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SUMMER SONIC

Soundtrack of the summer: Pet Shop Boys

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Neil Tennant’s genteel vocals were once the perfect ironic comment on the stylistic assertiveness of commercial pop, but as he’s entered middle age and his themes have become more wistful (but only a little less ironic) he’s turned into the Noel Coward of English dance pop. Fortunately, he and his silent partner, Chris Lowe, understand how to translate their club music sensibility into a concert that sits comfortably in an arena setting: singalong melodies, full-on arrangements, and good old-fashioned showmanship.

Also check out: The Dance Stage features Klaxons, LCD Soundsystem, Hot Chip and an epic battle between two of the best cut-and-paste turntablists of all time, DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist. Also, don’t miss The Long Blondes, a new band who marry the 1960s girl-group sound to ’70s new wave, and Modest Mouse, who are touring their best album ever with former Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr on board.

The setting: This is Japan’s most hectic and concrete-bound summer rock festival, which is why you will see few people over 40. It can also be a logistic nightmare, what with 55,000 people per day moving among eight stages in Tokyo (six in Osaka) in a very limited area.