Get ready for the Japanese indie rock invasion

The eighth annual Next Music From Tokyo showcase imports some of the most exciting acts from the land of the rising sun.


When Toronto-based physician Steven Tanaka saw a live show in Tokyo for the first time, he wasn’t expecting much. What he saw though surprised him, and the live show stuck with him upon his return to Ontario. Tanaka was perplexed. Why didn’t anyone back in Canada listen to this fantastic Japanese music that he had just enjoyed so much? He saw so much fascination in his country with Japan, with Canadians unable to get enough anime or sushi to satisfy their hunger for Japanese culture, but he didn’t know anyone who was listening to Japanese music, and certainly not from the indie scene that he had discovered in Tokyo.

Gozen Sanji to Taikutsu
Gozen Sanji to Taikutsu

So, without any prior experience organizing concerts, let alone travelling festivals, Tanaka decided to bring some Japanese bands to Canada. The Next Music From Tokyo festival has been received well since its inception — one recent Montreal show was dubbed the best live concert of the year by Cult MTL music writer Erik Leijon.

This year’s edition is the festival’s eighth annual showcase, happening in four Canadian cities. Here’s a preview of this year’s line-up, with input from Tanaka himself:

Mass of the Fermenting Dregs: Attendees of previous Next Music From Tokyo festivals will surely remember this group. Although their 2012 break-up left their international fanbase upset, Mass of the Fermenting Dregs (also known as MOTFD) are back at it, headlining this year’s festival. A powerful all female band, MOTFD play with an energy that’ll leave you remembering this performance for a long time, according to Tanaka.

Dalljub Step Club: Known for their innovative drummer Goto, Dalljub Step Club has developed a unique style that doesn’t sound anything like the rest of this year’s acts. Heavy on the synthesizers and distortion, they’ve got a sound that is definitely worth checking out, Tanaka says.

Gozen Sanji to Taikutsu: Their name means “3 AM & Bored” and the “four female night owls that comprise this quirky pop band are still first-year university students.  A fun, whimsical attitude with a profound flair for creativity and experimentation is what makes Gozen Sanji to Taikutsu such an unpredictable and immensely enjoyable band to watch.”

Regal Lily: If you thought Gozen Sanji to Taikutsu was young, you’ll want to see Regal Lily in action. The members of this three-piece female band haven’t even finished high school but are “already on track to becoming one of the best Japanese female bands of all-time. Their music is incredibly soulful, melodic and unpretentious but when you least expect it they sideswipe you with a mammoth wall of shoegaze noise and distortion”.

Nengu: Another three-piece act, Nengu are “an instrumental band who play lightning fast math-rock and post-metal that is incredibly melodic, intricate and catchy but chaotically loud and powerful at the same time.”

The Next Music From Tokyo showcase comes to Divan Orange (4234 St-Laurent) on Monday, May 23, 9 p.m., $10/$15