The Bands of Japan Nite 2012 and Why the Annual SXSW Japanese Music Showcase Matters

Saito Johnny

Saito Johnny brings Japanese blue grass to Japan Nite on March 16.

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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3 thoughts on “The Bands of Japan Nite 2012 and Why the Annual SXSW Japanese Music Showcase Matters”

  1. Maria says:

    How much is it to actually try to go in and how early must I go, of I don't have a SXSW pass?

  2. Jonathan says:

    Hey Maria. I'm not sure how much it costs to get in. What I do know is that you absolutely do not have to have a SXSW badge to actually get in. Plenty of people without badges go every year. No worries. The show starts at 7. If you want to make sure you get in and get a good space, I get there a hour or two earlier than that. See you there.

  3. Tristan Odums says:

    I have to say something about that last paragraph, OKAMOTO's was a break out band at the time while label mates of Chatmonchy who were pretty popular before and already had done an ending for BLEACH in 2007, which did help a good deal in their popularity picking up but wasn't the sole reason for it. They were featured at Budokan for a 1-man show not long after their second album released. They were already at the top. Same with Avengers in Sci-Fi, pretty well celebrated club circuit before they came here. Mo'some as well. It was only in the situation of OKAMOTO's did we get to see them before they roses to fame, it was fortunate as all of them have rose to extreme realms of popularity.


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