By Jason Rosenholtz-Witt
I was once like you. Wandering the streets of Hiroshima, gazing at row upon row of snack bars, pondering where to go to listen to some decent music. Desperately searching, in vain, for good live music venues. Painfully sitting through one bad song after another at Club Jamaica / Sacred Spirits / ‘This is no longer a dancing establishment – please dance outside on the sidewalk’. Well don’t worry, there actually are things going on here. Granted, the local music scene possesses nowhere near the same level of cool as Osaka and Tokyo, but hey, at least we don’t live in Shimane. But before you buy that shink ticket to Kansai, listen up: my countless nights of wandering and bad music have paid off – I have uncovered a small yet enjoyable music scene in Hiroshima City.
If you’re interested in checking out some good local rock, try starting off at a Hiroshima staple, El Barco. Most people know how to get there so ask a friend or, failing that, check out the Get Hiroshima map or website – wandering blind through Nagarekawa in search of the venue will likely leave you lost.
Alternatively, instead of going upstairs to El Barco, stay grounded – on the first floor of that building is a charming bar/rock club called Sumatra Tiger. A wide array of music can be heard here, from indie rock to punk to avante-garde jazz. Recent artists have included: Sazusa Snows, led by former JET Liam Haggerty and containing current JET Travis Lewis; Eyescream; The Spins who are, in my opinion, the best band Hiroshima has to offer; and experimental jazz drummer extraordinaire, the renowned Shoji Hano. Seriously, Shoji Hano is a badass.
An upcoming Sumatra Tiger event that I would strongly urge you to attend is The Bass Ninja. He will make an appearance on Friday, March 23rd. Your mind will be blown away by the sheer awesomeness that is The Bass Ninja (starting at 8 p.m.) Plus, his name is The Bass Ningja. How could anyone not want to see that?
For more information, see: www.sumatratiger.com
To read about Shoji Hano, see www.japanimprov.com/hano/index.html
For more on The Bass Ninja, see www.bassninja.com