The foreign band situation
When I say foreign, I just mean that it is a predominantly non-Japanese band. The term “Foreign band” is not an actual name that you hear in any formal sense. I’m just using that to describe the situation so if you are sensitive to any discrimination rest at ease; you will rarely encounter anything of the sort.
With the Foreign band situation, you could be playing in a live house. There is no reason you couldn’t, but generally, international groups tend to have members with less Japanese communication skills and cultural awareness.
These bands are more of an English speaking environment, and so they will naturally gravitate more toward venues, usually bars and small clubs, where there are more English speaking people. Usually more foreigners come out to see these shows, and English will be the primary language.
The overall atmosphere of these shows is different as well. I should point out that when you play the Japanese live houses, the crowds that I’ve seen have mostly been Japanese with a few foreigners here and there and that the atmosphere is more sincere. Japanese audiences will listen to your music and watch every nuance of your performance. It matters to them. It’s also considered disrespectful to act out during a performance. It feels a bit subdued to me.Venues that cater to foreigners tend to be more pub like and have a looser party vibe. The drawback, of course, is that people are there to drink and over indulge and the music takes a back seat.
The one drawback of the live houses
One of the biggest drawbacks that I see with the live houses is that it is pay-to-play. As a band or artist you have to sell a certain amount of tickets, and if you don’t sell those tickets, then you have to pay basically. You have to buy the tickets.
This kind of sucks but in some ways its good. It’s very straight forward.
Pay-to-play is a topic for another article, but if you were unaware, you could accomplish quite a bit in the music industry by paying your way. I will save that for another article.