FAQ: At the Venue
Before, During, and After the Show
I will add more questions and answers to this section as needed. If you have a question or suggestion for something you think I should add, email me. This FAQ is specifically about Buck-Tick concerts. For more general information about concert-going in Japan, including how to find the venue, what to wear, and what to expect in general, please read my Japanese Concert Guide. If you have further questions, email me whenever, but please read this whole section and the Japanese Concert Guide before you do.
Questions are listed below. Scroll down to read the answers to each question, or hit ctrl+f plus the number of the question you're interested in to find it even faster.
1. Can I leave the venue and return during the show?
3. Can I make an audio recording of the show on my Zoom recorder?
5. Can I smoke in the venue?
7. How can I make sure I get to the front row at a standing show?
9. Someone attacked me at a standing show. What should I do?
11. This whole standing show thing is starting to sound really scary. I want to see the band members up close, but I don't want to be stuck in a violent crowd. Is there any way to make that happen?
13. I want to give Sexy Beast Hide a bouquet of flowers shaped like dubious sexual connotations. Can I just toss it up on stage?
15. If I show up really early and wait for the Buck-Tick members to arrive at the venue, will I be able to meet and talk to them?
17. I made friends with a Japanese fan who says we can get in a taxi and chase the band when they leave the venue, to find out where they’re partying after the show, and maybe meet them. This sounds awesome! Should I do it?
19. If I flash my boobs at the band, will security invite me backstage?
Q1. Can I leave the venue and return during the show?
A. Once you leave the venue, you may not come back in. But if you’re feeling sick, you have to pee, you need to make a phone call, your kid is being a brat, etc. you’re free to go to the lobby or the bathroom at any time.
However, lately security guards have been known to hassle fans who come back from the bathroom. They may ask you to stand in the back till the end of the song. My advice? You paid good money for those tickets. So long as you're not being disruptive, you have a right to return to your seat when you get back from the bathroom. If security tries to hassle you, just ignore them and go back to your seat anyway (making sure to be polite and respectful toward the fans around you.)
Q2. Can I take photographs inside the venue before, during, or after the show?
A. Absolutely not. Photography is strictly banned at all Buck-Tick concerts, even before and after the show when the band are not onstage. If security sees you doing it, they will kick you out.
Q3. Can I make an audio recording of the show on my Zoom recorder?
A. Audio recordings are prohibited at Buck-Tick shows. People do it anyway, but be sure you don’t get caught because if security catches you doing it, they’ll kick you out.
Q4. Can I bring booze into the venue with me?
A. If you’re discreet about it and don’t get wasted and act like a dipshit. Usually you're not officially allowed to bring drinks and food in with you, but everyone does it anyway. The key is to be discreet.
Q5. Can I smoke in the venue?
A. Although smoking is still permitted at many small live houses in Japan, it is not permitted in larger venues, except in designated smoking areas. If you need to leave the hall during the show to have a smoke, you can do that, just make sure you don’t leave the venue, because once you leave you can’t get back in. Also, use of e-cigarettes ("vapes") indoors is generally frowned on in Japan. To be safe, don't attempt to use your vape in the venue.
Q6. What is the purpose of the metal barricades on the floor at indoor standing venues (live houses)? Are they there to prevent me from getting to the front row?
A. No. The purpose of the metal barricades is to prevent packed, overexcited crowds from pushing excessively so that people all fall over at once - when this happens, it causes a domino effect, which is quite dangerous. Getting stepped on by a zillion feet in giant boots can lead to serious injury! Having a bunch of flailing fangirls fall over on top of you is not fun!
As to what the barricades look like, basically, they're just rounded metal railings sticking out of the floor. They don't prevent you from moving around, they just slow you down, since if you want to pass a barricade, you generally have to go over, under, or around it (easily possible, most of the time.)
Anyhow, indoor standing venues (e.g. Zepp Tokyo, Akasaka Blitz, Roppongi EX Theater, Tokyo Dome City Hall, Club Citta' Kawasaki, etc.) have open floorplans. They are not divided into blocks, and you can stand anywhere you want to, provided someone else is not already standing there. However, at most indoor standing venues, the floor will be structured as a series of two or three tiers, so beware of running forward in the dark and tripping.
Q7. How can I make sure I get to the front row at a standing show?
A. You can't. Unless you have a ticket number lower than about 200, there is little chance you will make it to the first or second row. In general, people in the first and second rows do not move for the duration of the concert. They hang onto the front railing and stay put. Even if you physically attack a person in front of you (hitting, pushing, kicking, clawing, stomping), you probably won't succeed in getting her to move out of the way, but you WILL succeed in ruining the show for her and everyone around her, as well as for yourself - since while you're busy beating the shit out of fans in front of you, I doubt you're paying much attention to the show. Oh, and all the band members deplore crowd violence, especially Mr. Sakurai, since much of it is instigated by his very own fangirls...think he can't see you doing it? You're wrong. From the stage, he can see everything, and if you're a foreigner, believe me, you will stand out in a Japanese crowd. Don't be that girl.
No, seriously, don't be that girl. For one thing, consider the fact that as a foreigner at a Buck-Tick show, your behavior doesn't just reflect on you - it reflects on all foreign Buck-Tick fans, as a group. Do you want the band to think that all foreign fans are violent jerks with no manners? I doubt you do...because if they come to the conclusion that their foreign fangirls are violent loose cannons with no idea how to behave properly, it will be less and less likely that they will ever provide more in the way of international services to their fan club, etc. As a foreigner in Japan, you're an ambassador from your country, so act dignified and diplomatic.
Q8. I'm caught in a packed crowd at a standing show, and I don't want to act like a violent little shit, but I still want to get to the front. Can you tell me some do's and don'ts?
A. DO move with the flow of the crowd. Everyone wants to move forward, so when the people in front of you move up, move up with them, and before you know it, you'll probably be pretty close to the front.
DO be gentle with the people around you. If the person in front of you has long hair and your fingers get tangled in it by mistake, gently untangle them without pulling.
If you accidentally hit someone and didn't mean to, DO apologize. It will be too loud to talk, but you can sign an apology by putting your hands together (as if you're praying) and bowing a little. This is universal Japanese body language for "I'm sorry."
DON'T dig your elbow into the ribcage of the person in front of you or beside you. She will assume you're trying to push past her, and will probably attack you. In a packed crowd at a standing show, you should either have your arms folded in front of your chest (like a Catholic saint praying), crossed across your chest (like an Egyptian mummy), raised up with your hands on your head (Simon Says put your hands on your head), or fully extended upward (everybody in the club put your hands up!) If you put your arms up, do your best to make sure you're not blocking the view of the person behind you to an excessive degree.
DON'T put your hands anywhere near another person's face, ears, or neck. If you put your arms up to cheer, make sure they're vertically over your head, not hanging over the shoulder of the person in front of you. If you put your arms or hands near someone's face, she will interpret it as an act of aggression, and will probably attack you.
DON'T touch anyone else's body with the palms of your hands. In a packed crowd, touching people is unavoidable, but touching with the palms of your hands will be interpreted either as an attack or as sexual harassment. Neither is good.
DON'T ever move your arms behind you, even while wildly dancing. You could accidentally catch someone else in the eye. This has happened to Cayce. It is not pleasant.
DON'T spread your arms wider than the width of your shoulders. You will block the view of the people next to you and they will hate you for it.
NEVER shove one of your thighs in between the thighs of the person in front of you...this is 100% sexual harassment, and really creepy. This happened to Cayce. It was extremely unwelcome.
NEVER cop a feel of the fanny of the person standing in front of you, no matter how appealing that fanny might be. This happened to Fanny Cockshott-Shufflebottom. She personally found it quite amusing, but that doesn't mean anyone else will.
Q9. Someone attacked me at a standing show. What should I do?
A. Crowds at standing Buck-Tick shows can get really crazy. With everyone pushing at once, accidents happen - people may bump you, step on you, etc., but it's likely not a deliberate attack, so give them the benefit of the doubt, and offer passive resistance to begin with. If you feel someone is trying to push you out of the way, stand firm, using your hips to gently push the person away from you. If you are elbowed, push back on the elbow so the person gets the message "get off me." If someone puts her hand near your face, gently take hold of her hand and move it away from you. If someone bumps into you from behind, or pulls on your hair, scream "ITAI!" ("it hurts!") - if the attack wasn't deliberate, the other person will likely apologize.
However, if you are deliberately attacked by someone who wants your spot, and the person just won't give up, you may have to get more active about defending yourself. If the person is persistently attacking you and just won't quit, I think it's okay to hit back at that point - she brought it on herself by attacking you in the first place. I don't know why fangirls feel the need to behave this way, but they do it a lot, so if you go in the front of the crowd at a standing show you will probably encounter this behavior at some point. If this kind of violence makes you queasy (and if that's how you feel, I don't blame you!) you can always move back to a less vicious part of the crowd. The crowd usually thins out about 5-10 rows away from the stage and though you won't be quite as close to the band members, you will still be able to see just fine, and may enjoy yourself more now that you can relax a bit.
Q10. What if I'm stuck in the front of the crowd at a standing show and I start to feel sick and faint?
A. If you're in the front of the crowd at a standing show and you start to feel sick, I recommend moving backward to a less crowded part of the floor and getting some air right away. Why? Because if you actually faint, people might step on you by mistake, and you could be seriously injured. Usually, if you want to move backward because you're feeling sick, people will let you through - this happens quite frequently at concerts. However, if you're so close to the front that you can't get out, try to signal to one of the security guards between the stage and the railing, and he will lift you out of the pit.
If a fan next to you faints, be considerate. Help her up, and signal to the security guards to lift her out of the pit.
If something goes horribly wrong - for example, someone next to you falls down, is injured and can't get up, and you think she might be in actual danger, raise your arms into a big X mark over your head. This is Japanese body language for "stop!" The band members will notice and pause the show while the injured person is lifted to safety. However, only do this if you're SURE something is wrong. No one likes it when you stop the show, least of all Mr. Sakurai.
Q11. This whole standing show thing is starting to sound really scary. I want to see the band members up close, but I don't want to be stuck in a violent crowd. Is there any way to make that happen?
A. Yes. Crowd violence at standing shows is usually limited to the first ten rows or less. If you stand slightly further back (say 3-4 meters from the front railing), you'll still be quite close, but you probably won't have much trouble with violent fangirls. The further from the stage you get, the more relaxed the crowd will be - a lot of Japanese fans don't like violent crowds, either. Since standing venues are a lot smaller than concert halls, even if you're close to the back of the hall, you'll probably still be closer than you would be at a seated tour.
Q12. I'm really short, but I really want to go to a standing show and get as close to Acchan-chan as possible. What should I do?
A. First off, Japanese people tend to be a lot shorter than Westerners, so if you're average or slightly below average height in Europe or the Americas, you'll probably feel tall in Japan. However, there are still plenty of tall people in Japan even so, and be aware that crowds at standing shows become more dangerous the shorter you are. If you're shorter than the average height of the people around you, you may find yourself trapped in a position where you can't see and it's hard to breathe. Therefore, if you're on the petite side, I urge you to exercise caution when going to the front of the crowd at a standing show. If you have a low line number and can get into the first three rows, you should be fine, but much further back than that, it's likely that your view will be more or less entirely blocked by people taller than you are, and also, everybody's arms will be in your face, which you probably won't like.
One thing you can do is wear a good tall pair of platform boots to the concert, but make sure they are platforms, not heels. I REALLY don't recommend wearing heels in the front of the pit, because with everyone pushing and shoving, it's very easy to lose your balance and twist your ankle, and also, if you step on someone else by accident and you're wearing heels, you might actually break their toes.
However, if you're really small and want to be SURE of a good view, I recommend standing further back. Most standing venues are divided into a series of tiers. If you stand at the front of the first tier, you'll be a head above everyone on the floor in front of you, and you'll be able to see everything perfectly.
Q13. I want to give Sexy Beast Hide a bouquet of flowers shaped like dubious sexual connotations. Can I just toss it up on stage?
A. Throwing objects onto the stage is prohibited. If you’d like to send the band members flowers or gifts, put them in the gift box before the show starts. If you can’t find the gift box, ask at the Fish Tank booth in the venue lobby.
Q14. I’ve been waiting all my life for my chance to touch Acchan-chan’s butt, just like Fanny Cockshott-Sufflebottom. Now that I’m going to Japan to see Buck-Tick at last, how can I ensure that I realize this dearly-held dream?
A. You can’t, so I strongly urge you to give up on that little fantasy right now. At a hall tour or festival, there is virtually NO chance that you will be able to touch any of the band members, so put it out of your mind. At a live house tour, if you’re in one of the first two rows, there’s a small chance that you’ll be able to slap one of their hands or something…possibly…maybe…though I’ll say it right here, there is NO chance you will get into the first two rows unless you have a number below 200, and even then it’s not a guarantee. If you are not in the first two rows to begin with, there is NO chance you will be able to fight your way forward that far, no matter how much of a violent jerk you are, so yet again, I strongly urge you to stop being a violent jerk ruining things for everyone else, take a deep breath and just enjoy the show.
But if, by some miracle, you win Ticket Number 1 and end up right in the center of the front row…remember to be polite. It doesn’t matter what you think you saw on the videos, or what you think you saw someone else do, or whether you think he's "asking for it." Grabbing a stranger’s genitalia without permission is generally considered to be sexual assault no matter the context, and sexual assault is never, never, never okay.
Q15. If I show up really early and wait for the Buck-Tick members to arrive at the venue, will I be able to meet and talk to them?
A. If you want to show up early and watch the band members arrive at the venue, you’re allowed to do that. But security will make sure you stay well back from where the band’s van or taxi is parking, so you can wave to the band members or shout hello, but under no circumstances will you be allowed to meet or speak with them.
Q16. If I wait for the Buck-Tick members to leave the venue after the show is over, will I be able to meet and talk with them then?
A. Absolutely not. The practice of waiting for the band to leave the venue after a concert (called “demachi” in Japanese) is considered rude. If they see you doing it they will probably assume you’re a stalker. If you see other fans doing it, ignore them.
Q17. I made friends with a Japanese fan who says we can get in a taxi and chase the band when they leave the venue, to find out where they’re partying after the show, and maybe meet them. This sounds awesome! Should I do it?
A. No no no no, for the love of fuck don’t do this! This practice is called “shirotaku” (“whitecabbing”) in Japanese. The taxis who offered this service are illegal, unregistered taxis run by yakuza or the like. It is dangerous for you and for the band members, and furthermore, the band members HATE it. Imai has written numerous tirades on his blog about how much he hates it. If you do this and they find out who you are, they may go so far as to ban you from entering their concerts in the future. Nope nope nope nope nope.
Q18. What if I run into the band members on the train, in the airport, or at their hotel during a tour?
A. If you ran into them by accident, be considerate of their feelings and don’t make a nuisance of yourself. Use your judgment about whether you think it would be appropriate to go up to them and say hello, but if you decide to greet them, be polite, keep it brief, and be aware that they may not be interested in talking to you at all. If one of their security staff asks you to leave them alone, then you should nod, apologize, and leave.
If you ran into them on purpose…please stop. The announcements are posted on the official website and printed in the Fish Tank newsletter: chasing the band on tour is strictly forbidden. Claiming that you didn’t know because you can’t read Japanese is not an excuse. Chasing the band on tour is rude, and they will hate you for it.
Q19. If I flash my boobs at the band, will security invite me backstage?
A. No, but they will kick you out of the venue. Public nudity is illegal in Japan.
Q20. Is it true what they say, about Acchan-chan and those Fish Tank girls (you know which ones!)
A. I really don’t know what “they” say, but whatever it is, I can tell you right now with 99.9% certainty: it’s not true. Fish Tank is a fan club that anyone can join. Fish Tank members enjoy a certain set of specific privileges, but these privileges do NOT extend to any sort of personal contact with the band members whatsoever. As a general rule, the Buck-Tick members do not meet and interact with their fans.
Furthermore, basically, rock groupies aren’t “a thing” in Japan the way they are in the West. Japanese bands have a very professional attitude toward touring. When they are on tour, they are at work. Unauthorized persons are not allowed backstage before, during, or after shows, and that goes for everyone, not just aspiring groupies. If you don’t have an official badge, you are barred from going backstage, end of story. What the band members do in their private lives, on their own time, is nobody’s business but theirs, but in a professional setting, they have a duty to act professional, and macking on fangirls isn’t part of the job description. Sorry, fans.
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