By Shawn Clankie. Photo by Matt Holloway, provided courtesy of Youryokutai Club.
Bored on a weeknight with nothing to do? Tired of the same old bars? Why not check out the Sapporo indie music scene at one of the many live houses throughout the city?
Sapporo is a city with plenty to keep music fans happy. On any given night there are rock and pop acts playing the live houses (Sound Crue, Colony, Spiritual Lounge) and at restaurants around the city (Famous Door, La Paella), and jazz units working the coffee houses (Kamihikouki Café) and jazz bars (Jericho, Jamusica, Coo). If you’re looking for something on the spur of the moment, then the live houses are often your best choice. Sound Crue, at Odori East 2 is one of the best known live houses, with multiple bands performing on most nights of the week. Live houses are small venues, usually holding thirty or forty at most, with a small bar. On any given night there may be five or six bands playing over a three-hour span. Some bands will be just starting out and will simply be not that good. But, then you will find a gem such as Youryokutai Club, a Sapporo band made up of two Japanese women on vocals/lead guitar and bass, and a drummer from Chicago. They will surprise you.
Unlike most shows at larger venues, after the performances the bands will come out and mingle with those in attendance. If there is a band you like, they will often have a CD available for purchase. It’s a good night out.
The system for live houses is easy. Tickets can be bought at the door and usually run in the 2000-3000 yen range plus one drink for a night with five or six bands. The live house web page has a running calendar of who is playing each night. Don’t worry if you don’t recognize any of the bands. Give them a try. You might be surprised.
Here’s a selection of live houses for you to try: