Friday, May 22, 2015

Friday Five: Concerts Tips in Japan + 3 Concert Reviews!

Hello everyone!

2015 has been a busy year for me so far. I've been having many more fun adventures all over Japan, which I'm excited to write more about. To begin with, I've been to three live concerts recently, which were all very different, so I thought I'd share my experience of each one and give you some tips on how to go to concerts in Japan. If you're not interested in the reviews, scroll down for the tips, and if you're not interested in reviews or tips, go right to the end to see a music video featuring angry mobs, various London landarks falling down, men on fire, and some class-A mutant rampaging - and if you don't wanna watch that on a Friday afternoon, I don't know what to tell you.

March 7th: Incubus, Toyosu Pit.

Starting in March, I went to my first live concert (aside from jazz) in Japan. I went with five other Tochigi JETs to see my favourite band, Incubus, at the Toyosu Pit in Tokyo. As it was my first concert here, I wasn't sure what to expect, but I was super excited to see Incubus again (I've seen them twice in New Zealand). I arrived at the venue pretty early, and started to see people lining up next to people holding signs with numbers on them. These signs corresponded to the number on your ticket. People with ticket numbers from 0-100 would be let in the concert hall first, then 100-200, and so on. As this gig only had standing room, we were happy to see that our numbers weren't too high up the list.

This is Incubus, not the wolf band. Sorry.
The inside of Toyosu pit was smaller than I expected, so we could see the stage easily. My friends and I managed to get close to the front, and talked to a few other foreigners up there. After a while, the opening act - Man with a Mission - came out. This is a Japanese band whose members wear wolf masks all the time. Their fans went crazy, making wolf-claw signs in the air and singing and dancing along to all their songs. At one point, the eyes of the wolf masks went red, which seemed to drive fans into an even greater wolf-frenzy. It was pretty much the most Japanese thing I'd seen in a while. After that band finished, a lot of fans politely moved from the front of the stage (or maybe just left altogether?) so we could get even closer to the front.

Incubus came out and played a great show. The crowd was super into it, and I had an awesome time. They played some great old stuff (of course Drive was included, Vitamin was a great throwback to S.C.I.E.N.C.E times), and we also got to hear two brand new songs, Absolution Calling and Trust Fall, which was cool. There was a lot of pressure from the crowd as we were close to the front, but I never found it unbearable, and people around me were polite and conscious about not hurting each other. Overall I thought it was a fantastic show. My favourite song that they played was Sick Sad Little World. At the end, the drummer threw his drum sticks close to me in the crowd, but unfortunately I had been distracted, and two Japanese women dived down by my legs and wrestled over it for a while. I congratulated the final victor, anyway. Maybe I'll strike lucky next time!

For this concert, a Japanese friend of mine bought us the tickets online, and we paid him back. Unfortunately he couldn't come himself, but my friends and I were so grateful to him! Thank you again, Toshifumi!

April 16th: Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds, Nippon Budokan.

When a friend of mine posted on facebook asking if anybody wanted to go to see Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds, I was instantly in. I'd already been on a real Oasis kick recently, and since my brother had seen NGHFB in concert about a year ago and given them a great review, I was really interested. I commented saying I'd love to go, and my friend was able to get us both tickets. The show was at Nippon Budokan, which I was able to hear and read more about. Nippon Budokan (meaning Japan Martial Arts Hall) was originally built as a judo hall for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. It's still used for such things today, including the national championships for sports such as kendo, akido, karate, and pro wrestling shows. It will also be used again for the judo competitions in the upcoming 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Thanks to its central location in Tokyo, the Budokan is also often used for concerts. In a controversial move in 1966, The Beatles were the first band to play at the Budokan. Some felt that it was not appropriate for a Western band to play in the martial arts hall, however their performance paved the way for international artists, and today it's one of the most famous and popular places for foreign acts to play and record live performances in Japan.

After hearing the history of Budokan, I was looking forward to the performance even more. When I got inside, I was surprised (but happy) to see that the show was entirely seated. There was no opening act, and when Noel came out, everyone stood up anyway - but I like having the space that seats give you, and of course there's always the option to sit down, although I don't think I ever did. I really enjoyed this concert. Noel's interactions with the crowd were hilarious and I loved his casual manner. After a few songs he just came out and said "Now I'm gonna play some stuff from my new album. Because let's be honest, that's what you're here for. And I've got to try and sell you some shit." So he played lots of tracks from his latest album, Chasing Yesterday, often with small changes which were really interesting to hear. His voice was great live, and it was a huge highlight for me to hear him play a few Oasis songs, especially Champagne Supernova and Don't Look Back in Anger. I would really recommend seeing him live (he'll be back in Japan in late July for day three of Fuji Rock, a three-day festival which has a pretty great looking line up so far), and going to a concert at Budokan. It was such a great experience. Once more, thanks so much to my friend Hiro for sorting out the ticket for me, I had such a fun time!

May 6: Taylor Swift, Tokyo Dome

And now for something completely different. I first saw Taylor Swift perform in Auckland, New Zealand, as part of her Speak Now tour. The Speak Now album pretty much summed up a lot of my overly dramatic feelings at that time, and the sets and costumes were amazing, so that concert was a real highlight for me. Unfortunately I had no idea how to get concert tickets in Japan last year when she visited on her Red tour, but when I heard she was starting her 1989 world tour here in Japan, I decided I had to go. I kind of didn't want to bother my Japanese friends to get me tickets again, so with my trusty friend google translate, I found the site where tickets were being sold, and decided to try and get them myself. Luckily I was kept up to date of sale times by emails from Taylor Swift's mailing list, so I made an account on the website Ticketpia ahead of time, and waited for the day. In the end I logged on a little late, but I still managed to snap up two tickets. Because my foreign credit card couldn't be used on the site, I decided to pay at a 7-11. What happened was after securing the tickets, Ticketpia sent me an email with a QR code. I took this to a 7-11, where they scanned it and I paid for the tickets. They printed the tickets out right then and there. It was so easy! I just had to be on top of my emails - sometimes I delete Japanese emails without looking at them properly because it's usually spam, but I made sure to double check my emails during the ticket buying process.

As for the show itself, hopefully my pictures will give you some idea of how awesome it was. There were 55,000 people in the Tokyo Dome (the venue is actually the home stadium of the Yomiuri Giants baseball team, and games are often played there), and we all had wristbands which lit up in time to the music. Personally, I prefer Taylor's country sound more to the pure pop she's gone with now, but the songs were still great and she performed brilliantly. She's definitely going for more sex appeal with her songs, costume, and performance style these days, but somehow she still keeps a lot of the sweet, optomistic qualities that she first burst into the music scene with. The sets and choreography were a lot edgier and more minimalist than on the Speak Now tour. They conveyed a sense of New York and new beginnings well. I loved hearing Wildest Dreams, as it's one of my favourite tracks from 1989. She also performed a great unique takes on Trouble and Love Story, both in her new musical style. I felt so lucky to be at such an amazing concert!

After going to three different shows, I've summed up five how-to tips for seeing concerts in Japan:

- It may sound obvious, but keep track of your favourite artist's tour dates! Last year, I found out one of my favourite bands had played in Tokyo a month earlier, but I'd had no idea. You might need to sign up to different mailing lists than you're used to, or check out sites such as Bandsintown or Eventful. Tickets for most bands I've been interested in are sold through Ticketpia, which I was able to navigate easily with help from google translate. Gig sold out? Try Viagogo, a ticket reselling site, or Yahoo! Japan Auctions.

- After buying your tickets, check your emails carefully for details on how to get them. You may have options to have them sent to you, or to have them printed off at a nearby conbini, as I did. Any changes of concert times, or other important information, will also be emailed to you.

- Check the venue location carefully, and figure out your route there and back. Remember, trains in Japan don't run 24 hours. For this reason, most concerts for big acts start around 7:00 and finish about 10:30. Work out if you'll be able to get back home in time, and consider making arrangements to stay in the city if the schedule looks tight.

- Every concert venue I've been to had lockers to store your things. At a large venue like the Tokyo Dome, they were totally full. For Incubus, there were enough for us to use one. Unless you have a lot of stuff, using one for a seated gig is unnecessary anyway, as your things will be safe under your seat.

- All the concerts I went to had merchandise stands outside. Be aware that, like a lot of things in Japan, these may be cash-only. If you want to make sure you don't miss out on getting some "sweet merch", make sure you bring enough cash.

Well, that's about it! Have you ever been to a concert in Japan? Tell me about it in the comments! As usual, if you have any more questions about it, let me know and I'll be happy to help. I don't have any concerts lined up for the future, but recently, an Irish band I've been a fan of for a long time, Ash, announced that they'll be playing at Fuji Rock. It looks like an amazing festival, but it's a bit pricey for me. I'm hopeful that they'll announce an additional Tokyo performance, which I'll be all over! To wind up this music post, I'll leave you with one Ash's greatest videos, featuring my favourite misunderstood overgrown reptilian, Godzilla - or as people who like to avoid licensing fees call him, "Gorgo":

- Annabelle.


  1. Wow I have only seen tokyo dome from the outside, it's crazy huge from the inside eh? Seeing Taylor Swift there would be such a dream *_*

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  2. Wow! How did you manage to go near the stage when your seiri bangou is 700 smth? Help a hopeless friend here!

    1. Hmm, good question! Haha. But the crowd for Incubus was fairly big, so 700 wasn't a terrible number. Plus it was standing only - a lot of fans here will choose to stand at the back of a standing only concert because they don't want to be involved in the moshing, so even if you've got a lower number, sometimes you can still get close to the front fairly easily. I guess the final piece of luck I had was that some people came just to see Man with a Mission. They left from the front rows after Man with a Mission finished, so the rest of us could move up even further. Aside from all that...violent moshing, I guess :P

  3. Going to my first concert at Tokyo Dome soon. What time do people generally start queuing for merchandise? I really need to be prepared! Help!

  4. Some of the major costs involved with concert promotion are the venue rental and event insurance. rap concert tickets


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I've been a high school English language teacher on the JET Programme since August 2013. Read about my experiences, advice on being accepted into the JET Programme, and travel tips around Japan on my blog:


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