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Friday, May 1, 2009



Haikou Fes

Anyone with a passing interest in demographic crises will know that Japan, with its prodigious life expectancy and ever-declining birth rate, is a textbook example of the problems of an aging society. One of the more poignant side effects of this is the increasing number of abandoned schools around Tokyo, which is part of what makes the Haikou Fes music festival on May 6 such an interesting idea.

News photo
Limited Express (Has Gone?)

For one day, a panoply of musicians and artists will take over a redundant elementary school in the city's central Shinjuku district and turn it into what organizer Tomoji Takeuchi calls "a school festival for adults." Following the pattern of a traditional Japanese school cultural festival, several classrooms and the gym will each be curated by a different person with their own concept, from underground punk music to guitar workshops to craft exhibitions. The result should be a music event that breaks out of the restrictions of Tokyo's money-orientated live scene.

Jinichiro Iida of the band Limited Express (Has Gone?), who will be playing at the event and looking after one of the rooms, describes the festival's objective as being "the antithesis of the existing music scene." Indeed, he says that the team behind it rejected overtures from major labels hoping to use the event as a showcase for their own artists. As a result, there is a defiantly lo-fi and indie feel pervading the lineup.

Some of the better-known artists include singer-songwriter Harco, Shimokitazawa indie star Keiichi Sokabe (formerly of the band Sunny Day Service) and postrock duo Kicell. Other performers of interest include an extremely rare appearance by female lo-fi unit Rocket or Chiritori, as well as progressive rock band Henrytennis, no-wave noise trio Nisennenmondai and piano/vocal duo Eiko Ishibashi × achico.

Haikou Fes takes place May 6 at Shinjuku Geinokadensha, 6-12-30 Nishi-Shinjuku, Shinjuku Ward, Tokyo (¥3,200 in advance, ¥4,000 at the door; noon-8:30 p.m.; [03] 5909-3066). The school is a six-minute walk from Exit 2 of Nishi-Shinjuku Station on the Marunouchi Line. For more information (in Japanese), visit haikoufes.sblo.jp

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