A veteran promoter hopes punters will go for cheap ticket
|Singer Todd Clark (left)
and his group Pilate are among a number of bands debuting
in Japan as part of Bandstand
Courtesy of Pony Canyon
The most frequently heard complaint about
rock concerts in Japan is the high price of tickets. When
the expense of transportation and accommodation is factored
in, this is partly unavoidable. And its true that events
like the Fuji Rock Festival and Summer Sonic offer better
But theres no denying that an average ticket price of
¥6,000 is a lot to pay for a two-hour show that might
cost half as much in, say, the US.
Now comes a series of omnibus concerts that are trying to
address the issue by cutting prices to figures more approaching
North American levels. (This comes at a time when, even in
the US, promoters are trying to bring concert-goers back with
lower prices after a disastrous 2004 that saw the cancellation
of many tours, including the marquee Lollapalooza event.)
Two weekends ago, for example, Japanese heavy metal promoter
Howling Bull and a pack of independent labels teamed up for
Independence-D, a three-day event that saw bands from Europe,
North America and Japan play for ¥3,500 each day.
This coming weekend, meanwhile, a new division at veteran
pop promoter Kyodo presents the second volume of its Bandstand
event, also for ¥3,500.
Established last summer, Bongo held the first Bandstand in
October with seven bands, both domestic and international,
at Liquid Room. The idea was not only to provide a reasonably
priced concert experience, but to create a platform, something
like the well-known South By South West festival does for
the US market, for emerging bands to find a toehold in Japan.
On the bill at the upcoming second installment are domestic
groups as well as others from New Zealand, Australia and Canada.
For one of the bands, the trip will be their first to Japan
and will coincide with the release of their first album here.
Torontos Pilate were recently picked up by Japans
Pony Canyon label, which decided to distribute the quartets
2003 debut, Caught by the Window.
A melancholy outing of guitar pop that holds its own alongside
albums by bands like Keane and Coldplay, Caught by the Window
immediately established singer Todd Clark as a force to be
reckoned with. For the Japan release, Pilate (named after
Pontius Pilate) added two new songs.
Among them, Clark said in a recent interview, was a song about
World War II. Its about a person who is being
remembered. I usually dont write outside of my experience.
That was one of the first times.
Clark mostly sings, with a sadness beyond his years (Pilate
are all in their 20s), about the pitfalls of romance. Much
of the album, he says, deals with not being able to get ones
thoughts away from problematic relationships. The title
refers to being stuck on a certain experience, watching and
observing, and I think thats apparent in the album itself.
For a debut album, Caught by the Window shows a remarkable
maturity. It almost seems as if Pilate arrived fully formed
as a complete package, but in fact the New Zealand-born Clark
had received formal vocal training in the University of Western
Ontarios music program. (The rest of the band were recruited
from Torontos Ontario College of Art and Design.)
With his soaring tenor, Clark could easily have commanded
a part in an opera, but instead he decided to take a crack
at writing his own music. The interesting thing about
a rock band is you want to have a lot of spontaneity. You
want to be able to get the training, but then you want to
get outside of that and not know what youre going to
do before you do it. It was a matter of forgetting what Id
been trained so I could think outside the box.
Well-established now in Canada with four national tours and
forays into the US and UK as well, Pilate are looking to lay
the groundwork in Japan for the release of their second album,
which is now in production. I think it will be more
of a rock album, says Clark. It will be more raw
and stripped down. But you never really know until you hear
it in the end.
Shibuya AX, April 2. See concert listings for details.
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