The Bands of Japan Nite 2012 and Why the Annual SXSW Japanese Music Showcase Matters
I’ve been lucky enough to go to Japan Nite, the annual SXSW showcase featuring (you guessed it) Japanese musicians that starts in Austin and continues through a handful of American cities, twice. Even in attending only the last two years, I’ve noticed a few constants.
For starters, there’s the line. Starting many hours before the doors to the Elysium swing open and the “nite” gets underway, people queue up in droves—and they’re probably not the type of people you’d expect. Sure, there are a few Japanophiles who splurged on an imported T-shirt to support their personal favorite act of the night. There are undoubtedly a few folks hanging about who regularly take in some anime and may know their way around the manga section at the bookstore. But a lot of the folks anxiously waiting, they’re not into Japanese music per se. They might not even know a scrap of information about any of the bands on the bill. Nope, a great deal of the people in that line stretching down the street are there because they know they’re going to see something they’ve never seen before.
Japan Nite might host a Visual Kei group breaking down gender stereotypes by suiting up in gothic, lady clothes before hitting the stage; or an electronic outfit who perform bathed in laser light; or even just a ’70s-style funk band complete with sequined dresses and Aretha Franklin vocals. Whoever appears in the show, you can bet your SXSW badge they’ll be worth seeing no matter what you miss out on as a result.
But there’s another constant, another reason Japan Nite truly matters to anyone keeping an eye on the state of Japanese music. More often than not, bands that play Japan Nite go on to do big things.
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