If you’re looking for a group to listen to look no further as ATARASHII GAKKO! needs to be on your radar. The four-piece Japanese girl group brings out a refreshing touch to listeners’ ears by incorporating elements of pop, jazz, hip-hop, and more into their music. After meeting their U.S. fans at previous Head in the Clouds Festivals, they are back here again for their first headlining tour. The Seishun Tour takes the group across seven cities in the U.S. before they make their way over to Mexico City, Hong Kong, and Bangkok. The tour’s name Seishun comes from the Japanese word 青春 meaning youth, given that they are the self-proclaimed “Japanese youth representatives” (青春日本代表).
On November 10th, New Yorkers made their way over to Music Hall of Williamsburg for a sold-out show. There were several attendees dressed up in school uniforms and tracksuits for this special moment. Those who waited in line early were in for a surprise as members Mizyu, Rin, Suzuka, and Kanon posed for group photos with the fans before doors opened.
The chimes of a bell signaled the start of the show as the girls took center stage dressed up in their signature school uniforms. They kicked it off with “青春を切り裂く波動 (Seishun Wo Kirisaku Hadou),” a song that features catchy guitar riffs which got the crowd immediately chanting. The group seamlessly transitioned into “最終人類 (Saisyu Jinrui),” never missing a beat with their energetic choreography.
Right after their opening sequence, Suzuka took a camera and started recording the audience. She proceeded to give their usual greeting, “Everybody say こんにちは (hello)” which was enthusiastically returned. Mizyu explained the meaning behind their tour’s name, “Seishun means to enjoy every moment and be yourself” and the members followed up with a seishun chant. Suzuka gifted a lucky fan her shoe before she hyped the crowd up for their next song “CANDY.”
They performed their famous hit “Pineapple Kryptonite” before bringing out their black coats for the Yohji Igarashi remix version of the song. Several weeks ago, the group released their newest single “Tokyo Calling” which made its way over to the setlist. From one song to the next, ATARASHII GAKKO! wowed everyone with their skilled gymnastic choreography. Each member had their moment to shine with their powerful vocals.
Afterward, they had an MC segment where Suzuka asked if anyone spoke Japanese. As she passed the mic to the audience, several fans expressed their love with “好きです (I like you)” and “愛しています (I love you).” The members took turns speaking some English phrases – Kanon with her “My English isn’t good enough,” Rin expressing her love “I love you New York!,” and Mizyu giving a cute “I love rice.” The segment was amusing to watch as Suzuka teased her members for picking easy English phrases.
Suzuka introduced the next song, the sexy song “Otonablue” as the crowd bopped their heads along with the beat. For this show, the girls specially prepared a cover of Beastie Boys’ “Intergalactic” while calling themselves the Beastie Girls. A memorable moment was during “NAINAINAI” when Suzuka walked into the audience and held a fan’s hand.
The group then said their goodbyes but like at every show there was an encore. They came back on stage wearing tour merch and performed their last song for the night “Free Your Mind.” Suzuka surprised the crowd again by walking to the upstairs balcony. Fans gifted them a bouquet of flowers and letters and the girls closed it out with a final bow.
ATARASHII GAKKO! really brought out their charisma and camaraderie to their performances. The audience was instantly hooked from start to finish. Their headlining show in New York will hopefully be the first of many more to come.
Quotations have been edited for clarity and conciseness.
Photos and words by Angela Leung