This column is about the pop stars shining down from Osaka’s building-sized TV screens. It’s about the nervous teenagers performing for the first time at some obscure Shimokitazawa livehouse. It’s also about everything imbetween: the guys busking on the streets for change, or the punks spitting bile on grimy basement stages. In short, it’s about everything that comes out of Japan’s stereo.
November’s best music news was the announcement of All Tomorrow’s Parties’ first Tokyo concert. If you happen to be a British music nerd then you already know who they are - a company named after an old Velvet Underground single that consistently books the bands you thought you’d never get to see.
Their Japanese debut is named "I’ll Be Your Mirror", after the B-side from that same Velvet Underground single. The line-up includes a handful of typically cool-as-hell western groups; Fuck Buttons are bringing their multi-coloured noise/trance, and post-rock luminaries Godspeed You! Black Emperor have been tempted out of retirement. What’s more interesting, however, is the selection of native Japanese bands that have been chosen.
They’re not interesting because they’re surprising - everyone appearing at I’ll Be Your Mirror has performed at an ATP event before. They’re interesting because they offer a western perspective on what good Japanese music is. In my own (foreign) opinion, the concert assembles some incredible talent.
It’s all utterly unique; an extraordinary treat for the audience. But who will that audience be? Tourists and ex-pats, or Japanese music fans? The acts on show are veteran globe-trotters; perhaps more famous abroad than on home soil. Their names would be mere small-print on the posters for any Japanese music festival. Does Japan care which of its performers have done well in America, Britain and Europe? Or will this event simply cater to the well-travelled portion of ATP’s fans, who just happen to be in Tokyo?
I’ll Be Your Mirror reflects opinions on February 27th, at Studio Coast.