Groovy Osaka: Small Venues, Big Names
By Quincy B. Fox
On November 4, 2014
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 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