Japan’s Journal #7: Finding Music Without Border in the Land of Live Houses


My favorite part of the 2016’s Japan trip can be made thanks to our universal language, most popular form of art, and one of the best thing ever happened in the universe. Music.

I’ve been a big fan of Japanese music since I was a kid, thanks to my massive obsession with anime and other Japanese culture. The most interesting thing is, even though I have tried to explore various kind of music genres in my life, Japanese musicians always have big part on that journey.

When I was in high school, I listened to a lot of L’Arc~en~Ciel, Luna Sea, and many others rock band from that country.

At the end of my senior high school, I started listening to some metal music, and bands like X Japan or Dir en Grey play a big part of it.

During my university time, I return to indie rock, punk, and ska. Unsurprisingly, the bands that dominated my life at that time was Beat Crusaders, Asian Kung-Fu Generation, Straightener, Kemuri, Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra, and many others.

Do check my report on Asian Kung-Fu Generation and Straightener concert in Singapore on 2013

Finally, at the end of my journey to find music, I started listening to post-rock and math-rock. Without much surprise, the bands that filled my playlist was Mono, Envy, toe, té, Lite, 3nd, World’s End Girlfriend, and countless others.

So many genres I tried to listen, and I always end up with Japanese musicians. There’s just this special color to the music they produce that made me keep coming back to them. A magic that they also use in creating Japanese movies, animations, comic, novels, or even video games.

Seeing my love for Japanese musics, it should comes to no surprise that one of my itinerary for the Japanese trip is to visit as many concerts as much as possible.

Before the trip, I checked the social media and websites of my favorite bands to see if they have any concerts between 23 July to 29 July. In the end, me and my trip mate decided to visit three concerts in Tokyo. One in Shimokitazawa Shelter, and two others held in Shibuya Club Quattro.

I know nothing about the bands that will play in Shimokitazawa Shelter, but that place is a legendary venue. I’ve seen videos of some of my favorite bands like Asian Kung-Fu Generation, Beat Crusaders, or Boris do live shows there, so going to Shelter is something I really need to do. And even though I know nothing of the music, it was a really enjoyable performance.

The second concert is a tour called Rock n Roll Express, held in Shibuya Club Quattro. I also knew nothing of the performers, but my trip mate want to watch one of the band, King Brothers. It was the craziest concert I’ve ever attended! Band members doing crowd dive is normal, but a guitarist spending more than half of his time playing ON THE CROWD?! That’s crazy! The band also close their set on a high note by moving the whole instruments and members, including the drummer and his drum set, to the center of the crowd. It was crazy, but no one got hurt even during the craziness. As expected from the safest and most tidy country on earth.

The last concert, also at Club Quattro, finally features a band I know. The band is Husking Bee, a punk band from the 90s that also contribute their second vocalist as the voice actor for the main character of Beck, my favorite anime about (take a drink) Japanese rock band. Husking Bee was playing with another legendary Japanese punk band, Eastern Youth, a name I’ve heard before but never listened to ever. Still, it’s a concert I will never forget.

But, the highlight of all the concerts I attended was not the high quality sound and lightning. Those things, as expected, were fantastic. What blew my mind was how you can see the golden Japanese culture and attitude even during the craziness happening in the mosh pit.

Unlike any other concerts I’ve been to, all the attendees put all their focus on two things: keeping the concert fun and safe, and also enjoy the moment to the fullest. You won’t see some teenagers spending their time taking photos, selfies, or record videos, heck they don’t even waste their time chatting during the concert. It’s a music concert, so all they do is sing, dance, and have the greatest time of their life.

It’s also a freaking inclusive space. During Rock n Roll Express, I saw some older folks, probably around the age of my grandma, dancing to the rock n roll music. Do remember it’s the same concert that involve a crazy band that moved their entire set to the center of crowd while playing some totally chaotic musics.

In the middle of mosh pit you will see men and women, from various age range, dance to the same music, without needing to be afraid of harassment or other stupid attitude that will make the so-called inclusive space become uncomfortable to some people.

Lastly, unlike any gigs or concerts I’ve attended, Japanese people always keep their punctuality in check. If the poster says it starts at 7.00 p.m., then it starts at 7.00 p.m. Not only that, even with crazy band like King Brothers that messes with the stage a lot, the crews only need five minutes to prepare for the next band to play. Compared to the gigs in Indonesia, oh man feels like heaven and hell.

Japan has showed me that music is the true universal language

The three concerts I went to in Tokyo is probably the best concerts I’ve ever attended so far, and I don’t even know the bands that well. Through the three events, Japan has showed me that music is the true universal language we need in life. Live house is probably the best place to see the real modern “Japan,” and I suggest you visit them when you have the chance to.

P.S. due to the fact no one but the official photographers took photos of the gigs, I will only show some photos of the venue exterior, and some photos shared through blogs or social media.

Japan's Journal - Shimokitazawa Shelter
Entrance to Shimokitazawa Shelter
Japan's Journal - Shimokitazawa Shelter
Entrance to Shimokitazawa Shelter
Japan's Journal - Shimokitazawa Shelter
The gig details in front of the venue
Japan's Journal - Shibuya Club Quattro
The entrance to Shibuya Club Quattro
Eastern Youth at Shibuya Club Quattro
Eastern Youth at Shibuya Club Quattro. Photo taken by Keiko Hirakawa
Eastern Youth at Shibuya Club Quattro. Photo taken by Keiko Hirakawa
Eastern Youth at Shibuya Club Quattro. Photo taken by Keiko Hirakawa
Husking Bee at Shibuya Club Quattro. Photo taken by Keiko Hirakawa
Husking Bee at Shibuya Club Quattro. Photo taken by Keiko Hirakawa. You can actually see me among the crowds!

Featured Image Source: Yasuda Womcadole