“are you really gonna post about a-muse fes almost six months later?” ...yes. better late than never?
i’ve tried to pick up this entry to write a few times since a-muse fes, but still hadn’t completed it yet because I felt like there was a lot to say about this event. with that it was a little difficult to organise my thoughts, as well. so even though it’s extremely, extremely late.... here it is!
i suppose let's start from the very beginning, then.
~* THE CONCEPT *~
the idea for amuse fes came as we contemplated celebrating the group’s fifth year in some way. five years... is no insignificant amount of time to begin with, and as a group we’ve been through a lot and made so many memories. it was a milestone worth celebrating. for me, too, i realised that at the time i’d been in and operating a-muse for a quarter of my life. it’s crazy when I think about it that way.
although we knew we wanted to have a weekend long event, we hadn’t thought too hard about what exactly it would entail straight away. we knew that we wanted the acts involved to be centered around a-muse and its history and legacy, and a celebration of our achievements over the years.
despite not knowing the details, as soon as the vague idea had formed itself, and we’d found agreeable dates, and committed to “this is something we want to do” — the announcement was made. announcing it felt a little scary and most certainly ambitious, and it was met with a very warm reception. (thank you....!)
after that, as we straightened out the details and threw ourselves into rehearsals, things went pretty smoothly. we were buzzing with excitement and anticipation for the event, especially knowing who was going to be performing by our side and the announcements we were going to make.
with just under a month to go, a variety of issues started popping up 😭
~* THE ISSUES *~
first of all was our venue. although we’d secured a venue and put out our promotion accordingly once we felt confident, it ultimately ended up falling through, and the timing that this occurred on obviously wasn’t the most convenient. it’s not the first time we’ve struggled with venues — the availability and livelihood of, well, live venues in brisbane is very volatile — but because this was a bigger event for us, it made us feel pretty anxious. it wasn’t as simple as changing the date or finding somewhere smaller, and though we enquired around by the time we’d received notice it was approaching the end of the year and most places told us they couldn’t accommodate us so close to the new year.
(my tip to you, if you're organising an event! don’t try hire close to holidays. it’s a nightmare. we learned the hard way.)
I distinctly remember kate and I getting together one day, armed with research, and we spent all day calling and discussing with countless venues that could take us. we’d spoken to so many people and tried to come up with so many roundabout solutions that I had to write up a chart with all the information gathered.
(i also remember us nervously standing outside our apartment for half an hour waiting for a council worker because kate's credit card got stuck in the parking meter lol.)
even after that, I spent more time visiting venues and entering negotiations with venue owners. in the end, we were able to find our home for the event at st andrews. we're very grateful to them for having taken us in!
and then, the merchandise...
although we’d planned the merchandise far in advance, between some manufacturing delays and then holiday shipping delays, they weren't going to arrive on time for a-muse fes.
it was frustrating when we’d worked so hard on the merchandise.... and we’re very sorry for the delay. in saying that, i’m glad it didn’t overly affect people’s enjoyment of the event and we learned a lot.
~* OTHER PRE A-MUSE FES PREP *~
during this time, we also started doing guerrilla lives to try and promote the event. this was something that was a real step outside our comfort zone, and there were definitely hiccups along the way in us trying to do this. but thank you to those who came and cheered us on when we did so! it meant so much to us that people would show up just to support us dancing on the street. if we ever do these kinds of activities again we‘ll give it out best then, too 💪
there was something heartwarming about hearing wotas call in support out in public, kind of like an acknowledgement that we were trying our best even with something unfamiliar.
the thing about a-muse fes was that it was an incredibly grassroots operation. a-muse has “staff members,” (sometimes) at events, but usually this is because of our friends and family who very graciously give up their time to help us. outside of this we’re generally entirely self-produced and have no manager. (though i think i tend to take on a role something like a manager's.)
and, although the venue had a stage, everything else in that space was put together by us. much more than other spaces we’ve performed in — understandably so given that concerts aren’t the primary purpose of the space — we had to put together the staging, the audio and lighting from scratch. and after we’d completed day 1, being a church, we needed to clear the space so that they could have their sunday service the next morning! so, with setting up the space both days, it was a colossal effort that was really beyond anything we’d tackled prior.
st andrews in the daytime. it was a very different space before we touched it!
looking at photos of the space, i can’t help but feel pleased and also extremely thankful that we were able to turn it into a performance space. moving the existing furniture, setting out backdrops, and working out the audio and lighting rig were colossal efforts that took hours each day. but I recall having a conversation with aleks, while we were preparing the balloon arch on day 2; setting up and packing down each day felt exhausting, especially with the oppressive heat, but there was something that felt really fulfilling about doing it. for us, being able to turn a space into our own and independently so felt magical, in a way.
(by the way, did attendees notice the setup changed between day 1 and day 2? 🌞)
~* DAY 1 *~
day 1 of a-muse fes was really, really nervewracking. although we'd sold tickets for the event online, because it was a multi day event, we know not everyone would be able to come both days, and some people just don't like buying tickets online...! so there was this feeling amongst us of, "i wonder how many people will show up". regardless of how many people show up to a live, we'll always give it our best, but because of the weight of the occassion we really had no idea what to expect versus our regular shows.
(also it was really frantic because i ended up running back to my apartment for things i forgot like 3 times. GOOD JOB LOLLY)
but, day 1 kicked off with pulsar!! we pulled out the original pulsar costumes again, which was nice -- we hadn't worn them in a few months since we debuted the winter costume. i also can't speak for the rest of pulsar but i think this was the most physically demanding set we've done to this date -- i let rinya put together the setlist and it was just BAM BAM BAM one song after the other without too much in the way of a break.
actually, we had more MC scheduled for the PULSAR set, but i kept forgetting when we were up there and so we would end up moving into the next song instead. sorry pengi and rinya. ): i always do this!!
despite how exhausting this set was, i think it was a great way to kick off the a-muse fes weekend and i think it got everyone pumped up!
then it was solo corner -- for the first time, aleks and kate did their own solos, and luvkii got to do her solo again after performing it at her birthday live! and then
for those who are unfamiliar, you can read about them on the UNITS page here on our website! it had been a long time since they'd performed so it was good to see them on the stage again. unfortunately one of the members couldn't make it and i had to sub in -- which meant that i got to sport a swanky blazer for the duration of the d-muse set. heheh.
some a-muse members also joined us for hare hare yukai! it's always a good laugh to hear the shout of recognition when this song comes on.
then it was meki time! meki returned from japan in time for a-muse fes, and it had been a while since we saw her so i was glad we could reunite in this way. she has a very distinct style that brought something a little different to the night. (and her solo with kate was very touching!)
THEN IT WAS MORE SOLOS
rinya pulled out a new solo, pengi brought out her fan favourite solo, and i did my new solo -- fukyouwaon by keyakizaka46!
i practiced my butt off for this song, but when it came on i got so excited and exerted so much energy at the beginning that by the end i almost felt giddy/faint from adrenaline. LOL. the original dance has 20+ people so i hope it looked ok as a lone person!
a-muse then came together and did some group songs to round off the night. we picked some of the classics and topped off the night with oidemase because we love you. (sarcasm) (not actually sarcasm tho)
also THANK YOU for the overwhelming cheki response on day 1. day 1 chekikai was extremely chaotic between all the performers that night, but we were really happy to see all the love!
after things wrapped up for the night we then had to pack down the venue so the church could do its sunday service in the morning, and this is where i started feeling pretty sick. we thankfully were able to pack up in a reasonable amount of time (given all our equipment) but i just felt kind of off, so i chose to go home and rest straight after but then unfortunately had a pretty upset stomach for the rest of the night. ):
i think i ended up drawing the conclusion that i got a bit heatsick, so it seemed better to just get a lot of rest for the next day instead of staying up thinking about it (and reminding myself to drink more fluids the next day!!)
(as a side note, i remember my shoe coming off in one of the realize verses so i danced most of the song with only one shoe. did anyone notice? regardless, it was very interesting dancing with one shoe -- it threw my whole sense of balance off LOL)
day 1 performers!
~* DAY 2 *~
thankfully with day 1 under our belt, we had a much easier time setting up for day 2! except i forgot things at my apartment AGAIN (WHEN WILL I LEARN).
we decided to change up the backdrop a bit with the balloon arch except i don't think any of us realised just how long a balloon arch takes to set up. much to think about.
and then, we were even more surprised because day 2 brought more people! day 2 was the day we decided to really celebrate a-muse as a group (with day 1 focusing on the offshoots), so we were really touched.
we did a few new group songs for a-muse fes, but one of them we opened up on -- BRAND NEW PARADE. rinya chose it with the reasoning that the song is about new beginnings and overcoming things together -- which, i guess, a-muse has done a lot in recent times. i think the meaning is really nice!
of day 2, the highlights were;
yo quiero vivir; another new song, which was pengi's pick! the dance break was quite challenging and the first time we'd really attempted something like this. (who knew we would have tackled even more with ambivalent later...) it took some time but it's fun to dance to!
my life; kind of a new song? chosen by kate and luvkii! we've performed this as PULSAR but this time we wanted to perform it as a group. no real reason, just that it's a good song! adapting the formation up to 6 was an interesting challenge too.
oyasuminasan; a new kate/aleks duo! they worked on it independently, including some choreography, so i only saw it once before a-muse fes. it was very cute 💙💛
one of our alumni members, celeste, dropped in for a few songs; sporting our first OG idol costumes! she learned pick me up with the other PULSAR members before i ever did, so it was a nice throwback to see it with this trio again.
it was fun dancing with celly again!
you've gotta lift for goshuu!
anyway, before we knew it, it was the end of the show and we were giving our parting words. a few of the members very tearfully gave very thoughtful words that really touched my heart to hear.
in saying that, i told everyone to prepare a speech if they'd like but didn't even prepare one myself... i don't even really remember what i said, but i'm sure i didn't express things as eloquently as i wanted, or said everything i wanted to say. but thank you so much for listening to us, and listening to me.
we also announced a few things, but i suppose the most relevant one at the moment is -- we announced that we'll be releasing original music this year! i suppose i want to take this moment to say that, 6 months on, we're making slow but real progress on this and it's very exciting. we look forward to showing you all when it's ready...! 🎵🎶
for the encore, we pulled out (almost) all our alumni members, bar those who were overseas, and they joined us for a few last dances! we went back to our roots and performed a couple love live songs that were important to us...
i mean, the balloon arch was there for a reason, right? just like the sunny day song arch was representative of μ's bond, the rainbow arch we created was a symbol of ours.
just like that, the live was over, and we came backstage showing various stages of emotion. some cried, some were almost in shock. a-muse fes was over just like that.
EXCEPT NOT BECAUSE THEN WE HAD CHEKIKAI YEEHAW
somehow things ran a lot more smoothly on day 2, and it was also the day where people came and gave us words of congratulation. the completion of day 2 closed the circle of celebration.
before we knew it, it was time to send people home safely, and pack up the venue one more time. once again, it was a lot quicker to pack up this time, after having done the process before!
day 2 performers - a-muse + alumni 💓
i always forget to take selfies with other people, but that’s ok because ducky hopped into mine!
you'd think after such a big weekend that we'd all go celebrate together immediately. but honestly, after packing up, we were all exhausted from a weekend of work and rest was the first thing on our minds. so we packed everything up in cars, and after lugging equipment back up to the apartment, myself, kate, meki and sean (one of our helpers) sat and quietly ate subway until it became too late for them to stay.
adding this blurry selfie because idk where else to put it
before we left the venue, though, we all had a brief moment where we looked at it each and said... "we did it."
we did it. in concept, we wanted to do a 2-day, festival style, multi-group event, but the idea was so crazy we didn't know if we could pull it off.
of course there were hiccups, but at the end of the day, we'd managed to pull the event off. and with it brought an amazing sense of accomplishment and, most importantly, confidence in our own ability that still makes me feel warm inside to dwell on now.
~* WHAT I/WE LEARNED *~
oh man i/we learned so much from a-muse fes. so much.
for me, the biggest thing was definitely... prior to a-muse fes I knew barely anything about A/V setup; and although our setup was basic, with some research, asking around and help from our staff, we were able to pull together a working, though basic, setup on limited resources, which was a great feeling. of course my knowledge is still basic, but being able to at least understand crucial technology and equipment behind live shows is a massive relief! it also showed that going forward, we didn't need to rely on venues having pre-existing equipment, that we can run on our own power.
after that, as mentioned above, i learned booking an event around christmas/new year is a nightmare for dates and if it's possible i'd like to avoid these dates in the future. (but who knows eh. we very purposely picked the a-muse fes dates!)
also, doing guerrilla lives in highly populated areas is HARD since you need a busking licence. (unfortunately we're not in a position to receive one yet, either!) and straying too far from those areas can get a little unsafe. as we learned. OTL
also learned to allow more time for manufacturing around the holidays. (without production delays we would've been ok, but it's better to be safe than sorry.)
ALSO (i have used the word ''also'' to start the last three paragraphs) performing in heat and humidity for a long time is HARD. we definitely didn't predict just how hot it would get in the building, and without adequate hydration, it was really easy to feel bogged down by the humidity! this is hard for both performers and wotas, so despite this thank you all for calling and give it your best!
and lastly, between the issues, the guerrilla lives, organizing the acts, and just organizing everything else... I can’t speak for my fellow members’ feelings at the time, but I know I felt really under the pump. 😖 truth be told, I think I overexerted a little and ended up severely underperforming over the course of the weekend as a result... but given the scale of the event that happened I can forgive it. i'm a little disappointed in my performance but i just want to make sure I can do better next time!
~* CLOSING COMMENTS *~
firstly, i want to say a massive thank you to the staff who helped out that weekend; you know who you are. we try to do as much as we can by ourselves, but the reality is, someone's gotta be there flipping the switches and dials when we're on stage and taking cheki, and we only have so many hands for packing up. a-muse fes literally could not have been a possibility without all of the staff's efforts over that weekend, and we're sincerely grateful for your massive contribution in keeping the gigs going.
also, though you didn't quite act as staff this time, thank you to maru + yuika for your beautiful photos (most of the photos in this post are maru's!) and for always being there to encourage us and lift us up. on a personal level, i have a lot to thank these two for, in ways that i can't really express here, but with their always kind guidance we've been able to blossom.
next, i want to thank the alumni who took the time to participate. with members moving on as their lives have developed it was a big ask to come back even for a few songs, so we're really happy that we were able to make that happen. even though not all of our alumni could make it, their participation through the video messages was a very touching gesture -- and kelly actually facetimed