Shibua-AX Closes

Shibuya-AX, the only dedicated popular music concert hall – or “live house,” as they are called in Japanese – in Tokyo that can hold 1,500 people, closed its doors on May 31 after 14 years of operations.

Photo: Goki

The venue, at the edge of Yoyogi Park between the studios of Japan’s national broadcaster, NHK, and the Yoyogi National Gymnasium, opened at the end of 2000 and was considered something of a makeshift concert hall with its blocky, utilitarian architecture. It proved one of the most widely used venues in the city for rock shows owing to its excellent location – halfway between the city’s two youth meccas, Shibuya and Harajuku – and large, open capacity with great sightlines throughout.

Several notable live albums were recorded there including Buck-Tick’s At the Night Side and Sonata Arctica’s DVD “For the Sake of Revenge.”

A number of K-pop bands, including T-ara, debuted at Shibuya-AX.

The artist who logged in more days at the venue was Jun Onose, the bassist for the Japanese hard rock band Luna Sea, who goes by the single letter “J” for his solo work.

Suitably, he was asked to play the final two nights of the hall. So far, the venue’s owners, the advertising giant Dentsu and Nippon Television, have not announced if they plan to replace it or what will happen to the land beneath it, which is obviously very valuable.

Just down the road a piece, another popular Tokyo concert venue closed at almost the exact same time.

The National Stadium is being torn down to make way for a new Olympic stadium in time for the 2020 Tokyo Games.

On May 29, dubbed “Japan Night,” the huge space saw a parade of equally huge acts grace its makeshift stage: pop metal stars L’Arc-en-Ciel, electro idol trio Perfume, and hard-rock upstarts Man With a Mission highlighted a day-long roster of almost a dozen big acts.

Earlier in the week there were other big concerts to see off the place, and Paul McCartney was supposed to be part of the celebration but came down with that notorious bug that canceled his Japanese tour.

The National Stadium has always rivaled Budokan Hall as the “dream venue” for up-and-coming Japanese pop acts, the place that indicates you’ve made it when you play there.