Friday, March 21, 2014

Japanese Music in Concert

For a music fan, I'm not willing to expend a lot of energy or cash to go and see a band - in fact, I'm lucky to go to a concert every 3 years at the most, and usually only shell out for nosebleed seats. However, I've actually seen a few really good Japanese bands while living here in North America. I've seen bands that would be playing sold-out shows in Tokyo, and paid next to nothing for them.

The secret is...anime conventions.

Almost all of the big conventions feature a musical act. Here in Toronto, I hit up Anime North every couple of years when they have a particularly interesting guest. I'm also in Baltimore almost every summer, and been able to see some fantastic acts at Otakon. T.M. Revolution, L'Arc~en~Ciel, JAM Project (including Okui Masami and Kageyama Hironobu, for you anisong fans out there!), Home Made Kazoku...all free with the price of admission to the convention. How good is that? When friends in Japan heard that I'd seen L'Arc, live, they were completely bowled over. 

In Osaka and Tokyo, I saw ZARD and AiM and Wada Kouji - now, those last two are definitely a story for another day - but going to a see a big-name show was pretty unlikely. I just don't have that kind of interest in any one band - plus I've been lucky enough to see T.M.R. in the U.S. not once but twice, and (long after this post was originally written) even ran into him on a flight between Japan and Canada!

Quite a lot of Japanese artists have come to Toronto to perform as well - Kyary Pamyu Pamyu was here a couple of weeks ago, and though someone offered to sell me their tickets at the last minute for cheap, it wasn't enough notice to actually go. Too bad! I also missed out on B'z the year before last, which was really unfortunate. These are fairly big-name artists, though, that it'd be tough to get good tickets for in Tokyo, and here they are performing at the Sound Academy in T.O.!

New York, L.A. and other bigger North American cities also have plenty of Japanese performers who slip under the radar, both at local venues and at cons. The next time you're looking to find some new J-artists, why not check out a convention? You might be surprised at who you can get to see, practically for free!