For this month’s issue of Metropolis, I talked to the band Looprider, and looked at how the geography of Tokyo’s rock landscape is changing.
The musical geography of Tokyo has long been divided up by neighborhoods. You go to Koenji if you are looking for artists on the punk or experimental side. Shimokitazawa houses rock bands often flirting with the mainstream. Akihabara—idols. It may sound like overgeneralizing, but oftentimes it feels accurate.
Yet in 2017, those neat boundaries between styles seem to have dissolved. Ryotaro Aoki, vocalist and guitarist for the band Looprider, points to Koenji as an example. “Maybe 10, 20 years ago I would have said the ‘Koenji sound’ was punk or hardcore,” he says, following band practice in the very neighborhood we are discussing. “But after [live venue] 20000V burned down, I think it lost a center. Now Koenji is all over the place.” He and bandmate Sean McGee point to venues leaning towards shoegaze, visual-kei and even idol music as examples of this shift. Looking at the live house offerings of other districts, a similar trend emerges.