts playing around with bubble wands that someone gave them and are having a great time.  We all stop and try and take pictures of them and HALCALI is even posing for the pictures with the bubble wands.  But their managers and promoters appear and tell people to stop taking pics.  What a shame.

I leave and basically chill out until the concert time.  Peelander Z and Mari Iijima were going to be going on before HALCALI, so i head over in time for Mari Iijima as i've been to Peelander lives before.  As it was A Cen, they started everything an hour or so late, so I end up getting there in time for the entire Peelander segment as well.  Peelander was fun, and pretty much a perfect warm up for HALCALI.  They were a good match up.  Mari Iijima was pretty funny and cool as well. 

And then it was time for HALCALI.  Yessss.

Alison and I have positioned ourselves to be front row center on the stage.  I turn to Alison and let her know that if they sing Twinkle Star, Giri giri, Electric Sensei, It's Party Time, Sister Ship, Check! Check it!, Wakakusa Dance, and Halcali Michi it would pretty much be a perfect show for me.  I figured they would do maybe 3 of those or so.  And hot damn if they didn't do basically all of them.

HALCALI skipped out on stage to an excellent mix of the Introduction track to Ongaku no Susume (which i've always really loved).  Halca sees me in the audience and gives me a wave.  They have so much energy doing lives that it is amazing.  They took a drink break every 4 songs or so, but mostly went straight from one song into another one.  It was fantastic.  I can't imagine the amount of stamina that had to have taken, it's not like they are really used to big shows like this.  I'm not sure what I expected from HALCALI, but they were so much more... professional than I figured they would be.   They messed around, but they just had this stage presence that made you KNOW it was the real deal.  It was amazing.   Plus during the line "bounce bounce" during Wakakusa Dance I actually bounced on time and Yucali was in front of me and shot me a double O Kay sign with her hands.  Yesss.  The set list ended up being:

1. It’s Party Time
2. Marching March
3. Girl! Girl! Girl!
4. Sister Ship
5. Check!! Check!! It!
6. Tip Taps Tip
7. Endless Lovers Rain
8. Giri Giri Surfrider
9. Wakakusa Dance
10. Halcali No Michi

I'm sad cause I thought for sure that they would to Twinkle Star, so I just start cheering for an encore.  They come out again in the shirts that were on sale at their booth earlier and start immediately with Twinkle Star.  Yay tears of joy!  At this point i'm hoping against hope that the next song is Electric Sensei cause then it would be the perfect concert set list I hoped for.  Instead Yucali announces that the next song they are singing was just recorded two weeks ago and that it is brand new.  I flip the shit out, cause a brand new song is even better than Electric Sensei.  The song, Zig Zag Saturday Night, was FANTASTIC.  Like the best song they have made since Twinkle Star.  I'm really curious as to who wrote it, or even if they did it themselves.  I can't WAIT until that single comes out. 

I leave the concert feeling really really happy.  It was everything I had dreamed about.  And I still had tomorrow's concert to look forward too.  I go back to the hotel room with everyone (plus Caelin who had finished her epic 8 hour reg wait, but not in time for the concert).  I planned on going to the Yuri panel but end up being so exhausted from my excitement during the day and concert energy use that I pretty much crash.  Oh well.  I went to Yuricon this year, that's worth like 3 Yuri panels at least.

So Saturday comes.  The HALCALI concert is fairly early in the day, starting at about 2.  I show up early with Alison and Caelin since we only had enough tickets for the three of us.  We get in close to the stage and after Peelander Z we end up front row center, the exact same place I was for the first concert.  HALCALI comes out and starts doing an excellent job all over again.  They probably had even more energy than Friday night, possibly they were slightly less nervous?  They try and talk a little more, but Yucali was obviously more confidant in trying her hand at English.  I think most of the audience knew how hard they were trying and thought it was rather adorable.  I quickly realize that the set list is different from the Friday concert and am soooo happy that I managed to get the tickets to go to both shows!  Set list for Saturday was:

1. It’s Party Time
2. Koi no Bububun
3. Marching March
4. Girl! Girl! Girl!
5. Zig Zag Saturday Night
6. Sister Ship
7. Check!! Check!! It!
8. Tip Taps Tip
9. Endless Lovers Rain
10. Giri Giri Surfrider
11. A One Two
12. Wakakusa Dance
13. Halcali Michi
14. Twinkle Star
15. Tandem
16. Continue

YAY!  They ended up doing Tandem as part of the encore.  They were looking toward the audience for suggestions.  I started off saying  Electric Sensei, but more people on my side of the room were saying Tandem.  I figured I might as well join them if it meant that they wouldn't be doing TTT again.  So I start cheering Tandem with the others and they end up performing it.  The song was all set up, so maybe they expected it?  Regardless they did the dance and everything, it was perfect!  Yay!  And then they ended with Continued, which is such a good way to finish off a concert!

So post concert i'm very happy again and skip off to the dealers room where they will be doing another signing, this time with pictures.  I was really hoping to get some pics with HALCALI and that their managers wouldn't make it one of those things where you couldn't be in the shot with them.  I make it to the dealers room, about in the middle of the line.  I end up being in line next to the guys who I had met on Friday with the nice camera and they were with two other new guys.  One of them ended up being doubledown, who I knew from the Day by Day blog, and the other was totally Wrongun, who I knew from Hello-Online.  It was crazy.  We ended up talking about the Day by Day blog and how cool it would be to start our own HALCALI fansite.  doubledown also had a picture of HALCALI that all of us signed to give to them.

HALCALI goes up to the booth and they see me in line and wave to me and start yelling "arisu! arisu!"   Yes.  HALCALI freakin' knows my name.  All is right with the world.  Eventually their promoter guy(?) comes around with the sticky notes again and sees me in line and laughs and give me and Alison two Alice sticky notes for my Ongaku and Cyborg albums.  Tony and Apple were further back in line with my Twinkle Star and Giri Giri singles and both of them got Alice notes as well.  We get up to the front of the line and HALCALI was all excited to see me again.  I wave to them and talk to them a little, all very broken japanese i'm sure as I was very nervous.  Alison points to me and says, "remember she's is your number one American fan."  HALCALI starts saying energetically, "OH yeah!  NO DOUBT NO DOUBT"  It was amazing.  One of the staff members asks me if I want some pictures with HALCALI and I of course say yes.  I turn and let them know that I want them to make a silly face with me.  They get all excited and say that of course they will.

Alison doesn't really care about a picture with HALCALI, so I steal hers as well and get this excellent one.  It's probably by favorite with them.

I sort of step off to the side until Tony and Apple get up there with my singles.  They see that those are for me too and crack up.  I jump in for another picture with them.  This time I fulfilled my life goal of getting to respect knuckles HALCALI.  Dream come true!  Plus Halca's face is perfect!

doubledown and I talk to one of their managers and ask about the possibility of an interview for the HALCALI day by day blog.  He tells us to stick around until after the signing.  We hang out and talk to DJKiMJUN, who was really nice and softspoken.  He let us know that HALCALI, O.T.F. and Rip Slyme and them were all still friends, they just weren't all working together at the same time currently.  Very good to know!  After the signing their managers let us know that they didn't have time for the interview.  Oh well, kind of expected.  Still it was a day well spent.

Sunday comes and with it another HALCALI signing.  I spend the morning getting Moriyama's autograph and a little drawing of B-ko.  It was awesome, but the line for his autographs was tiny.  American fans had decided they would rather meet dubbed voice Vic, whose line almost went around the back of the convention hall.  It was easily bigger than all the japanese guest's lines combined.  I hate American anime fans officially by this point. 

I get to the Bandai booth about an hour early and ask where the line will be starting for HALCALI so I can be first in line.  They have me start the line so I sit down with Alison, Tony, and Apple.  Good times.  They end up putting out free Eureka posters which are really nice, so I grab one for anime club to get signed and donate to the Christmas auction.  HALCALI ends up getting there a little late, but energetic all the same.  Are they ever really without energy?  They sit down at the table and see me and start waving and yelling my name across the way at me.  I wave back happily.  They know my name for sure and it rocks.  They guy shows up with the post its again and tells me that I don't get one.  HALCALI agrees and say that they know my name for sure!  They sign my three shirts from the American event (those are so getting signed and going up on my wall!)  Halca gets all sad and says that she will miss me.  I tell her that she shouldn't worry, i'll see her in New York City.  Both Halca and Yucali are totally shocked and say, "you are gonna go to NYC to see us?!"  And I said that I would definitely definitely be there.  They get all excited. 

Bandai said that you would only get pics with HALCALI there if you bought something from the booth.  One of their staff members asks me if I want some more pics with them.  I was a little shocked and said that I didn't buy anything from the booth.  He just smiled at me and said that it was the special 'Alice Service,' and that I could take as many pics as I wanted for a bit.  He said that they were really happy to meet me and could feel my passion.  I was of course extremely happy at this and got two more awesome shots with them.  They told me they wanted to do a silly faces pic with me again.

It was really fun and when I went to leave they yelled 'mata aimashou' at me and said they would see me in NYC and it was a sad but cool parting. 

Hot damn i really just met my favorite group in the whole world. 

And it was amazing.

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