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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.



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