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Friday, June 30, 2006



Summer Sonic

W hen & Where: Summer Sonic takes place Aug. 12-13 at Chiba Marine Stadium, Makuhari Messe in Chiba Prefecture; and WTC Open Air Stadium, Osaka Intex and Zepp Tokyo in Osaka. Shows begin at 11 a.m. on both days. The lineups on Saturday switch cities on Sunday.

Vibe: Concrete to the max. In Chiba you've got the main acts playing in a baseball stadium and four separate stages boxed together in a convention center. However, there is a Beach Stage on Tokyo Bay and a Dance Tent. Osaka is similar, except there's no beach.

Crowd: Under-30s, non-hippies, lots of couples.

Big names: Offers lots of hard rock and punk but also urban dance music and the quirkier side of mainstream, including Metallica, Linkin Park, Daft Punk, Massive Attack, Flaming Lips, Arctic Monkeys and Tool.

Take a chance on: Devendra Banhart, Lady Sovereign, Plan B, Matisyahu, Secret Machines and Amusement Parks on Fire.

For nostalgics: The Cardigans, Scritti Polliti.

Inside track: Don't bring the kids. Be prepared for hard surfaces when you want to sit down. Venues aren't far apart, but give yourself extra time to move around because a couple of thousand people will be doing the same as you. Bottlenecks occur.

Food and drink are plentiful and varied, though comfortable places to consume them are not. Restrooms are usually crowded but at least they're restrooms, not portalettes. There are also plenty of sponsored booths selling everything from CDs to glue-on fingernails, and many artists hold scheduled autograph sessions. Beer in the stadium is more expensive than in the convention center.

Damage: Tickets are 14,500 yen per day and 26,500 yen for both days in Chiba; 13,500 yen per day and 24,500 yen for both days in Osaka. Advance two-day tickets for Chiba are already sold out.

Getting there: Take the JR Keiyo Line from Tokyo to Kaihin Makuhari Station for the Chiba event; take the Chuo subway line to Cosmo Square Station for Osaka. For information in English, visit www.summersonic.com

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