I received this email from Steve Tanaka who has an event coming up on May 18 and 19 in Toronto. If if you're not in the area and can't make the shows, read on. Chances are you'll discover something pretty cool.
My name is Steven Tanaka and I organize and fund a non-profit DIY tour that brings some of the best indie/underground bands from Japan.
Tokyo with a population of over 40 million, has the largest and arguably the best music scene in the world especially regarding it's uber-innovative indie/underground music scene.
I love Japan's music scene to death and I find watching shows at tiny venues in Tokyo to be the most fun and breathtaking experience Japan has to offer.
Everyone in Canada raves about the food, animation, technology etc in Japan but very few Canadians have any idea how incredible the quality of music is, especially live performances, which is why I started the Next Music from Tokyo Tour three years ago.
I wanted to reward the great bands that make the music I love by giving them an opportunity to travel to and perform in Canada free of cost at my expense. (Most of the bands wouldn't be able to afford to tour abroad on their own)
I wanted to give pre-existing fans of Japanese music an opportunity to see great Japanese bands without having to travel across the Pacific Ocean. And most of all I wanted to introduce Canadians to the immensely entertaining world of Japanese indie/underground music. There's more to Japanese music than the stereotypical J-Pop, Visual-Kei and bizarre novelty acts.
I continue to do these tours purely for the love of the music despite knowing I am guaranteed to lose tens of thousands of dollars (due to the exorbitant cost of flying from Tokyo to Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver and back.)
I also have the time of my life doing these tours making great friendships with the bands and the growing number of fans that follow each tour.
In less than two weeks, Next Music from Tokyo Vol 4 will take place with back to back shows at the Rivoli (Fri May 18 and Sat May 19; doors at 8pm; show at 9pm)
Last year NMFT Vol 3's show at the Rivoli was completely sold out with a long line of people still trying to get in at midnight with only one band left to play. It was named one of the top 15 shows of 2011 by BlogTO.
This year the bands are even better:
Zazen Boys, led by indie rock legend Mukai Shutoku, are one of the funkiest, most skilled bands on the planet.
group_inou create electronic/chiptune music influenced by underground hip hop and post-punk for a uniquely breathtaking sound.
Charan-Po-Rantan consists of two beautiful sisters and a backup band of 5 elite, classically trained female musicians. Accordions, a brass section and heartfelt vocals combine over a bizarre mix of Klezmer, improv jazz and traditional Japanese folk to create the weirdest yet most entertaining live performance you are likely to see all year.
Praha Depart play tremendously loud and intense psychedelic post-punk with powerful female vocals that spiral out from soulful whispers to spine-chilling screams in a heartbeat.
Cool, huh? If you're interested in other bands, Shaun, the music editor from The Japan Times, has supplied these suggestions: