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NEXT MUSIC FROM TOKYO Vol. 5 at the Rivoli (332 Queen West), Friday and Saturday (May 17-18), 8 pm. $15, adv $10. RT, SS, TW. See listing.
Since 2010, Dr. Steven Tanaka, a Toronto anaesthesiologist, has flown Japanese bands to Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver for the annual Next Music From Tokyo tour. And every year this costs him tens of thousands of dollars.
"Between flights, hotels and cars, venue and equipment rentals, the tour costs $40,000 to $50,000 and I make $5,000 to $6,000 off ticket sales," explains Tanaka via email before a 24-hour hospital shift. "I'm guaranteed to lose about $40,000, but I still do the tour because I have the time of my life. [Otherwise], I'd probably waste the money on expensive clothes, cars and real estate, which wouldn't be nearly as rewarding and memorable."
Born in Vancouver to Japanese parents, Tanaka says that growing up he had little exposure to his culture outside of flamboyant and stereotypical J-pop and visual kei/J-rock bands. "I found this comical and unappealing," he says. His interest in independent North American music led to the discovery of Japan's vibrant underground scene.
Greater Tokyo has a population of 40 million, and like New York City or Toronto, bands from all over the country converge there to try to make it. "It's light years ahead in creativity, skill and forward-thinking. I wanted Canadians to feel that same sense of awe."
He visits Japan five to seven times a year, catching up to three shows per night.
"The artists I book for NMFT do not have a high profile in Tokyo," he says. "In terms of name value within Japan, some might be comparable to Grimes or Fucked Up, although there are diehard music fans in Tokyo who probably have never heard of some of them. I book the ones who are exceptional at putting on a live show."
MOUSE ON THE KEYS
Hardcore punk meets cerebral jazz and classical, on two pianos and a drum.
Loud, distortive shoegaze with a delicate touch in the vocals of enchanting lead Sato.
Orchestral indie-poppers who loved NMFT 2010 so much, they named an album after Vancouver's famous Granville Market.
Dynamic virtually unknown pop-punk band who go extra-hard live.