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J-POP SUMMIT FESTIVAL 2014 TURNS IT UP TO 11 by Kenneth Eric Tran (J!-ENT Event Coverage)

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The 6th annual J-Pop Summit Festival returned to the beautiful confines of Union Square for a twilight exhibition of the top musical artists from Japan. On the heels of last year’s very successful matinee main event featuring Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, organizers succeeded in providing programming surpassing any other previous festival to date. The headlining show, dubbed J-Pop Live, featured singer/model Una, human beatboxer Daichi, idol group Tokyo Girls’ Style, former-AKB48 member Tomomi Itano, and vocalist May’n.

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Starting the night off was Una, a Harajuku fashion icon who debuted as a singer just one year prior. Donning an incredible yukata-like outfit befitting of a charismatic Aomoji-kei queen, she sparkled in her performance of her heavily electro-pop setlist, including her debut single “Juicy-Juicy”.

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Next on stage was the return of Daichi, known around the world as one of the best beatboxers alive. Besides his amazing skill with the mic, Daichi was incredibly entertaining cracking jokes and initiating audience participation.

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A brief intermission featured Koji Mizutani’s Merry Project. The project featured umbrellas printed with smiling faces from the children affected by the Fukushima tragedy. It is a reminder to stay strong despite overwhelming obstacles.

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Anticipation grew as Tokyo Girls’ Style slowly appeared on stage, amidst a sea of sunflowers, and started singing “Himawari no Hoshikuzu”. The crowd went absolutely wild, cheering and dancing through their whole performance.

As a surprise, TGS sang “Himawari no Hoshikuzu” once again, this time in English.

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The momentum continued with Tomomi Itano, who suddenly appeared from the curtain to the greeting of “Tomochin” chants. In her Swagalicious attire, she struck the audience with the same type of charisma as her days with AKB48, leaving many in attendance yelling “SWAG” as a recognition of her debut album.

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Finally, May’n greeted the San Francisco crowd. But rather than just promoting her performance planned for the following night, May’n gave everyone a treat and began performing, much to the delight of everyone.

After such an amazing headlining show, it is easy to forget the rest of the events planned for the weekend. The rest of the fun would be held in Japan Town for the duration of the festival. Live events would be held at the Pagoda Stage, as each of the headliners performed once again along with many other artists such as Kylee, Yanakiku, Pinky Doodle Poodle, Black Diamond, DJ Coco and DJ Amaya. Cosplay, fashion, and idol events would also be held on stage.

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Besides the main stage, New People Cinema hosted the inaugural Japan Film Festival of San Francisco featuring screenings for the entire week. The top floors of New People were reserved for the fashion events, with numerous appearances by iconic figures in Japanese youth fashion: Ayumi Seto, Una, Akira, and Misa Kimura. The fashion events featured live performances by Akira and Una, meet and greet sessions, and a fashion show.

Along the main street of Japan Town were dozens of vendors and booths of every kind. Kinokuniya and SEGA hosted a special signing session with Miku Hatsune illustrator, KEI, as well as featuring the upcoming video game of the digital diva. Along the other booths were many meet and greet opportunities with most of the Guests of Honor.

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Down Post Street was the crowded Ramen Street event, with patron standing in line for over an hour just to try each ramen masterpiece. The Pop Gourmet Food Festival was also held offering creative snacks and sake tasting.

The J-Pop Summit had something for everybody, as intended by the organizers. This year’s festival easily surpassed last year’s attendance of 80,000 people with 120,000 attendees in 2014.

“The 2014 J-POP Summit was the biggest and most successful we have ever staged. The addition of the Ramen Street attraction and the array of artists, performers and other events also made it one of the most exciting. We are looking forward to presenting an even bigger J-POP Summit for 2015!”, said Seiji Horibuchi, President/CEO of NEW PEOPLE, Inc. and Chairman of the J-Pop Summit Festival Committee.

With this momentum, it is likely J-Pop Summit will continue to grow in popularity and feature even more headliners in the near future. We could be witnessing the genesis of a future marquee festival.

Our interviews from J-POP SUMMIT FESTIVAL 2014 will be featured in our upcoming J!-ENT ANNUAL 2014 issue to be released in late SEPTEMBER. Stay tuned!

Article by Kenneth Eric Tran, J!-ENT

Photos by Dennis A. Amith, J!-ENT

Videos by Charles Amith, J!-ENT

PINKY DOODLE POODLE BRINGS A HOT DOSE OF J-ROCK AND ROLL POWER TO 2014 J-POP SUMMIT

Female Fronted Power Trio From Tokyo Performs At Bay Area’s Premiere Japanese Pop Culture Festival In Support Of New Record;
Catch Special Band Introduction From Good Charamel Records Founder And Goo Goo Dolls Member Robby Takac

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San Francisco, CA – The 2014 J-POP Summit Festival, San Francisco’s annual celebration of Japanese pop culture, music, fashion and film, welcomes the high energy, female-fronted J-rock of Tokyo’s Pinky Doodle Poodle. The power trio, led by lead vocalist/bassist/guitarist Yuria, will perform in the heart of the Festival action on Sunday, July 20th on the Pagoda Main Stage in Japantown.

The 2014 J-POP SUMMIT Festival is set take place across San Francisco’s historic Japantown district on Saturday and Sunday, July 19th and 20th. FREE live concert sets by some of Japan’s hottest pop and rock acts will take place throughout both days on the Pagoda Main Stage in Japantown’s Peace Plaza as well as at a special open-air live concert in city’s downtown Union Square the evening of Saturday, July 19th. Complete J-POP SUMMIT Festival details, artist info and timely updates are available at www.J-POP.com

Pinky Doodle Poodle appears in support of their full-length debut record which was produced by Goo Goo Dolls member Robby Takac. The band will also do a meet-and-greet with fans and attendees in the NEW PEOPLE Tent located on Post St. immediately following their afternoon concert set. CD’s and additional merchandise will be available for purchase. Learn more about their J-POP SUMMIT appearance at www.j-pop.com/2014/pinky-doodle-poodle.

Robby Takac, whose band The Goo Goo Dolls is widely adored in Japan as well as the U.S., is set to appear in person to introduce Pinky Doodle Poodle on the Japantown stage on Sunday. Learn more about his Good Charamel Records at www.goodcharamel.com.

Pinky Doodle Poodle’s 10-song self-titled album was released worldwide in April on Takac’s Good Charamel Records, which specializes in releasing J-rock music artists. Pinky Doodle Poodle is also available on iTunes. The record features a memorable cover of the rock classic, “Twist and Shout.”
Pinky Doodle Poodle formed in 2008 and is led by Yuria, a successful Japanese anime singer often heard in popular video games in Japan (such as “Gravion”), as well as on solo records and with her other band Honey Bee. On guitar is George, a long haired shredder/composer who injects the band’s sound with a dose of musical power reminiscent of a marriage of the MC5 and Bad Brains that swirls under Yuria’s playful Japanese/English lyrics and melodies. Official Band Website: PinkyDoodlePoodle.com; Official Band YouTube Channel: PINKY DOODLE POODLE.

About J-POP SUMMIT Festival
Launched in 2009, J-POP SUMMIT Festival is an annual street fair held in San Francisco, CA that celebrates Japanese popular culture. By introducing the latest in Japanese music, film, art, fashion, gaming, anime, food, as well as niche subcultures, the festival has become a prominent platform to showcase the latest pop trends and creative innovations from Japan.

The 5th annual J-POP SUMMIT held in July 2013 welcomed more than 80,000 attendees, making it one of the largest Japanese festivals in the United States. In addition to the original Festival held in Japantown, new attractions include the J-POP LIVE AT UNION SQUARE concert in downtown San Francisco, the Bay Area’s premier dedicated Japan Film Festival of San Francisco, and sake-tasting and fine foods events at the POP GOURMET Food Festival, which have each further enriched the experience. Additional information about J-POP SUMMIT Festival is available at: J-POP.com.