July 26, 2007

Away We Go

All of the contributors to this blog are now heading up to Naeba for the fest. We'll be posting reports all weekend long from the festival on the Fuji Rock Express site. Be sure to check out the site often to stay up to date with everything happening at FRF '07!



Mo' Beer Blues

Jonesing for a beer, but got those half-full blues?

We all know what it's like. Let's face it, we're cheap.

You're parched. Watching all those bands is thirsty work, no matter what the weather. So you head off to one of the beverage brokers for a cup of your favorite refreshment. All seems good, that cup is big, at least at the price. Better priced than a Tokyo tipple, anyway. Your cup runneth over. Then you pick it up, and you get the distinct feeling that something is amiss. Namely the entire top half of your beer... Bastards! Ripped again!

It's a well known fact in Japan that one third head on your beer makes it taste better. It was once proclaimed to me that "it would not taste so good without!" Bollocks! It's a well known fact that if you tried to serve a beer that way in my home country of Australia, you would be physically assaulted by the patron. Then your boss would apologise to said patron before you swiftly found your way to the unemployment line.

So what to do? Well, if your Japanese isn't so good like mine, here's a little trick I learned form another Fujirocker last year: "Awa nashi, kudasai!" Say it loud, say it proud! It may earn you the derision of the staff, a smile or a roll of the eyes, they may even shake their head. But what it will earn you, most importantly, is a full beer. Yes, full of liquid, not bubbles! That's the aim of your game!

Now get back to that moshpit!

July 25, 2007

Fishbone's Out

Another change to Sunday's lineup.

Fishbone have cancelled their appearance at this year's fest. No official reason has been issued yet. Filling their Orange Court headlining slot will be Fermin Muguruza. The act will still be playing the Green Stage on Sunday afternoon from 12:25 p.m. - 1:10 p.m. before closing out Orange Court from 9:40 p.m. - 11:00 p.m.

Check the July 2007 archives for a blog entry on Fermin Muguruza.


Hiromi's Sonicbloom

Jazzbos will rightly grouse that there isn't enough of their favorite type of music at Fuji, which, after all, is a friggin' rock festival. However, music lovers of all stripes will find something to love in pianist Hiromi Uehara.

Hiromi, as she's known overseas, is not just one of the most exciting and respected young pianists in jazz. She's considered something of a prog-rock standard bearer. As a teen prodigy she played with everyone from Oscar Peterson to the Czech Philharmonic, and since then she combined her classical chops with her jazz leanings to create something close to rock. Maybe it's because she loves to show off, but her sets are reported to leave audiences panting and spent. This fall she'll be doing a week of shows in Tokyo as a duo with Chick Corea. Let's hope he can keep up with her.

Village Voice article
Home page

Weather Reports So Far Looking Good!


Weather reports, as of now, are saying there is a chance of a bit of rain for tomorrow night's pre-fest party, but that Friday, Saturday, and Sunday will be dry! Hopefully things stay this way.

Our editor is already up in Naeba and wrote to say that things are pretty cool at night so remember to pack a jacket or long sleeve shirt with you. Also, despite the reports saying it's not going to rain you may still want to pack your rubber boots. Any showers on Thursday coupled with all the foot traffic on Friday are bound to make some areas pretty muddy.


Know yourself

It's countrintuitive -- his gangly white self and all -- but if you don't like Jarvis Cocker, you're probably not sexy ... Friday 3:50, the Green Stage


Dont Let Him Waste Your Time

Running The World

Across the ocean (sea)


Panting to know where OCS might be next? If you miss their date in Naeba -- Friday 6:20 at the Red Marquee -- cause you're sitting at home watching "Sympathy for Mr. Vengence," don't worry Ocean Colour Scene is coming to the Pentaport Festival in Incheon, which has a mean line-up on its Big Top Stage (Strokes). Fuji spreads ...

OCS site


Change To Sunday's Lineup

The Durutti Column are out (the official FRF English web page is citing illness as the reason) and J.A.M are in.

J.A.M. features members from homegrown talent Soil & "Pimp" Sessions. They'll be taking over The Durutti Column's slot on Sunday eve from 17:40-18:40 at Field Of Heaven. Be sure to keep checking the official site for any other lineup changes.


July 24, 2007

Maybe you think my moustache is too much


Hige (beard in Japanese) gave away free paste on mousaches with their latest album. If that's not enough to get you out to the White Stage 11:30 a.m. on Saturday (poor boys), then maybe their two drummers and throw back grunge will call you down.



July 23, 2007

Wheels of steel


Late at night, the Red Marquee is one of the best places to catch rising underground Japanese stars. A hip crowd is looking to dance and the local talent usually comes through with crowd shaking tunes. In 2003, a year after Dj Shadow blew the roof off with a breakbeat video fest, DJ Kentaro showed the homegrown talent was good enough to do the same without the visuals. Kentaro returns this year, 2 a.m. Saturday morning when you should have plenty of boogie on the first full day of Fuji. Don't miss it, and watch his feet.


Japan Times Interview

Another In-store


Grace Potter joins the growing list of acts doing free Tokyo showcases to complement their FRF '07 appearances.

Miss Potter will be playing on the 5th floor of Tower Records in Shibuya on July 27 at 7:00 p.m. No word yet on whether she'll play solo or will be joined by her backing band, the Nocturnals.

Check out a bit o' background info on Grace Potter and the Nocturnals here

Pics from the group's appearance at this year's SXSW here

* Photo by Hanasan and used with permission from Smashing Mag


All Night Fuji: Rust Never Sleeps

When each day's performance schedule is finished and the last power chords have stopped buzzing through thoroughly abused monitors, the trudge starts: back to tents, to the last food court stalls left open, to the remaining beers in the chilly bins.

Many head to the Palace of Wonder to experience the assortment of alternative late night wonders (last year's big hits were Eddie Egal's Fire Show and Big Willie's Burlesque), while many (surprisingly) pass it by.

This year's festival has another ecclectic array of weird wonders for you to see.

The Arena in the middle of The POW will showcase Infernal Varanne's Globe of Death. If you like crazy French motorcyclists locked in a globe-like cage (with a little added fire and beautiful girls), then you're going to like this.

There's also Rookie A-Go-Go if you want a dose of some Kanto area indie rock, or indies from further afield. This writer will be there to catch the heavy, garage rockin' trio of Bo-Beep for sure on Saturday night from 11:30 - midnight. These Fukuoka gals kick ass.

But if you're looking to shake some of that booty, this years official All Night Fuji Party on Friday night at the Orange Court is a rockin' electro affair that promises to keep your Marshall stack buzz going all night. Tomcraft, Tim Deluxe, and audio jack fill out the international side of the roster while Dr. Shingo, Shinichi Osawa, and DJ Tsuyoshi a.k.a. Numanoid are Tokyo's heavy hitters. Worth the walk if you want to dance the night away (and they sell drinks, too). From 11pm.

The Fuji Rock E-team doesn't sleep three days while at the festival. These are some of the reasons why, and some of the ways late night Fuji legends are born.




Dr. Shingo




Speakeasy Cool


Tin-Pan Alley goofballs, Lil' fats and the Swingin' Hotshot Party rock like it's 1929

You know people in film footage from the 20's look kinda sped up a bit, all jerky and happy at the time? Well, Lil' Fats and the Boys seem to live (and perform) like they pre-date the "talkies." Essentially a jug band, these guys play Pre-war standards and retro-sounding originals that are laid-back and manic at the same time. Look for these guys at the Crystal Palace late night Sunday.

Blonde Redhead: Staff Fave of 2007


It's always interesting to see which band the Fujirock staff want to see most.

As I put the schedule together for the Fujirockers E-Team, there are always a few surprises when it comes to which bands are the most (or the least) in demand by staff. And the winners of this year unofficial popularity contest? In first place, Blonde Redhead, with 6 staffers asking to cover it. In second place, with 5 requests is Battles, and tied for third place are Feist, Kings of Leon and !!! – all with three votes each.

Kits essentiels du parfait rocker


C'est bientôt le temps de faire son sac-à-dos pour Fuji-Rock. Année après années il y a des choses que j'oublie ou que j'aurais aimé avoir avec moi. Aussi plusieurs de mes amis qui s'apprêtent a vivre l'expérience du festival pour la première fois me demande conseils sur ce qu'ils devraient apporter. Vêtements, nécessaires de camping, chaussures etc. Voila donc ma liste personnel de trucs essentiels à emporter...

Lampe de poche
Fuji Rock fonctionne pratiquement 24h sur 24h et les groupes les plus intéressants et populaires performent en soirée. Bien que le site soi bien éclairé, une lampe de poche devient des plus pratique pour consulter l'horaire des spectacles à venir, chercher un truc dans votre sac-à-dos ou pour explorer les coins sombres entre les différentes scènes. Encore mieux qu'une lampe de poche, une lampe frontal. Voir ce qu'on fait dans le noir est bien mais voir ce qu'on fait avec les main (ou la bouche) libre est encore mieux.

Lunette de soleil et chapeau.
Bien que la pluie soit souvent au rendez-vous, s'équiper contre le soleil est bien important. Un chapeau ou casquette et des lunettes de soleil évitent la fatigue et les coups de soleil. Très pratique mais aussi utile pour se garder frais sont les serviettes que les japonnais s'enroulent autour du coup. On peut toujours compter sur la classique fournis par Tower Record mais elles sont parfois difficiles à ce procurer et les file d'attendre interminables. À ne pas oublier également, crème solaire!

Kit de pluie
Chaque année Fuji Rock se déploie la dernière fin de semaine de juillet dans les montagnes de Niigata. Pour les gaijins qui l'ignore, c'est encore en saison de pluie et celle-ci sera de la partie presque à coup sur. Mais comme Glastonbury nous l'enseigne, un festival de musique rock sans boue ce n'est pas aussi amusant. Un parapluie en plastique et un jacket vont de soi mais la clé du confort est d'avoir les pieds sec. Ici, plusieurs approches possiblent, pour le top confort, les bottes style pêcheur son cool et assurent de rester au sec. Les classique Aigle pour les filles en short sont des plus sexy et les gars peuvent opter pour un look Tsukiji. En plus de  simple scandales flip-flop ou croc sont aussi une solution utile lorsqu'il fera chaud mais après quelques heures de pluie, cette option vous laissera les pieds froids et ridé par la pluie donc à considérer comme un extraqui ne prend pas vraiment beaucoup de place dans votre sac plut-tôt qu'une option vraiment valable à la pluie....

En terminant, un petit sac léger pour traîner le tout une fois sur le site ainsi que des vêtement chauds pour les nuits fraîches et plusieurs bas de rechange pour les pieds fatigués sera toujours apprécier.


Beastie Boys and Fishbone!

One of the things I really love about Fuji is the opportunity to see acts I've known for a long time but have never seen live. I would probably go out of my way to see someone like Feist in the prime of her youth wherever she was playing, but might resist ponying up the money for the mere nostalgia of seeing these two.

Fishbone are the same band I knew from 1991's breakthrough The Reality of My Surroundings in name only, with only two of the original members of that band still with them. Still, those two memberw, Angelo Moore and John Norwood Fischer, were prime creative forces on that album and are the heart of the personality of the band, so I look forward to seeing what they're up to.

The Beastie Boys, however...well, I can only imagine what they have in store for us. I didn't realize it until I saw they were on the lineup, but I think its been a subcionscious lifelong dream of mine to see them at an outdoor festival. Listen all ya'll...

-Joe Kern

July 22, 2007

The John Butler Trio


One act you shouldn't miss this year!

The John Butler Trio are one of the big movers this year. In FujiRocks of yesteryear (2005 to be exact) they put on a superb performance on Orange court, mid afternoon. This year has seen a movement to the white stage, second to headliners Groove Armada on Friday night. And it's not difficult to see why! This act from the Australian city of Perth, led by the US bred John Butler, have enjoyed a steady rise to stardom over recent years. Always loved by their fans and the press alike, they have been enjoying a pre-FujiRock tour of their home country, playing to sold out crowds at $60 a ticket! If you haven't managed to catch these guys before, they are a real gem, and will no doubt put on a special performance, well worthy of their position in the lineup!

The John Butler Trio
White Stage
Friday evening 8:20pm

Official Site

* Photo taken by Yusuke and used with permission from Smashing Mag

Ms. Dynamite


Funk legend, Marva Whitney performs with Osaka Monaurail

One of the Japan's funkiest bands will pack a serious punch at this year's FRF. Why? Because they have Marva Whitney on vocals, that's why. This woman was James Brown's go-to backup singer ferchrissakes. She's no spring chick, but recent recordings indicate that Whitney's voice is as powerful as ever. And with the indomitable Osaka Monaurail backing her up, expect some serious funky soul.


On Bass, Watt

Mike Watt comes straight out and says it, “rock and roll is a trip”, in this exclusive interview which covers everything from gravel parking lots to Iggy Pop and D. Boon.

Mike Watt has been dubbed the “patron saint of American punk rock” for his tireless exhortations to young people to start their own band. Towards this end he hosts a regular radio show (now a podcast), has authored one book, “Spiels of a Minuteman”, and tours with Iggy Pop and the Stooges, currently in Tromso, Norway: a location which Watt describes as very close to the North Pole.

Despite a busy schedule, Watt found time to provide this exclusive interview.

Q) What's it like playing behind Iggy? Is it still very much a band thing cuz i thought minutemen and fIREHOSE were all equal like a bunch of bros?

A) Please understand that I was not in the original stooges or even from that era - I'll be fifty in December and that's ten years younger than Iggy so I'm like the little brother in the band. I'm also part of the punk movement that is very indebted to the stooges but came after the trail they blazed for us. I'm here to help them and their legacy plus I get to learn a whole lot. I owe these guys my best notes. I first heard them when I was sixteen and to be able to be playing their music w/them is a total mindblow for me! the situation w/the minutemen and fIREHOSE was different... even the situation between the minutemen and fIREHOSE was different - that's just the way life is and it's ok.

Q) some have dubbed you the patron saint of American punk. how do you feel about this, would you want to share this title with anyone else?

A) I think it's is very kind of folks to say that. of course I was part of an entire movement and so myself in that context feel more than just one out of many that I was one among many, even though it was a small scene back in the old days. yes, I was and still am a true believer but punk to me is and always was a state of mind and not so much a style of music. the style of music is up to whoever's doing it. I'll share that w/anyone who wants to share it w/me. I hope that makes sense. the worse think I think is for me to get self-important about something like this. I am very indebted to the punk movement and all the folks who have contributed to make it an interesting and open/empowering trip.

Q) "We Jam Econo" was one of the best docs i have ever seen. I keep watching the "acoustic blowout" on disk two. Do you still miss D. Boon, the old minutemen songs, etc. Any chance Iggy would rattle one out?

A) I think about d. boon every day and it's the reason I got playing bass and am still working it today. I sometimes play a couple of minutemen songs w/my latest trio, the missingmen. I think the stooges are more about stooges music - I'm too afraid to ask!

Q) I saw Iggy on his lecture tour in 89 in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. He spoke at length about politics, John Waters film "pink flamingos" and how rock and roll was knuckle down tough guy stuff, where you had to play hard, and then after the show go out in the gravel parking and take on all comers. Do you feel the same way? Even as you get older?

A) Rock and roll is a trip - I respect much about Iggy talking about politics, I think he was being knuckle down about that. of course I was a minutemen so you should maybe know what I think about speaking your mind in songs - I still feel exactly the same way, age has done nothing to make me change my mind about that. a song is your own gravel parking lot and you make what you want out of it, take on all comers - of course, that's what I think too.

Q) I heard iggy always turns it on when he goes to Japan. have you heard any chatter from him about the land of the rising sun.

A) Iggy works every gig hard, he has an incredible ethic in him that way that inspires me so much. he likes playing Japan, he likes playing everywhere and gives it everything he's got every time - I know cuz I'm there and my focus on him is like 'pert-near total. the man is incredible. he will blow it out for Japan, I just know it.

Q) are more people showing an interest in minutemen because of "We Jam Econo" or Michael Azzerad's book "Our Band Could Be Your Life" or Jackass using "Corona" as their theme song.

A) Young people wanna know about them older days and I give them much credit for being so open-minded and curious. it's a very generous thing. I feel very grateful to folks wanting to know about a music that was very personal to me. a thousand thank yous would still not be enough to express my thanks for people having respect like that. the idea that maybe others might start their own bands or do expression in their own way like writing, poems or painting, et cetera is exactly how we were encouraged to try to find our voice - that's what I was trying to say how I feel about being part of the punk movement. we were lit up by people trying to express themselves in unique ways too. it's kind of folks to think of us that way, much respect to them.

thank you so much for having me aboard, I'm in Norway right now - we're playing in Tromso tonight, the closest I've ever been to the north pole!

Mike Watt plays with Iggy Pop and the Stooges on the White Stage, Saturday at 7:20pm

Mike Watt's Official Website

sean s.
photo provided by mike watt

July 21, 2007

Jonathan Richman

The former Modern Lover is scheduled to make three official appearances at this year's fest, which is notable considering Jojo's famous reluctance to outstay his welcome.

Maybe it's all the birds and the insects and the general nature thing. (Still, one of the gigs is a midnight set in the Palace tent, a place one could hardly call pastoral.) In any case, as eternally boyish as he is, Jonathan is 56 this year, which means there may not be that many more opportunities to see him do his unique thing, at least not in Japan (to paraphrase a line from "Pablo Picasso"). As everyone knows, he doesn't do his electric Modern Lovers stuff any more--hasn't, in fact, since 1974--but the spirit of rock'n roll is still there in his jaunty outlook, his very underrated guitar work, his amazingly heartfelt delivery, and his wicked dance steps. If you've never seen him, you've got three chances. Don't blow it.

Label site
Revealing video

Festival Spreads to Korea, Taiwan

Taiwan's Formoz Festival synchronized with Fujirock 4 or 5 years ago, and Korea's Pentaport Rock Festival has done so from at least 2006. So this year from July 27-29, there will be three major rock fests happening in East Aisa. What this means is that artists can play two (or theoretically even three) festivals over the weekend, while organizers presumably get to spread their costs.

Seems like a win-win situation for everybody, right? For the most part, yes, but when I was recently talking to organizers at Formoz, which takes place in Taipei, there was some griping that they couldn't compete with the big won Korean organizers had to spread around and as a result lost out on some key bands. Pentaport is in is in Incheon, near a beach from the looks of their website, and if I infer correctly, they won this year's bidding war for Chemical Brothers.

Bands that are playing multiple festivals include Chemical Brothers, Muse, Damien Rice, Ash and Stevie Salas, who are all playing both Fujirock and Pentaport. Yo La Tengo is doubling up at Fujirock and Formoz, and OK GO is playing both Formoz and Pentaport. Mercury Rev is also headlining at Formoz, and I'm just too tired of scrolling through these lineups to see if they're playing at either of the other two. What I can say for sure though is that all three festivals use the same three-column schedules on their websites. Formoz also has a strong lineup of Japanese bands that aren't playing Fujirock, including all kinds of great pop, cheese, punk and visual rock: Terriyaki Boys, Ging Nang Boyz, Anna Tsuchiya, Quruli, Buffalo Daughter... and if you really care, I'll let you check out the rest, of which there are plenty.


Fuji Acts at Glastonbury

Several of the artists performing at FRF '07 also performed at this year's Glastonbury Festival.

Smashing Mag, THE premeir site for live photos and gig reports in Japan, sent a team of reporters to cover the festival. Check out the photo reports they filed on Damien Rice, !!!, and Mika for a sample of what to expect next weekend in Naeba.

Hit up the main page of the English side of Smashing Mag to see pics from all the Glastonbury acts along with many other artists who have recently toured in Japan.

Damien Rice MySpace page
!!! MySpace page
Mika MySpace page


Twice The Battles ...


Battles will follow up their Sunday night performance on the White Stage with a (nearly) free in-store performance in Tokyo on Monday July 30.

The New York-based quartet will be performing cuts from their debut full-length, the highly acclaimed Mirrored, at Tower Records in Shibuya at 7:30 p.m.

A friend who speaks much better Japanese than I called the store yesterday to ask about admission and was told that the performance was free for anyone who purchases a Battles CD from Tower Records in Shibuya, Shinjuku, or Yokohama. Passes are being issued now. A pass for the show can also apparently be obtained by buying a concert ticket for Battles' Tokyo show at the end of September or a Battles t-shirt. Both must be purchased at Tower Records. Full info (in Japanese) can be found here.


* Battles photo taken by keco and used with permission from Smashing Mag

July 19, 2007

Updates on Official Site

Fuji Rock's official English web site has been updated with traffic information for Niigata following Monday's large earthquake.

Those planning on taking the Hoshizora Train from the Kansai area should visit the site as the train is being replaced by chartered bus service and all the necessary information is listed.

The official site also includes updated information on what attendees should bring with them, the schedule for the free shuttle bus from Echigo Yuzawa station to the festival site, and many other things.


French Touch


C’est dans moins de deux semaines que débutera la onzième édition du Fuji Rock Festival. Au programme, plus de 150 artistes locaux et internationaux prendront la relève des différentes scènes des montagnes de Niigata pour faire vibrer une foule dépassant les 100,000 spectateurs. Parmi les artistes attendus, de gros nom comme les Beastie Boys ou The Chemical Brothers attireront sûrement plusieurs festivaliers. Cependant, les couches tard et amateurs de music électronique auront l’occasion d’assister à un véritable débarquement des héritiers de la french touch. À Smash, organisateur du festival, on s’est donc tourné vers moi pour couvrir l’événement dans la langue de Molière.

Les plus attendu seront probablement les français Xavier de Rosney et Gaspard Auge. Le dernier album de Justice est une véritable succession de bijoux électro et leur étiquette , Ed Bangers Records, enchaînes les succès en signant les DJ les plus ‘hot’ de Paris et propose les remix les plus intéressants à sortir en onde dernièrement. (myspace, site officiel)

Autres artistes à faire le chemin depuis Paris à surveiller cette année, Teenage Bad Girl et surtout le jeune Surkin sauront à coup sûr chauffer le plancher du Red Marquee. (myspace Teenage Bad Girl, myspace Surkin)

Mais les français ne seront pas les seuls représentants de la francophonie. Vendredi soir, le Montréalais A-Trak précédera l’excellente vedette local DJ Kentaro. Pour avoir déjà vu A-Trak à plusieur reprise, la pression sera forte sur les épaules de Kentaro pour rivaliser de prouesse sur les tables à mixer. Tous deux étant DMC World Champions (Kentaro en 2002 et A-Trak en 1997) ce sera une confrontation à ne pas manquer (site officiel)

Comme leurs cousins, les Québécois ne voyage pas seul et A-Trak pourra compter sur la présence de Chromeo pour faire bouger les Japonais. Le duo est spécialiste d’électro funky-retro sur l’étiquette Turbo Recording de Tiga, un autre DJ Montréalais qui a visité le festival l’an dernier… (myspace, site officiel)

Avec cette excellente programmation nocturne de Fuji Rock, Niigata n’a assurément pas fini de trembler!

Pour plus d’info sur le lineup et sur Fuji Rock.


July 18, 2007

Feist: One Tough Ticket To Get

Feist's tour of North America was largely SOLD OUT with on-line ticket brokers charging as much as US$150 for two shows in San Francisco.

A performance at London’s Scala on July 24 is also sold out, and the next Feist appearance in North America will be on August 29th at the McCarren Park Pool in New York City. This performance will accompany a special concert billed as Broken Social Scene performing Kevin Drew's "Spirit If...". Kind of confusing? Well sorta....

Kevin Drew, a founding member of Broken Social Scene recorded this album at home as a solo-project, but when it came time to go on the road, he invited the whole crew back, including Feist.

Feist performs at the Orange Court on Saturday at 17:50-18:50

official site
Smashing Mag

//sean s.

July 17, 2007

Pa Rum Pa Pum Pum


One of the sets I'm most looking forward to on Sunday is V∞REDOMS (or Boredoms as they are known overseas) on the White Stage. Following what will likely be a killer set by Battles, the Osaka quartet will definitely bring their A-game to FRF.

The act recently hosted a cool ass gig in NYC called 77Boardrum. They played with 77 drummers on July 7. The performance started, naturally, at 7:07 pm. Already boasting three talented drummers in the group, the other 74 were no slouches either and included members from the likes of underground faves such Lightning Bolt, Hot Snakes, Oneida, Unwound, Enon, Gang Gang Dance, Panthers, and Modest Mouse.

Pitchfork review of 77Boardrum
YouTube's got a whole whack of footage as well

The band are reportedly already beginning to think about possibly doing a similiar one-off set in honour of 8/8/08!

Some background info on V∞REDOMS:
Smashing Mag

* Photo taken by Saya38 and used with permission from Smashing Mag


Lily Allen: 2nd time around

Lily Allen performs at FRF for the first time this year. but she's "worked" the fest before.

Her ska-tinged pop may have made her and indie-pop darling and one of the first real MYSPACE success stories, but before she was the "it" girl, she was at Palace of Wonder with her father, British comedian, Keith Allen, when he came over to FRF with Joe Strummer's caravan. So it shouldn't be surprising to see her wandering the Palace ground late night on the 28th.






July 16, 2007

Yo La Tengo's James McNew Talks Up FRF07

In a recent interview on allmusic.com, Yo La Tengo's James McNew was asked what it's like to play Japan. Here is a brief outtake of a cool interview YLT fans may want to check out to psych themselves up for the band's coming set at FRF07:l

MR: So then you go to Salt Lake City after that and then you go to Japan. What was it like when you first went there?
JM: It was amazing. I feel like I'd spent my whole life waiting to go there. We played there in 1998, and it was the most magical, over-stimulating, amazing place I'd ever been. We're playing in July at the Fujirock Festival, which is a very big, popular festival there. This'll be our third time playing at it, and I'm really excited about it. As soon as we get home we're always thinking, "How do we get back? What do we have to do to get back there?" It's really one of my favorite places in the world.
MR: What are the crowds like?
JM: They're great. They're sort of shockingly respectful.
MR: Well, I'm sure it's not shocking. You guys are a well-known band. Why wouldn't people respect you?
JM: It's pretty shocking. In America, maybe above any other country in the world, people will just talk during a show. When I go out to see bands play, people will just talk through the whole thing. And text. Actually, texting isn't so bad just because it doesn't make any noise. It still boggles my mind that people will pay $20 each to get into a show and talk the whole way through it. When I'm elected mayor, I will make that...well, certainly a ticketable offense. Maybe more. I haven't decided exactly what the punishment would be for that.

...check the original interview for more.

Fuji Cinema Lineup

photo (c) Joe Dilworth

More midnight music movies at this year's Fuji out near the White Stage...

Friday, midnight: "Life Like Liquid," an experimental film that attempts to put into sound what surfers feel when they hit monster waves. Let's just hope it doesn't sound like Jack Johnson.

Friday, 12:45 am: "Glastonbury," Julien Temple's impressionistic doc about the eblematic British rock festival, which started in the early 70s. Lots of great music, but the movie is mostly interested in mimicking the fest's mood of improvised anarchy.

Saturday, midnight: "Afro Punk," a doc about the participation of African-Americans in punk rock, including interviews with and performances by members of Bad Brains, TV on the Radio, Eternals, and Dead Kennedys.

Saturday, 1:20 am: "Joe Strummer: The Future in Unwritten," a doc about the Clash founder and Fuji supporter that includes a lot of footage that's never been shown publicly before. Fuji fans get a sneak peak of the film, which doesn't open theatrically until September.

July 15, 2007

Elana James and the Hot Club of Cowtown

Several years ago, Austin's revered Hot Club of Cowtown broke up and fiddler-vocalist Elana James joined Bob Dylan's touring band.

She eventually quit the neverending tour and decided to try her hand as a solo artist. Those familiar with HCC's blend of Western swing and hot jazz weren't disappointed with James's eventual debut album, and fans of her old band were undoubtedly pleased when HCC guitarist Whit Smith joined her band. Now, apparently even bassist Jake Erwin has rejoined, at least for the Fuji dates, so fans on this side of the Pacific may be the only ones in the world to be honored with a full HCC reunion. We'll assume Elana's fiddle (as much Grapelli as Wills) and Blossom Dearie-like singing will be featured, but let's hope Whit will get a chance to show off his artless Rudy Vallee/Willy Nelson vocals. In addition to their two scheduled sets, they may also play in front of the Ganban CD tent at midnight on Friday.
GYPSY AVALON, 7/27, 6:45 pm
ORANGE COURT, 7/28, 1:00 pm

Official site
Japan Times interview

July 14, 2007

New! Stoned Circle

There's something called the Stone Circle at the Glastonbury Festival and this new area out near the Orange Court most certainly has some sort of psychic connection.

Potheads, however, might be disappointed to learn that it's mostly a new community area with more shops and wares for sale, a "chill-out cafe," and a space where artisans make and play percussion instruments. Apparently, every day at 1:30 pm and 5:00 pm there will also be a drum circle to which everybody is invited. So get your rocks (or stones) off! Be there or be stoned!

Drum circle info

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah

Because their self-released debut was such an out-of-left-field surprise in 2005, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah seemed to own a distinctive style that couldn't be responsibly traced, despite leader Alec Ounsworth's vocal similarities to David Byrne.

Understandably, theIr second album has none of the same freshness, and producer Dave Fridmann's attempts to bulk up the first album's thin sound with studio effects is rather obvious. CYHSY's charm is its dynamic interplay, an attribute that comes to the fore in the third cut, "Mama, Won't You Keep Them Castles in the Air and Burning," a song whose title, wisp of a melody, and propulsive emotionalism indicate it might have been a leftover from the first record. Nonstop touring conspired last year to prevent Ounsworth and co. from fulfilling their pledge to Fuji, so they owe us one. Expect lots of clapping, lots of people saying, "Yeah, fuck yeah."
RED MARQUEE, 7/29, 8:30 pm

Official site
Japan Times interview
Time Out

Grace Potter & the Nocturnals

In the whimsical, bluesy breakup song that opens her second album, Grace Potter demands her lover hand over her J.J. Cale records.

Must have been an interesting relationship--not that I'm a big Cale fan, but he remains one of the few true originals of classic rock. Potter matches his soulfulness but lacks his knack for the stinging musical understatement, probably because she plays Hammond organ rather than electric guitar, but also because her vocal model is Bonnie Raitt, whose clear alto is the total opposite of Cale's alcoholic mumble. The keyboards cut the blues-rock with a hearty dose of gospel, and slow burners like "Ragged Company" benefit from the kind of dynamics that only soulmen can pull off at medium tempos. Next time, she might want to record in a studio, though. Despite all the obviously genuine feelings, the sound is often thin.
FIELD OF HEAVEN, 7/28, 6:00 pm

Official site
Boston Globe

The Durutti Column

One of the those artists who pops up every five years with an album that is so different from previous work that everyone calls it a resurrection, Vini Reilly, who, for all intents and purposes, is the Durutti Column, has mostly been the victim of record company fickleness.

Or, more exactly, Factory Records' fickleness. "Keep Breathing" is not so much a reconfiguration of Reilly's sound as it is a reconsideration of all the different experiments he's attempted. Reilly was one of the few post punks with chops, and Durutti records rose or fell on the strength of his guitar. He's in excellent form here, flanging and expanding on the atmospheric club ditty "It's Wonderful," plucking out a beautiful Anglo-Irish melody on "Maggie," and soloing a bluegrass-inspired instrumental on "Neil." And for once, Reilly's enervated singing stands up to the sampled vocals he likes to slip into his songs.
FIELD OF HEAVEN, 7/29, 5:40 pm

Official site


Centered on the violin of Yuji Katsui and the guitar of Seiichi Yamamoto, Rovo plays space music the old fashioned way.

Their latest album is almost an hour in length and contains only three cuts. In a live setting, their pulsing, building, genre-bending music is highly contagious. On record it also sounds great, but you wait for something monumental and it never comes. Katsui's and Yamamoto's musical relationship is similar to that of John McLaughlin's and Jerry Goodman's in the old Mahavishnu Orchestra: the two soloists sound as if they're merely trying to keep up with each other; there's not a whole lot of tradeoff. And while space has plenty of room for silence and...space, most of the second track consists of winding down from the first one. However, once they regain their footing they cook. They're a groove outfit by nature, it just takes them a while, and they should be the perfect band to close out another memorable Fuji weekend.
RED MARQUEE, 7/30, 3:45 am


Simian Mobile Disco

Having begun the millennium in a quartet that combined electronics with "traditional songwriting," college pals James Ford and Jas Shaw eventually came to the conclusion that this hybrid fad made popular by the Beta Band was a crock and left with the electronics portion.

A sideline as DJs convinced them that old school dance music was the only way to go. Sounding like the future circa 1980, SMD's particular take on analog dance floor electronica is about as pure as it gets. Their debut album is propelled by nervous energy and the slightest of melodic ideas, not to mention vocals that are more notable for their placement than for their substance. The point seems to be not to take anything too seriously, which is probably why, as fun as the music is, it doesn't sound particularly big. It's play room party music. Anything larger might be pretentious.
RED MARQUEE, 7/28, 12:00 midnight

Official site

Boom Boom Satellites Go Big


The last live appearance by Boom Boom Satellites was massive, nearly 180,000 people according the organizers of the Ho Hai Yan Rock Festival in Gongliao, Taiwan. It helped that the festival was free and held on a sandy beach, but still, the heavy turnout surprised many, turning a 30 minute stroll to the main stage into a 3-hour traffic jam of bikini-clad girls and other sunburned concert goers.

It wasn't the first time the group performed in Taiwan, as an invitation to play the festival in 2005, ran afoul of mother nature as no less than three typhoons struck the island, forcing international headliners Boom Boom Satellites, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, and Melissa Auf Der Maur into a ridiculously small, downtown music club. Needless to say, very few people saw that performance two years ago. This year, things went smoothly, allowing Boom Boom Satellites to finally play in front of a very big audience.

-sean s.

Official Website

*Photo used with permission from Smashing Mag

Space Cowboy

Nicolas Destri is the Steve Miller of electronic dance music.

Give him a familiar guitar hook, a dumb lyric any 14-year-old could have composed in his sleep, and a rhythm track that can get the back rows rocking and he'll make a hit club single, or at least a close facsimile. Destri has more tricks at his disposal than Miller did, which means he can sound like a the 14-year-old kid who made up the dumb lyric in one song ("I Know What Girls Like"), a smooth loverman in another ("Talking in Your Sleep"), and your average cyborg in yet another ("Music is My Life"). "I saw your video in 1983," he says in his tribute to the Buggles, which rips off their song without citing their name in the songwriting credits. "That's when I decided that's what I want to be." A one-hit wonder, you mean?
RED MARQUEE, 7/28, 11:00 pm

Official site

Fountains of Wayne

Adam Schlesinger and Chris Collingwood are masters of two disciplines: the three-minute power pop song, and the thumbnail sketch of tri-state suburban life.

In terms of the latter, each FOW album has progressively dealt with an older cohort, which in the case of their new album, "Traffic and Weather," is the thirty-something who's comfortable in his/her boring job and co-op condo. Marriage and kids should be the norm, but as pointed out so sensitively on the opener, finding "Someone to Love" when there's so much on TV and calories to burn isn't so easy anymore. Which means you find love where you can, even behind the counter at the DMV ("Yolanda Hayes") or on a jaunt to Lichtenstein ("New Routine"). In terms of the former, FOW is too proud to release a bum tune (though the country songs always sound like tokens), so you'll be humming these through Labor Day.
RED MARQUEE, 7/27, 8:30 pm

Official site
Official Japanese site

The Album Leaf

Jimmy Lavalle wants to shake post-rock out of its obsession with form.

His first two records were as close as you can get to pure feeling and not be accused of slumming or, worse, jamming. His layered approach was highly appreciated by Sigur Ros, for whom he opened on an American tour and who invited him to their Iceland studio to record his third album. The result is less collaborative than communal, a melting pot rather than a mixed salad. Though Lavalle's gift for simple melodic hooks didn't leave him, the attention made him self-conscious. A little more of his pointed iconoclasm might have made the album more distinctive. In other words, more violin and cello, less droopy keyboards and skittery drum machines. Put it another way: more Satie, less Brian Eno.
RED MARQUEE, 7/27, 2:00 pm

Official site


On their first bona-fide LP, "Mirrored," the math-rock supergroup Battles moves past the glitchy textures that dominate their EPs.

If at times the band seems overly fond of unconventional time signatures, they now at least have a conventionally firm command of song structure. The pick-to-click, "Atlas," is rousing and anthemic, while the vocal-manipulated samples on "Leyendecker" provide the kind of melodic hook that voices usually provide in pop songs, though the effect is more like someone singing in a David Lynch nightmare scene. And with more structure comes clearer intentions: a lot of the stuff here is hilarious, like the Nashville-versus-Hamburg food fight, "Rainbow." The Japan version also contains a bonus track, "Katoman," dedicated to our favorite local Amerindie promoter. Basically two minutes of sludgy effects, it doesn't add much to the record, but in context it's far more relevant that 99% of Japan bonus tracks.
WHITE STAGE, 7/29, 6:50 pm



No way this San Francisco trio is the best band in the world, but you can understand why some people think so.

There's something perfect and unique about their angular guitar songs, and how many bands can claim perfect and unique anything? At this point Satomi's chirpy vocals no longer count as either a distraction or an annoyance, and she practically fades into the background on their new album, "Friend Opportunity," which is so finely chiseled and impeccably arranged that you can't believe they managed to produce all those songs without killing one another. Having thankfully abandoned their penchant to shock, Deerhoof completely succeeds in enchanting.
WHITE STAGE, 7/29, 11:30 AM
NAEBA SHOKUDO, 7/28, 9:30 pm

Label site


His name is really Michael Penniman, but don't expect Little Richard's long-lost grandson.

Besides being white, Mika grew up in Beirut, Paris, and London, and his musical education includes the classics and voice training. His pop taste is said to be all over the map, but it's peculiarly British in that he seems to go out of his way to make sure no two songs sound alike. Suffice it to say that the Scissor Sisters beat him to this particular game by about a year, but Mika is less a thief than he's been described. His self-consciousness results in ambitious arrangements and instrumentation, as well as ostentation in terms of singing and playing. On record, this sort of thing can sound cluttered and cloying, but live it can be a hoot, and if Mika is anything he's a crowd-pleaser. He'll be rolling back to Tokyo for one gig following his Fuji debut.
GREEN STAGE, 7/29, 2:20 pm

Official site

Fermin Muguruza

Fermin Muguruza has a beef with the status quo.

As the most prominent Basque-language singer in rock, Muguruza's long career has seen him go from Clash-inspired punk in the 80s to Public Enemy-inspired rap and hardcore in the 90s to his current love of roots reggae. His new album, "Euskal Herria Jamaika Clash," contains less of a dub element than his last album. It's difficult to gauge Muguruza's political commitment from the non-English lyrics, but he's been known to piss off the authorities in Spain and has even had albums pulled from shelves for the provocative quality of his sentiments, which are as likely to address the Palestinian question as they are the ETA. The album contains more guests than a P. Diddy joint, including Toots Hibbert, U-Roy, the I-Threes, Luciano, and Masta Blasta. The mood is more stoned Sunday afternoon party than fired-up Saturday night political rally, and Muguruza's voice has lost some of its punk edge. Which isn't to say he's lost his fighting edge. Like his hero, Joe Strummer, he seems to have entered his mellower Mescalero phase.
GREEN STAGE, 7/29, 12:25 pm

Official site

Early Fall with Album Leaf


San Diego artist Jimmy LaValle, performing under the alias, The Album Leaf, has become well known in electronic music circles, playing contemporary electronic music that is not found in discos and nightclubs, but slower beats and rhythms that are more suited to cafes and underground rock clubs.

While he is unknown to mainstream commercial audiences, his music has gained the acclaim of indie rock icons, Sigur Rós, whom LaValle toured with recently. In fact, LaValle's most recent album "Into the Blue Again" was mixed by Brigir Birgisson, the sound engineer at Sigur Rós' Sundlaugin studio.

While his albums might be spare, solo arrangements, his live performance is quite the opposite as LaValle tours with a backing band who provide a fuller sound, sometimes with bringing stunning visuals as LaValle believes the goal of each performance is to make the audience forget where they are and allow them to simply enjoy their evening.

The Album Leaf
Concert reviewin Smashing May

sean s.

*Photo taken by saya38 and used with permission from Smashing Mag


The august Brooklyn funk collective's third proper album, "Myth Takes," expands on its self-styled "electro-acoustic no-wave post-disco" sound by throwing more hip-hop and metal into the already crowded mix.

The septet's percussion-heavy songs have always worked better as dance floor workouts than as stand-alone compositions, but the new attention to sonic detail may win them fresh admirers among people who tend to hang at the edges. And while politics has been downplayed this time, the group still fronts the freak factor, especially on the brief and potent "All My Heroes Are Weirdos" and "Bend Over Beethoven." "Give it a new name" sings John Pugh in his ecstatic falsetto, attempting to lure the rhythmically challenged into the pit, and if the armchair enthusiasts keep the pumping "Heart of Hearts" on rotation, with its wave-after-wave of funk signifiers, they'll find there's nowhere else to go. Don't spare the exclamation marks.
GREEN STAGE, 7/28, 2:20 pm

Official site
Japan Times interview

Kings of Leon


The knock against the Followill brothers (and one cousin) is either that they're too obsessed with hooks or not obsessed enough.

On their new album they're definitely not obsessed. Though the record is crammed with riffs and the songs are sturdily built things, there's nothing here that will maintain their rock-crit reputation as the Southern Strokes. Given their backgrounds as progeny of an itinerant preacher, obsession is never far from the surface, however, and here it's with female mystery. A term like "charm" takes on ominous overtones and sex invariably leads to unwanted pregnancies and premature marriage. Caleb Followill never sounds anything less than terrified of these prospects, which makes the album seem overly earnest at times, but it's all of a piece and it certainly isn't boring. Greater attention is paid to mood and dynamic and the result is a record whose dramas are fully conveyed.

GREEN STAGE, 7/27, 5:30 pm

Myspace page

July 13, 2007


Electrelane are probably sick of being compared to Stereolab, but hey, it's a helluva way to keep your copy short.

Official Site
A list of their recent faves
A Japan Times interview from 2005


Peter Bjorn and John


Peter Bjorn and John have been one of THE buzz bands of the year stateside and certainly at the most recent SXSW.

I have also discovered that their hit, "Young Folks" is an excellent karaoke song, especially for a duet.

"Young Folks" video
Official Site
Pics from last Japan show
Pics from SXSW


*Photo taken by izumikuma and used with permission from Smashing Mag

Kaiser Chiefs


The Kaiser Cheifs are returning for their second Fujirock, and I'm not surprised.

They were a crowd favorite 2 years ago, and could be see wandering the grounds throughouot the weekend. Expect to see them knocking back a few at Palace of Wonder late night

Official Site
Pics from previous Japanese tour


*Photo taken by tommy and used with permission from '05 Fuji Rock Express

Shibusa Shirazu


Shibusa Shirazu have performed at most of the recent Fujirock fests, and this year they're the opening act at Field of heaven. Disappointing. To me at least, as they really deserve a headliner or closer spot.

But come to think of it, that may be their idea, so that they can pop up playing in unsuspecting places throughout the weekend- it wouldn't be the first time they just popped out of the woods for an impromptu set.

Recent Interview


*Photo courtesy of Fujirockers.org

Happy Mondays

The main question during every Happy Mondays set is the same: will Shaun Ryder make it through the set?

Recent interview


Small stage - big fun

The Naeba Shokudo stage is a tiny plank attached to a rest area near the International food area, but this year it's really coming into it's own.

Once (and still) the testing grounds for up-and-comers, last year saw larger Japanese names try out solo or experimental projects. This year you can count on seeing me there for Deerhoof and Jonathan Richmond on Saturday – both play larger stages over the weekend, but at the Shokudo stage, they're practically in the mud with you.

Jonathan Richman:

Official Site
Recent interview on maximumfun.org (frequently great podcast, BTW)


Above the fray


A lot of gaijin at the fest don't know that you can take the gondola to the top of the mountain. It's worth doing at least once.

You get an amazing bird's eye view of the stages. I'd recommend the morning, as there's no much going on yet, there are DJs and other bands performing up there and the air feels especially nice, but I guess that it'd be even more interesting at dusk or after dark, as the lights from the stages would be even more powerful. Either way, it's worth it. Try going on Saturday/Sunday and listen as the din of the speakers below slowly washes away as you ascend.


*Photo taken by Sam and used with permission from '05 Fuji Rock Express

Early birds have more fun

If you can make it up early to the fest, Thursday night's party will make any post-fest browbeating from your boss worth it.

It's my favorite night: all the FRF loyalists are already there and already set up, many in yukata, there's fireworks, and the locals come out for a bon dori dance with the fest revelers – possibly the only place in Japan where you'll see kids with Mohawks and black fingernails dancing with little grandmas from the mountains – a sight to behold.

And every year, a few bands on the FRF lineup play an extra show that night. The crowd goes completely nuts, cause they know the fun has just begun. There's a feeling of hope, excitement like no other night. Thursday Fuji: highly recommended.


Justice for all


I'm a big fan of French electro DJ team, JUSTICE. If you see any Red Marquee late-night stuff, this is it.

Their label, Ed Banger, specializes in post-Daft Punk club music, and their podcast comes highly recommended.

Ed Banger MySpace myspace

Podcast comes highly recommended

YouTube promo

Also the DJ-vagabond, Diplo has a great mix of Ed Banger stuff on his podcast


*JUSTICE photo taken by terumi and used with permission from Smashing Mag

With a Little Help from My Friends

Looking to meet some new peeps before the fest?

There's an English BBS on FRF's official fan site, Fujirockers.org. It's a good place to chat about bands, ask questions, and interact with seasoned Fuji rockers and newbies alike.

If you're down with the MySpace scene, Fujirockers.org also has also started a MySpace page where you can check out music by a lot of the bands and contact other fest-goers.

The awesome crowd is definitely one of the main reasons behind Fuji Rock's continued success. There are so many cool, interesting, and extremely friendly people hanging out so why not get a jump on meeting some on them now!


July 12, 2007

Free is good!

Want to check out some of this year's acts before they grace FRF's many stages?

Here are some of the artists who are scheduled to play free in-store performances in Tokyo before making the trek to Naeba:

KINGDOM☆AFROCKS at 8 p.m. on 7/13 @ Apple Store Shibuya

Bobin at 4 p.m. on 7/14 @ Tower Records Shibuya

Kemuri at 7:30 p.m. on 7/19 @ Tower Records Shibuya

Monoral at 1:00 p.m. on 7/21 @ Tower Records Shinjuku

Ash at 7:30 p.m. on 7/25 @ Tower Records Shibuya

Fountains Of Wayne at 7:00 p.m. on 7/26 @ Tower Records Shinjuku


July 11, 2007

Tokyo Licks

It's hard when you're a famous movie star. You have to make movies with people like Brad Pitt, Robert DeNiro, Oliver Stone and stuff. But at least on your days off, you can, like, rock out. Juliette & the Licks are back at Fuji Rock Festival for the second year in a row, and this year they've climbed up to the Green Stage on Saturday (albeit at 11am).

Ms. Lewis must not be making a lot of movies these days, as her and her Licks have been touring the world all year in support of their latest full-length 'Four On The Floor'. I guess if you make movies, though, you can afford more than your alotted two weeks off whenver you want. Recently, they've toured Europe and England, as well as playing two nights here in Japan this past May (Tokyo and Osaka back-to-back) to sold out audiences.

Don't blame the ticket sales on her film career, either. While the band is straight up standard rock, Juliet & the Licks deliver it with rawk and aplomb. It seems in the days of cooler-than-thou, indie-blog-of-the-week bands, the ones that can honestly strangle power chords and say "Fuck," without coming off cheesy get lost in the hyperlinks.

I saw them last year. I saw them at the Liquid Room in Ebisu. I'll see them with an 8-oz malt breakfast in my hand at the Green Stage on Saturday morning.


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