Sights and sounds from Tokyo’s underground music scene

In Tokyo it’s always possible to see huge pop stars playing in equally massive surroundings, or well known artists doing good-sized gigs — all of whom are here to promote material that can be bought on iTunes, or found on a torrent site for free.

Yet equally thriving, albeit on a far smaller scale, is the city’s underground scene. It’s just hard to know it’s there that’s all, and even if you do, it’s not always easy to find out about venues and events.

Nights out like this one — held in a nondescript building that in normal circumstances would have been passed by unnoticed.

Tokyo underground music scene

But three floors down, in a space that’s primarily a workshop, it was a world that shifted from distorted beats by a DJ.

Tokyo underground music scene

To some almost excruciating sounds from a far more appealing piece of kit.

Tokyo underground music scene

Plus tunes hammered out on an oil drum.

Tokyo underground music scene

Or even more brutally forced from an angle grinder.

Tokyo underground music scene

Along with other performers whose output was in many ways as disturbing as their appearance.

Tokyo underground music scene

Tokyo underground (mp3)

Tokyo underground music scene

And yet it was all capped off with a semi-conventional ‘group’ that, considering what had gone before them, could almost have been described as pop.

Tokyo underground music scene

(A.E.S)

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Comments

    • says

      Yeah, the fellas in masks really did sound as disturbing as they looked. Other parts, however, were strangely beautiful. Quite a night that’s for sure.

    • says

      Cheers! It was in Nerima — near Sakuradai station. A mate of mine knows the DJ who was on first, so that’s how we found out about it. Really enjoyed it though, so hopefully in the future we’ll find out about a few more. Sadly we wouldn’t have had a clue otherwise…

    • says

      Maybe, although a few of them would have been a tough act to follow. Hard to beat oils cans and angle grinders — especially as the former was eventually set on fire. A finale that, three floors down and in a confined space, was initially a bit of a worry…

      • says

        oh, EN’s used oil cans, jackhammers, shopping carts, giant sheets of metal, springs, etc. They just also use traditional guitars, bass & vocals on top of that.

  1. Jeffrey says

    Those damn conformist Japanese! From the photos and your descriptions, I’d say they are trying way too hard to be outre.

    • says

      I don’t know to be honest. It all just seemed very normal to them. There was certainly no real sense of trying too hard. Despite his activities with the oil drum and angle grinder, the fella in question was a very affable, surprisingly quiet young man.

  2. cosmic_cowboy says

    excellent! despite the notion of rigid conformity in japanese society it seems there is just more to rebel against. you can see it in japanese art throughout so many mediums, from movies to literature to the underground music scene—shuji terayama to yukio mishima to les rallizes dénudés, and there are tonnes more. it would be awesome if you could find some other shows to go to and make some similar entries in the future, since it sounds like you enjoyed this one too

    • says

      Yes, that’s very true. I did enjoy it. It really was quite an event. So fingers crossed I’ll get to more.

  3. says

    The Japanese have had one of the best noise scenes in the world, along with Germany and the UK. Just check out ‘bands’ like Merzbow, Masonna, Hijokaidan, Pain Jerk, Violent Onsen Geisha, or Solmania. Harsh noise and harsh imagery.

    • says

      Can’t remember who was who I’m afraid, but the names of the performers are listed on the flyer at the top of the post.

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