The new year is starting out with a slew of potentially great gigs throughout the country.
The most anticipated of these is probably Patti Smith and her Band’s seven-city tour, which starts in Sendai on Jan. 22 (Sendai Rensa; 7:30 p.m. start; ¥7,000 in advance; 022-256-1000). The singer-songwriter’s shows should be great in and of themselves, but as an added bonus there will also be a charity drive to raise money for Aoba Gakuen in Fukushima, an orphanage that houses children who lost their parents in the Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011.
Smith is known as the “Godmother of Punk,” and if you’re looking to continue the spirit of punk then the hip-hop heavy Death Grips show in Tokyo on Jan. 31 is a good bet (Shibuya WWW; 7:30 p.m. start; ¥4,800 in adv.; 03-3444-6751). The California duo were named 2012’s Artist of the Year by Spin Magazine and were recently dropped by their record label after leaking their own album for free on the Internet in an apparent protest.
Staying with noisy rock gigs, alt-rockers Crystal Castles and Sleigh Bells will play Tokyo on Jan. 30, Osaka on Jan. 31, and Yokohama on Feb. 2 (Bay Hall; 6 p.m start; ¥6,300 in adv.; 03-3499-6669). For a more Japanese sound, check out Call and Response Records’ tour in support of the “Dancing After 1 a.m.” compilation. Current blog darlings Hysteric Picnic will be playing all three dates, starting in Kagoshima on Jan. 25 (IFF Studio; 8 p.m. start; ¥1,000; 099-226-2522). Various hometown acts are set to play the other dates in Kumamoto and Fukuoka on Jan. 26 and 27 respectively.
Experimental Japanese noise will also be represented by Nagoya-based artist VVDBLK, who will support California no-wave band No Babies on their cross-country tour. The first gig will be in Hiroshima on Jan. 18 (Slow Down; 6 p.m. open; ¥2,000; 082-246-1755) with locals Rallinana, Stabilo and more also on the bill. From there the tour will hit Kyoto (Jan. 19), Kobe (Jan. 21), Tokyo (Jan. 23) and Nagoya (Jan. 25), before reportedly ending with an as-of-yet-unconfirmed show in Tokyo on Jan. 26.
If indie rock isn’t your thing, there’s plenty more to see this month. Mexican folk rockers Rodrigo y Gabriela will play two shows in Shibuya, Tokyo, on Jan. 12 and 13 (Bunkamura Orchard Hall; 6 p.m.; ¥6,500; 03-3444-6751) before moving on to Osaka for a show at Sankei Hall Breeze on Jan. 15. British pop group Saint Etienne will be playing two shows in Osaka on Jan. 20 (Billboard; 4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. start; ¥5,000-6,500; 06-6342-7722), and at Billboard in Tokyo on Jan. 21., and Australian pop breakout Gotye will play Osaka on Jan. 30 (Big Cat; 7 p.m. start; ¥6,300; 06-7732-8888) before moving on to a show at Akasaka Blitz on Jan. 31.
Kicking off the year, the Kansai-based Idle Moments crew will host an event in Osaka on Jan. 7 (Club Circus; 6 p.m. open; admission free with one drink purchase; 06-6241-3822) that will feature the hotly tipped Death Flamingo into the Memai as well as superb electronic acts Madegg and And Vice Versa.
Finally, two acts from South Korea will be hitting these shores in a pair of gigs that look particularly promising. Yamagata Tweakster and Wedance play the Shin Okubo area in Tokyo on Jan. 27 (Earthdom; 6:30 p.m. start; ¥2,500 in adv.; 03-3205-4469) and Shinsaibashi Conpass in Osaka on Jan. 29. Yamagata Tweakster is a one-man act, Korean musician Vad Hahn, and his shows are a mishmash of 1980s synth pop, a touch of disco and a little K-pop. Expect a strong visual component to this one; he’s apparently quite a dancer.
IN FIVE EASY PIECES WITH TAKE 5