I love going to concerts in Osaka. Perhaps that is a good thing, considering I married a musician. Regardless, I love concerts of all shapes, sizes, genres, and demographics. My taste in music is very eclectic. The music needs to be unique and catchy, but could range from aboriginal to zydeco.
One of my favorite things about Japan is the plethora of small venues. Sure, there are large venues and arenas with music festivals, but there are equally huge acts playing on small stages. This isn’t entirely unique to Osaka, and many of the venues here are chains that also have venues elsewhere.
However, it’s a common consensus that Osaka gigs are more vibrant and homey. Maybe we are a bit biased, but either way, you’re more likely to see folks dancing around at a gig in Osaka than most other places.
There are many different venues if you are interested in seeing a show. Here are the most well known. If you want more options, most music shops and record stores have posters and fliers for upcoming shows at local venues. Sometimes you can find a great indie act or old school rocker playing at an obscure venue with tickets being only a few thousand yen. It’s always best to check.
Umeda’s Billboard Live
Umeda’s Billboard Live venue is the ultimate dinner theater. The small club hosts a wide range of shows and also serves as a restaurant. While the menu largely depends on the show and where you are seated, being able to relax, eat, and groove out to your favorite musicians is a nice experience.
My favorite show at Billboard Live was The Ventures. 1960s instrumental surf rock at its best. My husband and I had bought floor tickets for the tables directly in front of the stage. It put us only a few meters away from the band. Honestly though, there are no bad seats. The venue is the size of a small dining hall, which really doesn’t allow for any bad vantage points. There are elevated booths on the outsides for a further back but more intimate experience, and shared dining tables on the floor for people who care less about privacy and more about the band. The outermost ring of seating is cheaper elevated bar seating.
Ticket prices range from 5,000 to 10,000 yen depending on the performance, with the more expensive tickets including a meal plan. After buying tickets, make sure to get to the venue early and get a check-in number. Seats are not pre-assigned, so you will be seated on a first come first serve basis, but this is not by who shows up first. It’s all about who shows up and gets their check in number first. The check-in number indicates when you can enter to claim your seat. My husband and I arrived early but didn’t know about the system, so even though we were the first group there, we were one of the last groups in to claim our seats. Luckily, as I said before, there are no bad seats.
06-6342-7722 (Japanese Language)
Herbis Plaza Ent B2, 2-22 Umeda 2-chome, Kita-ku, Osaka 530-0001
Another chain venue, Club Quattro has locations in Tokyo, Nagoya, Hiroshima, and Osaka. Originally located in the Shinsaibashi Loft building, Club Quattro was relocated to Umeda when the Loft building was converted to an H&M. Similar in size to Billboard Live, Club Quattro is spacious but intimate. Aside from bar seating or rails to lean on, expect to stand through the entire show.
There are lockers for personal belongings in case you don’t want to worry about your belongings. Shows can get fairly crowded and rowdy depending on the genre, so each experience is unique. With no seating or reserved areas, you can always wander to a different area if your view gets obstructed or if people in your area get rowdy. Tickets run from about 4,000 yen to 6,000 yen depending on the show.
06-6311-8111 (Japanese Language)
Plaza Umeda 10F, 8-17 Taiyujicho, Kita-ku, Osaka 530-0051
For those looking to see more Japanese artists, Osaka Muse, also known as Muse Hall, is the place for you. Visual Kei fans will also find a wealth of performances to suit their tastes. Similar to Quattro in size, Muse varies in layout depending on the style and genre of the show. Prices can range from 2,000 yen to 6,000 yen.
06-6245-5389 (Japanese Language)
Muse 389 Building, 5-6 Shinsaibashisuji 1 Chome, Chuo-ku, Osaka 542-0085
Another very popular concert venue is the ZEPP chain, with the Osaka one being ZEPP Namba. I’ve never personally been to the other venues listed here so I can’t provide a size comparison, but ZEPP is very big.
I’ve been to much smaller venues and Osaka is peppered with many tiny livehouses that host not only indie bands but some big names as well. AmeMura/Shinsaibashi in particular have a lot of livehouses around and they’re great. Small, intimate venues but not lacking in energy. Umeda ZEELA, Shinsaibashi club DROP, Shinsaibashi VARON, JANUS etc are popular venues for the punk rock scene. club ALIVE, fanj twice etc are big for visual kei lives too though most venues host a plethora of acts so they can’t really be generalized too much.
Though the university school festivals are mainly over, they’re also a good chance to catch bands live for free, or for about 3000yen (or less). Two years ago I caught MIYAVI live for free!
I love the free fliers/booklets at music shops, the bigger ones also have free music magazines (such as Grindhouse etc) that have interviews. 7-11s also carry their Pia monthly magazine that also features musicians. For November, it is VAMPS on the cover and also has ACID BLACK CHERRY and Nakashima Mika interviews/articles.
Thanks for posting the information! There are so many tiny venues that each scene really needs its own article. Namba Mele, King Cobra, Pangea… There are so many tiny venues. Zepp is like Namba Hatch. They are a lot larger than the venues listed here, so I didn’t include them. I wanted to stick to the small venues that host big name bands/performers.
There really are just so many livehouses around that one can probably find a live to attend just about every day of the week. I feel like Japan’s indie music scene is so active and unlike anything I’ve experienced though since I’ve only ever lived in Japan and Singapore long term I can’t comment much!