osaka music clubs
Located amid the strip parlors, convenience stores and neon of Juso's red light district Fandango is one of the best places in Osaka to see live rock music. Catering to more of a rock audience than the experimental Bears, Fandango attracts such acts as Grind Orchestra, Gaji, Melt Banana, and Nasca Car. Pretty much any night at Fandango is a good bet. It also has a great anarchic decor, plastered in old rock posters, graffiti, and some of the most interesting bathrooms in all of Kansai. Check out the stickers on the toilets, they rock. They also have a great bar and a friendly staff. Like most live music in Japan though, prices don't run cheap. Expect to pay between 1500-2500 yen (around $14-24) to get in, usually with a drink included.
directions (from Osaka)
from Umeda station, take the Hankyu line to Juso station (it's either the first or second stop). Take the west exit out of Juso station, and go straight down the street. Cross the large street, then take a left. Take the first right onto Sakae Machi, at the corner with the orange YOSHINOYA sign, and go down the street past all the nudie bars and creepy guys. At the first intersection, take a slight left down the most narrow street which winds along to the right. Right when you think you're totally lost, gaze imploringly at the large mural in front of you and go in the door underneath it (picture above).
Squeezed under an anonymous office building just outside the totally hectic commercial orgy of Namba proper is Namba's The Bears. Co-owned by Boredom's guitarist Yamamoto Seichi, Bears is basically a tiny box with a carpet and a sound system, and not much else. (If you want to drink, make sure to bring your own). It caters to the weirder (and slightly artsier) side of the experimental music scene. They have an incredible variety of acts playing there though. I've been there four times, and each time was a totally unique experience. The first time I went was hardcore punk night for 1500 yen (about $15) where I saw five hardcore bands, fought to stay standing, got sprayed with beer, and temporarily lost the hearing in my right ear. Other times I saw Noisefest Galore #27 with Masonna and other acts, and also underground mainstays Haino Keiji and Yoshida Tatsuya's the Ruins. Supercool place for supercool people.
I finally found the bears in namba after having searched for it three times with bad directions. Here are the best directions you'll find anywhere, but don't blame me if you get lost. Namba's fucking huge. Okay, so from Namba Nankai station, take exit #5 out and go straight down the street until you hit the intersection with a McDonald's. Go down the street just to the right of the McDonald's. Go down the street, and at the second stoplight, take a right, just after the pool hall. Go past the parking garage. Bears is under the awning, down the staircase on your right.