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Rock harder, Japan

Illustration by Marie

After years of rock concerts in Japan, the last one I saw left me so disgusted that I made a solemn promise to never see another one in this country again. I'm not talking about clubs, I've got no problem with them - at least not yet. I'm talking about big arena venues.

All the little annoying things finally got to me, like the disco dances the fans do in their seats. With all the flailing arms you can't even see the band. The "fans" jump around doing Jackson Five maneuvers in their seats no matter how much of a hard rock band it may be. Watching 20,000 people do a Soul Train dance, in unison, in the middle of a rock concert, doesn't really appeal to me.

Who schedules the times for these things? They generally start between 4 and 6pm and finish precisely 2 hours later. Now, I don't know about you, but I like my concerts to start at a reasonable hour. Don't you think that it should at least be dark outside when the band comes on? If the thing starts in the early afternoon you don't even have enough time to grab a beer or two before the first act. They finish so early you could go home to your mommy and daddy for dinner and still have time to finish your homework... which is probably what most of the audience does.

Every time I've been to a major concert here, I knew that something desperately vital to the atmosphere of the show was missing. I just couldn't figure out what it was. That is, until I took a whiff. Nothing! You know what I'm talking about and don't pretend you don't. Although I don't indulge in anything combustible myself (including cigarettes), a concert without a certain odor is like buying a nice bottle of wine and then chugging it on a street corner. Somehow the experience gets cheapened.

This may or may not be a good thing but have you noticed that nobody ever gets forcibly ejected? Even when there are mosh pits there are no real fights. Unbelievably, the fans actually seem to respect the bouncers and their fellow patrons. A big rock concert in Japan is sort of like a Dick Clark TV special, sanitized and harmless. Wasn't a rock concert supposed to include a little rebellion? I thought it was!

Worst of all, and I hate to say it, but when big Western acts come to Japan, don't you get the feeling they are working and not performing? They start on time, do the bare minimum and are out the door as soon as humanly possible. Did anyone see a concert like that in Yokohama in the not too distant past? (I don't want to name the band but think of red spicy vegetables.) All you bands out there listen up! Compared to the rest of the world, I'm paying double the price for the show - so how about giving me twice the performance?

Many thanks to reader Andrew Nau for this Rant.

Metropolis Online
349: Life in the cycle lane
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348: Daisuki na Tokyo
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347: Nihongo dake!
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346: People make the city
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345: Cross Training
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344: Yellow Line Fever
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343: Welcome to Tokyo
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342: Positive thinking
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341: I'm a rounder...
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340: Discard your bank cards
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339: Shoganai...
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338: Respect your environment
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337: Strike Three - You're Enlightened
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336: Missing manners
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335: Goodbye jitensha
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334: War of the Words
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333: ENGLISH ONLY, please
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332: A menu carved in stone
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331: The Zen of Looking Busy
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330: Lyrical Phlegm
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329: Rock harder, Japan
Big, bad and ugly concerts
328: Noise Deficiency
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327: Chopstick Diplomat
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326: Game over
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325: Grown pains
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324: The Price of Fame
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323: A Customary Affair
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322: Robber barons
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321: Tegami Or Not Tegami
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320: The Garbage Men
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319: Holidaze
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318: Box your ears
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317: The winter of my discontent
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316: The Bells
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315: The Big Tokyo Trash Mystery
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314: The Kamikaze Spirit
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313: Movie Mania
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312: Geek parade
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311: Gleaming gomi
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310: Lower Mathematics
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309: Escalator clots
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308: Sky's the limit
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307: Bring on the studmuffins
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306: Burning Rubber
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305: Fishy Business
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304: The Invisible Gaijin
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303: Talk work only
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302: From kotatsu, with love
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300: Why 2K?
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ISSUES 350-381
ISSUES 250-299

ISSUES 233-249