January featured a ton of great concerts across Japan, but February might be even better — hope your wallet isn’t too thin this month.
One of Tokyo’s best shows this month also happens to be one you should get on right away. Apocalyptic rockers Swans come to the capital for one show on Feb. 19 (Daikanyama Unit; 8 p.m. start; ¥6,000 in advance; 03-5459-8630). Only 400 tickets are being sold for the show, in which the New York band plans on using additional amplifiers to bring the tracks from last year’s album “The Seer” to life.
Similarly loud and high profile is My Bloody Valentine’s three shows at Studio Coast in the middle of the month, which have unfortunately all sold out. Instead of listening to “Loveless” and drowning your sorrows though, check out Tokyo’s Japan Shoegazer Festival 2013 (Club Seata; 12:30 p.m. start; ¥3,000 in advance; 0422-29-0061). Among the many blissed-out artists playing are Lemon’s Chair and cruyff in the bedroom. Lemon’s Chair also contributed two tracks to the recent “Yellow Loveless” album of My Bloody Valentine covers that came out on High Fader Records last week.
This seems to be a month when all the loud and fuzzed-out foreign acts will swing by Japan. Feb. 18 features a tough choice — Canadian yelp-rockers Japandroids bring their brand of anthemic shouters to Tokyo (Shibuya WWW; 7:30 p.m. start; ¥5,250 advance; 03-3444-6751) and Osaka (Osaka Conpass; 7:30 p.m. start; ¥5,250 advance; 06-6535-5569). Over in Harajuku, Dirty Beaches will play his David-Lynch-touched brand of rockabilly (Astro Hall; 9:15 p.m.; ¥3,800 advance; 03-3402-3089).
In the Japanese indie-rock community, the most exciting news in February is that Kyoto’s Hotel Mexico will be releasing a new full-length album. They will have release parties in Tokyo (Shin-Daita Fever; 6 p.m. start; ¥2,300 in advance; 03-6304-7899) and Kyoto for a triple-release party alongside England-based groups Bo Ningen and Comanechi (Kyoto Metro; 6:30 p.m. start; ¥2,300 in advance; 075-752-2787). Sticking in Kansai, the slightly misleading Kyoto Indie Village event celebrates their one-year anniversary in Osaka with performances by great young projects including Canopies And Drapes and The Paellas (Osaka Chika-Ikkai; 5 p.m. start; ¥2,000 in advance; 06-6263-1133).
One of the best collections of foreign acts happens this weekend, at the two-day Hostess Club Weekender (Odaiba Zepp DiverCity; 2 p.m. start Saturday and 1 p.m. start Sunday; ¥7,900 in advance for one day and ¥13,900 for two days). The Saturday leg features the bouncy pop of New York’s Vampire Weekend, the country-tinged rock of Band Of Horses and the slacker punk of Fidlar (sample song title: “Wake Bake Skate”). Sunday’s heavy hitters include the heady Dirty Projectors and the California-loving pop-punk of Best Coast.
It isn’t all indie-leaning acts hitting up the country this month. Billboard-topping trio fun. visit three Japanese cities at the end of the month, starting off in Tokyo on the 24 (Studio Coast; 6 p.m. start; ¥5,500 in advance; 03-3444-6751) before stopping by Osaka and Nagoya the next two days respectively. The recently reunited Ben Folds Five will also make a jaunt around Japan, starting off with an already-sold-out show at Showa’s Women’s University, before playing a special show at Shibuya Kokaido (7 p.m. start; ¥7,500 in advance; 03-3402-5999). Then the trio travel to Hiroshima on Feb. 20, Nagoya on Feb. 21 and Osaka on Feb. 22.
Speaking of reunions, Dead Can Dance is back and coming through Japan this month. Catch them twice in Tokyo on Feb. 13 and 14 (Shibuya Club Quattro; 7 p.m. start; ¥7,500 in advance; 03-3499-6669) and then once in Osaka on Feb. 17.
Shibuya club The Room will be celebrating its 20th birthday at Ageha by inviting 100 DJs to play one song each at an event held at the Koto Ward club on Feb. 8 (11 p.m. start; ¥3,000 in advance).
Switching styles up, buzzed-about New York rapper Le1f comes to Tokyo’s Le Baron de Paris club thanks to fledgling artist collective Prom in late February. Over the past year, the young artist has captured the Internet’s attention thanks to his wonky music and his music videos, in particular the “Dragonball Z”-referencing “Wut.” Joining him on Feb. 22 (9 p.m. start; admission price to be determined; 03-3479-1766) will be former Das Racist MC Heems.
Finally, hip-hop beatmaker Madlib will make three stops in Japan as part of a larger Asian tour. See him on Feb. 15 in Tokyo (Sound Museum Vision; 10 p.m. start; ¥3,500 for men and ¥3,000 for women in advance; 03-5728-2824) and then in Nagoya on Feb. 16 and Osaka on Feb. 17.