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Friday, Dec. 17, 2010

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Okamoto's

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Countdown Japan 10/11


The eighth annual Countdown Japan festival will close out 2010 with performances by nearly 160 of the nation's top acts. While the event took place in both Chiba and Osaka from 2006-2008, like last year, the current edition of Countdown Japan will only be happening at Chiba's cavernous Makuhari Messe convention center.

The 2009 bash attracted more than 128,200 fans over its four days. Expect a similar turnout later this month. Countdown Japan 10/11 boasts four stages with capacities that range from 6,000 to 30,000, as well as a DJ area. Tunes will be pumping from lunchtime until 9:30 p.m. on Dec. 28-30. The party will not start until 2 p.m. on Dec. 31, but concert goers can keep spreading New Year's cheer until 5 a.m. the following morning. Although single-day tickets for Dec. 31 are all gone, there are still multi-day passes left that include entrance to the closing festivities.

Included on the sonically diverse bill are Tokyo's Okamoto's. Formed in 2007, their Countdown Japan appearance last year kicked off what has been a highly productive 12 months for the fast-rising garage-rock quartet. Barely out of their teens, Okamoto's played almost 100 gigs in 2010 at home and in the United States, Australia and Hong Kong. They sold out venues in Nagoya, Osaka and Tokyo on their recent Japan solo tour. Inspired by the quick musical output of their idols The Rolling Stones and The Beatles in the 1960s and early 1970s, the group issued their first full-length in May, "10's," and their second in November, "Okamoto's ni Muchuu." They plan to have a third disc out in the spring. Look for them to draw infectious, energetic cuts from all three for their Dec. 30 set on Countdown Japan's Moon Stage.

There are plenty of other talented locals worth checking out, too. Comprised of former Ellegarden front man Takeshi Hosomi, ex-Thee Michelle Gun Elephant bassist Koji Ueno and phenomenal drummer Takashi Kashikura from Toe, dramatic rockers The Hiatus should have little difficulty attracting huge numbers for their showing on the Earth Stage, Countdown Japan's largest performance space. With plenty to celebrate, Nagano postpunk band Ogre You Asshole will likely be in high spirits on the Cosmo Stage. They released their "Ukareteru Hito" EP in September and have just finished a three-week North American stint supporting much-praised Canadian act Wolf Parade. Singer-songwriter Predawn's soft, sweet acoustic pop sounded lovely among the foliage of Fuji Rock's intimate Mokudotei boardwalk stage in the summer. If she can have the same impact in Makuhari Messe's much less scenic confines her concert should be a real treat.

Countdown Japan 10/11 will be held from Dec. 28-31 at Makuhari Messe, Chiba. One-day tickets cost ¥10,000; consecutive two-day tickets cost ¥18,500 or ¥19,000 for Dec. 30-31; three-day tickets cost ¥24,500 for Dec. 28-30, and ¥25,000 for Dec. 29-31. A ticket for all four days costs ¥30,000. For details, visit countdownjapan.jp/1011/

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