July 31, 2006

Farewell White Lodge, Farewell Fuji


For four solid days, this wee little lodge set a few meters away from the White Stage has been the home of Fuji Rock Express. We have enjoyed its easy access to hot shit bands that we never heard of such as Envy, Isis, and Broken Social Scene; as well as the friendships, the late nights, the rubber mattresses and

the piles of technology such as a wireless network that almost always worked. Also, we loved the stable of vans to shuttle us to the Red Marquee, and the damn sound of the vacuum machine that means its time to get out of here. till next year.



Mogwai was totally great, but what I couldn't figure out was why the stage left guitar tech was wearing an orc hat? I mean, he must have changed changed guitars at least a half dozen times, so what was with the horned Lancelot helmet? Did this have anything to do with the Super Furry Animals' Power Ranger? Are Scotland and Wales suddenly going cosplay?

The band itself came out decked in emerald green Adidas track jackets, and they closed out Sunday's White Stage with searing non-referential intensity, like the spiritual core the whole day's schedule was designed around. Stuart Braithewaite admitted as much, doling out props to the Super Furry Animals, who preceded them, and the stage's first two bands of the day, Isis and Envy (who, word is, they are helping to release in the UK). Super Furry's lead singer Gruff Rhys also came on to sing the first song of the encore, and if it was in Welsh, it was still the most intelligible lyrics of the set.

Not that the lyrics - when they occasionally sing them - are really there to be understood. And not that Mogwai are really on stage to make a visual impression. Like my yoga teacher said, "Close your eyes so you can feel it." (Note to myself: When does heavy swaying start and light headbanging begin?)

Few other bands are as consistent. At the end, a girl standing nearby called the show "beautiful." All that was missing was the fireworks - for anyone who remembers how they closed the White Stage in 2003!

Potty Training

We know it was a pain in the ass waiting in lines for the toilet, but you can't say there weren't alot of toilets at the festival. Some even had a nice view of nature, and a faucet to rinse your hands. Whether or not they all had toilet paper is another issue, but if you want to know if these toilets did, keep reading..

tp.jpgYup. They did.

Buffalo Daughter

Doodling around on synthesizers and guitars with cool electronic-sounding loops is great and all, but Buffalo Daughter need to realize what the difference is between plateauing high and hitting the musical orgasm.

I love this band, and their set Saturday night on the White Stage was pleasing, but I left wanting a little more, like maybe a rendition of "Earth Punk Rockers," if they even play that song any more.

I also couldn't figure out why they frittered away the first 15 minutes on stage with bass-slapping rock funk. Where this band - i.e. suGar Yoshinaga and Yumiko Ohno - excells is at using keyboards and guitars to play better than increadible loops that could have been programmed but are all the more grooving for the real fingers on the keys and strings. And when they put vocal harmonies over the top, it's off the hook. But ever experimental cerebral types, they concepted their way through this set with only once ever giving the impression they had finished warming up. When they played the Red Marquee two years ago after the Chemical Brothers, it was non-stop live dance music. Tonight, the pauses were awkward. With all their talent and/or genius, I often wondered where they were going.

1) The band is once again using its original drummer, Chika Ogawa.
2) DJ MoOog Yamamoto was with the band as usual.

A Seed Japan

Hey, we know that you can't just plant a tree and call yourself an environmentalist, it's the mundane, every day stuff that really counts. And at Fuji Rock, as well as other festivals such as Asijiri Jam, no one does it better than A Seed Japan who brought 300 volunteers to man recycling bins throughout the festival grounds. It wasn't always easy sorting garbage and picking up after megasets by the Red Hot Chili Peppers, but this group of volunteers are our "rockstars" and

seed2.jpgthey did a remarkable job keeping the festival clean, or, at least guilting everyone into putting their beer cups into recylcing bins. We thank them, nature thanks them for being at Fuji Rock for the past 8 years.

Is This It?

strokes-crowd2.jpgThe Strokes headlined Sunday's Green Stage, though for a moment it looked like frontman Julian Casablancas was stunned by the size of the audience. He should have been expecting a big crowd cuz its a festival, and the only one left playing are the Super Furry Animals.

Casablancas and The Strokes struggled early on, ultimately gaining confidence and a little energy when Casablancas hopped a few metal fences and joined the crowd to sing the hit song "Is this it". Even then he seemed a little hesitant, but when he returned to stage he asked the soundman to "turn it up" because "you only live once" and the band later played a marathon set that surprised many festivla goers, with Nick Valensi and Albert Hammond Jr. doing a nice job on guitar, and bassist Nikolai Fraiture supporting on numbers such as "The Modern Age", "The End Has No End", "I Can’t Win", and "Last Night", a back catalogue of many hits which any band would covet.

Jenny's precedent

jenny.jpgSince it's fashioned after Glastonbury, Fuji Rock tends to lean more toward English rock than American, which probably explains why Amerindie and, particularly, alt country don't get much representation at the festival. Consequently, it seemed doubly odd that former Rilo Kiley vocalist Jenny Lewis was given the 11 pm slot at the Red Marquee on Sunday night, a place normally reserved for dance or techno acts. For sure, there were only about 50 people in front of the stage when Lewis came out with a full band, including the Watson Twins on backing vocals. Lewis came to dazzle, as demonstrated by her silver lame minidress, which was complemented by the Watsons gold lame shifts. And dazzle she did. Jenny Lewis performed the only encore I saw all weekend.

In a way, Lewis's music isn't completely alt-country. She did some gospel, some rock, a cover of the Traveling Wilburys "Handle With Care," a version of the doo-wop classic "I Met Him on a Sunday," and an indie folk song. She did some choreography with the twins, whose twin thing seemed to spook the audience. She even ended with a spritual. Granted, the audience didn't exactly swell, but those who deigned to hang around were rooted in place. Jenny Lewis has the voice of an angel and the constitution of a rock star. Let's hope her success drops a hint. Maybe next year...Lucinda Williams?

Lisa Ono

lisa ono.jpg

The Japanese Queen of Bossa Nova

It was just too sunny an afternoon for indie rock, so when Lisa Ono took the Orange Court stage at 3:20pm, even a particularly dour whisky-fiend rock photographer on our staff was drawn over, sort of like Golem was to the Ring. "I really like her,"he gurgled, still giving off fumes from the Palace of Wonder from earlier that morning. After all, this was the Japanese Queen of Bossa Nova.

In a pink and white sun dress, Ono sang sitting down, mostly in Portuguese and some English, and always with her gracious smile and a voice clear like a mountain stream and light like the wind in the trees, i.e. she sounds almost exactly like Astrud Gilberto. Hell, she grew up in Brazil, what would you expect? Van Halen?

Umphrey's McGee
1) "Girl from Ipenema" was a bit of an interpretation. The notes were the same, but the tempo and spacing was her own. She played acoustic guitar on the tune, accompanied otherwise only by a very light touch on piano.

2) The four-piece backing band included drums, acoustic guitar, piano, electric bass, flute/alto sax and drums.

3) The sound was so light, you had to be towards the stage to hear well. At the back, she was barely audible. And even at the front, the helicopter tours that kept flying over would drown out the sound.


rack of beer.jpgThe Raconteurs played a shortish set that lasted just long enough to get through this rack of beers, not that it wasn't excellent, which it was, but we just wanted a little more. Equipment troubles delayed the set, and have been haunting the band recently, potentially cutting short a coming out party for tuneful songwirter, Brendan Benson. But to tell you the truth, it was hard to compete with the dramatics of Jack White, even as he shared the same microphone with Benson on tunes such as "Together" and otheralbum tracks such as "Level", " Hands", "Steady as She Goes" and others. If you want to see more, like we do, we hear the Raconteurs are doing an in-store performance at Tower Records in Shinjuku on Monday.


When The Thrill took the stage to end the weekend at the Orange Court there were probably less than 70 people in front of the stage, but an hour later there were easily eight times that number, and everyone was having the time of their lives. Like Shang Shang Typhoon two nights earlier on the Field of Heaven, The Thrill enjoyed their heyday in the early to mid-90s, and this was their first time at Fuji Rock. But don't call them retro. This fourteen-piece big band's rock sound is as timeless as the sun.

The Thrill's strength is a kind of free-form rock'n roll. Everything they do it aimed at the big effect, from their cool clothing--feather boas, silver lame, tight with shirts and stovepipe pants--to their tighter than tight arrangements. At times, the tempo became so severe that the dancers in the audience nearly collapsed from the effort. In a sense, The Thrill is all about showing off, which they can do easily with their personnel, which includes MC/tenor sax player Hiroaki Ishikawa; "the sexiest tenor player in the world" Yukarie, whose saucy solos, low-cut shift, and billowing brown hair made her the visual centerpiece of the set; pony-tailed honker Smiley on baritone; and Gaku, a hard rock guitarist with the soul of a poet. The highlight of the evening was a sax battle that ran the gamut from alto to baritone, and by the time the group left the stage everyone was exhausted. There's only so much fun you can take.

July 30, 2006

Everybody Dance Now

With the Naeba Shokudo stage located mere steps away from the world food court, it made perfect sense to have Safi & Channel Sphynx open the line-up on Sunday night.

Safi is a belly dancer. Providing the eclectic, worldly instrumentation for her dancing was Channel Sphynx, a quintet comprised of a violinist/accordian player, a digireedoo player, and three percussionists (Shinshi, Rentaro, and Koara) from a fantastic Tokyo-based act called Tabla Kwaiesa.

The 40-minute set began with the digireedoo player and violinist playing on the small stage. Shinshi and Rentaro emerged from the crowd playing darbukas (Egyptian style goblet drums) followed by Koara playing a riq (Middle Eastern instrument similiar to a tambourine). The trio walked through the trees and spectators before climbing the ramp to the Shokudo area. Once everyone was assembled on stage Safi appeared from the back. Spinning around, the stunning belly dancer had a veil tucked in the back of her costume that she lifted behind her back to form faux-wings. Lowering her veil she began to shimmy as cheers erupted from the rapidly increasing audience.

The accordian player began playing her instrument and singing while Safi fell to her knees and began moving her arms like snakes. Walking offstage, the three amazing percussionists (do yourself a favour and check out Tabla Kwaiesa, you won't be disappointed) began banging away on their drums and riq as Safi re-emerged with a sword. She began dancing with the sword and soon performed such gravity-defying feats as balancing it on her hip, chest, and head while shimmying and spinning around.

Safi walked offstage and Shinshi, Rentaro, and Koara took over for a bit. All three are remarkable musicians and put on a drumming clinic as they wowed the crowd with their brilliant percussive skills. Safi appeared again as the band headed to the back of the Shokudo area to play for the people eating who were seated behind them. Walking offstage, they soon appeared in the middle of the audience playing at the base of the forest surrounding the world food court. A small crowd of dancing bodies greeted them. Not ones to pass up an opportunity to interact with fans, Rentaro began dancing with the group while Koara began rapidly hitting his riq to speed up the beats. Meanwhile, Safi made her way to the middle of the ground area to give the large crowd an upclose view of her entrancing bellydancing skills.

The Super Furry Animals: Strokin' it


Welsh rock band Super Furry Animals were up against some stiff competition when they took to the White Stage here on the closing night of the festival. A schedule change meant that T-shirt faves and New York City hipsters The Strokes were to hit the Green Stage more than an hour early, and the two bands would be playing at the same time. Regardless, the White Stage area was packed out with fans when they started.

No stranger to costumes, front man Gruff Rhys started the show wearing a Power Rangers type helmet, haunting center stage with his guitar during the first song, until he wound up behind the keyboards, eerily repeating "Domo arigato" into an effects box so it came out low and distorted, much to the crowd's approval.

With a setlist comprising a sampling of songs from their most popular albums, SFA kept the crowd going without to much banter. Mid-way through the show, I was starting to wonder who in the crowd had come specifically for the Furries, and who hadn't known about the schedule change for The Strokes. One girl in front of me was decked out in Strokes gear, and I thought about sidling up to her to tell her they were playing already. Then the Furries launched into an energetic version of "Golden Retriever" from Phantom Power and she started jumping up and down with her hands in the air. I changed my mind.

They saved (as they usually do) the best for last. Amidst trippy atmospheric blue and purple lights, they segued into perennial fan favorite "The Man Don't Give A Fuck". By the time they got to the endlessly repeating refrain, "You know they don't give a fuck about anyone else...", the stage and the big screens to the side were showing black and white video clips of past dictators and the always hate-able George Dubbleyuh. In large letters they flashed "All governments are murderers and liars", over and over, interspersing it with the same in Japanese. The audience, still packed out and getting bigger, joined in the chant--happy at the political ideals, and well, happy just to shout the word "fuck".

Why not? Fuck. It was a fuckin' good show.


Searching for 24hrpartypeople

Nostalgia thick in the momentum of Happy Mondays, a thinning crowd shook down to the historic beat. By "24hrpartypeople," the name too of the movie about the famous Manchester club The Factory, the disphoric Joy Division and Happppppy Mondays in their rave day, the crowd was thumping up and down, one arm raised. An encore did not, despite muchos effort, from the stage, occur. Sunday night Fuji, Green Stage.

Rino^ce´rose fait tremble´ le Japon

Sa bouge a` Fuji Rock

Fuji Rock Festival est le plus gros festival de musique au Japon, plus de 35,000 personnes s'y pre´sentent a` chacune des 3 journe´es qui composent l'e´ve´nement annuel. Cette anne´e encore, les gros noms s'y ont pre´sente´ pour faire bouger nos amis Nippon. On y a vu The Strokes, Red Hot Chili Pepper, Sonic Youth, 2 Many DJs, Tiga, Scissor Sissters, The Yeah Yeah Yeah ainsi que les Sue´dois The Hives pour n'en nommer que quelques-uns parmi mes pre´fe´re´s. Cette anne´e, le festival de music de Naeba, une station de ski dans la pre´fecture de Niigata, ce´le´brait sont 10ieme anniversaires et c'est dans ce superbe paysage montagneux que le groupe francais Rino^ce´rose e´tait charge´ de repre´senter la France.

Le groupe, fonde´ par Jean-Philippe Freu et Patrice Carrie´ sonne de´finitivement tre`s francais avec plein de rythme, de saveur disco et de distorsions e´lectroniques, mais ces derniers se dissocient des autres bands qui ont fait la renomme´ de la 《 french-touch 》 tels que Daft-Punk, Air et Saint-Germain, en offrant un me´lange de musique danse e´lectronique avec un penchant beaucoup plus rock que leurs compatriotes. Sous le soleil ardant du 3ieme et dernier jour du festival, c'est avec enthousiasme et e´nergie qu'ils ont occupe´ le White Stage. La foule e´tait pluto^t compacte et nombreux e´taient les spectateurs qui se sont mis a` danser avec fre´ne´sie malgre´ la chaleur accablante. Le groupe a re´pondu en offrant un spectacle de qualite´ avec un souci certain d'offrir une performance digne de l'envergure de Fuji Rock. Nous avons eux le droit a` plusieurs changements de costumes de la part des chanteurs qui se sont relaye´s sur la sce`ne. La foule a particulie`rement appre´cie´ lorsqu'un chateur est apparue en tenue de yukata. Cependant c'est lorsque les premiers accords de leur dernier succe`s 《 Cubicle 》 qu'on a entendu re´cemment dans les pubs te´le´ d'Apple iTunes et iPod, s'est fait entendre que l'ambiance a atteint son paroxysme.

Bref, un des bon moments de cet incroyable festival du pays au soleil levant.

Highs & Lows

It's difficult to do. There's around 80 different performances of one sort or another every day here at FujiRock, and that's just what's on the flyer. In reality there are at least 20 or so more happenings that don't make the cut come printing time. Multiply that by three days, and you'll see what a punter is up against.

It's difficult to do. There's around 80 different performances of one sort or another every day here at FujiRock, and that's just what's on the flyer. In reality there are at least 20 or so more happenings that don't make the cut come printing time. Multiply that by three days, and you'll see what a punter is up against.

That's not to say they aren't worth stopping for. I've been here for four days now, and I can't tell you how many shows I've seen. But there's just no way you can possibly arrange your schedule top see every last thing you want. You're always faced with evil choices. How do you choose between Buffalo Daughter & Killing Joke? Which is the more astute choice, Snow Patrol or rinocerose? Dirty Pretty Things Vs Gnarles Barkley& It's not possible. Then you have the added conundrum: Some bands are great live, but not so good recorded, other acts vice versa. How do you make the choice? It takes an expert, and that I most definately am not.

So, what were the highs and lows? Well as far as I'm concerned, the only possible way you could have a low here at FujiRock is something you missed. As my fellow FujiRocker Shawn noted to me yesterday, "I'm going for quantity, not quality!" So what are your picks? What did you love? What are you shattered that you missed? For me, it goes a little like this:

Absolute pick of FujiRock 06 = Madness. These guys are long time idols of mine. I grew up listening to their terrific tunes after I bought a pirate copy opf one of their albums from a dodgy guy at my high school. This cassette hailed from Thailand, and the lyrics printed bore little to no resemblance to the actual thing. These guys showed Japan this weekend that they haven't lost a thing in their near 20 year hiatus.

Show I regret missing the most = Yeah Yeah Yeahs. A long time favorite, I've never managed to catch them live. Oh well, next time.

Shows I say I saw, but in actual fact I just walked through and am trying to convince myself I did actually see : The Strokes, Happy Mondays, The Hives,

Shows I really wanted to see, but never got to at all: Gnarles Barkley, Jet, Franz ferdinand, Blackalicious, Sonic Youth, denki Groove, Scissor Sisters, 2manydjs, Lucifer Fire Show, Isis, rinocerose, Broken Social Scene, Super Furry Animals, Killing Joke, Umphreys McGee, Don Coglionje, Double Famous, Kula Shaker, Johnny A (hello to Jerry) ayashige and so many more It's upsetting to think about.

Gems I found by accident: Flogging Molly, A Hundred Birds Orchestra, North Mississippi Allstars, Fire Tusk Pain Proof Circus, Fields, Buffalo Daughter, Transit Kings, Guitar Wolf, and so so many more.

So let us know, your FujiRock highlights, and the things you regret not seeing. Remember, there are no low points, because everything you saw was, no doubt, worth the trip. Please comment, let us know! We want to hear from you!

Report by Dom.

Sierra Leone Refugee All-Stars (Green Stage)


If you had been walking from the Green stage toward the White stage on Sunday just after noon, you would have been forgiven for concluding that the amount of joy contained in a set of music was inversely proportional to the prosperity of the country from which it came.

If you had been walking from the Green stage toward the White stage on Sunday just after noon, you would have been forgiven for concluding that the amount of joy contained in a set of music was inversely proportional to the prosperity of the country from which it came. On the Green stage: the Sierra Leone Refugee All Stars, a band of genuine refugees discovered in Sierra Leone and now managed out of San Francisco, and on the White stage: Isis, young white Americans with rage and angst on their minds. I suppose its no judgement on Isis, being that I'm a white American whose angst comes haunting back as soon as the distraction of the last Homer Simpson "Doh!" moment dies down in my brain and The Looming Existential Crisis recurs.

It must be something about living for the joy of one moment that makes African music so perpetually happy. While you can't fault individual white people for constantly pointing out in our entertainment that most stuff in the world is crap and the planet is a complete raging mess (true dat) and that it is the fault, as always in history, of the prevailing hegemonic power(s), there is a great point to be taken from the African perspective: we really do only have one moment at a time, and its good to find reasons to be happy.

It was a really good idea to give a group like this the Green Stage at 12:25 pm on Sunday. The sun was shining, we were having our bacon, eggs, and beer, and thats the moment when you want to be reminded its good to be alive, for most people at least (and I think that's still true.) The 8-piece band ran through a large number of international Afro-World music (the kind of African music with electric guitars and bass, not the kind with piles of animal-skin drums) styles that I don't know the name of. The word throughout the fest on Sunday was that they kicked ass, and I have to agree. The band was really tight, spot on, and those present were happy and dancing. You couldn't have asked for a better way to start the day.

This Just In: Mystery Stickers Continue to be Discovered

Yes they're everywhere: on jeans, amps, dogs, boots, babies, guitars, the back of heads,the knees of passed-out drunks, and here on the posterior of Joanna Peacock. Where do they come from?

Best Rock Star Reception

The Stroke's Julian Casablancas took to the promenade for "Hard to Explain" and got the proper Rock Star Reception. Flocks of Japanese girls swarmed around him in Beatlesque hysteria as he leaned into the crowd and banged out the first album hit. For a studiously restrained stage band, the enthusiastic response to ground floor engagement was immense. Rock Star.

Sun Paolo - Electro rock from the sun god...


I first met Taiji Sato, former member of Japanese band Theatre Brook, four or five years ago right here at the Fuji Rock Festival. He told me then that he had just started a new band called Sun Paolo. A couple of years later I acquired a copy of their sample CD which was hard to categorize musically. The best I can do is: jazz-meets-rock on the edge of minimalism. Now all i can say now is: they've come a long way.

I will admit to dragging my feet as I made my way over to Gypsie Avalon to catch their set. But if i hadn't I would have missed one of this year's best experiences - personally, that is. They rocked. And they grooved. Their sound has meshed. And now obviously belongs in the electro -rock genre.

The stage was lit minimally with only a half dozen large candles flickering here and there - and it remained this way throughout their set. Sun Paolo is a three-piece, with Sato leading on guitar, one of the other two manning drums and the other keyboards and effector.

Sato was dressed in a huge headdress which looked like a cross between an American Indian get-up and something from an Aztec religious ritual - the latter especially compounded by the fact that he had gold inserts of cloth sewn in under his arms so that when he raised them he appeared to be wearing a cape. To top this off he had also donned a pair of white goggles.

The keyboardist was wearing a strange striped balaclava with an equally strange dreadlock type extension hanging so that it fell down in front of his face (it might have actually been real hair but with the minimal lighting it was impossible for me to tell). The drummer was wearing old-style aviator's head gear and khakis. All in all: freaky styley.

And then they started playing. A tight driving rhythm section held the pace as Sato added guitar licks, replete with feedback and lots of effects. The sample for the second song sounded a bit reminiscent of "Tainted Love" by Soft Cell, but, hey, who knows. All of their songs were heavily layered with meaningful input from all three, but the basic elements were an electro base with live instrumentation over the top.

The audience loved it. I have never seen Avalon so packed, Not only that, but it became increasingly more packed the longer they played. AND everyone was dancing - right from the get go. Sato himself was impressed and thanked everyone - most sincerely - for doing so after the first song. I think he was a little bit blown away by it. But actually, Sun Paolo has hit on a great formula - the club beat at the base keeps people dancing and the live input gets them howling.

Reported by sisterchill

Kids Rock (cont'd)

Every FujiRock attracts more and more families. You'll see a few shots here but expect a big photo essay on the Fujirock Express Site once it's up and running again.

Have you seen me? - The Sticker Mystery

We at Fujirockers have started to notice a trend of simple, metallic stickers on a wide cross section of people at the fest: concertgoers, staff and musicians alike. We’re curious, because they’re not a pass and give you access to nothing, and most people say they received the sticker by someone they didn’t know. So where are they coming from? There are several colors: red, blue, silver and maybe more. People wonder if (or why) they’ve been selected. And does the color mean something? Can anyone help with this? And am I a red or a silver kinda guy?

Afro-Soundz: Orchestra Africa Share the Beat

The next logical step for Fuji Rock is to have it's own world-music stage, but for the time being the Orange Court has done nicely.

Crowd was expecting to dance, and today's constant sunny skies dried up all the mud everyone was planning to splatter. So much the better. There's plenty of room at the Orange Court when it's dry, so people spread out for more rump-shaking space.

Before Foyeh made his appearance, the band banged out ever-complicated layers of…of…ah crap, I wish I knew the names of all those drums. There were bongos, a dun-dun (talking drum, or squeeze drum) a kit and then several other combinations of gourds, skin and shells.

Foyeh then stepped on stage decked out in a red, yellow and green outfit that made him look more like a shaman or high priest than a guitar-wielding band conductor. I went expecting (hoping) for Fela Kuti style afro-pop, but what we saw was much more diverse. While echos of west-African highlife chords trickled through some numbers, others were more funk-informed.

I expected a reaction when the backup vocalists began to sing "Rain, Rain Go Away," but people kept moving. Probably better that way.

More Photos Soon!!! Promise!!

The server for Fujirock Express, where photos and more concert reports will be uploaded, is still having problems. So for the time being, look here for details, gossip, mishaps, adventure and other fun fest stuff here on the blog. Try the blog's Japanese version for pix that the J-team photographer's have uploaded

Dark Ones: Yura Yura Teikoku Bring on the Night


Placing Japanese psych-rock unit, Yura Yura Teikoku at the Field of Heaven felt like a mismatch, especially since their last appearance two years ago at the more indie-informed White Stage seemed like better fit. But the Tokyo-based trio proved the space doesn’t matter as much as the crowd and volume.

They had plenty of both. The Field of Heaven, was the most crowded I’ve seen it this year, with a throbbing throng center stage who seemed to know every bridge and chorus. Girls squealed even when they stopped for a sip of water. Bassist, Kamekawa Chio laid down chest-shuddering sound at a frequency so loud and low it could beach a whale in the sea just north of us. Kamekawa’s feathery knee-length locks quivered to the thud.

At the center, vocalist, Sakamoto Shintaro, twisted and twitched as his feet stomped effects pedals. Shards of feedback shot through the crowd, resonating in the clouds that hovered precariously close above the stage. As dusk fell, there was no small talk of banter from the band − just one soaring chord progression after another. The crowd grew even larger all the way, so maybe a return to White Stage is in the works?

Sun: For Hippies It's Even Better Than Mud

heaven web.jpg

Around 4pm in the Orange Court, someone told me, "If it were raining, I would have gone to see Broken Social Scene, but with the weather like this, it's Yoko Ono." Without a doubt, sunshine changes the festival. All afternoon, the back (and relatively shelter-less) half of the valley was packed as it seldom is, especially when it rains. Didn't have that problem today though. Goodness! What a gorgeous day!

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The Orange Court.

to hippyland web.jpg

Gateway to Hippyland - the trail up the hill from the White Stage.

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Gypsy Avalon

Have You Seen My Passport?

I lost it in the mud at the Yeah Yeah Yeahs last night, but, oh my God was that a great show!

mingyi.jpgWhat Fujirock misses from the Dead shows of my youth is the randoms in the parking lot with "Need a Miracle" signs. So at a festival where being over-prepped is the norm, it's good to see someone rocking at all costs. Enter Mingyi.

From Taipei, she is an occasional concert promoter and more full time runs a small rocker cafe in an arts. Last week she came to Japan, first staying with friends in Kyoto she met through Couchsurfer.com. It took her 15 hours to hitchhike to Naeba, including four big rig trucks and three cars. On the free shuttle bus from Echigo-Yuzawa, she met two Japanese girls with whom she's now sharing a tent.

I found her in the parking lot Friday afternoon bargaining for a ticket outside the official goods store, which she ended up buying from someone whose friend couldn't come. This left her with \4000 for the weekend and to get back to Tokyo (if anybody has space in the car...). Then she lost her passport.

"I think it fell out of my bag - I just had everything dumped in there and it fell out. It was in the mud during the Yeah Yeah Yeahs..." she shrugs. "But oh my God, that was a great show! Wow!"

So if anyone finds a Taiwanese passport for Mingyi Chin, please turn it in to the Lost and Found area, which is near the Message Board in the Oasis. Otherwise, she may have trouble making her plane. The ticket expires on Tuesday.

Dinner Music At Avalon

Comprised of two guitarists and a violinist, The Suzuki tantalized audience members at Gypsy Avalon with a solid set of folk music.

A percussionist playing a handheld drum skin joined them for their performance adding more diversity to their music. Starting just after 7 pm, many of those in attendance sat down on the grassy hill and ate their supper while watching the band perform. Content to be dinner music, the experienced players looked pleased by the large turnout and seemed appreciative of the audience's support.

Sitting down behind music stands, the soothing folk and acoustic tales perfectly suited the atmosphere of Avalon. Singing in Japanese, the two guitarists took turns leading and occasionally sang together. The band's talented violinist played a major role in the band's music, giving it a rootsier feel which many at Avalon seemed to enjoy.

Baxter Dury

060805P7309397.JPG Baxter Dury has a lot to live up to. The son of Ian Dury of Ian Dury and the blockheads, he started his musical career even later than his father, who went on to gather a strong cult following. Baxter played the Red Marquee this evening at around 5pm, and had a small but appreciative crowd. I must admit myself to only being drawn in by the melodic tones that started emanating as I enjoyed a short break in the Oasis area. I had to go and see what was happening in there, as it seemed tailor made to my mood at the time.

Baxter started off with a series of slowly moving tracks that built steadily, reminding me somewhat of the Snow Patrol set I had witnessed earlier in the day at Green stage. His tracks built in musical intensity over the course of five or more minutes for the most part. While the track built, Dury's voice raised only slightly in volume, retaining the slow pace and never bursting into a scream as seems to be the norm for british performers of the moment. A rise in urgency only, the steady rhythm remained constant from start to finish, usually with a cacophony of sound by the end.

Dury has quite the stage presence. Dressed in all black with a long overcoat sporting two dragons on the rear, he struts slowly across the stage, sometimes in a thoughtful walk, others in a forced kind of jog. During guitar solos he was oft seen to be engaged in some kind of deep thought, until taking a long swig for a can on beer. Sometimes the contemplation was related to the track he was performing, such as with the ode to violence "Cocaine man" a track that is for the most part spoken word in the first person, with a crushing chorus condemning the actions. "Fungus Hedge" preceded this, a similarly heavy track telling a story to the listener.

He became a little more upbeat in the latter half of his set, led by the lively Francesca's Party. He showed here that it isn't all too much for him to believe. The sat remained this way until the end, with the knowing audience having seen one great performance

Alternate settings for Green Stage guitarists

The Raconteurs, what if we heard Jack White in a Allman Brothers setting instead of Zepplin bombast (three Zepplin covers would have been a great addition).
Or how about John Frusciante leading a heavy blues band? I don't know if that is quite it, but the guy came off way classy on Saturday, he's always had a damn unique sound, what if you took him out of the RHCP personality and he was put in charge of his own, straight-ahead four piece?
Who would you back him with?

Alternate settings for Green Stage guitarists

The Raconteurs, what if we heard Jack White in a Almond Brothers setting instead of Zepplin bombast (three Zepplin covers would have been a great addition).
Or how about John Frusciante leading a heavy blues band? I don't know if that is quite it, but the guy came off way classy on Saturday, he's always had a damn unique sound, what if you took him out of the RHCP personality and he was put in charge of his own, straight-ahead four piece?
Who would you back him with?

Screaming Social Scene

Broken Social Scene's Brendan Canning and Kevin Drew, and maybe art porn photographer Terry Richardson -- or perhaps that was Charles Spearing -- broke into the British Music Tent to play a quick and excellent set (set list below).

Set List:

Stars and Sons

Then someone fell down (I think) and everyone screamed (there was a screaming contest).

They all danced


It was quite a chore hiking out to the Orange Court to see the Refugee All Stars of Sierra Leone. The Fishmans show at the Field of Heaven was apparently packed, and if you took the usual route to the Orange Court via the boardwalk, you found yourself snarled in a traffic jam, since they weren't letting any more people into the area and folks were sitting on the boardwalk listening to the show. By means of some rude, un-Japanese antics (leaving the boardwalk and cutting through the underbrush), I was able to make it just in time for the opening reggae song.

Reuben Koroma, the leader of the group, was a gracious host, explaining each song and its origin, constantly saying "aishite imasu" (we love you) and "odorimasho" (let's dance) to the audience, which was nice but needless since the crowd was with him and his large fatigue-dressed ensemble all the way. He explained at one point the group's origins, how they were indeed all refugees from Sierra Leone who formed a band in a camp, as a way of introducing the song "Refugee Rolling," which, like the Bob Dylan song of a similar title, is about what it's like to not be able to stay in one place, though in the Refugees' case it has nothing to do with choice.

The band spread infectious good cheer, switching from hard-core roots reggae courtesy of guitarist Geassay 'Jah Sun' Dowy Bull to the highlife-style goombay music they specialize in and on to a cappella gospel. As the Fishmans show ended, more and more people filled the field. Koroma welcomed them not as stragglers from another show, but as fellow seekers of truth through rhythm and melody. No one didn't dance.

Giant Canuck Party


Paying homage to yesterday's rain, Broken Social Scene' Brendan Canning emerged for the Toronto act's set clad in a long green rain coat. He walked to the front of the stage and raised his hands as the large crowd assembled enthusiasticaly cheered him on. He removed the jacket as Charles Spearin and Andrew Whiteman met at centre stage and bowed to one another before the band kicked into their opening number.

Starting with a slim six members (the collective boasts close to 20 musicians), the line-up soon expanded to eight as the dramatic track progressed. The first of many beautiful, dense, pop songs, the audience swayed back and forth as lead singer Kevin Drew, Whiteman, and back-up vocalist Lisa Lobsinger sang togehter.

Guitarist John Crossingham got everyone to start clapping as "7/4 (Shoreline)" from last year's fantastic self-titled album began. From that point on, BSS's set became one giant party. Band members bounced around and a few tried their hand at different instruments. The crowd roared their appreciation at every possible opportunity and eagerly danced along to the band's brilliant indie rock.

With an extremely loose atmosphere on stage the band breezed through wonderful selections from their last two albums. "Fire Eye'd Boy," which Canning dedicated to all the trees and people, and "Cause=Time" both sounded fantastic. "Ibi Dreams of Pavement (A Better Day)" had everyone grooving and singing along. The vibe on the stage and in the audience was amazing. With both sides pushing each other to go even more all out, the amount of energy radiating from the area surrounding the White Stage could have powered most small cities for years to come!

BSS has always been about having fun, and that's exactly what the band had at FRF. Whiteman drank from a bottle of wine, snapped his fingers, and took pictures of the crowd and various camera operators when not playing. Crossingham tried to do a little of everything - banging away on a second set of drums, singing back-up, strumming on Drew's guitar while Drew was using it, and playing the role of cheerleader by trying to get all the clapping bodies even more fired up. Canning, who looks an awful lot like Canadian music icon Greg Keelor (Blue Rodeo) these days, swung his bass around and mugged for the crowd.

Completely enamoured with the act, the audience treated BSS like rock royalty. Ending with "KC Accidental" the crowd screamed and swayed back and forth as a wall of sound was built from the numerous cascading crescendos being turned out. The combination of the wonderful sounds and the amazing reaction by everyone gave me chills. As the song faded out the band members ran forward to take pictures of the field of people before heading off stage.

However, the crowd wasn't ready for things to be finished just yet. Clapping in unison the audience refused to give up until the band re-emerged for an unpredecented encore. Things run on a pretty tight schedule at FRF and when your time is up you're done. If any band deserved for the rules to be broken though it was Broken Social Scene. A huge round of applause erupted as the band kicked into their final track and the audience kept calling for them to do one more after they were finished. Easily one of the best acts at FRF this weekend, these talented Canucks have probably earned themselves a free pass to come back to the fest whenever they please. Let's hope they use it many, many times.

The Dewaele brothers do it for real

Radio Soulwax presents Niteversions Live

Probably better know as 2 Many DJs, David and Stephen Dewaele are amongst the most praised DJ/producer of today’s club music scene. With their own success as Radio Soulwas or 2 Many DJs but also with popular remixes of top figures such as LCD Soundsystem, Gorillaz and Daft Punk. Fans of the Belgium born DJs coming to Fuji Rock where blessed with the 2 performances of the Dewaele brothers in one night. The first one as Soulwax whith the support of a live band formed of Stefaan Van Leuven, Steve Slingeneyer and Dave Martin and the second one as 2 Many DJs.

The Soulwax performance was a live recreation of their latest album “Niteversions”. Originally the album “Nite Versions” released in 2005, is a compilation of remixes of tracks from the album Any Minute Now issued a year before. As much as I like vinyls and electronic music mixed by great DJs, the warmhearted energy induced by the drums and live instruments were definitively a plus. The act possessed the strength of a rock concert and the fun party atmosphere of a dance club blended together. Sophisticated mixes, innovative sound and passionate execution all contributed to transform the performance. It was a cool evening at the Red Marquee thanks to the Belgium brothers.

So what Does Scissor Sisters mean?

It was all glam and camp at the White Stage on Saturday night of Fuji Rock Festival. For the occasion, the craziest band of New-York City took Naeba’s mountains by storm and invited everybody to join the bash. Humoristic, decadent, crazy and shamelessly sexy, the Sisters’ sound his a nice mélange of different influences. Rock until your aren’t you aren’t afraid to disco his their motto and the play was accessible enough for everybody to have fun.

The Scissor Sisters are a quintet formed by lead vocalist Jake Shears, bassist/keyboardist Babydaddy, vocalist Ana Matronic, guitarist Del Marquis et srummer Paddy Boom. However the creative sparkles of the band are truly the output of Jake Shears and Babydaddy that are the initial core of the band. The two members meet in some New-York city clubs where Jake was working as go-go dancer. As he talked about his past career “I’m so grateful that I went through that phase of dancing on bars for dollars!… It made me totally unashamed to go crazy. Once you’ve taken your clothes off in front of hundreds of people, things get a lot easier.”

The full original name of the band was Dead Lesbian and the Fibrillating Scissor Sisters. But for some reasons, the decided to keep only the last bits of it and became the Scissor Sisters. Funny enough, the name of the band and their logo refer to a slang term to describe a sexual position where the sisters in this context are lesbians. If you make to scissors with your hands you might figure-out the rest of it by yourself.

As we can assume, sex is inevitably a strong part of the Sisters music. Three out of the 5 members are openly gay and not ashamed of the orientation. The lyrics and performance were loaded of sexual references and sleazy humor. But as Ana Matronic pointed-out during the play, no one seams to be offended perhaps thanks to the language barrier. With influences from people like the Bee Gees, Queen, Elton John and David Bowie, the show was highly colorful and it was a great moment of celebration.

Barrence Whitfield and the Rizlaz - All the cats were rockin' down the house....

This show was one of the most unexpected treats for me at FRF06. I had no expectations and even less insight into who these guys are, but, hey, when it all comes down to it, the only thing that matter with music is the experience. And this was a hot 'n' rockin' show.

The Rizlaz, all six members dressed in black from top to toe, warmed up the audience with one song, which gave them a chance to showcase their individual skills - especially the keyboard player who was fairly stonking. Then on came Barrence - short and stocky African American and looking radiant in a bright red polo shirt. After a little audience patter they launched into their first song together - "Make My Move," a straight up rock 'n' roll song, which played full tilt like every other song that followed.

Gaz Mayall was off to stage right, jumping up occasionally to pump up the crowd by pointing at Barrence and egging them on to get into the music. Not that anyone needed much encouragement. The boys more than had it under control. Everyone in the Crystal Palace was rockin' as the band made their way through a mad song list - literally, as the list featured songs like "Mad House" and "Really Mad," But also other totally manic tunes like "Juicy Fruit" and "Cave Man."

After what was supposed to be their last song the crowd was literally howling. Barrence turned to the audience and said, "It's contagious in this room tonight. You don't want us to go now, do you?" And if the crowd had been howling before now they were screaming.

Barrence Whitfield and the Rizlaz didn't just indulge us in one encore, either. Actually they did so many I lost count. But for what ended up being the very last song - "Start Twisting My Arm" - the energy in the room was overwhelming. It was electric. Yet warm and intimate. Gaz had insinuated himself on stage and down on the floor do some kind bee-bop move on his back while the sax player stood over him puffing out deep moody notes. All the kids at front of stage were leaning over towards them and flicking their hands in time to the music. Barrence stood a little further back, still belting out the lyrics, and overseeing the proceedings. On stage left Joe Rush, dressed in a gold suit was dancing like no man but he can. Cat has got the moves. In a word, wow....

Reported by sisterchill

Snow Patrol: Light duty in the mountains of Naeba

snow.jpgWhen semi-Scottish group Snow Patrol took to the Green Stage here on Sunday afternoon, people were doing something they don't do very often at the Fuji Rock Festival--squinting into brilliant sunshine.

With the sun radiating down from behind the stage, it could be a little difficult to see the band, even with sunnies shading the eyes. Not that anybody was complaining, mind you. The crowd eagerly soaked up the sun's rays, as well as the smiles emanating from singer Gary Lightbody's face. Snow Patrol's straight ahead, not-too-soft, not-too-hard, guitar crunch sound was easy to get into, even if you could go blind looking directly at the stage.

As if the sun wasn't the best surprise of the day, we were treated to another one: Lightbody's delightful stab at Japanese. While most bands playing are content with an "Arigato", "Konnichi-wa Nippon!" or "Ohaiyo gozaimasu" (often with amusing results depending on the time of its utterance), Lightbody offered us "Boku-tachi wa Sunno Patororu desu" during a brief stop after their opening number--and earning him a 2006 Best Stab At Japanese Award from this reporter. This ramped up the already eager crowd a bit more before the band plunged headlong into another song from their newest album, Eyes Open.

After dedicating "Chasing Cars" to Yoshi, a young woman at the foot of the stage, the band moved on to some older material from Final Straw to much appreciation. Lightbody constantly smiled--a genuine and hearfelt beam coming from his face that was infectious and uplifting after so many grey gigs the day before. Everytime you looked at the big screens to the side of the stage, there was the singer/guitarist's face in a close-up. If he wasn't lost in singing, as if in a dream, or jumping around with his Telecaster; he was smiling that big smile.

It was hard to tell if people were stoned, or just hypnotized by all this great sunshine and music, but whatever it was--it sure felt good.


Emma and Co - true believers from down under...

My niece Emma flew up from Australia last year for her first taste of the Fuji Rock experience. Now she's hooked. She flew back again this year for more. And both times she has managed to convince three of her friends to join her in the adventure - last year her flat mates and this year three girlfriends from high-school.

But why fly thousands of miles for a festival when Australia offers a range of events to choose from? Because, only at the Fuji Festival will you find no garbage and no pushing. And the vibe is right.

We don't get to see each other much during the course of three days, mostly because Emma is very much into her music and our choices don't often coincide. But hey, that's the whole point of a festival - something for everyone.

But the Palace of Wonder had solved that problem. Not only is it one of the only late night spots at the Fest, it is also the most rockin' one. While clubs sounds abound at the Red Marquee, the Palace is where you'll want to be if a simple tune turns you on. I found Emma and all her friends rockin to Noburo Yamana's set of classic rock 'n' reggae. Finally our tastes coincided...

Reported by sisterchill

Nika in Avalon

Nikaido Kazumi, professionally known as Nikasoup sometimes of Nika Soup & Saya Source, provided Gypsy Avalon's typically sunny Sunday vibe.

A quirky folk singer, her voice is clean and clear -- so much so she must take pleasure in it herself. She played a full sounding steel string guitar thrum, singing horn-like romps over the top. She says "Arigato" with that Japanese girlish voice and it's easily apparent she's having as much fun as the chilled out audience. Barefoot, she swoons away the end of her songs, laughing at what she's just done. Perfect set for an easy crowd.

Double Famous - a trip to the tropics


The only thing missing from this show was sunshine. Not that it was raining, it's just that it night had already fallen. And the Afro-Cuban music that this band plays emotes breezy beaches and palm trees. Oh well. At least the stage at Gypsie Avalon is hugged by trees.

Double Famous number 11 members - sax, trumpet and trombone, accordian, guitar, electric double bass, drums, congas and bongos (acoustic and electric). Even just the line up of instruments should give you a good idea of the range of songs they play. But, more specifically, they cover all the sub-genres that form the roots of African and Latin music - from cumbia to calypso and on up through the pecking order of ages to encompass samba and rumba and a little cha-cha-cha.

Only the conga player is female - and she wore a slinky emerald green dress with one strap and a fake tat on the other arm. She and the bongo player also wore shades, evoking the presence of sunshine. And the rest of the lads wore variations on the theme of Panama hats and leisure shirts and pencil-thin mustaches and side burns (though I suspect the use of magic marker on some of the more flamboyant Dali-esque ones).

The audience area was not crowded, but was rather a gathering of several dozen hardcore fans. Even while the accordian player was still in the process of doing his sound check, two girls at the front were dancing - doing slow twirls and pirouettes as the lethargic strains and sometimes eerie strains of music that filled the air. And these girls in particular went full tilt once the band started their set for real. They were stomping and jumping in muddy area in front of stage - so much so that bass player asked them gently to please be careful. And they were. But everyone was at least jogging on the spot when hit their up-tempo numbers.

Mud puddles aside, it was almost like a trip to the tropics...

Reported by sisterchill

Rock Question

Here's another one. Lot's of rock going on around here, right? Has anyone ever seen anyone at Fuji Rock smash their guitar on stage? It must be done, who done it? Drop a line.

Festival Question

Walked by it many times doing the length of the concert grounds, does anbody know the name of the river that runs through Fuji Rock? Drop a line here.

Mr. Charisma

On first listen, Orson seems like the penultimate British rock'n soul band: witty, droll, very loud, and dedicated more to the song than to the singer. And while they're currently ripping up the British charts, it turns out that the entire band is from Los Angeles. After toiling unsuccessfully for a bit they went to Manchester to play a gig and earned the ovation of their lives. Considering the reaction they got at the Red Marquee on Sunday afternoon, it seems they have a second market to plunder.

Sartorially spiffy though a bit impractical given the heat in the venue, the band delivered a strong set of soulful pop-rock built around Jason Pebworth's slick maturity. Referring to the folks out there as "boys and girls" he kept the repartee sharp and short and worked a kind of telepathic connection to drummer Chris Cano, who anticipated his every move and cry with crisp fills and intros. He had no trouble getting the audience to sing along with faves like "The OK Song," "No Tomorrow, and "Happiness." But the biggest reaction was to the power ballad "Look Around," which had the girls swaying suggestively and their boyfriends sweating a little extra. That's what you call working the crowd.

Automatic for the people

automatic.jpgThis may be Franz Ferdinand's festival; not because they headlined on Friday night, but because all the young English groups who were either directly influenced by them or sound enough like them to attract industry attention are now coming into their own. There's a whole slew of UK bands on the roster who play melodic guitar rock married to literate lyrics and a clever attitude. Most of these bands seem to playing the Red Marquee. The Automatic is the youngest, which means they probably weren't paying exclusive attention to Franz. Given that they did a cover of Kanye West's "Goldigger" during their afternoon set, their attention was probably the same as all the other teens in the suburbs of Wales--or in any suburb in the world.

Rob, the lead singer and bass player, certainly doesn't act like someone who has yet to see the far side of 20. Cocky and confident yet gracious, he directed the four-piece through a 45-minute set with nary a pause or a stumble. Apropos their name, The Automatic is one tight unit, even if keyboardist and utility vocalist Pennie tended to get carried away, throwing himself on the floor, banging a tambourine hard enough to break the skin, and producing the kind of screech you usually hear coming out of death metal singers.

The music has that kind of sweet kick that UK punk bands are so good at, and if the group resembled anyone it was the Jam. It's also the kind of sound that Japanese kids dig the most, and Rob seemed genuinely surprised--and extremely pleased--to notice that a lot of people knew their songs and even the lyrics, despite the fact that their debut album was released in Japan less than a month ago. "Well done," he said approvingly after the band played their first UK single, "Recover." He then directed the rest of us to the concession stand "behind the Green Stage" where we could buy it for ourselves. These guys are gonna go far.

Rhythmic Roots: Kodo Bang a Drum

The majority of music at FujiRock may be derived from outside sources, but the guys who run the fest were proud to put on a little Japanese roots music to open the Green Stage Sunday morning. As one of Japan’s premier Taiko (Japanese Drum) collectives, Kodo are as well-oiled a machine as they come, able to organize eight pairs of hands into an almost eerie precision.

As the fantastic Earth Celebration Festival proves, the group is growing steadily closer to mastering the staging element of performance as well. No content is simply to blow our minds with polyrhythmic bombast, Kodo has added elements of theater, including audience interaction and elaborate costume changes. Today while performing a Shishi Odori (Lion Dance) from Iwate prefecture, their clothes resembled the referee in Sumo, but much more elaborate and with two long planks jutting off their back, shooting straight up nearly 5 or 6 meters. Made of paper and bamboo, these planks would have been hitting lights if they were at any other stage than where the headliners play.

As one troupe formulated a beat, the dancers lunged forward in something like a sped-up bow, slamming the planks on the stage floor. The sound was like a whip crack, each slap kicking up larger clouds of dust. The Green Stage’s Sunday opener is a special spot for a band to play. It’s frequently the first band people will see, since you have to pass Green to get to the other stages, so the organizers couldn’t have chosen better. It gives them a chance to show off some of the best local talent and display a little national pride at the same time. So by the time soloist Tsubasa Hori approached the drums for the final number, the area was almost entirely filled.

[UPDATE] I bumped into Kodo's manager at Orange Court. More later…..

Junior Senior Boogy

junior-senior2.jpg Junior Senior proved to be a huge crowd puller on Saturday afternoon, as the crowd was about 50 deep outside of the Red Marquee! Yup, people were even rockin in the food court, dancing around to the hyphy sounds and simple electronic beats of this Danish duo. In case you were wondering, the group saved their kitschy, flourescent accessories for their videos, appearing here in both a smart, op-art sweater, and alternatively

in a rocker red shirt. The band's highly addictive hit "D.D.Don't Stop the Beat" was played earlier in the set, clearing the way for a number of tuneful, beach boys era melodies. By the way, Senior is the older, flambouyant member of the band who frequently plays the tambourine, and ....Junior holds it tight with steady guitar work. Whatever the combination, the band did well, later ending the set with the number "Say hello, we say goodbye."

FYI - Are you being served? Cause we ain't

If you're just tuning in, a little 411 on our server situation: the FUJIROCK EXPRESS SITE is having server problems, so the English team are posting here for the time being. Please keep checking EXPRESS SITE because once it's up again there will plenty of pictures and content. thanks



Milburn differ from your typical Britpop bands a little. I was trying to put my finger on it as they played, and it took me a while

Milburn differ from your typical Britpop bands a little. I was trying to put my finger on it as they played, and it took me a while. All of their tracks are driven by nice funky basslines. Maybe it has something to do with the guys themselves: on stage today in their polo shirts and slaks, they looked nice enough to take home to meet your mum for a cuppa, and showed that they were funky enough to cut it with the big guys recently. Taking to the stage in the Red Marquee at 11:30 on Sunday morning, they drew a good sized crowd of early FujiRockers.

Joe Carnall on bass and lead vocals drives the group, He was interacting with the crowd throughout, getting a good response. Guitarists Louis Carnall (rythm) and Tom Rowley (lead) flanked him, and the three stood evenly spaced like a lineup in front of drummer Joe Green. It didn't take long to get into their more popular tracks, with "December" and "Cheshire Cat Smile" appearing early in the set. Each track starts with a good groove Jaid down by Joe and builds on this from there. There are short guitar solos from Louis in most every song, who remained fairly steadily planted for most of the set. Bass solos appear too, Joe not to be outdone by his sibling. Loud, rocking choruses with guitars punctuating the lyrics are the order of the day here, good thrashing tunes by the end.

Carnall egged the audience on a little, with them responding well. He was strutting around the stage at times, while the other two guitarists stayed firmly on the one spot. It appears as if their energy was spent on the frenetic songs they were playing, and none left over for showmanship. No matter, their playing was more than enough. They rounded out their performance with "The book that you're reading's upside down" (that's "oopside" in my finest Yorkie accent) which had those gathered grooving with the band. These guys showed us today that you need not have an album to draw a good appreciative group to see you perform at FujiRock.

Milburn's debut album will be released on Sept 25.

Report by Dom.

Why Tour Anywhere Else?

Envy.jpgMany foreign bands I've spoken to during my time in Japan have been blown away by the kindness and dedication of Japanese music fans.

This weekend's FRF easily illustrates their point. The audiences in every area are going absolutely bananas for every band that plays. Regardless of whether they are familiar with the band's music, EVERYONE gets up and dances and cheers on the group's every move. Chanting, clapping, and waving their hands in the air are done with out any requests from the performing artists. Any crowd participation that is asked for is quickly obliged. There's no attitude in the crowds and no one deems themselves to cool to participate. Out for the specific reason of enjoying the beautiful surroundings and having a fantastic time, attendees are doing whatever they can to ensure that they and the bands have loads of fun.

I've personally been taken aback by the energy in the crowd during Flogging Molly's pre-fest gig at Red Marquee and by Envy's show on the White Stage this morning. The amount of positive energy and vibes while Flogging Molly played is impossible to describe using words. It is something you had to experience to truly grasp. Envy was cool as well with fans old and new screaming along and pumping their fists to the band's mix of post-punk and screamo. One dedicated group of envy lovers carried four large pieces of bristol board in a garbage bag throughout the festival site. Each paper had a letter of the band's name on it, spelling out e-n-v-y when held together. They waved their signs at every given chance, dancing along and jumping up and down whenever they could see themselves in the crowd shots that occasionally flashed across the video screen beside the stage.

Not that I have a lick of musical talent, but if I was a band I think I'd tour Japan exclusively. No other place in the world has music lovers like Nippon!


Gonna Move Me A Mountain


Anyone at White Stage still a little groggy from last night had whatever cobwebs were left in their head blasted away by Isis.

Taking to the stage promptly at 12:50 pm, the Boston quintet tore through a 40-minute set of heavy sonic opuses with enough force to shift many of the large mountains surrounding the gorgeous grounds of the Naeba Ski Resort. Had guitarist and vocalist Aaron Turner screamed any louder, we may seen a few crumble to the ground.

Concentrating on material from 2004's epic Panopticon, Isis took their time building up their densely woven art metal. Equal parts shoegaze and hardcore, each of the half-dozen tracks presented started off slowly. Mixing spacey interludes with bit of noise, Turner would step to the mic and unleash a round of vicious, blood-curling growls as each song reached its peak. On cue, his bandmates would join in with a blistering round of hard, aggressive music. With the veins in his neck looking like they were ready to explode at any moment, he barked out his lyrics as the large crowd nodded in approval.

Initially I was a little worried about the band playing so early in the day in such a bright, spacious area. Isis took my fears, stamped the shit out of them, and then beat me over the head with the battered remains as they launched into the fantastic "Backlit." Playing with remarkable intensity, the guys had little trouble reaching the sun-basking bodies sprawled throughout the entire field with their earth-shattering noise. Rocking out on stage, their massive walls of swirling noise brought smiles to the faces of all of the awestruck spectators in attendance.

After Hours: Go relaxes after a set

rizlas.JPG Guitarist/Vocalist, GO from the Rizlas. Backing up a R&B wailer like Barrence Whitfield is no easy task, but the Rizlas sounded like they'd played with Whitfield for years. Old-school Rock & R&B go over incredibly well here in Japan, and this gig could have very well been my highlight: 700 people, Japanese and foreigners alike, dancing their asses off to Little Richard-era rock. Gotta look for the Rizlas back in Tokyo..

The String Cheese Incident 2: The delicate sound of wonder


Blue lights shone from the stage, but the mood was anything but as Bill Nershi and friends did their Jerry best to raise soggy spirits at the Field of Heaven Saturday night.

The soft, spongy, sticky ground became that much softer as the crowd danced and swayed amid the atmospheric light installations, and the smell of incense and other "smoke". Anywhere you went in the area there was somebody dancing happily away--at the Tokyo Ale tent, near the merchandise stand, next to the candle garden, even by the toilets. Not to mention those near the stage.

Every solo by individual members of the sextet was greeted with raucous applause. Some of the best rounds of appreciative hoots and whistles were reserved for Michael Kang. His electric mandolin and violin (or is it a fiddle--I could get in trouble from purists on this one) solos are a signature part of the SCI sound, and certainly didn't disappoint.

All hands were ecstatically raised in the air as the band played their staple--"Mrs. Brown's Tea House". Everybody was jumping up and down in sweet Mother muck, singing out loud, in an extended-extended jam that seemed to last 30 minutes, though in reality was probably closer to 26.

Throughout the course of the show the clouds surrounded us, but never threatened; and the already mud-caked crowd, caught up in the rhapsody, really couldn't have cared less.

It's all about the music, man.


Red with Envy

envytee.jpg The sun finally came out on Sunday, rousting campers out of their tents early in the morning, and apparently sending all rockers to stages for early morning shows by Guitar Wolf (Red Stage) and Envy (White Stage). It was too hot to be carrying a backpack judging by these sweat stains, but it was all worth it for fan's of Japan's premier emo band. Keep reading for a longer review of the show.

Envy has been playing club gigs around Japan for the past 11 years, making a name for itself amongst an audience of faithful fans who adore the crooning, screaming vocals of Tetsu Fukagawa; and a tight cast of musicians including Nakagawa on bass, Tobich and Nobu on guitar.

Recently, they've even won over Mogwai, who is helping distribute their latest release. The music ranges from tuneful, melodic harmonies, to pure screaming rage. Towards the end of their hour-long set, a fan from the back of the White Stage was throwing tomahawk chops as he ran to the front of the stage, and when his friend followed, all hell broke lose. At the end of the set, one barechested foreigner said it was "cathartic", making him feel good, especially when one of his fellow mosher's gave him a hug.

Mass Transit

Transit Kings played a sprawling, organic set on the White Stage to a predarkness dancing crew.

All day the White Stage was host to folks getting it down -- Rhinoserose had a full crowd raving and during Broken Social Scene at one point the audience collapsed towards the front gate in a spontaneous upheaval.

Transit Kings started as the cofounders of The Orb, Jimmy Cauty and Alex Paterson with Guy Pratt and Dom Beken. Cauty and Paterson played Fuji back in 1999 and 2003 as The Orb. Paterson came this time with a gang of guitarists to fill out the sound on the decks. It was alternately ambient, chirpy, big, bouncy, boxy, beaty and momentus. Now it's up to Super Furry Animals to keep the peeps popping.

Fire and Nice

joannaANDeddie.JPG Joanna Peacock and professional pyromaniac, Eddie Egals at Palace late-night. Standing in the path of flamethrowers two or three times a night sure makes a man thirsty. Mr. Egals ("That's Ee-GALS, not Eagles") was in high spirits, even offering to let me into the fireshower act, assuring me of it's safety: "Look here [lifts his pants leg to show me his bushy calves] See? It won't burn off your hair if you do it right"

Dangergirl: Joanna Peacock Hits Her Stride

peacock.JPG Anyone concerned for their safety after an earlier report of aliens wandering the Oasis area can rest easy - maybe. The giant silver vixen on stilts was actually Joanna Peacock, a performaance artist and sculptor who does the fest circuit full-time. You can check her site to see what she does, but all I saw her doing was causing trouble - a perfectly appropriate thing to do at Palace of Wonder in the wee hours.

Peacock works with glass, cement, steel and whatever else tickles her fancy, but she says that working in costume holds special significance: "I get to have alter-egos," she explains. And how many? "Thirteen." One of those egos looks like a giant metalic butterfly, and another was striding through the Oasis area in a silver body suit, stilts and blue LED antennae, picking up unsuspecting passers-by and hugging them, their feet danging a meter in the air.

KO, Performance Art Super Hero, Yeah

Karen O appears from the side dressed like an aquatic cousin of the alien from "Predator." She golems across the stage wailing "We're just another part of you" from "Fancy." Maybe you should take another look at yourself cause she's skreeling like a banshee and you might be soon too.

She pulls off the alien jumper -- Karen O goes for onstage costume transformations -- embraces guitarist Nick Zinner and sings "Turn yourself around, you weren't invited" from there new album "Show Your Bones." It's backed by a simple, abusive beat but the crowd is bouncying up in down in the spell of KO.
See, Yeah Yeah Yeahs are one of those bands that are best seen to be understand. Recorded they hits some high points before you get lost in the noise. But Karen O says she thinks she's bigger than the noise, and on stage it's true. A full White Stage is discoing down like they were seeing Basement Jaxx crank their booties. It's KO's performance, one that takes her down to her skin tight outfit, and it's obvious at this point, she's Performance Art Super Hero, here to save your night.
Part of the act is the way she expands YYYs stripped down noise rock with vocal flourishes. She's a beatbox, a mixer an anguished call of strange joy. She mocks it all on "Art Star," "I've been working on a piece that speaks about sex and desperation" before screams screams screams.
When art rock gets corwds shaking, someone got the formula right. Partially primitive, partially performance, fully brutal, Karen O is clearly able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, be they in New York, Paris or Tokyo, and land on the stage for your entertainment.
Just to let you know she's done, at the end of the last song she smashes the mike, stomps it, grinds it to pieces and throws it to the crowd. Her job here is done, message delivered. Yeah.

Mumm-Ra, RA-ther good.


Named for a cartoon character, Mumm-Ra are on their first overseas jaunt as a band. They have been creeping onto the scene and the airwaves for a short while, however this group of 20-odd-year-olds have been playing together for five years now.

James New (Noo to his friends, and that probably means you) is the band's energy, and he has a sense of humor about this it appears: the shirt he donned today read simply "JUMP". He bounds around on stage, sometimes picking up an acoustic guitar, on other tracks doing keyboard duties, hovering between the keyboard and a mic three paces away. This is when he is at his best; head thrashing as he playsand looking near deranged. These guys take pleasure in taking the banal and making it into interesting music. Songs about a "very very vicious game of monopoly" are the order of the day. Others about a daydream, it appears that to these guys, the glass is definately half full. Their songs often start out slowly, building into great things, sometimes big & noisy, other times simply picking up the pace as they move along. 'Now or Never' was an early number that got the crowd moving along, "There She Is" saw some nice electric grooves. The rest of the band rarely graduates beyond head swaying, with the occasional layback from Tate on Guitar. They seem quite ensconsed in what they are doing. "She's Got You High" came next, another song with a huge finish.

Guitarist Oli sang on a track which started out as a passinate piano led number, slowly building into a huge crescendo of synth madness from Noo. Drommer Gareth has his work cut out for him. Noo followed this with an acoustic guitar solo, playing "Light Up This Room" for the first time in a public show. This was a nice piece, and remained on a steady level throughout. Two tracks rounded out the performance, "Song B", a crazy number from start to finish which had the crowd loving it, and finishing with "Out Of The Question", an upbeat radio friendly track that was a fitting end to a good show. Noo moved froward and offstage, right up to the crowd to thank them personally, getting a great reaction from the guys in the front rows.

Watch out for these guys. As long as there are horrendously boring thins to turn into great music, they'll be doing it!

Report by Dom

Who are we buying?

t-shirt seller.jpg Bands make alot of money from t-shirt sales, and we all know the formula that if you rock out, your t-shirts fly off the shelves. So who has done the most rocking this year at Fuji Rock? According to Rui Ishigami who has been manning the official souvenir shop on the festival grounds, bands who are completely sold out, t-shirt wise, include Sonic Youth, Mystery Jets, Buffalo Daughter, Ken Yokomama, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The Hives, and two out of three Flogging Molly Shirts. We're not saying this is the only way to juge a band's popularity, as some major bands have made major shipments of tour t-shirts. If you wanna see who's the all time top seller, keep reading.

strokes.jpg Yup, it's The Strokes. A band who plays tonight on the Green Stage, and for about US$35, you can own this precious black tee, ranging in size from kid's large all the way to L. Honorable mention when to Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Franz Ferdinand

Barance Whitfield the Savage

"Its hotter than a pistol in here" screamed Barance Whitfield halfway through his hourlong set at the Crystal Palace. He was speaking the truth as he wrung the sweat from his bald pate, flinging it into an packed dance floor where fans danced to tunes such as "Juicy Fruit", "Wild Shake", and "Stop twisting my arm". The former he played twice as he ran out of songs for his second encore. Not that anyone cared as Whitfield got the crowd rolling with a unique form of blues and rock and roll, as well as not so witty comments between songs such as exhorting the crowd to shout "hog shit" in one refrain, and telling a story about "take out those false teeth mama and let me suck on your gums." It was classic Whitfield, and his backing band, the Rizlas did him proud, rocking out New Orleans type numbers such as "Shame, Shame, Shame". However, it was an American Indian number that really got the crowd going, "Geronimo Rock" complete with Whitfield swining his arm in the air and doing hatchet chops.

Like Clockwork

One of the most remarkable things about the performances at Fuji Rock, in my opinion at least, is how everything has started on time.  If something is scheduled to start at twenty past the hour it actually starts at twenty past.

Most festivals stick to the set times at the beginning of the day, but of the dozens of festivals I've been to throughout North America none have been able to keep this up for the duration of the event.  Things begin to start a few minutes late and then continue to run more and more behind schedule as the day progresses.  It's not that bad if there is only one stage at the festival.  However, when there are multiple stages it makes it really tough for concert goers to try and catch everything they want to see.

Generally speaking, the Japanese tend to be fairly strict when it comes to time.  Lateness, in professional situations at least, in often frowned upon. As a result, Fuji Rock has been running like clock work. Everything has been so bang on that you could probably set your watch based upon when bands arrived on stage and have it be 100% precise. Actually, my watch is running a little fast. Think I'll head back out the White Stage and get it properly set right now.

Hyper vs. Junkie XL

Round notes from the Red Marquee on Saturday night

Not that there was a DJ battle between Hyper and Junkie XL Saturday night in the Red Marquee, but if there had been, Hyper would have been on the wrong end of a Double Suplex + Flying Burrito, and then he got a chair to the head and thrown out of the ring, landed through a couple of folding tables, and got dragged back into the ring by Junkie XL who slammed his head against the turnbuckle a couple dozen times, and then in the end he failed to flop out of the pin move.

Which is not to say that Hyper was all that terrible, but there is a difference between mediocre formula and great formula, and with Hyper - here I'll mention it was a pity he didn't bring the full crew he's been touring with lately, namely Prodigy's Leeroy Thornhill and collaborators Ronnie and Jim Davies, which would have brought a real live edge - his often guitar-driven breakbeats were fun and rockin' but a little bit too much by the book: bring it down, let it chill, drum fill to cue anticipation, pump the beat hard, et cetera ad nauseum. His cheerleading was also stiff next to Junkie XL's, but then again, Junkie XL would stand on the table top with arms outstretched, lip synch all the words, and jump off with leg kicks when it started pumping. Obviously, not a lot of hands on - c'mon, it's beat matching - but it didn't matter too much. His set was a weave of joyous pop anthems, ranging from his self-produced stuff to Fischerspooner (he closed at 3:30am with "Emerge"), and if everyone was loving it, give him credit for both a throwdown set and dancing as much as anyone else in the room.

He's a peaceful monster

rakuzo.jpgThe sun was shining brightly on the Field of Heaven at 11:30 am when Razoku took the stage in front of a respectable crowd. Heaven tends to have a permanent contingent that's content in the belief that anyone booked there will be to their taste. A look at the list of bands who have officially allowed tapers to record their show (there's a Tapers Area right nest to the sound booth) confirms which bands adhere most closely to the jam band protocol: String Cheese, Umphrey's McGee, Benevento/Russo, Magnolia, and Razoku.

Razoku, three guys from the Shonan Beach-Fujisawa area, do think of themselves as a jam band, and their motto is "peaceful rock." We presume "peaceful" in this case refers to the group's political bent, not their volume level, because from the very first note of their opening song, "Jan-Ken-Pon," it was obvious Rakuzo is a very loud band. For forty minutes the trio never paused once, running songs into one another mainly through lead singer/guitarist Ryuta Koshino's imaginative fills. Rakuzo is a jam band in the way bands were before there was a term "jam band." Think of the Jimi Hendrix Experiece. Ryuta is no way near as skilled, but the idea that you have a song in which you insert a solo isn't his. It' all organic. Rakuzo shifted from standard west coast rock of the Neil Young persuasion to full-on funk, and then back again. The crowd, needless to say, dug it completely. His singing has that shrill artlessness that a lot of skinny Japanese guys adopt to project feeling, and the effect, at least to my ears, was amusing. "He's a monster," he kept screaming during one extended funk workout. I'm sure that's not what he was saying, but it made perfect sense at the time.



Rock 'n Roll Nightmares!

10:20am on FujiRock Sunday is a rude time to ask anyone to do anything. There's too much on on Saturday night. So it was a weary duty of mine to get down to Guitarwolf at this hour. Guitarwolf seem to always draw the short straw here, and it appears that they are usually the first band on. No need to worry here though, they were able to fill the red marquee to capacity without any troubles, and I was more than happy to catch their show for the first time. Guitarwolf consist of Seiji (Guitarwolf) drmmer Toru (Drumwolf) and new bassist Ug (U-G) who replaces original bassist Billy (Basswolf) who passed away in March 2005 of Rock 'n Roll lifestyle. They came onstage to a backing track with some nice guitar and barritone sax. No measure of what was to come though, their music ain't nice!

With a huge back catalog to choose from, Guitar wolf had no problems filling a 30 minute set. Jet Generation was one of the crowd pleasers, and the crowd were really loving what they were doing. Rock 'n Roll Nightmares came soon after that. Guitarwolf put on a great show, Seiji strutting across the stage like he owns it, and he does! Lots of screaming, lots of guitar. RIGHT NOW!!! Seiji pulls a guy out of the crowd and passes him his guitar. A dare: "Come on! Rock 'n Roll! Sing Rock' n Roll! C'mon! Jump!!" Junichiro from the crowd did his best to rise to the occasion, he could rock and he could jump (not necessarily simultaneously), but he wasn't going to sing. Crazy strumming and noise, he was star for five minutes, and memories for a lifetime. Next, Seiji climed the speaker stack in a finale that had him playing up there for a short stint, before leaping the 8 feet down to the stage screaming "Rock'nRoll!" He went out in an arm flailing blaze of guitar glory, putting the Rock into FujiROCK!

Hangover? Not cured. destroyed!

Report by Dom

Denki Groove


In the last few years, FRF has consistently slotted big time electronica acts as big stage Saturday night headliners, and following the Fatboy Slim and the Chemical Brothers in the last two years, Japan's own Denki Groove showed why this year they aren't playing second turntable to anyone.

The set started for me when the J-staff in the Fujirockers.org computer tent rushed out en masse in the middle of the duo's first song. Never underestimate the home court factor. The Green Stage was packed back to the treeline all evening Saturday, they had the beats to carry it, and the crowd was loving it.

The Denki team of DJ Takkyu Ishino and graphics 'n sounds whiz Pierre Maki were, like Fatboy Slim and Chemical Brothers, perched atop a huge center-stage control console, and the minor interest of a couple guys twisting knobs and hitting sliders aside, the visuals were all on the big screens. Their console was sitting on top of one screen the same size as the two flanking the stage, which gives you some idea of how high their DJ booth was. The tunes were their hallmark techno-pop, which, as they proudly admit, tries to be both as techno and as pop as conceivably possible.

For you 'maniacs', here's the set list:

富士山 (Fuji-san)

But what was really great to see was Takkyu Ishino shifting gears from the 15,000-20,000 at the Green Stage to an unannounced gig in front of a couple hundred at Purple Haze only a couple hours later around midnight - the Denki Groove set finished up around 9pm. Got to give props to the man for keepin it real.

Parking violations

As everybody knows, the main message of FRF06 is the Global Cool Campaign, whose aim is to reduce the amount of carbon produced in the world. The festival itself has always been conscientious about its impact not only on the Naeba ski grounds, but on the planet as a whole. But obviously the message hasn't reached everyone. Many people drive to the festival and park their cars in the designated parking lots for the weekend. This morning, I walked through the parking lot and passed at least three automobiles with their engines idling. Their owners were not in the drivers' seats, and given that the back windows were blacked out (one was a station wagon, the other two were vans), I assumed that someone was asleep inside and they had the engine on in order to run the air conditioning. Maybe the festival should appoint a special patrol.

The Red Hot Chili Peppers: Me and my, me and my friends

As I headed to the Green Stage area from the Field of Heaven it was obvious who most everybody had come to see at Fuji Rock. From the official merch store to the very edges of the Green field, there was nothing but people and more people, all waiting for the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

To the delight of the assembled, Chad Smith and Flea took to the stage, followed closely by John Frusciante in floppy hair and floppy velvet blazer. After a loose little jam, the crowd roared as Anthony Kiedis bounced out and into "Can't Stop"--and neither they or the crowd did for nearly two hours.

With a set comprised largely of slower material from their latest releases, each song amped the crowd a little more. By the time they got to "Scar Tissue" fairly early in the show, all hands went skyward, and so did the voices. People were dancing in the slick mud and the night sky cleared to reveal some stars. With the break in the clouds came a first break in the set list, at which point Kiedis confided to the crowd that he and the band had come to Japan three days ago and that, "unfortunately, I got Hello Kitty pregnant. But it's gonna be a cute baby. I guarantee."

The crowd seemed to keep swelling, and looking out across the tops of heads all one could see was an ocean of people in a small green Fuji Rock bay. Camera flashes popped like beacons, syncopated with the cheers coming from all around.

Every once in a while, Flea would take to the mic for some spontaneous gibberish and mumbled non-sequitirs, even a short rendition of "If You're Happy and You Know It" that had the crowd clapping their hands to show that they were indeed.

The band picked things up with "Throw Away Your Television" and "Me and My Friends" before they settled a little. Kiedis asked John if he would like to sing, so Frusciante and his well-used Fender Strat took center stage and played one of the highlights of the show--a scaled down and enjoyable solo version of the Bee Gee's "How Deep Is Your Love". Frusciante was truly enjoyable to watch throughout the show. Note perfect, and spinning, jumping, and twirling enigmatically; thouroughly caught up in the moment and never missing a beat. All going to prove that cleanliness is next to rock godliness.

The few breaks for gear changes and adjustments provided ample opportunity for the hardcore fans in the audience to start The Great Album Debate. "Play "Suck My Kiss"!"

"No, "Californication"!"

It seemed as if we were about to be divided into before and after Blood Sugar Sex Magik camps, but the Chilis then launched into "Californication" and all was forgotten. When they moved into "By the Way" it seemed like the whole world was singing along--at least the whole of the little world that surrounded me down near the stage. People soaked up the exuberance of the band and tried to give it back to them. They were happy and excited. At one point near the end (or maybe it was closer to the middle, it did seem to go by that fast), a young woman behind me exclaimed enthusiastically, and for all to hear, "I'm getting WET!"

It hadn't rained a drop.


Zukunashi - A Little Soul Never Hurt Anyone


Having the good fortune of opening the Rookie-a-Go-Go Stage on Saturday night meant that Zukunashi got to play to those looking to duck out of the massive post-RHCP flood of people leaving the festival site.

With a good-sized crowd gathered in front of the colourful, uniquely designed stage, the female quartet wasted little time winning over new fans.

Playing a hybrid of funk, soul, and jazz, the girls put on a great half-hour set that differed from most of the festival fare I've personally come across this weekend. Guitarist and vocalist Emi has a fantastic voice and really belt out her lyrics, using her remarkable vocal range to fill all corners of the outdoor area at Palace Of Wonder. An animated frontwoman, she shook her finger at the crowd, clapped her hands, and danced around with a giant smile while singing her soulful lyrics. Her bandmates were no slouches either. Bassist Mariko and keyboardist Rie provided great back-up vocals and each grooved along to the music. Akane was hidden behind her drums, but still did a good job of providing a slew of funky beats.

Showcasing half a dozen uplifting tracks, Zukunashi had most of the spectators swaying along to the music and full out dancing by the end of their gig. People raised their hands and cheered as Emi hit really high notes or took her loud, crystal clear voice down really low. Looks like a little soul really does go a long way.

Island boogie

ryukyu.jpgFew music units describe their sound so exactly in their name as Ryukyu Disko. But while the requisite sanshin sound of Okinawan music is central to the textures of the group's dance music, it isn't quite as doctrinnaire as you might think. Made up of two brothers who go by the monikers RKD1 and RKD2, RKD is more than just Juliana's for the island set. There's a tongue-in-cheek appropriation of Okinawan sounds and images, and the result is dance music that sneaks up and tickles you.

Considering how packed and moving the Red Marquee was during the brothers' hour-long set, it doesn't seem like a lot of sneaking was going on. Though RKD's break beats are as massive as dancers demand, the added excitement of kacharsee rhythms boosted the hip-shaking component with its rapid accent on the upbeats. Breaks only made it that much more potent. RKD1 would often add real percussion, while his younger brother augmented matters with high-pitched vocal come-ons. They looked sort of funny with headphones atop their Okinawan headgear, but the whole point seems to be a juxtaposition of forms that might be funny together. With dancers spilling out all the way to the World Food Court, the joke was obviously appreciated by everyone.

Head East: Nagami Jun Heads Out on His Own

Wandering by the Naeba Shokudo stage I stumbled upon a huge crowd in awe of a single man onstage. I found out it was Nagami Jun, vocalist for J-Indie band, Eastern Youth, in the middle of a solo set.

His regular band just played a few hours ago at the much larger White Stage, but Nagami managed to pack out this side stage as well. More on this later

Into the Woods: iLL do it naturally


2006 marks the first year at FujiRock where the concerts on the Boardwalk between White Stage and Orange court were announced ahead of time, but most people still looked stunned when they ran across a performance tucked into the woods. A scrim was placed in front of the stage, with projectors and lasers creating fractal patterns on the screen and beyond into the woods.

Playing was iLL, a new project from Katsui Yuji of Rovo and Nakamura Kaji of now defunct J-rock band, Supercar. Katsui has been on the Tokyo music scene for years, and those who love him for his work with Rovo know half the story. While the sound of his signature electric violin cannot be mistaken, the music he places over it changes constantly. Punk, folk, metal, classical − he can draw it out of his strings. Today’s set was a completely subdued ambience to match the location. Geometric projections dance across his bow and into the forest as Nakamura prodded a sampler for the sounds of birds and water.

Katsui’s violin reminds me of bird of prey − not always on key, but somehow ancient and engaging. He’s a master of effects as well, bringing in layers of loops of himself into a vortex of sound. Here at the boardwalk, though, he kept it simple, which was a breath of fresh air compared to the bombast of the major stages. The music was a perfect backdrop for a surreal walk through the woods. What made it even more dream-like was the constant stream of people walking past. Their silhouettes strolling across the illuminated scrim gave a more interactive feel, like a Brian Eno media project. Many didn’t realize what they were passing till they arrived in front of it, then decided to step off the path and sit between the trees and stare for a while.

July 29, 2006

Bangin with your hand (-made drums)

HAndmade drums blog 1.JPG

In the hippie area just behind the Gypsy Avalon there was a constant clattering of people playing hand-made percussion instruments.

handmade drums blog 2.JPG


Fuji Dog Wonderland - Recommendation: HOLD

dogrun01a.jpgAfter the festival added a kids area, the Fuji Dog Wonderland was probably inevitable. After all, many couples now prefer dogs to kids because they are 1) cheaper and 2) more loveable. Clearly, the idea was a good one - stay in step with the current trends. The dog run has been placed in the new BTOC (Beyond The Orange Court) development zone.


But apparently, someone forgot to tell the legions of dog owners. Saturday afternoon, they place was empty.


And what a pity it was, with training facilities like these. But the plan is still alive for the longterm, and the aim of capturing the rocker-dogshow overlap market is sound, though at present visibility remains low. For these reasons, we recommend HOLD on common shares of Fuji Dog Wonderland.

T-Shirt Sensitivity Awards: Vol. I

sensitivity.jpgMake your guess as to what show this guy was watching and click below left to continue reading.

He was at Sonic Youth.

Creek Jumpin in the cold dark night

Creek Jumpin 1 blog.JPGJoel and Shelley from South Carolina, visiting Japan for a month. They had been standing there five minutes before I introduced myself, and when I said I was working on the Web site they told me to wait a second cuz they were about to jump in the creek. My feet went numb when I dipped them in, so needless to say I was impressed. It was Joel's idea; Shelley just gave in to the peer pressure.

Creek Jumpin 2 blog.JPGCreek Jumpin 3 blog.JPG

I made him do it again so I could get a good picture.

Creek Jumpin 4 blog.JPGThis is them just as they were going in the first time.


On the Ritz: UA Goes Over the Rainbow


Japan's alternative music scene is full of shape-shifters, and few are as well appreciated as Kansai songstress, UA. I've seen her half a dozen times, and if it weren't for her signature siren vocals I'd have thought it was different bands. This year she has chosen the guise of a sultry chanteuse, slinking out on stage in a backless see-through dress lined with turquoise sequins, her hair a torrent of locks arching off the crown of her head. Is this the same woman my son watches on NHK's kid's programming weekday mornings? If so, then I need to tune in more often.

With a band led by saxophonist, Kikuchi Naruyoshi, UA started the show with the standard, "Somewhere Over the Rainbow." In contrast to the White and Green stages at the time, UA was in no hurry. She paused, sighed and cooed into the mike like a lover's ear, holding back from truly letting loose. Her restraint paid off. The smoky lounge effect she was going for would have been shattered had she displayed her lungs' full potential.

Instead, she let Naruyoshi take it a step further. The meter of his sax solos alternated between playful lilt and white-knuckle immediacy, all the while conducting the quintet with casual aplomb. Many know Naruyoshi as leader of the experimental jazz group, Date Course Pentagon Garden, but tonight was a more conventional affair, complete with black suits and a grand piano. There may have been mud around the stage, but for an hour or so, the Orange Court was the classiest gig in town.

This Just In: Strange Sightings

alien250.JPGIt has been reported that a pair of strange, tall and eerily sexy creatures were seen roaming the Oasis area posing for pictures and picking up unsuspecting Japanese college students and shaking them in what was seen as an act of affection.

Over two meters tall, these creatures walk on stilts and seem to have glowing skin, which may be radioactive. Interaction with these beings is encouraged, but approach with caution − you don't know where those antennae have been.

Humanature - the laser art of Craig Walsh

High-tech laser technology meets mother earth

As I walked from Gypsie Avalon over to Heaven to get something to eat, I was suddenly accosted by the ghostly image of a face hovering in the trees. I will admit that this is not the first time that this has happened - I also spotted one on my way back from the All Night Fuji Rave this morning. And I can tell you, at that hour it really was a bit scary to be wandering through the woods virtually alone and encounter such a ghoulish image.

Both times I stopped in my tracks and stood stunned. But this time, I turned to the person on my right and shared my thoughts. "It kind of spooky, isn't it?" I said. To which the man on my right replied, "Yes, it's supposed to be." It turned out that he was, in fact, the artist himself - Australian Craig Walsh. Not only that, but the gentleman to his right was none other than the Japanese man who had acted as model for the work - Noriyuki Okubo.

"We're standing here waiting for the laser image to speak, " said Craig. "We haven't seen it yet."

At that point the tree man was snoring. Yes - snoring. But sure enough, in a few minutes he suddenly woke up and started to speak. It was freaky. It looked so real. Like the tree WAS the face. And, of course, that's the idea. The dialogue was about life, how short it is, like fire burning hard but dying quickly - a translation of a quote from Shakespeare's "Macbeth."

This laser project of Craig's has been an ongoing work for ten years and goes by the name Humanature - one word, one "n". He has taken it around the world to many festivals - Korea, Germany and, of course, his native Australia. This is his first time to exhibit his cleverly crafter laser art at the Fuji Rock Festival. And it is truly a fantastic - as in, fantasmagorical - addition.

Report by sisterchill

A Hat Trick Of Dropping Sonic Bombs


Tokyo's Back Drop Bomb came out with guns blazing for their third appearance at FRF. Have played on the White Stage in 1999 and on Green in 2003, the sextet were no strangers to the large crowds and adverse conditions of the site.

Tokyo's Back Drop Bomb came out with guns blazing for their third appearance at FRF. Have played on the White Stage in 1999 and on Green in 2003, the sextet were no strangers to the large crowds and adverse conditions of the site.

With the rain lightly falling, a heavy dance beat exploded from the speakers on the White Stage. Yellow lights began flashing all over the stage as the audience rushed forward to secure as close of a spot as possible. One by one, the band slowly sauntered out and began toying with their respective instruments. A huge cheer erupted from the large mass of raincoat clad bodies as vocalists Takayoshi Shirakawa and Masashi Ojima appeared.

A wave of feedback mixed with the dance beat as Back Drop launched into their first song. The crowd began swaying and bouncing as the band's electronic-infused hard rock rhythms filled the area. A large banner with the band's name was dramatically raised as Shirakawa and Ojima began singing. Trading off verses, the two vocalists took turns singing and rapping throughout the song.

Playing a variation of nu-metal, the group expanded the genre and gave it a slightly poppier edge by adding in elements of electronica and punk. Extremely danceable, band members and spectators alike grooved along to the heavy sounds. The ring leaders of this multi-headed sonic beast, Shirakawa and Ojima's ability to drop a series of hip hop-inspired vocals and then sing melodically allowed them to repeatedly change the vibe and add new dimensions to the dense wave of noise being created by their bandmates.

The band continually used bouts of feedback between songs to help build things up before kicking into their next number. With nightfall rapidly approaching they were able to make full use of the White Stage's large lighting rigs. The energy level of their performance was intensified by the swirling colourful lights and strobe lights that began to go off half-way through their concert.

Performing selections from their recently released "Breakdawn" album the group could do know wrong in the eyes of the continually expanding audience. Dropping musical bombs lefts right and center, you can be certain that Back Drop will be making many more Fuji Rock appearances in the years to come.


Damian Lazarus

Minimal Master

Damian Lazarus

Damian Lazarus played a set at All Night Fuji down at Orange court starting at 3:40am on Friday night / Saturday morning. I headed down there on the advice of friends who had caught the minimal master at various Tokyo gig over the last year or so. Unfortunately I have always had commitments precluding me from joining them on those occasions, and unfortunately again last night was the same, at least partly. Fellow FujiRocker Jeff & I managed to get down there for the latter half of his set, and it was well worth the half hour trek. In fact, had we known just how good it was going to be, I think we would have weaseled our way out of our prior duties.

The closer we got, the more apparent it was that we had made an error of judgement in only catching the end. Dirty minimal grooves permeated the bush as we traversed the boardwalk in the dawn's early light. When we arrived there was still a good sized crowd in attendance, grooving away under the rapidly disappearing moonlight. When the sun came up, there was a minor exodus, leaving the hard core lovers of the dark & dirty tunes spinning on the decks. This was a crowd won over by a master, competing against such attractions as the Fire Tusk Pain Proof Circus and Big Willie's Burlesque, stiff competition to be sure, even if of a very different type. Lazarus would have won me over had I had the choice. After I got there, the bubbling electro house bass lines stayed juicy through to the end of his set, great to dance to and very well blended. When Ta-Ka took over at 5am, the mood changed a little, a bit faster, housier, but still nice nonetheless. However, it wasn't enough to keep me there, and I left the scene shortly after, kicking myself for not getting there earlier.

Report by Dom.

Straightened Me Right Out!


With the rain falling steadily, Straightner took to the White Stage for the Saturday afternoon gig. Feeling a little dreary and wet, my troubles were instantly cleared awayed as the group kicked into their infectious set of J-punk.

Formed in 1998, the extremely prolific Tokyo trio has released seven full-length albums. Touring behind their most recent effort, Dear Deadman (released this past March), the band tore through an awesome 50 minute performance of punk, emo, and inde rock. Occasional electronic flourishes added even more diversity to the group's fantastic, upbeat songs. Their music was well received by the multi-coloured sea of bouncing raincoats who cheered and danced in the mud and puddles on the ground below.

Guitarist Atsushi Horie and bassist Hidekazu Hinata thrashed around on stage while drummer Shinpei Nakayama gleefully pounded away on his kit. Doing his best to get the crowd even more riled up, Nakayama hopped up onto his bass drum and beginning waving a towel above his head as his bandmates began playing the intro to one track. He then dropped quickly back down to his stool, picked up his sticks, and joined in with a wave of powerful drumming as the audience roared their approval.

Seasoned vets of the J-punk and rock scenes, Nakayama also performs in the act The Predators with members of The Pillows and Glay. Hinata used to be in Art-School and is also in Zazen Boys. Their talent and experience was evident as they turned in tight renditions of each song and expertly worked the crowd. Looking like they were having just as much fun as the audience (or perhaps even more as they were dry!) the guys seemed to be genuinely happy to be performing at the tenth anniversary of the Fuji Rock Festival.

I wasn't scheduled to report on Straightener's gig and knew absolutely nothing about the band before stumbling onto them at the White Stage. Two minutes into the concert I was counting my lucky stars that I stumbled upon them. Heavy yet melodic, their energetic performance is definitely one of my festival highlights so far and definitely straightened me out with a much needed pick-me-up. Thanks guys!


Great moment of Story of the Year


Punk/Rock band from St.-Louis is banging the White stage.

Formerly know as the Big Blue Monkey, the guys from Story of the Year had to change their name because a blues band had already taken the name Blue Monkey. I guest Blue Monkey are getting overly popular this days. This style of ska/punk/rock music always have a good audience in Japan and the band from St.-Louis provided an amazing doze of fat guitar drift, heavy drums and loads of testosterone to the Japanese fan.

Usually, the band is formed of 5 members Dan Marsala (vocal), Ryan Phillips (lead Guitar), Philip Sneed (rhythm & melody guitar), Josh Wills (drum) and Adam Russell (bass). However, the bassist couldn’t make it for Fuji Rock for personal reason.

In the last 20 years or so, we have seen many group alike coming out from the United States, mainly from the skate/surf life-style culture of California. Well-established groups like the Offspring or Bad Religion are now seeing those new breeds of punk band like Story of the Year joining the scene with energy to shake-up everyone.

This performance delivered at the White Stage was entertaining and the guys really gave everything they had to excite the mass. Dan Marsala jumping off the stage after only two songs to join his fan while Ryan Phillips used his guitar as if it was his most precious organ. We even had the privilege to see some nice choreographic moves planed by the two guitarists that surprised everyone. It was just great rock with lots of punk attitude.



A breath of fresh air

Really, it's pretty easy to make a Japanese crowd love you as a foreign performer. All you need to do is use the tiniest little bit of Japanese, and you'll have them eating out of the palm of your hand. And Konichi wa was enough to do it for Fields in the Red Marquee on Saturday morning here at Fujirock, though they needn't have bothered. These newcomers that have piqued the interest of all who have heard them played short 30 minute set. I say this somewhat disappointedly because they really are a breath of fresh air, and I could have listened to them for another hour.

Looking straight out of the 60s, they even started with a track that sounded just like they looked, all Haight-Ashbury, especially Thorunn Antonia on vocals & keyboard. A nice acoustic start quickly morphed into some great psychedelic electronic sounds, and the flavour stayed that way for the rest of the show. They appear to be a completely unpretentious group of characters, at one stage Nick Peill on lead guitar (acoustic) said "This is a wicked festival." Simply a statement of his thoughts, not screamed at the crowd or appearing to be your standard way of revving them up (no "you guys are the bestest audience ever!!! YEAH!!!"). Drummer Henry Spencer stopped the show between songs at one stage, because he wanted to take a picture of the crowd "on my phone...".

Jamie Putnam switched from 6 string to 12 string electric guitars and back again throughout the set. Isabel was a nice fuzzy guitar ballad that had the crowd swaying back & forth. If You Fail (?) eschewed choruses for nice heavy short instrumental sections punctuating verses that tell the listener a story. After this, Peill announced to the crowd that he had to tune up again, before they launched into 'The Death' to finish off their set. The noise of this one drowned out the lyrics a little, but all told it was a great finish to one of the gems of this year's FujiRock. I was cursing my early start this morning after a 6am return to the hotel, but these guys made it all worthwhile!

Report by Dom

Mystery Jets


Flying in to superstardom.

Mystery Jets came out onto stage a few minutes late, to a chanting crowd consisting of mostly young girls. It was a nice place to be! They launched into their set with 'The boy who ran away', their recent single. Their visual style was interesting, with getups ranging from the almost obscenely casual (flanellette chequered shirt) to the perfectly coiffed. Lead man Blain Harrison showed his talent throughout the set, borrowing guitar and bass guitars from various members for different songs, while playing his own abbreviated percussion set. He also saw a lot of tamborine duty, as well as a short stint on cowbell to round out the set.

Bassist Kai Fish was fond of jumping off the stage onto a small table in front of it, and appealing directly to the members of the audience. During the last track he was joined by guitarist William Rees, and both gave away their instruments to connect directly with the crowd. These guys know where their bread is buttered, and they were lapping it up this afternoon!

They played a bunch of their singles that were well received by the appreciative crowd. They also played some unreleased tracks, including one far different to the rest of their set, and quite interesting. Dark crushing bass, the kind you feel rather than hear, a slow number that had a lot of hands in the air. I kept expecting them to grab their lighters and arc up ala metal ballad, and expect that they would have had this been a night time show. They got their biggest single, 'You can't fool me Dennis' out of the way early, and rounded out the set with Alas Agnes and the Zoo Time, where the aforementioned cow bell was brought into the mix.

All up these guys showed great promise for a group of down to earth guys who have burst into the big time over the last 12 months. If they can build a fan base in other countries like they have here, expect to be hearing from them for a long time to come!

Report by Dom.

Ripped in the rain


Like Mogwai, Sonic Youth is one of those foreign bands who it seems is willing to play every Fuji Rock if given the chance. (Rumor has it there's some kind of limitation--two years in a row then one year off.) They don't come here to make a buck or spread the word. The come because they dig coming, and the New Yorkers did their damnedest to cheer up the rain-soaked early evening Green Stage crowd on Saturday. Thurston Moore made the needless introductions before a note was played, but rather than seem gratuitous it created the needed feeling of community. "We're always happy to come to Japan and see your beautiful faces," he said, and you had to believe him.

Still, Sonic Youth is not a band to stand on ceremony, and they played almost the entirety of their new album, "Rather Ripped," during their hour-long set. For many groups as long-lived as SY this could have been a disaster, but "Ripped" is the most song-filled album they've made since "Goo," and, even better, it features Kim Gordon singing on five cuts. Having missed the group's Japan shows the past three years (even if they don't play Fuji every year, they manage to make it to Japan in some capacity) I wasn't aware that Kim now will sing her songs solo, which is one reason they brought along Mark Ibold, the bassist from Pavement, as a utility player. Jim O'Rourke, who was a member of the group for the last five years, didn't play on "Ripped" but he showed up to play the Green Stage, apparently because, according to Moore, "he lives in Tokyo." I didn't know that.

Though the songs on "Ripped" aren't as expansive as they usually are on SY albums, Lee and Thurston found opportunities to bring out the old drumsticks and saw away at their guitars. The kids loved it, but not as much as Kim's singing. Dressed in a saucy mini-dress and tights, she go-go danced through "What a Waste," "Turquoise Boy," and the transcendant love song "Reena." On the relatively low-key "The Neutral" she had the crowd in the palm of her hand. Thurston got his own solo slot with "Sleeping Around" and Lee's "Rats" benefited from a clean mix that delivered the pristine separation of those twin guitars we know and love so well. As a rock show, the set was perhaps too slack, but when it hit its occasional stride it cooked with gas. Leaving us, Thurston remembered what this festival was all about. "Be sure to support the planet as a peaceful rock." Rock is definitely the operative word.

Benevento Russo Duo in the Field


The Field of Heaven shimmers on Saturday afternoon, rain or shine. The Benevento Russo Duo brought ethereal music to complement the rain showers streaming down.

Just Joe Russo on drums and Marco Benevento on keyboards, the two New York-based musicians put out an improvish noise-inflected sound. On "Soba" ("Our favorite Japanese noodle ... and friend," says Benevento), Russo hits his drum to pad to activate a two tone steel drum beat to play over. Benevento's organ sounds like a guitar and probes through rhythms before a brief intermission that's disturbed by a clipped coda.

The audience is fairly packed and Benevento says "We've been playing a lot of shows recently and this is by far the best one." They slip into a final '70s space rock adventure and the Field shimmers on.

Big Willie's Burlesque at Orange Court


Bad girls 'n' chill jazz...

As soon as Big Willie walked on stage the crowd started clapping. I suppose that most of those present had seen his show last year and had come back for more. And Willie had obviously taken the time between visits to Japan to learn a little Japanese. "Minna genki desu ka?" brought a roar of approval from the crowd. And once they'd settled down again he said, this time in English, "We're gonna play some jazz now." And they did - as smooth and gentle as a summer breeze and just as refreshing as the rain which pounded down a couple of times during the show.

And just when I thought it might be a straight up musical set sans burlesque - mostly because there was no pole for the dancer - a chair was brought out and placed on stage and garter belt clad bombshell started to gyrate in time to a slow and sexy number. What she couldn't do with chair wouldn't be worth watching. She was hot.

Then the band launched into an equally slow and sweet rendition of La Vie En Rose, but 20 seconds into it suddenly Willie broke out a bongo and the band pumped up the rhythm to a feverish Afro-Cuban pitch. And, man, could this chick wiggle 'n' jiggle - especially for her finale with nothing but some tinsel pasties covering her breasts.

Next up were another couple of songs from the band alone - namely, the jazz classic "Old Devil Moon," which had a little tongue-in-cheek cha-cha-cha thrown into the mix, and a jazzed out cover of the Beatles "Lady Madonna." Then out came the dancer again, but this time with a partner - an equally saucy naughty girl. They wore iridescent wigs - one pink one blue - and similarly colored tights and silk gloves. Together they shimmied and shook their way through "Shame on You" and played with Willie - even at one point managing to get his trousers down around his knees. But, as always, Willie and the band simply played on.

Someone in the audience was making bubbles. The dancers were hot but the music way chill. Everyone was smiling as bubbles burst overhead and swayed to groove...

Report by sisterchill

Gaz's Rock 'n' Blues


I ran into a second unscheduled performance today. This time a DJ session by Gaz Mayall at the Big Cake tent in the World Restaurant area. The Palace of Wonder had not yet opened so all the usual suspects from that area were milling around out the back of Solomon's Queen Shiba restaurant tent, among them Gaz, who just happened to have brought a box full of 7" vinyl with him. And, so, he was set for a quick spin on the Big Cake decks.

He started with a couple of wicked little Irish jigs that had anyone within earshot instantly dancing on the spot. Then he slipped gears a notch and hit us with the jazz classic Take 5. From there he lived up to his rock 'n' blues genre jumping rep and plied us with obscure Latin and Afro-Cuban cuts, full of crackles and scratches, which only added to their charm. But the piece de resistance was a whacky cover of Wild Thing which started with an intro proclaiming, "This is take 72 - dedicated to the Democrats." And got even funkier and weirder from there. All up, a very genki groove...

Report by sisterchill

Ken Yokoyama

I think that one must be Mt Fuji!

Ken Yokoyama burst onto the stage this evening in a blaze of heavy guitars, accompanied by bass player Serge Verkhovsky, guitarist Colin Doyle and Masatoshi "Gunn" Ishida" on drums. Together they are sometimes known as Ken Band, but usually appear under Yokoyama's name. They were met by light rain that had been falling for about half an hour, and steadily grew heavier over the course of the set. This did nothing at all to put off the "raincoat brigade" who filled the green stage jumping around like the mad clowns that they are. In the moshpit it was a different story, though only slightly; more jumping around, less raincoats. Yokoyama and Verkhovsky enjoyed a good rapport throughout the show, with several observances between them keeping the crowd entertained. By the end of one such exchange, they had decided exactly which mountain visible from the Green stage was Mt Fuji. I had been wondering which one it was myself!

Ken is well known in the punk circles of Japan. Former member of the highly regarded Hi Standard, and frontman for the occasional performances & releases of BBQ Chickens, he is a charismatic leader of the band, and you can't help but like him by the end of one of his sets. At the mid way point of the set, he pulled his guitar over his head and promptly began banging it on said head chanting "Punk rock! Punk rock!" They played a great set including 'Believer' and the raucus cover of 'Can't take my eyes off of you' that they're famous for. Verkhovsky did vocal duties in the only Japanese lyriced song of the set, a cover that I couldn't quite place, but I think (mistakenly, no doubt) that it may have been a Weezer number.

The moshpit action was very lively, with seemingly at least two crowd surfers riding their fellow moshers every time I looked in that direction. But it was hard to keep my eyes off the stage with the crazy antics of Doyle, screaming back & forth and jumping in the air. Verkhovsky is more sedate in his actions, and Ishida was working hard behind his kit. But it is definitely Yokoyama who is the leader of this group, and not hard to see why one can wear a T-shirt advertising any one of his bands in a far flung country, and have random people asking you to sell it to them.

Punk rock! Punk rock!!!

Report by Dom.

Skating Around with Tommy G

tommyblog.jpgAn audience packed the White Stage this afternoon to witness Northern Californian native, Tommy Guerero, bring his unique style of music to the local crowd.

Defying categories, Tommy G, played a range of free jazz, funk, and rock and roll. In fact, he felt equally confident switching between musical genres, at one point telling the audience he was playing "some good old motherf*(&* rock and roll."

The early part of his set was characterized by cat calls, a duck walk, and some guitar grooving that would have done Carlos Santana proud. Later, Tommy moved to his back catalogue, playing songs from the album "Year of the Monkey" including a hard rocking song which he described as being attributed to his younger days when he "skated around".

Many know Tommy G from his earlier days when skateboarding was his main interest, winning Norcal skate tournaments as early as 1984, and later joining the Bones Brigade, and seminal skate flicks such as "The Search for Animal Chin".

Moon Caravan: Car Camping in the Mud


Naeba authorities have recently zoned the valley beyond the Orange Court as the new FRF development zone. On offer is the rock 'n roll living experience Fujirock campers spend the year pining away for, namely huddling in tents in the rain and the mud.

These campers made the best of it. Notice they preferred to go without a floor, opting for a mud bottom instead. No need to take off your shoes. Clearly, they are veterans.

Here is a bit more of the ambiance. Notice that it's a drive-in, because why hike to live in the mud when you can drive right up to it?

Scratch Perverts: Chiropractors of sound manipulate discs

"The world...the time has come to--the world...the time has come to--"

As Dom and I approached the Red Marquee late Friday Night (or early Saturday morning, whichever way you want to look at it), the beats of the Chemical Brothers' "Galvanize" were attracting a steady stream of people into the booming red shed like moths to a flame. The audience was already right up against the stage and jumping around with abandon, and the Scratch Perverts were only spinning their second track.

As feats of turntablism go, there aren't many who can compare to Tony Vegas, Prime Cuts, and DJ Plus One. The crowned trio of scratchers have individualy won the top international mixing competitions so many times, they have retired from competing, their name now synonymous with battle DJ'ing. Instead, they focus on festivals like Fuji Rock and their residency at Fabric in London, and they still continue to awe.

If you've never seen the Scratch Perverts, then you've never seen a group of DJs with lightning dexterity pushing mixers and turntables to their limits. It's like watching the most abusive point of a product strength test live on stage. You'd be forgiven for thinking that they were going to subject their equipment to a five-tonne pile driver and then take it over to the wind tunnel.

The sheer number of tracks they blasted through was mind boggling. This reporter had a hard time keeping up with the songs they they were mixing onstage. It almost become a trivia game: Name That Track, but as soon as you had your finger on it, the Pervs dropped another and the game was on again.

With every popular tune, another wave of ear-to-ear grins came over the crowd, and another sea of raised fists swelled above them. Radiohead, Velvet Underground, House of Pain, Nirvana, Rage Against the Machine, Prodigy, Daft Punk, Gnarls Barkley, Beastie Boys, DJ Shadow, White Stripes, Blur, the list goes on. The sheer number of choice tracks that you might hear over the course of a night at one club, the Scratch Perverts ripped through in little under an hour.

At one point, DJ PLus One stunned the crowd by playing the equivalent of a drum solo on the turntable. Using his fingers and thumbs to tap on the well-used vinyl, he thumped out a little Gene Kruppa (or Dave Grohl, I guess) before letting Nirvana's "Nevermind" roll out and watching the whole crowd surge and go nuts. By the time they had us all chanting, "Fuck you I won't do what you tell me!" I was worn out--but one look around told me that this crowd was only just beginning to rage.


Rifles in the range


The U.K. is exporting guitar bands like they were expelling criminals to the colonies.

The Rifles follow The Futureheads in spearheading all sorts of Jam comparisons. Lead singer Joel Stoker hits the stage with a rousing "Os!" and crowd responds in kind. With a roughly chiming rhythm guitar, bouncy bass and a squalling lead guitar, Stoker, Rob Pyne and Grant Marsh lay down a tight, chugging sound, listing off the name of every song as they proceed. As their album won't be coming out in Japan till September, there were no hits for the local audience to single out, but "When I'm Alone" did the best job of showing off Rifles' bright, crinkly sound. "She's Got Standards" also hits a dark driving pace, chomping through the Marquee.
With a bit of buzz, plenty of festival appearances and Sony backing them, The Rifles have plenty of traction for act two. If they rise in Japan like Kaiser Chiefs did last year, what will we see from them at Fuji 2008?

Like minded

like.jpgThe all-female, Los Angeles-based power trio The Like got one of those unearned rain bonuses. Their 3:40 pm slot at the Red Marquee coincided with the first of several late afternoon downpours so the venue was packed. If the reaction to the group's dream pop was muted, it had nothing to do with the quality of the songs (pretty excellent) or the performance (professional if somewhat subdued), but rather to the fact that the back half of the Marquee was filled with people dozing on the ground. As more people crowded in to escape the rain, these supine forms turned into an obstacle course.

The young women didn't seem to mind, and, in fact, they still give off such an acute feeling of greenness that they were probably self-consious about other things. "Somebody told me to say 'konnichi wa wa'," giggled lead singer-guitarist Z. Berg, "if that means anything." Later, while Berg was tuning, bassist Charlotte Froom attempted to connect with the audience on her own. "It's our first time in Japan," she began before getting cut off by Berg. "I already told them that, Charlotte." "Sorry," the bassist said, crestfallen.

The music conveys its own adolescent female awkwardness, and that's meant as a compliment. A canny combination of Bangles-like strum and Sundays-like soaring melodies, Berg's songs certainly fill a void at the moment. If they didn't quite fill the Marquee, it's because Berg's soft soprano, a heartbreaker on record, can't quite rise above the phase-shifted drone of her guitar. Still, several songs, especially the rave-up "Far and Away" and the Top 40-ready "Under the Paving Stones" got heads nodding and hips swaying. It should probably be noted that all three members are daughters of LA rock royalty (drummer Tennessee Thomas belongs to Elvis Costello drummer Pete Thomas, Froom is producer Mitchell Froom's progeny, and Berg's father is influential A&R man Tony Berg), and while such a pedigree certainly helped them with their record contracts, we assume it was constant exposure to good music that produced such assured pop skills. "We're playing at Quattro on Tuesday night," Froom said in her second more successful attempt at audience connection. "Let' hang out, buy some socks."

Emo afternoon

Saturday afternoon at the White Stage was mostly for emo, and Philadelphia's Valencia served up a characteristically energetic set of punky pop for the knot of people who'd lingered after the set by local emo heroes Eastern Youth. Introduced to the strains of "Born to Run" (regional thing?) and a five minute window of sunshine, the quintet bounded onto the stage and never stopped bounding the whole time they were there.

Sporting a variety of hairstyles, from skinhead to long Jimmy Page-like wave, the group covered the stage by shifting position second-to-second, occasionally running into each other as they passed in back of lead singer Shane Henderson, who seemed at pains to make sure everyone was having a good time. Suffice it to say they were, but foreign artists who've never played Japan before often have a tough time reading the audience. When it started raining in earnest, Henderson called out "Hey, don't let the rain spoil your fun." Easy for him to say. He doesn't have to stand in it.

The Kingtones: A trip down memori-dori


I knew we were in for a treat Saturday afternoon when the audience started clapping--and the musicians were only organizing their charts. Then The Kingtones walked out on to the Green Stage sporting their best pink lame tuxedos, smiling and waving to the anticipatory crowd. They turned, pointed off-stage, and the crowd gave a roar of approval as Uchida Jun-san, the senior member, shuffled on stage with the help of the youngest member, Jimmy Irera, and a well-used cane. He grabbed the mic, smiled out into the crowd through his Ray-Bans, struck a note, and from then on it was a non-stop ride of doo-wop, standards, and classic karaoke rock.

Backed by a crack five-piece band, Uchida-san and company opened with "Still Of The Night" in all its doo-wop glory. The crowd was at a loss for some of the words but that didn't stop them from basking in the harmonies and clapping their hands as they slowly assembled at the front of the stage. As I looked out amongst them, I noticed not a grey hair in the lot (save for my growing collection, but I don't count because I can't see me), but the young 'uns were happily singing along with the back-up vocalists, and clapping when they did.

The baritone, Ishizuka-san, stepped out and got the crowd going with a great version of the Merle Travis classic "Sixteen Tons". Then it was "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes" and the crowd pleaser "Good Night Baby". The growing crowd was joyfully singing along until a pause, whereupon the sprightly Uchida stopped the band with a raised hand like the old pro that he is and declared, "Sugoi eigo, desu-yo?!" Then they were right back into it to finish the song off with some harmonies. Even the guy with the full-sleeve tattoos beside me was raising his hands in the air, gleefully jumping up and down and shouting out the words.

They brought out special guest Nancy, who belted out an amazing version of "When A Man Loves A Woman", minus a few, umm, syllables-articles-words. But hey, with a voice like that, lyrics are secondary.

By the time they reached the rousing version of "Tennessee Waltz" the crowd was bouncing, and when Nancy got back on the lead mic for another tongue-twister, "I Saw Her Standing There" the audience was primed to start "Peppermint Twist"-ing. They were pressing to the stage now, this motley crew of oldies-lovers, you would have thought they were trying to get early spots for the Chili Peppers.

They closed with Uchida taking the lead on "I Can't Stop Loving You", with the help of the young guy standing to my
right who was singing it out loud and strong. They bowed in classic 50's doo-wop style and we all gave them a great round of applause as Nancy and the others helped the elder one off the stage. He may have needed a little help walking, but nobody could deny that Uchida-san's voice and popularity was as strong as ever. Sugoi desu-yo, indeed.

report by Jeff

Throw Your Hands In The Air For Mo'some Tonebender


Many bands have asked the audience to put their hands in the air thus far this weekend. Instead of making the same tired request, Mo'some Tonebender singer and guitarist Kazuhiro Momo decided to lead by example.

Emerging on stage for his band's lunchtime performance on the Green Stage, Momo raised his arms to show off the two large foam hands that he was wearing. Waving them from side to side, the mass of bodies gathered near the front of the stage followed suit.

Dressed entirely in black, the trio of Momo, bassist Yasunori Takei, and drummer Isamu Fujita had little trouble getting the early afternoon crowd moving with a set of loud rock n' roll. Momo screamed "wake up!" as the Fukuoka band kicked into their opening number. A very charismatic individual, Momo danced across the stage and stuck out his tongue while playing. Not wanting to be shown up right from the start, Takei swung his bass over his shoulder and did a bit of two-stepping of his own during the intro to Mo'some's new single "You Are Rock N' Roll." Momo won the battle though by shaking his hair wildly and smiling as his vocals burst out of the massive speakers surrounding Fuji's largest area. It didn't hurt that he eventually tossed the foam hands and his sunglasses into the crowd allowing select spectators to leave with some cool souvenirs.

With a solid back catalogue of catchy, hard rock songs to draw from, the group had little trouble keeping attendees entertained during their 45 minute gig. "You Are Rock N' Roll" is the perfect way to describe Mo'some. Raw energy combined with polished musicianship formed a lethal combination this afternoon. Having been around since 1997 and releasing music since '99, if the group continues to create such great music they could find themselves being promoted to one of the later, higher profile slots on the Green Stage in the future.


The Man

Sonny.JPGAnyone who's been to a few Fuji Rocks knows Sonny (center) as one of the fest's most entertaining personalities. Sonny has been a fixture of the fest for years, cracking jokes and bellowing invitations to the Queen Sheeba food stall where he works. (Try Queen Sheeba in Naka Meguro or Blue Nile in Osaki for some killer African-fusion food). The man is a magnet for staff, artists and everyone else. I've wanted to name him King of FujiRock, but Kiyoshiro Imawano will forever hold that title. Perhaps "Ambassador" would fit better. I can think of no one more capable. Here he is with the FireTusk Painproof Circus late-night (3am? 4?) at Palace of Wonder.

The Boys Next Door: Valencia Want You to Like Them

I'm not sure exactly when rock stars stopped having to look like rock stars, but nowadays it's hard to tell if the guy backstage is in the band or just a fan from the suburbs. Same goes for Philly-based band, Valencia.

They may look like they just strolled out of the mall, but their set of LA-style punk-pop was anything but lacadasical. They flailed and wailed as the crowd grew at White stage, b ut halfway through their set the rain began, which was more distraction than they needed.

Still, they kept several hundred poncho-clad fans together. And isn't that what's it's all about?

Zutons in control of your fever

In 2004, they were out to impress, dressed in identical lab coats and angling in on their madness, their Zuton fever. This year the know they have it and hit straightforward; no need for gimmicks the music is angular, antic and hot.

Zutons are in the house, "come on Fuji make some noise" commands singer/guitarist David McCabe.In 2004, they were out to impress, dressed in identical lab coats and angling in on their madness, their Zuton fever. This year the know they have it and hit straightforward; no need for gimmicks the music is angular, antic and hot.
After "Oh Stacey (Look What You've Done!)" off their new album, " Tired of Hanging Around," it's back to the hoop hooping of "Pressure Point." McCabe continues to engage the audience in a thick accent"I want to see all you fucking Japanese do the pogo stick," and they gladly comply to "Why Won't You Give Me Your Love?"
Then it's war drums and a Mideastern-tinged mouth organ/saxaphone duet, before sax player XXX gets up to the front of the stage in her skintight catsuit to get the crowd clapping. The artists are in charge of the cacophony tonight and they lead with abandon and confidence. A big noise from the Zutons, a big response from the crowd.

Silk on Stone: 101-A Crank it Gently

As the Zutons chugged through their set a hundred meters away, I thought that Japanese trio 101-A who were playing the Naeba Shokudo stage set up near the Oasis and Food Court areas wouldn't be able to compete with the Red Marquee sound system. I was wrong.

After a quick tune-up (was he using his laptop for that?), the threesome crunched into a dirty grunge while fairy-like vocals cooed over the mud. I was told to expect a grandchild of My Bloody Valentine (that's why I'm there, actually), and although it wasn't what I expected, I wasn't disappointed.

The vocalist, the black fabric of her jumpsuit spilling onto 6-inch stack boots, looked like a schoolgirl in over her head until the occasional knowing look betrayed something more sinister within. Her fragile vocals stood in contrast with the gravelly drone of feedback from the lead guitarist, like a feather floating over a table saw. Sometimes opposites attract.

Help Them Obi-Won

leatowel.JPGHand towels went from working-class perfunctionary to fashion statement years ago here in Japan, but now I think I've spotted a new trend: Princess Lea-like wraps. Whether this is a tribute to the Star Wars heroine or simply another example of Tokyo-bred cutism, I'm unsure, but either way I have one question: How does it stay on?

Frying up a greasy Gnarl

A short order cook walking around the White backstage gave away that Gnarls Barkley were going to be fry up some mean Fuji beats. And sure enough bounding out on the stage are Chef Ceelo and Chef Dangermouse, trailed by orchestral waitresses and dish washers.

They set off at a sizzlin pace, deep in aural fat. A quartet of leggy strings players fill the right side of the stage, their greasy spoon uniforms showing off their high heeled assets. Behind Ceelo to the left two more waitresses sing backup.The staff get straight to business.
For "The Boogie Monster" the violinists put down their bows and start slinking back and forth in unison to the ugly groove. A couple months ago Kanye West showed up at Ageha with a scorching chamber orchestra in tow. Is there a competition going to see who can get the sexiest string section? Are they scouting Julliard? Ganbatte, the ladies can definitely play. Later on "Feng Shui,"their instruments are "ahhhing" as Ceelo does karate moves over haunted house organs.
Throughout the show he's is losing items of clothes, tall chef's hat first, till by the rude Violent Femmes cover, "Gone Daddy Gone," he's in his wife beater belting it out. They must have picked the song so Dangermouse could hit the keyboard breakdown on his organ.
Ceelo has mighty lungs, but on "What Went Wrong," he lets the backup singers step up and they take over with some sweet soul. It's a standout song of the set and the crowd is rockin.
Late afternoon was an unfortunate time to have the band scheduled, and they could have done better with an after-dark slot. Fuji probably didn't know what they had on their hands when they first set things up. That said, a lot of groups could benefit from night slots.
Strange thing is, look at Gnarls Barkley's lyrics and they are Dark. Demented. Sometimes Depressing. Maybe after sunset they would have shone even brighter. As it was, though, it was messy in the kitchen, dirty at the counter, and tasty all around.

2) Who Cares?
3) The Boogie Monster
4) Just a Thought
5) St. Elsewhere
6) Gone Daddy Gone
7) Feng Shui
8) Norther Everything is an End
9) Smiley Faces
10) Crazy
11) Transformer

Little Boy Tiga

It's boogie time at All Night Fuji

When Sugiurum left the stage at the Orange Court, the crowd was already well warmed-up and comfortably installed in front of the stage. With a blend of fresh house & solid anthem songs, the opening of All Night Fuji had been a solid performance and people were just eager to get more.

When Tiga hit the stage hidden behind his baseball cap and swap the turntables with Sugiurum, the Montreal DJ started his mix with minimal electronic beats characteristic of Montreal electronic scene. But Tiga isn't cherished for his minimal tracks like other Canadian such as Pole, Deadbeat or Richie Hawtin. The strength of the Enfant Terrible of Quebec club scene his when he's mixing some sexy electro from people like Felix Da Housecat, LCD Soundsystem, Peaches or other late 80's synth pop, techno and New Wave flavored artists from his own record label Turbo or friends at !K7 and DJ Kicks . Electro-clash might be already over for many but his latest album "Sexor" his still highly reminiscent of this movement.

So after a technical first part, Tiga progressed unleashing some of his latest success blend with other great dance releases that everybody welcomed with enthusiast. With the tracks getting funkier the crowd responded positively and many came back to boogie while Tiga geared for some great sexy mixes of his own.

With Tiga on All Night Fuji, 2Many DJs, Soulwax and other performer like Scissor Sisters' on other stage later on Fuji Rock, the eletronic part of the 10th edition of Japan's greatest festival his taking care by a crew used to see each other. Tiga's remixe of Scissor Sister's "Confortably Numb" was a huge success and Jake Shears from the Sisters' worked on some of the Montreal DJ track. Tiga is also good friends with Steph and David Dewaele from Soolwax, who produced about half the tracks on Tiga's debut artist album "Sexor". The same Dewaele brothers also know under the name of 2 Many DJs.

Don't Try This At Home: Eddie Egals Burns His Balls

eddieegals.JPGLook into the eyes of pyrotechnician extraordinaire, Eddie Egals, and you'll see a man who loves his job. It's not every day that you find someone who relishes fire on their bare flesh. But hey, it's a living.

Egals entered the Palace Arena followed by his vinyl-clad dominatrix-informed assistant, both brandishing DIY flamethrowers hooked to blowhorns. Egals walked us through the routine: three flamethrowers trained at an open shower stall in the center. Place fresh flower in their sights, and flowers becomes black and crispy.

Then it was his turn, but before he entered the ring of fire, Egals puts on a thick jumpsuit and goggles, his assistant taking pains to moisten every inch with water spray. By the time he entered the fireshower he looked like an extra from the film version of Fahrenheit 451.

He was winding us up. Standing there completely covered didn't seem so death-defying, and people next to me began to say something to the effect that sure, I'm only a few tequilas short of trying it myself. That's when he started stripping: first the goggles, then pants, shirt, and finally underwear. There he was, in his birthday suit, water dripping down his chin and the flamethrowers turning it to steam before it reached his waist. Helluva way to make a living, but it is certain that a guy like Egals will never fade away.

They Wanna: Franz Ferdinand Take Us Out

franzALEXblog.jpgAlex Kapranos's locks are longer than his last Japanese appearance this past winter, but as he and Franz Ferdinand proved tonight, they appear no older or less enthusiastic. Then Green Stage is for headliners, and Franz proved 2 years ago at their first FRF that they can draw a crowd. And an attractive one, to boot.

The band has said their first album was to make women dance, and their second to make them cry. Whatever they're doing, women are certainly reacting. The male/female ratio around me was skewed sharply towards the gentler gender (ha), and everyone around me shrieked at every side comment or coy lyric (the "Buttons of my blazer" one prompted the loudest squeal of all). If it gives you an idea of their popularity, when they performed a DJ gig here earlier this year, there was a line of young women around the block. Yet despite the attention, they seem to be quite cordial. I saw Kapranos at an M.I.A. show smiling and shaking hands with anyone who approached. [addition: same thing happened last night at Palace of Wonder].

Kapranos has accepted his success, singing "the smile comes so easy now." He's right. Over the last few years they've perfected their heartthrob moves, grinning, jumping and kicking at all the right moments (and then a few more). It certainly got a reaction, especially during numbers like "Dark of the Matinee," "Ellinor Put Your Boots On" and "Do You Wanna," an obvious favorite that had people jumping all the way back to the woods.

Anyone who has seen Franz before knows that Kapranos isn't the only dramatic one. He shares equal billing with lead guitarist, Nick McCarthy, who never hesitates to engage the audience. They both tried to share the spotlight during roll call, however. Kapranos announced that a tour guitarist, had just become a father. "He's the first father of Franz Ferdinand" he proudly announced, "That's a lot of F's"

Despite the language barrier, the crowd was with them through nearly every hit, the best example being "Take Me Out," when the band stopped suddenly and the crowd belted the chorus, unprompted, for four bars. As I stood in the crush of nubile flesh surrounding me I thought to myself: it's time to buy some white pants.

Put a Hump in Your Back Shake Your...


Big Willie's Burlesque is not so much about the dancers in skimpy barassieres with glitter nipples and pink or blue plastic wigs, though of course you get that too.

Big Willie's Burlesque is not so much about the dancers in skimpy barassieres with glitter nipples and pink or blue plastic wigs, though of course you get that too. It's about the racous cabaret jazz that drove many a jazz joint in a bygone era, and preserving the simplicity, raw power, and let-the-good-times-roll feeling of the art form, and yes, we are unabashedly glad Big Willie is becoming a FRF fixture. Who else is gonna put the wiggle in your sacroiliac at 3am+. (To be fair, Rookie-a-Go-Go ska supergroup Moody Rudy did a fair job last night, putting them in the early lead for a spot in the festival proper next year.)

And the good thing about late night, the punters are cleaned out and whoever's sticking around is doing it for a good time. That's the mood, dude.

Now keep those hips loose, coz Big Willie still has a few gigs coming up: Saturday 2:50pm @ Orange Court, Saturday night 1am @ Naeba Shokudou, and Crystal Palace (P.o.W.) Sunday night 12:30am.

Powerful Enough to Turn Goat Piss into Gasoline

"It's 273 kilometers to Fujirock, we've got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it's dark and we're wearing sunglasses."

Katsute ni Siyagare is...

"It's 273 kilometers to Fujirock, we've got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it's dark and we're wearing sunglasses."

Katsute ni Siyagare is like a swing jazz band of yakuza watched the Blues Brothers a couple hundred times and finally got bored of watching underlings cut off pinky fingers and said to themselves, "We can do that goddammit!" And hell yes did they Friday night 1:15am at the Crystal Palace, Palace of Wonder, Fujirock Parking Lot, Naeba, Japan.

The band, whose name means "as you like it," is seven hard-looking Japanese men in suits led by a Gene Krupa-esque drummer who sings and leads red hot - read: "fast!" - swing numbers with a sometimes ska feel. It wasn't just the doubletime "Night in Tunisia" and infectious goose-step-ability of the music, they've also got the clothes, attitudes, and their brass instruments pumping in the air. With bleached short hair and sunglasses, the trumpet player reminds of a shorter version of Beat Takeshi in Zatoichi. The rest consists of sax times two, trombone, stand-up bass and an 88-fingers Louie.

The only downside this blazing set confirmed is that P.o.W. has in four short years gone mainstream FRF. The "secret party" for freaks, staff and all-weekend bingers is clearly no more. Indeed, the Crystal Palace is new this year, and marvel that it is of wood, stained glass and canvas top, the 800-person capacity capped out early even before Katsute ni Siyagare hit the stage, with at least 70-80 people logjammed around the entrance and waiting to get in - vainly. I had to use the special staff side hatch.


wolf.jpgAustralia's retro-hard rock power trio Wolfmother was the ideal band to open the Green Stage on the second day. The group's blend of Zep-like blues power chords and sixties proto-psychedelia (as translated by Jack White) is a guarantee to pull all the jokers who drank too much the day before back on their feet, at least until they gather their wits about them enough to consider breakfast (and a lot of water--those hangovers can be extra worrying in a camping environment). The threesome opened with "Dimension," their most well-known song, and inserted a new line about "finding myself at Mt. Fuji." This is what's known as the Patti Smith problem--artists who think that because they are playing a festival called Fuji Rock that the hill in front of them is actually Mt. Fuji. Later, singer-guitarist Andrew Stockdale confirmed his lack of geographical wherewithal by asking the crowd, in classic rock-performer rhetorical style, "Can we jam at Mt. Fuji?" Hey, be my guest. But it's a bit of a bus ride.

However, the main faux pas was in the fashion department. Bassist Chris Ross wore a burgundy--yes, BURGUNDY!--jacket whose only purpose considering the mild weather was something to shed after the second song. Stockdale kept his monochrome paisley vest on, but considering the size of his afro it didn't stand out that much. Suffice it to say that Wolfmother is as much into stage performance cliches as they are into guitar riffs based on rapid repeated three-note phrases. The band only played five songs by my count, which isn't unusual given that their slot was only 45 minutes and 70s hard rock tends to be, shall we say, expansive. But on their debut album, most of the songs are less than five minutes. At the Green Stage it was all long intros and codas, and despite the stated intention to jam, most of what they did was atmosphere-making: organ squelches, non-digital guitar effects (rubbing the strings against the amp), egging the crowd on.

The hard rock moments made their point, and one has to hand it to Stockdale for stating the obvious. "We want to dedicate this next song to Mother Earth," he said before they played "Woman." "Let's hope it doesn't take up too much voltage and warm up the planet." Now there's a 70s cliche you don't hear every day.

A Message From Your Hosts

DSCF0327x.jpgForeign guests often marvel at how clean the Fuji site is and how well-behaved the patrons are. For sure, there's a cultural component at work here, and much of it has to do with doing what you're told. And as everyone knows, people are more likely to do what they're told if you tell them nicely.

Where they at?


Ganga Zumba. Ganga Zumba! Ganga Zumba. Ganga Zumba! Ganga Zumba. Ganga Zumba! Ganga Zumba. Ganga Zumba!

Ganga Zumba, what the hell? Ganga Zumba, talk about genre bending, talk about category defying. Here, let's start with the stage. Three percusionists, check -- guy closest to the front of the stage is ratatatating it out on one drum at a time mostly, so you know they are serious about the sound they're making. Keyboards, bass, chill guitarist, electric violin and trumpet. They're hanging out with a carnival march, rumbling bass line and dirty, dirty Latin horns.
And that's before the singers storm the stage two songs in, an urban cowboy in suspenders and a cocktail vamp in black netting. With a squelch of violin feedback, cowboy starts to sing in Egyptian tongues -- at the Field of Heaven you have stumbled on the what looks like the house band for Tarantino's next Mexican vampire road flick.
From J-pop lyrics to Spanish rap, English dancehall chants to Wild West yelps, we're border crossing from ska to enka. Percussion takes over, putting the Field deep in live dub, straight out of Japan, Brazil, Colorado. Don't make no sense, don't need to. The singers strap on samisen and the ancient plucking calls out an a mountain island ancestral sound that would be equally at home anywhere the old world still reveals itself.
So Ganga Zumba give you reggae and J-pop, Cantina and Celts. Put them on the stereo, throw yr best friends in the car and drive down the shoreline. You know you'll have as good a time getting to the beach as being there. Ganga Zumba. Ganga Zumba!

Tucker: Restless?


Remember that kid in high school who couldn't stop tapping his foot? The one staring out the window, thinking about the big fat ollie he'd rather be doing over the safety railing on the stairs out there? That one, he was on stage tonight, showing the random assortment of skills he picked up along the way on the turntables, organ, bass, guitar, loops, drums and drink service.

Tucker, the one man music maker started his set with a classical intro before "Hello Everybody!" and a rockabilly cut-up "We're going to rock!" takes over. Just as you are settling into the sound, he jumps up and to the left, taking a vicious stab at the organ, releasing a burst of sonics backed by a kickin canned drum beat. Carnival bass tumbles under a monster beach keyboard jam till Tucker can't take it and jumps up for a headstand on the organ. Next is a lounge organ groove worthy of Jimmy Smith, in which Sly and the Family Stone's "If You Want Me To Stay" is trying to break through. He's trying to get a message to you, before ending with Bach's "Tocatta and Fugue in D Minor."
And it's on to the rock toys, Tucker loops his own bass before busting out a minature heavy mettle guitar, loops it as well and heads over to the drum kit to accompany himself on a grunge rocker. Rushing back across stage after, he takes three cans of beer on a silver tray down to the crowd, rushes back behind the organ, takes off his shirt and slips into a familiar riff on the organ. You don't know it? He holds up his mixer and underneath is taped the title: "Tequila!"
Where do go from there? Pour lighter fluid on the mixer, light it on fire, attack the turntables, jump into the drum kit, and finish off the night with "Sunny Day" from "Sesame Street."
Thank god that kid survived high school. He WAS paying attention to something.

Afra's A Cappella Hip-Hop

How can they be so skinny and sound so fat? Afra and Incredible Beatbox Band don't need no decks, the effects is in the flex and the twist and the thorax of beat.box.beats.

Just three emcees and three tight mics, Afra, and the Boys get Good Bad And Ugly with vocal contortions that put you at a block party circa 1984. You thought it was Big Brother watching, it was just Brother and he liked scratch, high hat and bass fat. Afra, Kei and K-Moon each get a solo to show of their specialties; It's a spectacle and the crowd forgets to dance as they watch with rapt attention. Friday night at the Red Marquee always offers some hip-hop madness, this year it was first a half hour set of hip-hop mimicry.
To leave the stage, the three get in the car, start up the engine and peel away into the night. Flying into the audience they crash wildly and stumble away.
An aural car crash for Naeba ears.

Kids Rock

familyfun.jpgYou might think it, but Fuji Rock is not just for the ravers, rockers, trippers, hippies, headbangers and moshers. It takes all kinds of people, big AND small, to make something as special as FRF.

People are into all kinds of things, and all kinds of things are what the festival specializes in. Whatever gets your freak on, you can probably find it here at Fuji Rock. For example, this is a threesome enjoying the vibe outside the Red Marquee on Thursday night just prior to the Painfree Circus:

Okay. Get your head out of the gutter.

What people may not realize is that Fuji Rock is kid friendly (and mother approved). Wander around the site and you will see plenty of precocious and rambunctious kids. And their children, too. Ba-dum-pum.

All kidding aside (ahem...), there is plenty to see and do if you are parent and want to bring the family to Fuji Rock. From the designated kids play area between the Green and White stages, to the laid back play-out-in-the-fields atmosphere of Field of Heaven, to the swinging (hey!...I told you not to go there...!) playground surroundings high up off the Dragondola at Daydream (including a Flying Fox for young adventurers, various small implements to dig in the dirt for burgeoning builders, and balls of all shapes and sizes for the future Nakatas, Ichiros and Beckhams).

Let's not forget--kids like music, too! And dancing. And drinking...juice. There's plenty of that and more for the wee ones here at FRF. We'll try to give as much info as we can here on the site, and show you a little of what's on offer, so that EVERYBODY can plan a fun and exciting Fuji Rock weekend.

Now, if you'll excuse me, me and some friends have some some mud pies to make...

Jeff Richards

Green with Hungry

P1010036.jpgAfter drinking... err... working all afternoon & evening, a Fujirockers.org staffer can build up quite an appetite. If you find yourself in the same boat, head for the Thai food stall in the Oasis area next to the Red Marquee. These guys are ultra friendly will serve you a nice cold beer, and most imprtantly, serve up a good bit of tucker too. I opted for the green curry on rice, which was pretty damn good. There was a fair amount of chicken, a couple of good sized bits of eggplant, and most importantly it was sateming hot to the taste and the touch. The ebi (prawn) sticks were cold, but good nonetheless.

Report by Dom

July 28, 2006

Back for the first time

shang.jpgIt's surprising to learn that Shang Shang Typhoon has never played the Fuji Rock Festival before. Their catchy blend of Okinawan-Asian pop, pre-70s kayokyoku, and bluesy American rock has been charming non-sitting audiences for more than 15 years, but their heyday was during the early 90s pan-Asian boom and Fuji didn't launch until 1997. Still, they looked right at home at the Field of Heaven Friday night, where they headlined in front of an audience that probably wasn't old enough to appreciate what they did in their heyday, so there's always a silver lining.

Led by the pristine harmonies and vocal playfulness of Eimi Shirazaki and Sachiko Nishikawa, the seven-piece band has plenty of personality, not to mention wit. Shirazaki, dressed in an elaborate Asian-styled gown, easily got the audience to chant along in a chorus of "baka baka," and set them to dancing with her wild and woolly rendition of "Atarimae Da." ("It goes without saying...") The highlight, however, may have been her Japanese take on Janis Joplin's "Cry Baby," which she altered to fit a tale about unrequited love with a sumo wrestler and her ultimate mistake "of joining a rock band." And then there was that JAL song. They just don't make jingles the way they used to.

Platforms to the Pedals


Playing at Naeba Shokudou at 10pm, 101A impressed for the lead singer and guitarist's ability to hit her case full of effects pedals with 5-inch wood-soled platform boots. The music was also a nice surprise, especially since I wasn't too interested in Franz Ferdinand to begin with, which was the only other thing going on within range. It was much better to stand just at stage left and listen to this band crank through some driving post-punk with her cool, siren vocals. But best was watching her footwork. Not bad. Not bad at all.

naeba shokudou.jpg

Naeba Shodukou is the restaurant and stage just between the International Food Court and the Red Marquee. A good late evening venue if you want to watch music but are sick of the big crowds. And with the rain so far staying away, there's no slipping down the muddy slope. Bonus!

Yamaguchi Hiroshi (Heatwave)

Rarely do I hear a Japanese singer and wish I understood the words he was singing. Its not that Yamaguchi Hiroshi (Heatwave) played such amazing music that I thought his lyrics must be brilliant, its just that I got such a good fealing sitting and listening to him, I imagined that the lyrics would only make me feel better. You can't go wrong with ther word "Happiness" in your chorus if you can manage to sing it with both sincerity and irony at the same time.

Speaking of that singing, its half of what made Yamaguchi so enjoyable (the other 42.6% would have to go to his acoustic guitar playing, a crisp strum and pick, and the remaining 7.4% is his plaintive Neil Young unplugged harmonica). He has bold, melifluous and versatile baritone, not unlike Grant Lee Phillips when he chooses sing in the lower registers.

What strikes me about Yamaguchi is how great a soundtrack it would be to walking around a middle class Japanese neighborhood in the evening, past the carefully tended gardens and tighly parked cars. He is the good-looking and successful guy with the yearning heart of an artist. I'm not sure why, but I can imagine Keanu Reeves starring in his videos, walking through the neighborhood furrowing his brow at the ground, hands stuffed in coat pockets. In fact, I think most karaoke videos were made forYamaguchi's music.

But I don't mean to be snarky. I like this kind of stuff. He's melodic enough to grab your attention but moody enough to keep you interested, something like Leonard Cohen playing John Mayer. He even played a howling high and lonesome Chris Isaak/Bruce Springsteen acoustic blues in which he was in fact singing either "Baby I'm a Blues" or "Baby I'm a Bruce", I'm not quite sure which, but I'm going to go ahead and hope it was "Bruce".


Harry Hosono Quintet

Harry Hosono is a Japanese popular music old-timer, having started in the early 70's playing a Japanese version of the U.S. west coast hippie folk rock that peaked during the summer of love. He later formed the Yellow Magic Orchestra in the late 70's and, embracing new electronics as they became available, became a pioneer of electronic music respected worldwide. When they disbanded in 1984, he turned to world music and spent much of the late 80's and early 90's exploring that genre.

He took the stage this year doing some sort of synchronized goose-step/shuffle with his (lovely) accordian player while the bass drums and guitar trio vamped to Mr. Sandman. The quintet plays a mix of old-style pop standards like "Save the Last Dance for Me" with a solid jazz backing, He drew a really good-sized crowd all the way out to the Orange 'Coat', with most in attendance hanging on his every move and showing unquestioned allegiance to his quintet, even when his (lovely) accordianist took over vocals on one song. (She was excellent, a haunting soprano like Anita Ward in "Ring My Bell", except singing a show tune.)

The band oozed class and authenticity in their formalwear and laid back playing. The silver sparkle drum kit helped a lot, too. And kudos to the sound people at Orange for letting every subtly of the band come through, even the lightest brush on the snare drum.


Southern Fried Coolness

Easily the most badass thing I've seen at this year's FRF was the washboard solo during North Mississippi Allstars gig at Field Of Heaven by Cody Dickinson.

About 40 minutes into the trio's gig he stepped out from behind his drum kit and walked to centre stage. A roadie ran out and gave him a washboard. His brother, guitarist Luther Dickinson, and bassist Chris Chew sat back and watched as he proceeded to play the washboard by itself then with a few of the guitar effects petals, adding a really cool electronic side to his solo. Now that alone is pretty cool in my book. Cody thought he could make his performance even more memorable by taking the washboard off and throwing it on the ground as his solo faded out in faux punk rock fashion. Classic!

Jamming their way through a tight set of traditional southern rock and blues, the band had little trouble keeping the medium-sized crowd of dancing bodies assembled at Heaven satisfied. The mirrorballs hanging throughout the area cast small, moving circles of light all over the stage, audience, and surrounding trees, adding a slight psychedelic edge to their music. The son of a long-time Memphis producer, you could sense the southern rock in the blood of Luther Dickinson as he passionately belts out his lyrics. A definite showman, he exhibited an extraordinary array of rock n' roll facial expressions while playing his instrument and changed guitars prior to starting each song.

Although not as flashy, Chew was just as solid. A massive man, he played the role of gentle giant as he slowly swayed to the infectious rock sounds and joined in occasionally on backup vocals. The anchor of the group, he got the crowd involved by encouraging, or possibly intimidating based on size, everyone to clap along and wave their hands in the air.

With an undeniable amount of musical talent on full display, it was easy to appreciate what North Mississippi Allstars were doing. Regardless of whether your a fan of a certain musical style, when a band puts on an "all-star" caliber concert they will always win over even the smallest of music fans.


10-Feet ... Starting The Day Off Right!


10-Feet got things rolling at Red Marquee with a whole lot of infectious pop-punk. A large crowd of mostly Japanese spectators made their way into the tented area to celebrate the opening of FRF '06 with guitarist Takuma, bassist Naoki, and drummer Kouichi.

Formed in Kyoto in 1997, the Tokyo-based act turned in an energetic set and did a formidable job of getting the audience involved early on. Already primed up for a weekend of fun, Takuma engaged the crowd in a lot of call and response chants at the beginning of the show and continued to so as things progressed. With everyone yelling along, the trio had little trouble getting the hyperactive kids up front jumping and the laidback fans in the back dancing along to their punk anthems.

10-Feet mixed selections from their new album Twister, due out on August 16, with favourites from their previous three discs. Showcasing their wide array of musical tastes, many of the songs included small elements of metal and reggae, helping to add a bit of diversity to their pop-punk sound. Possessing a strong vocal range, Takuma switched his pitch during some of the songs, adopting a deep, animated, almost menacing (but in a playful manner) voice.

Following the lead of the crowd, Takuma and Naoki happily bounced around while playing. At one point the two dropped to their knees and began crawling across the stage while the audience cheered them on. Natural entertainers, 10-Feet did an excellent job of putting smiles on the faces of all the early arrivess at Red Marquee


Dirty Pretty Things

The Things went well!

Dirty Pretty Things took to the Green stage in the early evening. This is a band that don't do anything unless they agree. Consultation was the order of the day, with the three guitarists slipping back to the drum kit after each track, to talk with Gary Powell about what was to come next. Vocalist & lead guitarist Carl Barat rarely interacted with the crowd beyond the odd word or two, or to ask if they were doing ok. Bassist Didz Hammond and guitarist Anthony Rossomando occasionally took the chance to chat with the crowd, and sometimes engaged in banter together.

This band worked hard today. By the end of their second song each of them appeared that they had been doused with water, and in fact they threw several bottles of water into the crowd themselves, apparently deciding that the guys out there were in as much need as they themselves were. Judging by the look of the throng in the centre, they weren't far off the mark.

They played a good variety of tracks, showing their range better than many other bands who have a single style and stick to it, track after track. These guys work well together, as you would expect rising from the ashes of The Libertines. The appreciative crowd were following every song, and quite excitable and rowdy. The best reactions were in fact to Libertines songs, Barat noting that he hadn't played in Japan since the days of the Libertines, and almost apologising for playing the songs. He needn't have, as they were the high point of the set this afternoon. Maybe it was the energy these guys have together, or maybe it was what was being passed around on stage, but they put on a Dirty Pretty damn good show!

Report by Dom.

The Cribs

Britpop's new "Royal Family"

The Cribs came on to the Red Marquee at 4:20 this afternoon to a very keyed up crowd. Brothers Ryan Gary & Ross Jarman are very much the crowd pleasers here in Japan. There was an awful lot of hands in the air action when it came to every track they played. All fuzzy guitars, this group from Yorkshire have been gaining in popularity since 2003, though they had been playing together for many years before that. Gary and Ryan were sharing singing duties on the stage, with very similar sounding voices providing a unique sound when put together.

Japan loves Britpop, and these guys are certainly no exception. Union Jacks were flying, along with fists (in the air of course!) The band of brothers went through all their crowdpleasers, as well as a few new pieces. The crowd settled in to these, and built up a groove to move to by the end of the new songs they were playing. Vying for position, plenty were venturing into the moshpit, and very few were coming out. A true sign that the show was a success.

Report by Dom.

Have about a nap in hammock

hammock 2 250.JPGThis is surely one of the most brilliant ideas to hit Fuji: a hammock court. For just 500 yen you can crash in a hammock for an hour. A friggin' hour. 500 yen. Thats the price of a beer that you won't even remember drinking. Thats 2000 yen for FOUR FREAKING HOURS.

(Note: I dont know if they will actually let you stay for 4 hours. These hammocks are prime property yo.)

Oh! Eye! Oh!


During OOIOO's set at the Orange Court, an short, interesting conversation sprung up about whether the band's cosmic core, if you will, Yoshimi P-We, was the inspiration for the "Yoshimi" of the Flaming Lips' album Yoshimi Versus the Pink Robots. Like all trivia question answers, the real answer was on the internet, and to sum up it reads: Not Really. Flaming Lips maestro Wayne Coyne writes that Yoshimi is a "fictional character," and right after that acknowledges respect and friendship for Yoshimi P-we since playing with her in 1994 at Lolapalooza. FRExpress colleague Donald noted that the death of a Japanese woman friend of the band's also happened around this time and inspired a song, which was written both out of sadness and consolation for the woman's sisters. Anyway, Coyne says it better, and it's all in his post at the link.

Either way, Yoshimi P-we is, as Coyne writes, "a musician of extraordinary talent and uniqueness," who, I will add, has been in more than a couple bands nobody has any idea how to peg a genre to, the best known of which are the Boredoms and this now established project, OOIOO (pronounced oh-eye-oh). And after the noise and avant-rock and experimental everything, she's coming not quite full circle, or maybe it's better to call it more of a spiral, but what this means is the music is recognizable as music again and challenging in different ways on the third OOIOO album, Taiga (Japanese for big river), which was just released at the beginning of July.

The stage line-up was five women with Yoshimi front and center with a glittery green guitar, and after the a-little-too-boppy opening night set by Shonen Knife (Just curious, do they think they are the Rondelles or something?), it was refreshing to see women just being a band. The new member was on an extra drum kit, making for two, i.e. extra rhythm punch. And it was churning war-drum stuff, nonstop and underpinning everything. But even the freakout yelling and squealing and caterwauling was rhythmic and under a wierd sense of control - that's how they opened, a capella scream-chanting to heavy drums, and it was great, powerful stuff.

It went on from there, and the great thing about OOIOO though is that they sound pretty much like everything, always a rock band of course, but sometimes also like the Kronos Quartet doing North African fusion jazz but only vaguely so, sometimes like an avant-noise band playing funk, sometimes like minimal glitchy indie pop - it's all there. Sometimes I think their music is like computer music without computers, the max of what effects pedals, weird timbres and a great sensibility for percussive musicianship can generate. I started out bopping to it near the front, and ended the set kicking back on the grass towards the rear of the Orange Court. Either way, it was a total trip.

- by Dave

Lost in the Woods: Barbi Thump Thru Set

Wandering through the clouds at Daydreaming Stage's mountaintop precipice, I stumbled onto a few wet Japanese lads, playing their heart out.

It was easy to conclude that they grew up with 70's Rock and Reggae rock, but what they lacked in originality they made up for in spirit. The vocalist proudly brandished his Miles Davis T-shirt (Bitches Brew), but you wouldn't hear that in the music. More like a wedding band covering the playlist of a classic rock station all at once.

The crowd grew larger as the clouds closed in, yet the band was not deterred. Hell, even the dancing Kappa enjoyed himself.

The IN Flock: A Hundred Birds Orchestra Soars

Add some strings to a pop band and the expression "classically trained" is bound to emerge. In the case of Japanese Chamber-Disco troupe, A Hundred Birds Orchestra, the phrase may be apt, but their music actually draws out the symphonic sounds already present in club music rather than trying to install mirror balls in Symphony Hall.

Every inch of White Stage real estate was occupied by musicians (25 by my count) representing brass, strings, percussion and keys − and don't forget the DJ who brought us in with an extended scratch solo. Dressed almost entirely in black, the crew gave disco and house the red carpet treatment, alternating solos (keyboard, xylophone, trombone) to the slink and bounce you might hear in Club 54 after hours.

Hundred Birds covers an interesting cross-section of the Japanese Musician community. The percussionists looked like bartenders at CBGB's, while the string and horn sections, with their dress slacks and backless evening gowns, looked like they just stepped off a Concord from a weekend in Monaco.

But the focus of attention (mine, at least) was the sultry vocalists who took turns electrifying and already charged crowd. Especially titillating was Sugami, who strut through the lounge-ish track "Amar Gora" before being supplanted by a second vocalist for "Jungle Kitten."

What was especially nice (and rare) was that the string section was tune to compete with everyone else. They even drowned out the brass, occasionally, but for their style of music the added drama was appropriate. Conductor, DJ YOKU brought his crew through each crescendo with ever swelling immediacy, until eventually slowing down with a summertime pop ballad for a shimmering finish. Who said club kids have no class?

What it is

Take a walk from the headwaters of Naeba's stream on Friday morning and you will see a snapshot of Fuji Rock Festival gearing up for its annual weekend of Rock, Rebellion and Alternate Reality. Starting past the Prince Hotel, in the clear waters a lone yellow-jacketed fisherwoman throws her lure plop in the current under the bridge. Through the parking lot, a man with one boot on finishes of a bag of chips before he propels himself into the mouth of the Beast. Two girls polish off a beer beside the cooler in the back of their car.

Every year the question is the same: what is Fuji Rock? What is the vibe? What is it? Try to answer, it's this, it's that.

Fuji Rock is a Beast. That Must Be Obeyed. It's out of your control. The weather, the line up, the crowds, the music, the story of your weekend. Fuji Rockers learn with the years. They come prepared, boots, tarps, chairs. Bug spray, suntan lotion, nail clippers. Adjust the formula to meet the logic of the Beast.

The beast has matured, it's ten years on now and the crowds have caught on. Like a monster wave, they surf on top, at its mercy.

Passing the Prince, a forest sways in the stream bed, calm, quiet and lush. At the matsuri on Thursday nights they sing of the beauty of Naeba before fireworks set the hills alight. Here it is, wood, water, air and stone.

At the entrance to the campsite, vans and buses scurry back and forth to the Red Marquee, what's the music? The stream veers off to the right behind a rough concrete barrier wall that makes a great spot at night to look across the resevoir to the wicked, wicked Palace of Wonder on the other side.

Behind the Red Marquee a sound crew eats bentos as a sound check is finished off in the hall. Rounding the corner, slipping into the RM, jangly Beatles pop welcomes you to 2006. Coffee can wait (Go the Rainbow Cafe if yr Jonesing).

The Spinto Band do the David Byrne herky-jerk on stage with precision. A Clap Your Hands dies, a Spinto rises.

Bassist/singer Thom Hughes mentions that its guitarist/singer Nick Krill's birthday. Twentieth (?!). An imprompto round of "Happy Birthday to You" rings out before the band jumps into "Direct To Helmet." The chorus?

"I tell you it never gets old."

Music stop, start. I tell you it never gets old. Fuji Rock may be ten years old, but here it goes again. The Beast of Naeba, from the top of the river deep in the mountains, to the source of the helicopter that buzzes in the air with the dragonflies, somewhere past the Orange Court. Now we're ready, ready for the Beast.

Fuji Rock 2006.


Head in the Clouds: The Dragondola Sends We High

whiteblog3.JPGThe best views of the fest are hands-down from the Dragondola, the cable-car system owned by the Naeba Prince hotel. FujiRock takes place on an off-season ski resort, so the ski lift offers a bird's eye perspective on the revelry happening below. Here's the White stage:

And once you get past the stages and helicopters buzzing past (no kidding − they're offering rides this year), then it starts to get quiet. The cable zips over peaks and valleys out of a postcard.

Then hovers mere meters over a river.

I could hear birds chirping as I approached the top. But I didn't expect to see people in animal costumes playing "Red Rover" in the lawn there. Amongst the concertgoers were a panda, lion, mole raccoon and a kappa the mystical hal-turtle, half-man from Japanese folklore.

I seemed to be the only one wondering what these Amusement Park hangers-on were doing here. Not that I minded. Their rapport was impecable.

They were courteous, cheerful and play well with others. Who could ask more from our furry friends?


blackx.jpgThrough a perverse bit of serendipity, Gnarls Barkley and Blackalicious were scheduled within twenty minutes of each other on consecutive stages. The similarities have less to do with style--Gnarls' lead singer Cee-Lo Green was a rapper with the Goodie Mobb but with Gnarls he's into rock and soul--than with image. Both Cee-Lo and Blackalicious's MC the Gift of Gab are rotund and bald. The difference ends there.

As emphasized by the title of their last album, "The Craft," Blackalicious digs skills, and while their lyrics stress social importance and poetic creativity, their main appeal is a facility with the kind of verbal gymnastics that hightlighted hip-hop battles before gangsta attitude highjacked style. Several years ago, when GOG and his DJ, Chief Excel, were on a major label, they brought a band and chick singers to the White Stage, but this time in the Field of Heaven it was just the two of them, and they showed they could carry a crowd with their skills.

Always conscientious, GOG was careful to give a shout-out to Asia after the requisite boosts for Fuji and Japan. Though the crowd didn't know initially what to do with GOG's vocal tricks, they could connect with Chief Excel's catalogue of funk tropes. GOG would eventually bring the audience into his realm, patiently teaching them the "deedle-dee-dees" and "woo-oos" for his demonstration of verbal agility. And he floored 'em. "Be true to yourself and stay humble," he said later. You can only say that when you've got the chops to back it up.

In the Mix: Blendz Makes Home-Grown Hip-Hop

blendzblog.JPGHitching a ride on the back road between Red Marquee and White stage, I jumped into a van with who I assumed to be US soldiers here working as security. I was half right. Yes, they're doing security detail, but they didn't ride up here from Yokosuka Air Force base or any other. Nope. They grew up here, the offspring of mixed parentage. Hip hop was cranked on the staff van's sound system, and it still sounded good. And familiar. When I asked where I might have heard it, they mention the Yokohama Baystars' stadium. Oh, and by the way, he says. "That's us."

MC Reggie (left) and Igor (right) are half of the DJ/MC troupe, Blendz, a home-grown hip hop group comprised of half-black, half-Japanese emcees, and as serendipity would have it, they have a release coming out August 23rd. They tell me their release party will be held at Club Logos in Yokohama (some of the Baystars will be there, too, if you're a fan).

So far so good.... no rain yet.

pocari2.jpgDay 1 is coming to a close and the weather gods have been with us, with not a single drop of percipitation thus far. A look at Yahoo! weather says the outside temperature feels like 78 Farenheit, with 89% humidity: for some, this was as good as beach weather. We don't to get anyone's hopes up, as it would be a good idea to keep those rubber boots on through Sunday.

Martha to the Bone

martha1.jpgThe after-lunch crowd who took in Martha Wainwright's solo acoustic performance at the Red Marquee on Friday didn't seem to know what hit them, though one young woman took the opportunity to declare her love out loud whilst the Canadian singer-songwriter was retuning her guitar. "Will you marry me?" the young woman screamed. "Uh, OK," Wainwright said with total lack of sarcasm. "Do we have to have sex?"

Known famously as the daughter of Loudon Wainwright III and Kate McGarrigle and the sister of Rufus Wainwright, and infamously as the composer of the enigmatic "Bloody Motherfucking Asshole," Wainwright's frank emotionalism was not at all diminished on stage. Dressed in a half-yukata, very tight jeans, and slivery high heels, she disavowed any folkie image her pedigree and the chosen means of her art might lend her. Though songs like "Factory" and "Far Away" are about the inevitability of growing away from loved ones, she swung her hips sexily to the rhythms, melding the personal and physical in ways that can only be experienced directly in order to be properly understood. The audience was moved by her sensual honesty, realized in a voice that very much sounded like it was coming from someone who once studied acting but quit because acting could never compete with the pain of real life.

"This is a song about a man's balls and penis," she said matter-of-factly to introduce the raunchy, self-lacerating confessional "Ball and Chain." Appropriately or not, a different young woman actually fainted during one of the quieter but by no means less intense numbers. "Is she OK?" she said, almost sang, without dropping a note. To finish off, she sang a chanson by the late French singer Barbara with all the rabid fury of a woman who couldn't stand the way she loved a man who didn't deserve her. Maybe the audience understood nothing of what she said (Though they did seem to grok "bloody motherfucking asshole"), but they got Martha Wainwright to the bone.

Slug lines

204_5_1.jpgThe MC known as Slug to hip-hop fans and Sean Daly to his divorced parents is as hard and real as they come, but the Minneapolis rapper isn't into fortifying his macho prerogatives. If anything, Slug's songs recreate an adolescence devoid of confidence and self-esteem. What's hard and real is life, especially love. Atmosphere, as his rap group is known, is mainly famous for three recordings called the Lucy Ford EPs, which document the pain Slug felt after breaking up with the love of his life. "You remind me of me," he rapped, "and that's not a compliment."

As a hip-hop draw, Slug has a ways to go in Japan, but the small contingent of fans who showed up showed love as well, so much so that the eternally self-deprecating rapper was at a loss as to how to express his appreciation. "You people are just too nice," he said with all honesty and awe. "Usually at our shows people throw shit at us."

And there was a lot to love, especially in the wicked counterpoint achieved by Slug and his give-and-take man, the equally adept Brother Ali. Generous with the gestures, the pair, backed by simple, potent beats, were as visually compelling as their words were aurally fascinating. The two even learned some Japanese: "hidari, migi," they chanted as the crowd waved their hands in accord.

The love was returned two-fold. "You're ready to party this weekend," Slug asked. "Everybody, put a smile on your face and a party in your heart." It sounds like the hope of a kid who never got invited to parties. In the second half of the set, Brother Ali left and Slug brought out a full band. The music was gentler but no less poignant and pointed, especially during the hip-hop symphony "God Loves Ugly." Before his last song he urged the audience "to have sex tonight, OK." He wasn't being hard at all.

Spinto spaz

190_1_1x.jpgSlackers who arrived at the festival not knowing that Clap Your Hands Say Yeah cancelled a week or so ago might have thought that the indie band of the moment had been reslotted had they walked into The Spinto Band's set at the Red Marquee at lunch time. Dual singer-songwriters Nick Krill and Thomas Hughes aren't that much different from CYHSY leader Alec Ounsworth in the vocal histrionics department but since there's two of them the clueless would probably have figured this out right away.

And if they stayed they would have been treated to what will probably turn out to be one of the most pleasant surprises of the weekend. As spaz-rockers go, these Delawareans are peerless, and matched to their generically peppy guitar pop you've got a formula that is guaranteed to get Japanese youngsters up and hopping in no time. For forty full minutes the Red Marquee didn't pause for a breath.

With three guitarists, a keyboardist, and a bass player who can double on either of those, the Spintos have chops to burn, but they're mainly into riffs: the synth-driven "Spy vs. Spy" and the similarly titled "Trust vs. Mistrust" barrel ahead on ironclad guitar patterns that never bother to detour for a chorus or a bridge. Dynamically, the Spintos have their pause-and-attack skills down, and the energy level in the audience reached heights of explosive ecstasy during the disco-ready "Crack the Whip" as all the guitar slingers on staged freaked out in their own chosen way. Whatever limits Krill and Hughes possess as singers, no one could accuse them of not trying--or enjoying the effort. Hughes, in particular would clench his arms against his side as if he couldn't contain himself, and the rail-thin Krill's truncated windmills made you fear for his delicate digits.

Of course, much of the band's appeal, especially for the Japanese girls in the audience, was the members' callow artlessness. "We're the Spinto Band," Krill said, "we do exist." (Hey, they're from Delaware.) And so the spazzing seemed not merely justifiable, but sort of characteristic. The hyper "Oh, Mandy" would have been nothing without the pinball spectacle of all six Spintos twitching in a kind of weird awkward unison. "It's been insane," Krill said after the last song. And that's the way we like it.

Cool to be efficient

Fuji Rock is a carbon neutral festival, meaning that all the carbon dioxide produced during its execution is offest in some way through initiatives such as planting trees and funding sustainable energy projects. This year, however, Fuji Rock adds to its environmentally-concerned cachet by being the launching pad for the Global Cool campaign. The main objective of this campaign is to get one billion people to save one ton of carbon a year each. Though a ton sounds like a lot, this aim can be accomplished by switching off electrical appliances and not leaving them on standby. You can save a lot just by turning off your mobile phone charger.

Fuji Rock has been designated as the first event to implement and encourage the Global Cool Campaign, with July 28 being Global Cool Day. In coming days, the campaign will move to Los Angeles and London and eventually the world.

Smash President Masa Hidaka used the occasion of the opening of the three-day festivities to pitch Global Cool. Following a high-tech video explaining the campaigns concept and objectives, Hidaka gave it a more local spin and then introduced Dan Morrell, the founder of the campaign, and Steve Howard, the campaign's leading scientist.

"We aim for ten years to come back under the global tipping point," Morrell explained in reference to bringing the earth's environment back from the edge of irreversible global warming. Howard added, "One day your grandchildren will ask you what you did to reverse global warming. And you can say you were at Fuji Rock where it all started."

Morrell then introduced actor Orlando Bloom to the expected oohs and ahhs. Leonardo DiCaprio, who is in charge of the California leg of the campaign, was rumored to have wanted to kick off the campaign at Fuji, but he had other obligations. Accompanied by his girlfriend, Kate Bosworth, Bloom said, "It's amazing to be here in this fantastic environment, and with your help we can keep it that way." He then repeated the campaign's catch phrase, "One by one, ton by ton."

They then introduced the first Japanese person to make a pledge on the Global Cool website to reduce his carbon production by a ton a year. Though no one seemed to know this young man's name, he was clearly happy to be there, happy to shake hands with Bloom, happy to "rock" as he said. Or at least that's what it sounded like he said. Bloom was clearly there for more important reasons himself. "Paaaarty, paaaarty," he intoned like a California frat boy. No one said saving the world can't be fun.

Camera Obscura

camera-out-blog.jpgThe "Amazing Portable Camera Obscura" has finally made its way to Fuji Rock. A long-term fixture of Glastonbury, the trio of Dominic Patteson Tony Willett and Jem Finer have brought a simplified version of their optical tomfoolery to the festival.

Many may know Jem Finer as the banjo player from The Pogues. When he's not on stage, he's an active installation artists, undertaking multiple projects such as "1,000 Years of Music" and an art installation involving natural water music in Kent.

This year's installation is a specially constructed tent with a multi-directional lens protruding from the top post, providing a view inside the darkened tent. "Camera obscura used to be used by artists to help them compose perspectives in painting. However, it did not help with color, " says Tony Willett.

The camera will be on view near the film stage, and will most probably remain in its location for the duration of the festival, however, if the weather is nice, their may be a chance the camera will be taken on the Dragondola, providing a fantastic view of the entire site. To learn more about this old-fashioned way of looking at the world, please visit the group's website at www.amazingcameraobscura.co.uk.

Organic Wine

organic wine.jpg
At past festivals, artists ranging from Jimmy Eat World, to The Bees, and The Music, have all stopped by Vinbio's organic wine bar. The company is offering a half-dozen 100% organic wines ranging from Fontedicto red wine to A Vin de Table, a rose wine that commands quite a high price at Tokyo area restraurants, however, at Fuji Rock it is a relative bargain at 600 yen per glass, and 3,000 for a bottle. The business is a family affair, headed by Francoise Dumas. "My father started this wine import business because he learned you don't get a hangover when you drink organic wine, says daughter Annabelle Dumas. So when you get tired of beer and are looking for something to put you in a better mood, stop by and try one of these wines.

Flogging Molly


Its no secret that punk rock and Celtic music go together like cheese and cake (I think the Irish would win the drinking contest, but the brawling competition would beinteresting), but FM is the first to combine LA punk/metal with Celtic music to such wide recognition. Band leader Dave King was a member of Fastway, a late 80s/early 90s heavy metal band, and they use hard rock to good effect.

Drawing heavily from the Pogues (how could they not, really?), this seven piece aims for raucous and poignant (as with the anti-warsong King dedicated to the Middle East, saying that as an Irishman he understood war), and the raucous part is no small feat to pull of at 12:25pm. King's mid-tenor growly yelp really cuts through the noise and energizes the music, and he projects a confidence that draws people into the band, the way a good frontman should.

I can't recall the last time I looked back at the crowd and saw so much teeth during a concert. As soon as FM took the stage, a blanket of joy came crashing down upon the crowd, the dancing began immediately and scarcely let up for the entire show. People was jigging, skanking, banging, moshing, flailing, and there wasn't an ounce of reserve to be found anywhere. The show the night before was even better, but you gotta hand it to FM for getting people so excited so early in the afternoon.

FM's recorded output doesn't do justice to their live presence. They're much better than just any run of the mill mix of punk and Celtic, and they really deserve every single hand in the the air that they get.


July 27, 2006

More Songs About Animals and Food

140_9_1.jpgIt's unusual for an act not scheduled to play Fuji Rock proper would deign to play the pre-festival party, especially a band who's slated to appear at a number of other summer festivals, including Fuji's main competitor, Summer Sonic (well, at least the Osaka end). But Shonen Knife was just the ticket, and if they didn't deliver the knock-out punch that openers Flogging Molly did with their Irish uppercut, their songs about cute animals, junk food, rockets, and twisting Barbies reminded everyone that they were still in the land of Hello Kitty and cartoon manju--and are we glad!

Perhaps the surprise visit was a chance to break in the new bass player prior to the paid gigs. With Michie Yamada gone, having married an American last spring and reportedly now moved to California, that leaves sister Naoko the sole remaining founding member, but twenty-five years down the line Ms. Yamada can still swing that hair, and as she proved on the closing number, "Big Cat," her power chords are as strong as ever.

It was a classic Shonen Knife set--fast, tight, lazily choreographed, and filled with ridiculously good cheer. Getting the crowd to sing along with "Rubber Band" was no problem at all, and "Ride the Rocket" produced the first crowd surfing of the weekend, but I missed their usual closer, "Mongoose vs. Snake." with its wild chorus of "fight, fight." Are there snakes in Naeba?

Eat up

DSCF0318_1.jpgThe festival opened exactly at 6 pm Thursday for those who have the kind of freedom that they can take off work or whatever to party with the natives on a Thursday night. The air is cool and the threatened rain hadn't arrived, though the right kind of clouds were there. Everybody flooded into the Oasis for chicken wrap and curry, Boddington and red wine, fortifying themselves for whatever the night had in store. Tomorrow is just the beginning.

Shonen Knife!?!!?!!? + the rest of the Opening Night Lineup

Opening night schedule as follows:

20:00 start

Flogging Molly

Shonen Knife


The Cooper Temple Clause


Mamezuka will play between all band sets.

If you`re wondering why Shonen Knife is in the lineup, so are we. They`re not playing Fujirock 06 at all, so aparently they`re just here for the love of it. Shonen Knife is however playing Summer Sonic, but only in Osaka, so maybe that`s outside the scope of any exclusivity agreements? Not that we really care at this point. So be sure to check them out!!!

- Dave and Phil

July 26, 2006

Don Coglione: Don't bust my balls

As a DJ, Don Coglione is as surprised as anyone else to find himself playing at Fuji Rock Festival this year. In fact, when he received an email inviting him to play at the festival after a gig at Super Deluxe a few months ago, he was sure it was "a bit of a wind-up. I mean, there's better funk DJ's in Tokyo than me..."
But perhaps none so pure.

Don Coglione, otherwise known as Nick Coldicott, has been playing old 60's and 70's funk around Tokyo for the past six years. The unusual stuff. The stuff that finds itself sampled and mixed in newer, bigger, much more famous tracks—without the rest of that famous track. As he says, it's "the real dance floor stuff. Not the George Clinton grinding type...the rare stuff that people really don't know until they hear it in a Fat Boy Slim track."

Nick came to Tokyo eight years ago from South Hampton, UK, just to do something different. He taught English (as we all have at some point), has written for AP, and started spinning records purely by accident. At a noise show one night in Kamata, he was very disturbed at what he saw—a beautiful venue with terrible music. "The only instruments were a Theremin and a typewriter," he recalls, "and people were nodding to it, you know, pretending to 'understand' this bullshit." Since some of his friends were DJs, Nick asked the woman who ran it about putting on a party.

"Are you a DJ from London?" She asked.
"Well I can be..."

And so Don Coglione's Rhythm Night was born—along with Nick's DJ moniker.

"We just wanted something daft for the title. And the only phrase in Italian I know is 'non mi rompere i coglione'. 'Don't bust my balls.'" He laughs about it, saying he doesn't really care about what DJ's call themselves, "but now I'm stuck with this stupid name."

Far from being just his taste in DJ material, funk is the music he loves. One look at his iPod shows it is almost exclusively funk-soul-blues. He haunts the Disc Union in Shinjuku every week, searching out rare vinyl for his collection. The discs he buys used to cost him between \1,000 and \2,000. Now he finds himself shelling out around \15,000 at a time.

Bring your muddy d-d-d-d-d-dancin' shoes down to the Crystal Palace Tent at Fuji Rock Festival and catch some of Don Coglione's rare grooves on Sunday night from 11:30pm to 12:30am. And don't bust his you-know-what...


July 25, 2006

Global Cool Update

As reported earlier, the Fuji Rock Festival will be the first event in the world to introduce the Global Cool campaign, whose aim is to reduce carbon emissions by persuading people to cut back on electricity use. On Friday, the festival proper will open with a speech from Smash President Masa Hidaka. Leonardo DiCaprio, who is in charge of the California campaign, had planned to join Masa for the opening, but for reasons having to do with Hollywood priorities he will not be able to attend. However, he has made a film that he has asked to be shown at the opening of the festival, preceded by a video in which he says, "It's great to see that the Fuji Rock music festival was the first concert in the world to go carbon neutral, and now is hosting the launch of Global Cool, an international campaign to wake up the world about global warming, and encourage everyone of us to do something. I made the film you're about to see to help educate and motivate people to take action now to combat global warming." However celebrity freaks won't be disappointed. Orlando Bloom, who is also involved in the campaign, is now slated to show up in Leo's place, along with his girlfriend (Orlando's, not Leo's) Kate Bosworth. It's the second trip Orlando has made to Japan in the past two weeks! He must really love Japan.

Asian Tongue Fu

When today's musicians take to the mic, it's often hard to figure out exactly what they're saying. When people around us misquote our favorite band, we can engage in some fairly intense discussion about the politics of verse and the thematic undercurrent of said tunes (because we know they're saying, "mega-mega white thing, mega-mega white thing..."). It's even harder if your native tongue is English, and you're (trying to) singing along with some Japanese rockers.
If you're into Asian Kung Fu Generation, and their latest album, Sol-fa, mumble no more! Tofu Records, the band's American distributor, is here to help with "official" English translations.

Tofu Records specialize in bringing Japanese pop music to the States. Their roster to-date includes not only Asian Kung-Fu Generation, but other big-in-Japan pop bands like BOOM BOOM SATELLITES, L'Arc~en~Ciel, Puffy AmiYumi, and Koizumi-san's favaorite, X(JAPAN).

For the complete English lyrics to AKFG's album, go to Tofu Records and click on the 'Artists' sidebar on the left. Choose AKFG and you can see the link on the right. Then, check them out Friday afternoon at the Green Stage from 13:50 to 14:50. Hiiiiiiieeeeee-ya!


Still Undecided About What Acts To Watch?

With so many stages and acts to choose from, it can be quite trying to decide which bands to watch at a large festival such as Fuji Rock. To try and help make your decisions a little simpler, Smashing Mag has a section where you can view all of the photo reports, live reports, CD reviews, and interviews it has featured with this year's FRF performers.

The section can be found on the main page of the Japanese version of Smashing Mag -- http://smashingmag.com/index.html. In the upper left hand corner it says "Mag Files: FRF". Click on this and a menu with all the letters of the alphabet should appear at the top of your computer screen. From there select a letter and you'll be able to view everything that Smashing Mag has in its extensive data base on all artists whose name falls under that letter. There's content in both English and Japanese and a ton of great photos from the site's very talented staff.

Want To Get Up Close and Personal?

Select FRF performers will be signing autographs and playing acoustic shows at the Ganban/ MTV booth and at the Ganban official goods shop throughout the weekend. This is a great chance to meet some of the great bands you've seen play and possibly get to witness a much more intimate performance.

Full information on who is signing and playing can be found at http://www.ganban.net/frf06-signkai.html. The page is in Japanese, but can be read if you run it through a free online translation site such as http://www.worldlingo.com/en/websites/url_translator.html. The English won't be perfect, but you'll be able to make out what's written easy enough.

Jenny Lewis

According to the main page of the Japanese Fuji Rock site, Jenny Lewis has been chosen to replace Clap Your Hands Say Yeah at Red Marquee.

She will be filling the band's 17:10-18:00 timeslot on Saturday afternoon. She will also be performing on the same stage on Sunday night from 23:00-00:00. CYHSY were forced to cancel their appearance after lead singer Alec Ounsworth was order to rest his voice by his doctor.

Jenny Lewis' official site is http://www.jennylewis.com. There is also a bio and review of her music at

Weather forecast

The weather forecast for Naeba on Thursday and Friday isn't looking too promising. Hopefully Saturday and Sunday will be nice though. You can follow the weather forecast as it changes throughout the week at http://www.snow-forecast.com/resorts/Naeba.0to6bot.shtml

July 24, 2006

Don't forget:

earplugs - you may need them to sleep or for a few moments's peace

Rain Boots - looks like a muddy one, folks

Genki drinks - these have been in surprisingly short supply on-site. when you need a boost at 3am, a lukewarm cup of coffee only gets you so far

FRF Staff Picks, Pt 2

Best spot to see bands up close: the Food court and Palace after 2

Best spot for a snooze: Top of the field @ Avalon (many acoustic bands, mellow atmosphere)

Best spot for a tryst in public: The woods a few meters from the boardwalk

Best spot to be when it rains (and it WILL rain, friends): The gondola, the Red Marquee (just after getting a drink), the Lark Cigarette pavilion @ Orange Court.

July 21, 2006

Don't Forget the ex-YMO, Harry Hosono

Harry HosonoLooking back the history of rock music in Japan, perhaps the most important band was and still is "Happy End". Formed in the late 60's and making a debut in 1970 with "Happy End", in the following year, they released a classic, "Kazemachi Roman" before recording the last album, "HAPPY END", in the States with some members of Little Feat and Van Dyke Parks, as the producer.

The importance was to establish a style of rock in Japanese language with a heavy influence of Moby Grape, Buffalo Springfield as such and each one of the 4 guys of the band was to lead the scene in Japan straight after the happy end.There should be lots to be talked about for those 4 guys, but the most unique one was Haruomi Harry Hosono, whose grandfather was one of those survived from Titanic, who are to sail into an ocean of various music of the world. With some influence of James Taylor and some west coast music, he recorded "Hosono House" at his home in Hyde Park, Sayama city where US military forces were about to leave.

Harry Hosono Soon after the release of the first album Harry's unique talent was to bloom to start releasing a series of albums which would be name "Exotica Trilogy" just before him getting into the world of Techno, YMO. With some obvious influence of the late Martin Denny, "Tropical Dandy" came out first in 75. It was like a sound track of never existed movie of travelling islands in the Pacific Ocean where Harry's imaginative power was to mix completely different factors of world music which lead to the following classic of "Taian Yoko, Bon Voyage Co.". This album, ,to be called "Amazing classic" by Todd Rundgren, was a melting pot of modern trad rhythm and music of the world and the typical example of the master piece is a track called "Roocho Gumbo" having music and rhythm of Okinawa and Second Line in New Orleans which was like listening 2 songs at the same time, but still they are together as one.

Harry HosonoI suppose Harry had completed this project of "Exotica" with "Paraiso", he was to travel to India with an artist, Tadanori Yokoo, who did marvelous illustration for Santana's "Lotus, Live at Budokan" or Miles Davis' "Agharta" & "Pangaea" and recorded an album, "Cochin Moon", which really was a bridge of the "Exotica" and YMO" and here you could hear Harry Hosono's pure techo music before him getting into more pop world of YMO. This albums is worth checking if you are familiar to YMO.

However this time at FRF, his band is called Harry Hosono Quintet and perhaps he will be playing more of the "Exotica" music rather than Techno, I guess, as he appeared to be ever so happy playing at Hyde park Music Festival in Sayama where his classic album, "Hosono House", was born originally and the most of the songs were selected from his early works. I never could guess his classic music sounds like to those who know Hosono of YMO, but to us, an old fan of Harry, it would be like a dream show if he plays those "Exotica" classics.

July 20, 2006

The String Cheese Incident: Food For Thought

The String Cheese IncidentWe know that Fuji Rock Fest will have its share of extended jams. Sure to bring a few surprise guests onstage (we hope) will no doubt be popular jam-band The String Cheese Incident. The Colorado-based sextet will play the Green Stage on Friday morning (11 to 11:45am), and they and all their phreaky phriends will be at play in the Field Of Heaven on Saturday night from 7:30 to 11pm.

With "jam" meaning something a little more important to the hungry all over the world, including SCI's present-day U.S. of A., their 2006 Summer Tour is aimed at helping out.

According to the band's website, SCI will be holding food drives at nearly all of the dates on their 2006 Summer Tour across America. They will be offering free, limited-edition tour posters by artist Michael Brown to each fan that brings 10 non-perishable food items to the show.

What does this mean for Japan? Well, since Conscious Alliance is a grassroots American charity, it probably means good intentions and raised-awareness. Which is a good thing.

If you live here in Nippon, you can help feed some of our own. Head over to Second Harvest and lend a hand. Or better yet, send them some "bread" for their extended "jam".

July 18, 2006

Tommy G: from the streets to the white stage

Tommy Guerrero is many things: a pioneer of street-style of skateboarding in the early 80's; a successful businessman who founded Real Skateboards and Deluxe distribution; and a guitarist jamming bluesy, free jazz rhythms.

Local audiences will be exposed to the musical side of Tommy Guerrero as he performs his latest EP Year of the Monkey on the White Stage, Friday, July 28th. It won't be his first trip to Japan, and as it turns out, it won't be his first time atop a major musical stage.

In an email interview with this website, Guerrero writes " i've been to Japan several times and have played for a handful of thousands so the nerves r calm and steady". In his native San Francisco, Guerrero plays with backing band Jet Black Crayon, regularly opening shows for highly acclaimed musical acts such as Tortoise.

Whle Guerrero is winning fans amongst serious musicians, it's still a safe bet he is better known amongst skateboard fans, many may known him as "Tommy G" or the boyhood star of the classic film The Search for Animal Chin.

The teenage Guerrero featured prominently in this film, and it began his long tenure with the Powell Peralta team and subsequent the Bones Brigade. Recently, new life has been bred into the movie with a new DVD release comes with behind the scenes footage, excerpts, and commentary from fellow riders.

Guerrero plays a major role in the film, showcasing his free flowing skateboard style, and a knack for skating all types of different surfaces, from drainage ditches to curbs and ledges.

As for his guitar work, Guerrero, is steadily building a fan base, with a half dozen commercial releases, a strong hometown following, and a musical exploration that ranges from jazz to mood music that sort of sums up someone who say he's "just gonna play and have a good time".

July 17, 2006

Gnarls Barkley

Gnarls_Barkley We think rumors are for losers, but we can't help being intrigued by the buzz surrounding the upcoming appearance of Gnarls Barkley on the White Stage on Friday. It's entirely likely that had the scheduling been carried out now rather than two months ago, Gnarls would have been headlining the day since his single, "Crazy," is already the most downloaded song in British music history and the album from whence it came, St. Elsewhere, has been hovering around number one for most of the last nine weeks. It's currently at number 8 on the Blillboard chart, so even the US isn't immune to his charms.

You can call him a bona fide phemonenon, I'm sure he won't mind, except, of course, that "he" doesn't exist. Cee-Lo Green and Danger Mouse, the minds behind the masks, not to mention the wigs, will be ready to step out, so the only question is: which costumes will they wear? And how many of them are there? The buzz is mostly about numbers. Reportedly, up to a dozen people occupy the stage doing God knows what. I think it'll be crowded, both on stage and in front of it.

July 16, 2006


Anais Every year there's at least one artist who seems to be all over the place, playing on various stages, busking to all hours of the morning in the world food court, hanging with the hoi polloi outside the Palace of Wonder. Michael Franti and Eddi Reader come to mind from past festivals. This year the designated butterfly seems to be the quirky French singer-songwriter Anais, who will perform officially at the Naeba Shokudo at 10:40 pm on Saturday, and on Sunday at the Orange Court at 1:50 pm and at Gypsy Avalon at 4:30 pm.

Anais is a former rock singer who made the bold decision to record her solo debut album in front of an audience during a live club concert. It paid off. "The Cheap Show " has sold more than 200,000 copies in France. Anais mixes blues and rock and folk and even rap (there's a Neptunes cover), but chanson informs everything, even the novelty song "Christine," which is sung in Scots-accented English. Anais does whatever she can to be inventive and project a distinctive style. She samples (or post-dubs) her own harmony vocals on "Mon coeur mon amour" and then makes it seem as if the audience is cheering the idea. And is that a kazoo on "Elle sort qu'avec des blacks"? At times, these clever touches border on the precious, as does her tendency to break out in cutesy or gruff tones of voice and exaggerate her plosives. It's as if she were trying on personas for the hell of it. But, of course, these are entertainment tactics, not expressive tropes, and if Anais decided that a live album was the way to go, it's probably because she doesn't separate her music from her audience, who on the record are very, very appreciative. Of course, they might be post-dubbed, too, but we doubt it. Those kind of reactions can't be faked.

July 15, 2006

Another Cancellation …

The String Cheese IncidentDue to doctor' orders, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah have been forced to cancel their Japanese and Australian tours. This means, of course, that they will be unable to perform in Red Marquee on the Saturday evening of the festival.

Alec Ounsworth, the guitarist and vocalist of the highly-touted, Brooklyn-based act, began to have problems with his voice during the band's recent European dates resulting in his doctor telling him to take a break and rest his vocal chords.

From the band's official site:

"We're sorry to announce that we have to postpone our upcoming trip to Japan and Australia. Unfortunately over the course of our recent European tour Alec's voice started to give out on him, and in order to avoid any permanent damage to his vocal chords he's going to have to take some time off of touring. We're really sorry for the late notice, and we wish this wasn't the case, but we promise to make it over as soon as we can. If you bought tickets for our shows in Sydney or Melbourne you'll be able to get a refund for your tickets."

There has been no official word yet on who Clap Your Hands Say Yeah's replacement will be.

Those interested in finding out what they're missing can head to Smashing Mag's site and check out the review -- http://smashingmag.com/tour/06tr/060124clapyour_mike.html -- and photo report -- http://smashingmag.com/tour/06tr/060124clapyour_keco.html -- from the band's Japanese tour earlier this year.

July 14, 2006

Kiyoshiro cancels

Kiyoshiro Imawano On July 12, it was announced that Kiyoshiro Imawano, the semi-official "King of Fuji Rock," cancelled his appearance on the Green Stage July 30 due to illness. According to newspaper reports, Kiyoshiro was experiencing discomfort in his throat in June and went to get it checked out. It was discovered that he has cancer of the larynx. He is now hospitalized and undergoing treatment.

The 55-year-old singer and songwriter has played at every Fuji Rock Festival from 1998 to 2005 except for 2003, and in many of those years he performed on more than one stage. Undoubtedly one of the most eclectic, not to mention eccentric, pop stars in Japanese music, Kiyoshiro formed the legendary folk group RC Succession in high school. His subsequent solo career has embraced every style of music, from blues to hard rock to soul (he once toured with Booker T and the MGs)--all of which he's played for the folks of Fuji.

On his home page Kiyoshiro has sent out a message to his fans, saying that, like everything in life, his illness is another experience. "I hope I can devote myself to the treatment with the feeling of enjoying these new blues."

With kind permission of Smashing Mag.

July 13, 2006

Here comes the Sun

Sun PauloI first stumbled upon Sun Paulo years ago at a free outdoor rave in Yoyogi Park, of all places. Didn't make sense at first: "What's this Rock n' Roll guy doing HERE?" But once he began clanging out riffs over electro everyone around him went nuts. One of the best acts to play Avalon the entire weekend, and definitely worth a look on Sunday night.

The photo is featured with a kind permission of Smashing Mag

FRF Staff Picks, Vol 1 [jinki's]

Best first meal on-site: Ostrich Kebabs and cold beer from Solomon's Ethiopean Cafe

Best place to chill between shows: The sake bar between Green and White, next to the river. In years past they've had opera playing, and shone laser-light patterns on the cliffs across the river. Looked a bit like snow falling.

Best View: The Gondola as it passes near Green Stage

More to come. Anyone else wanna add a few?

Loose Strings Band Together

The String Cheese IncidentString Cheese Incident, one of a dozen internationally known jam bands, will occupy the Gypsy Avalon stage once graced by fellow jammers; moe and Phil Lesh's Rat Dog. With sets upwards of four hours, the band is bound to break a few strings, and this year, in conjunction with Relix Magazine, broken guitar strings will be woven into wearable Relix Band bracelets, with proceeds going to charity. They don't come cheap at a price of US$99. Still, it's a small price for serious fans to "wear their music" and own guitar strings played by String Cheese Incident members, Bill Nershi, Keith Moseley, or Micheal Kang.

The photo is featured with a kind permission of Smashing Mag

July 12, 2006

New Set of Stripes

The Raconteurs Jack White's musical career is evolving. This time he's coming to Fuji Rock with The Racounters. The sound is basically the same; acapella vocals, acoustic guitar strumming and slapdash drumming. The backing band, composed of White's hometown Detroit friends, is heightened by the presence of outstanding of guitarist/vocalist, Brendan Benson. Many say the group's debut album Broken Boy Soldiers is effin brilliant, and there's no need to tell a Fuji Rock audience about the magnetism of White's live performance: his performance was festival highlight in 2004. If you're wondering what's in a name; a "raconteur" is someone delights in telling anecdotes, generally accepted as being a compliment, ie "he's such a witty raconteur".


Part of the appeal of the Fuji Rock experience is the way the site itself has been altered in a way that dovetails with the sensory-heightening function of the music. The trick, of course, it not to alter things in a way that hurts the environment or gets in the way of the festival's operation. The boardwalk that snakes through the forest from the White Stage to the Orange Court is a perfect example. Great care has been exerted to make sure no vegetation is displaced or harmed; while at the same time the structure itself allows the people who use it a proximity to Naeba's natural beauty that is unique in quality.

With this concept in mind, Australian environmental artist Craig Walsh has been invited to install a work he calls Humanature at various locations on the festival grounds. Using animation and special lighting, the installations transform plants and trees into giant portraits after dark. Because plants and trees can often mimic in outline the shape of the human body or head, these natural objects take on the properties of holograms when human forms are projected against them in a certain way.

"As my work has constantly been concerned with individual and collective perceptions of environment and the effects environment has on our condition," Walsh writes in his statement for the project, "the human head superimposed over a variety of surfaces has been a powerful metaphor to provoke the viewer into considering their personnel relationship to an object, site or space. The juxtaposition of the face with specific built and natural environments clearly states the influence our environment has on the human condition. This work aims at forcing the viewer into reassessing and questioning our current condition."

Walsh will be assisted in his endeavor by Japanese actor Noriaki Okubo, who will presumably lend his own form to at least one the four projections that are being planned.

Beat the Heat

Jazz DefektorsSunday morning's Green Stage opener is KODO, one of the Japan's most famous purveyors of indigenous Taiko drumming styles. They're also the most creative and ambitious, with their yearly world tours, team-ups with musicians around the globe, genre-expanding work and their own festival. The Earth Celebration Festival is held on Sado island, far from any major city. They invite one band from overseas to play the fest (think African drums, Romanian brass, etc), with the grand finale being a session with all musicans involved. Quite amazing. This year's act is Tamango's Urban Tap, which from what i understand is a mix of live musicans, world-beat, Jazz and tap dancing (Fred Estaire in a drum circle, perhaps?).

But Taiko at its most vibrant will be right there at FRF this year: Green Stage, Sunday @ 11.

Really going to be a Broken Social Scene?

Chartattack.com, the web site for Canada's leading music magazine, is reporting that Broken Social Scene are planning to go on hiatus after their tour dates this fall. The collective is comprised of musicians from some of Canada's top indie acts (Stars, Metric, Feist, Apostle Of Hustle, Raising The Fawn and many more).

The article can be read at http://www.chartattack.com/damn/2006/07/1007.cfm. Fuji Rock will mark Broken Social Scene's third visit to Japan. They played in Osaka and Tokyo in May 2005 as part of the Canada Wet tour which also featured fantastic Canadian acts Stars, Metric, The Dears, and Death From Above 1979. Earlier this year they were back in Nippon for a promotional visit and played a few instore performances while they were here.

Depending on how long the hiatus will be, the band's Sunday afternoon gig on the White Stage may be the last time to see them in Japan for a long time. Look for them to play stellar selections from both of their Juno (Canada's version of a Grammy) award winning albums, "You Forgot It in People" and "Broken Social Scene."

July 11, 2006

Sonic Youth: No need for binoculars

In case you were wondering what Sonic Youth's set would be like, the LA Times wrote that the stage was basically dark for most of last night's show at the LA Forum, where they opened for Pearl Jam.

This following paragraph - actually the article's very, very last paragraph - is all that was written about them in the concert review, but I guess LA always has been a glam town (not that Pearl Jam has ever been glam, right? Oh well, this obviously ain't Arthurfest.):

The short but compelling set by the night's opener, the veteran New York band Sonic Youth, took a different approach. Playing in near darkness and featuring songs from its new release, "Rather Ripped," the quartet (now augmented by Mark Ibold, former bassist for Pavement) wove a net of distortion and drone enmeshed with shimmering threads of melody. Always more likely to analyze rather than immerse in classic-rock fantasies, Sonic Youth presented a different dream world — more shadowy but just as deep.

July 10, 2006

An interview with Fujirock's "Taisho"

Staff and fans of Fuji Rock often call Masa Hidaka "Taisho," which translates into something like "Big Boss" or "Generalissimo." I guess he fits that role, but in person he's pretty laid-back. I interviewed him for the Japan Times recently, as this year is FRF's 10th fest.

Think beyond Green & Red

Lots of folks go to FRF for the headliner, as is their right. But a vital part of a festival like Fujirock is stumbling onto some amazing act you've never heard of. I may ruin the surprise, but here's a couple bands I hope the more adventurous types wander into and love:

-Japanese psych-rock from Yura Yura Teikoku. Their site and a feature in the Japan Times

-The Refugee All stars of Sierra Leonne: Find their site here

-Tobey Foyeh lives in America, but his Orchestra Africa lives up to its name

More of these to come

Rockin' and a Shockin'

Gaz MayallMost FRF veterans recognize Jason Mayall and his older brother Gaz as Fuji's top mischief-makers, but what you may not know is that they are both KICK-ASS dj's, with one of the best vinyl collections I've ever seen. And Gaz's club in London is one of the country's longest-running. Gaz has made countless collections of Ska, Blues, R&B and Rock n' Roll - many cassette only, but many others on labels like Trojan. The latest is nice sampler of what you'll probably hear on Saturday night at the club tent.

A Bigger Big-Top

As I said before, the tent at the Palace of Wonder has to be seen to be believed. As does Eddie Egal's fireshower

July 9, 2006

Taiwan's FRF connection

Last week I was interviewing the head of the Formoz Festival, Freddy Lin, and he talked a bit about hanging out with Fujirock founder/guru/boss Masa Hidaka.

A quick intro of Formoz: it's Taiwan's biggest - well, actually, now it's Taiwan's only truly international rock fest with major acts, and is now in its 12th year. This year's Friday headliner, Super Furry Animals, plays Sunday at FRF, and last year shared acts included Moby and Lisa Loeb. Connections also helped set up a(n early morning) set at the Red Marquee for Taiwan's Tizzy Bac last year, and has also helped the Taiwan fest get in touch with some big Japanese acts. This year's Formoz will feature at least 14 bands from Japan, including Nanase Aikawa.

The growing friendship between Masa and Freddy (yes, Freddy did make the pilgrimmage to Glastonbury...) is how this is happening. Freddy was saying the two hardly even talk about festivals anymore, and the last time they met, Freddy said he was stewing about Taiwan independence or politics - the kind of crap he usually worries about - so Masa was like, 'Hey Freddy, hit me!' Freddy was like, huh, what? And since Freddy didn't react, Masa hit Freddy.

The moral: Don't think too much.

Or in other words: That's what friends are for.

Cue curtain fall on happy ending with birds chirping, squirrels hugging and smooching, dolphins doing backflips, etc.

"Bring me a Palace..."

That's what Masa Hidaka, FujiRock's big boss-man demanded, and this year, more then ever, he's getting it. Cheers to Koichi for his help with (and link to) my Japan Times article on the Palace of Wonder. Dunno if it truly came across in print, but the Palace is my favorite place at FRF. Has been since 2002, actually. But due to space constraints on the page, I had to leave out a lot of interesting Palace info, which I'll post here...

If you read the JT piece (see link below), then you know that Joe Rush and the Mutoid's are bringing their massive, post-apocalyptic sculptures again. If you've never seen them, think Max Max-meets-Alice in Wonderland. Will post some more pics here soon. What I didn't have room for was to tell you the fire-breathing dragon may make an appearance, the car-eating ant won't, and the English Taxi cab that's been used as everything from a dinosaur body to a fur-lined lounge was seriously damaged this winter as it lay next to the mountain. The entire hood was crushed under the weight of the snow, so expect to see the cab in a new form (hopefully).

Here's a couple other items that didn't make the cut:

-The Grand Speigeltent they are using this year is truly awesome and has to be seen to be believed. There are only a few of these left in the world, and we're getting one. All-wood interior and a bar called "Black Velvet," named after one of its signature drinks: a cocktail of champagne and Guiness. Checkit here: http://www.thegrandspiegeltent.com/#

-The Rookie a Go Go stage located inside Palace has set many an unsigned band's career in motion. Rising Japanese bands like Sakerock, Sparta Locals and Doping Panda all played Rookie and went on to bigger tours (Sakerock opens Friday's White stage this year)

-This year's Palace of Wonder will look more like a proper palace: a wall fully enclosing the area and a gate made by Joe & the Mutoids. There may even be a Kremlin-like inflatable dome.

-and I wasn't kidding when I said that heaps of each years acts hang @ Palace. No room to list them all in the paper, but a condensed list includes members of Primal Scream, Cooper Temple Clause, the Music, !!!, Kaiser Chiefs, String Cheese Incident, Fatboy Slim and the Chemical Brothers (those last 2 actually spun a few records, I believe). And as long as people don't hound them for autographs or pictures with their phones, I'll bet they'll keep coming.


2001: Space used as a venue for Circus of Horrors, a British blend of Bolshoi circus and blood-spattered Broadway

2002 : Joe Strummer and the Mutoid Waste Project set up camp at Palace. Bikers rev it up in the Globe of Death

2003 : Can Can Girls, Mechanical Horses and Homemade flamethrowers.

2004: Beatbox blues with Son of Dave, LA cumbia band, Very Be Careful spread Brazilian vibes from a moving flatbed truck, Kid Carpet rocks out, Toy R' Us-style.

2005: Ska Cubano's Caribbean grooves, Big Willie's Burlesque debuts, Jean Monti's nosebleed acrobatics (42 meters up with no safety net) send many shrieking.

July 8, 2006

Global Cool

Global Cool

One of the Fuji Rock Festival's most admired qualities, especially by visiting musicians, is how clean the festival site stays throughout the weekend. There are, of course, a number of reasons, the chief one being the presence of NGOs who police the festival site, constantly reminding people to separate their refuse and place them in the proper bins. There's a kind of nagging efficiency to this policy that anyone who's lived in Japan for a length of time will recognize from train platform announcements ("please don't rush through the doors") and even weather reports ("be sure to bring an umbrella today"). But probably the most important underlying reason is that the kind of people who attend the festival are conscientious about such things.

It seems only right, then, that this year's festival will mark the opening of a ten-year world campaign called Global Cool, a new initiative to stop global warming. Fuji has for a number of years been a carbon-neutral festival, meaning that all carbon that the event produces over the weekend is offset by means of a variety of initiatives, such as planting trees and funding sustainable energy projects. Global Cool goes further, but attempting to spread carbon-reduction initiatives to the individual level. The idea is to get one billion people to save one ton of carbon dioxide each per year by simply switching off electrical appliances and not leaving them on standby, as well as turning off cell phone chargers when they aren't in use.

Smash President Masa Hidaka will launch the campaign on July 28 when he opens the festival in front of an estimated crowd of 35,000 people. On July 29, Global Cool will get its second wind when it's introduced to an audience of about 110,000 people at Milton Keynes Bowl in the UK, and on July 30 in Los Angeles at Dodger Stadium for about 55,000 people. These events will be broadcast at one point or another in their respective regions, thus multiplying the effect astronomically.

In addition, a single person will be chosen at Fuji Rock to make a pledge that he or she will reduce the amount of CO2 that person produces in a year. The person will be posted on the Fuji Rock website and from there it is hoped that more and more people will join the pledge. Those who do will be rewarded with exclusive access to high quality film content on the website.

The Global Cool campaign will be conspicuous for the whole weekend via banners, T-shirts, and booths. It's the sort of nagging efficiency that Japanese institutions are very good at, but for once it's for a purpose that's undeniably important.

Happy Mondays with Jazz Defektor?

Jazz Defektors I received a mail from an old friend of mine called Saltz saying that he is coming to FRF with Happy Mondays. He was of the 4 vocalists of the Jazz Defektors who made sensation back in the mid 80's and the major force of Dance Jazz movement at the time. The music was great but their presentation on stage of the vocalists' unique dance was amazing and Their style was called Northern Style, mixing break dance with some factors of ballet, in comparison with the Southern Style of I.D.J. (I Dance Jazz) based in London whose dance was a mix of break dance and tap dance.

The impact of them with the whole lots of the new jazz, then to be called acid jazz, gave massive influence to Japan and it really gave a birth of a club land here. One of the major forces of the movement at the time was Kyoto Jazz Massive with Mondo Grosso and the main man behind was Shuya Okino, a wicked DJ, spinning discs on Friday at the Palace of Wonder before Katteni Shiyagare getting on stage.

Shuya has been playing one of the tracks of the one and only album of The Jazz Defektors ever since he got that massive impact of Dance Jazz movement and the track is The Jazz Defectors' version of "Another Star", Stevie Wonder's classic, with a funky and Latin tip. As he got a fame as one of the finest DJs around in the world, this track, the JD's version of "Another Star" was becoming a cult hit in the dance floor of Japan and Europe and eventually the album, The Jazz Defektors, was re-released this year in Japan.

Well, with the presence of Saltz and the timing of the re-issue of the album, Shuya would play this wicked version of "Another Star" for sure at Crystal Palace, a huge retro tent brought in direct from Europe for the festival in the Palace of Wonder.

July 7, 2006

Check this!

Joe Ruc One of the most exciting spots of the Fuji Rock Festival where the heart of festival culture is found is what we call, "Palace of Wonder". One of he creators of the vibes there is Joe Rush of The Mutoid Waste Company based somewhere in London and this was a photo of him taken by hanasan last year at the site.

One of the staff and regular contributors of Japan Times wrote pretty good piece on that aspect of the festival for the paper and you could check it here. Please do check.

Also a report by Fuji Rock Express '05 are found...
Joe Rush & The Mutoid Waste Company
New Sculpture at Palace of Wonder

The photo is featured with courtesy of Fuji Rock Express.

July 5, 2006

Here We Go blogging with Fuji Rock!

You may have known about this, but there used to be an English version of fujirockers.org untill 2003, which is what "They call" a fan site of Fuji Rock Festival, but it was not realistic to keep it running without having enough staff and financial support as fujirockers.org is not run by the organizer of the festival or any corporation as such but an independent web site run by a bunch of individuals loving festivals and particularly Fuji Rock Festival.

Simply there were not enough people and time of those who involved at the time. But we kept some space of English articles and reports in Fuji Rock Express, On Time Web Magazine, reporting what is happening at the festival site straight way by fujirockers.org. The reason was simple. Just because we love Fuji Rock and it is not just a bunch of shows of a band, but there is something we wanted to tell you about and a side of alternative culture normally never been reported by major press along with we wanted to say, "Don't waste your time checking a bloody monitor, but come around and have fun together to realize what a life is all about."

Some of the English writers involved in the Fuji Rock Express last year mentioned "Why not having a blog?" in a meeting we had as there should be something to help those who are trying to come and reach the festival with very little knowledge of Japanese. There must be more than what The official site is telling us and each one of us has got a different perspectives and information as well. Then let's get on the case and kick off... This is how we start this blog.

We do know that there is less than a month to go to the Fuji Rock Festival this year, but this site is not for only this year, but for the past and future as well. We may be able to make some contacts with you for future and also we may help for those loving Fuji Rock to get together someway somehow.

We still don't know what we can offer, but believe it is far better than nothing.

One Love to all.

Report by hanasan

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