May 28, 2008

Dub Sunday


So much dub, your head might explode!

So, you like dub? Who doesn't! And while there are always a few deliciously dubby acts at Fuji Rock every year, this year all stops have been pulled, and the horse has bolted!

Look out for the grandfather of Dub, Lee Scratch Perry. Though now into his seventies, he still tours all over the world regularly and puts on one of the most colourful stage performances you are likely to see, certainly for a septuagenarian! Look out for some of the crazy costuming that has made him almost as famous as his music has!

If you like your dub a little more modern, don't miss Adrian Sherwood. Having supported such acts as Underworld (headlining the Saturday night at FRF 08 and no stranger to dub themselves) on their semi regular Electraglide tours as well as a plethora of other shows, Sherwood is a must see for those in the know.

And to top it all off, Bill Laswell presents Method of Defiance. Maybe the least dubby of the trio, this collective fuses the elements of drum 'n' bass, dub, jazz and funk that Laswell is so famous for. Check out Laswell's remixes of Miles Davis in dub in case you needed any more confirmation of his ability. No matter what he plays on the day, it's sure to be a not-to-be-missed show!

Report by Dom.

Technoheads well catered for!

You thought Fuji Rock is all Rock N Roll? Think again!

Some of the best times to be had at Fuji Rock are the all nighters. Palace of wonder is a great place to start, but if your shoes wanna dance to a different beat, maybe something a bit faster, begin with All Night Fuji on the Friday night!

Announcements for this year's All Night Fuji so far are the almost legendary Paul Van Dyk, a perrenial favourite of Tokyo clubbers, darkening the doors of Womb it would seem twice a year or more. Dexpistols who tore the Red Marquee apart at FRF 2007, and Denki Groove who were second to top headliners on the Green Stage at FRF 2006! More too, and with even more to be announced! That seems to me to be a promising lineup!!

Beyond that, there is always the Red Marquee, which runs all night on Friday, Saturday and into Sunday nights. Expect good things here. Though the actual lineups are yet to be announced, a scan through the artists lists shows a few standout names that are sure to be scheduled here. Look for amongst others Richie Hawtin, a.k.a. Plastikman who is slotted in to the Saturday night. Always a favourite of the Japanese audiences, he played Womb a few weeks back and a derranged set a year back at a Club Phazon special at LaForet Roppongi. Check this interview to learn where he's coming from these days.

Get your dancing shoes on!

Report by Dom.

D-D-D-D-Dance You Monkey


Sick of Ye Olde Moderne World? Why not trade media saturation for rainwater saturation and find your inner savage?

It's a funny thing, but every year at FRF I feel blissfully as though I've briefly disconnected my brain from the Matrix for a few days and lived life close to the soil. Or mud, depending on the weather. You wouldn't think this would happen at a big media event, but something about all that mud and air does a number on your brain, and next thing you know you're communing with the raw essence of the music you are hearing, even as it's being shot at you with state of the art technology.

I have a friend who is debating whether to return to Fuji Rock this year or sail the Mediterranian with her family. It's telling that she categorizes the two similarly. She considers both a chance to escape the world for awhile, to reconnect with something primal.

And music takes on extra resonance when you're in this state. Sleep-over outdoor music festivals have always been about nature red in tooth and claw opening up our pores so as to cannoball the music directly into the deepest recesses of our amygdala.

It's not just content, man, it's context.


Photo by Joe Kern

Make-up your mind!

*photo by Yoshitaka

With so many artists coming to Fuji Rock it get sometime hard to choose witch bands you are going to see and make the ultimate schedule for your weekend. Sometime you can have hard choices to make between two excellent bands, sometime you miss other stuff because at time you didn’t know about them or you end-up missing other because you are just too tired.

But don’t despair, some bands stop by different cities in Japan few months before the big festival. Going to see those show are a great way to make-up your mind and decide if you want to see your favorite bands twice or use your valuable Fuji Rock time to see something else. It’s exactly what I have done last month when I when down to the Liquid Room in Ebisu to see two bands featuring on the list of Fuji Rock 2008. If you could not do like me, look at my gig report of Midnight Juggernauts and Foals on Smash Magazine website and make sure you don’t miss those guys when they come back in Japan! ;)


More info about Fuji Rock

Dansudansu, a user from the official Fujirockers english BBS, posted two very interesting links about some international coverage of Fuji Rock. Have a look at a cool video report from the jetsetters magazine Monocle and some pictures from last year festival on the respectable BBC News website.

Also, Shawn already pointed out that it’s possible to listen to almost all the confirmed bands on the official myspace of Fuji Rock. But why stop there? Join the social website bandwagon without restrain and share loads of info with your friends with the group and confirm your attending on Facebook.


May 27, 2008

The Fumes!!!

The Fumes

I love it when a band gets so excited about Fuji Rock that the first thing you see when you go to their myspace page is “Fuji Rock Japan, 2008!!!”

My love from them grew even more when the music on this site started to kick in and I learned they are blues busting, mind blowing, guitar and drum duo.

Rock combos make so much sense that I can’t believe more bands aren't doing it. My favorite acts in the past 5 years have been dude-rock-combos like Death From Above and The Black Keys

Think about it, you and your best friend get to travel the world eating take out food and drinking as many beers as you want. No glum vocalists or other baggage to cart around, just you and your best mate!

It's even better when you can kick out the blues. And I am telling you man, I love this band so much I've already rocked out all their myspace tunes and am gonna look their album at the local record store.

//sean s.

Five Years Ago...

Michael Franti was the Man at Fuji Rock 2003, the one artist who embodied the spirit of the festival better than anyone else--maybe better than anyone else either before or since. As tall as a basketball player and sporting wild dreads that reached the middle of his back, he was seen everywhere--dancing with the crowd at the Talib Kweli show, hanging out backstage at the Red Marquee during The Music's set, checking out the food selection at the World Food Court, doing some disco karaoke at the Net Cafe--all in his famously bare feet, which must have walked through a lot of mud that weekend.

Franti started out in the San Francisco Bay Area hip-hop collective the Beatnigs, which eventually morphed into the Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy. He has often been marginalized by "real" hip-hop aficionados, first because of the grimness of his politics and later, with his funk group Spearhead, for straying too far from the shore. What Franti did, however, was marry his serious political concerns to a much sunnier musical style without compromising either.

Philosophically and stylistically, Franti and Spearhead fit the festival vibe perfectly, and his ubiquitousness actually gave context to the weekend, especially considering the state of world events at the time--America had invaded Iraq four months earlier. He talked to everyone he met, and was clearly at home in the festival atmosphere. Though he could hardly blend in, he identified with the crowd more than with the other artists, most of whom stayed only long enough to play.

And he gave it all back in the early morning hours as the festifal closed, with arguably the best performance of the weekendl, a glorious, funkified rock'n rap show that had the Red Marquee pulsing and jumping as he vented his bile at militarism and intolerance. "You don't know how good it feels to get out of the U.S. for a little while," he said, indirectly indicating that the folks he railed against would likely find the Fuji Rock Festival amusing and repugnant. "All the freaky people make the beauty of the world," was his mantra. For three full days freaky people were the world, and he was King Freak.

Franti will be back with Spearhead for the first time since then, and if his new album, All Rebel Rockers, is any indication, he'll be doing a lot more reggae than he usually does; which probably means he'll be over at the Field of Heaven or the Orange Court. But in actuality, he'll probably be everywhere.


Photo by Hanasan, courtesy Smashing Mag

May 26, 2008

Seasick Steve & The Low Down Hobo Blues

There are many indie, esoteric, blog darling bands coming to Fuji Rock festival this year, of course, and this is always a good thing. Remember Broken Social Scene’s first appearance? Or the reverence the revellers had for Big Willie’s Burlesque (they’re back this year, by the way...). Or Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. The list could go on. And we know that the English writing team is going to have to draw straws for who gets to cover Gogol Bordello.

But if you want to see something "out there" and wild this year, then I suggest you get on over and catch Seasick Steve on Sunday July 27.

Hailing from Mississippi, Seasick Steve is one kick-ass, low-down, honky-tonk, freight jumping, moon howling, trainhopping, jailbirding, cowboying, carnival working, migrant farm picking, occasional tramping, near fatal heart attack surviving old mo-fo.

He may not have a cobra snake for a neck tie, but his band consists only of his “Mississippi drum machine” (a hob-nail boots stomping a small crate) and a guitar with only three strings he calls the “3-string transwonder”. And when gets a-going, look out!

He wowed them live on Jools Holland last year, and his music lies somewhere between R.L. Burnside and the White Stripes loaded up on Spam.


May 24, 2008

FRF 2008 Do's and Don'ts


As the festival approaches, the Fujirockers team tries our best to advise festivalgoers as best we can (see the BBS if you have any specific questions). So I thought I’d start a little DO and Don’t list…


---Prepare for ALL types of weather:
Rainjackets and a spare (dry) pair of shoes are a must, but then a long-sleeve shirt for the wee hours is always in my bag. Real mountain-man gear isn’t required. Hell, even dollar-store items may suffice.

---Take the Dragondola to the mountaintop:
The view is quite nice, and it’s nice to see the throngs of people from above and listen as the music fades, giving way to birds and a babbling brook.

---Dip your feet in the river between White and Green stages:
Matter of fact, spend a little time here if you can. Some of the best mixed drinks are served at the bars here, and after dark the visuals projected on the cliff face offer an ideal place to chill for a bit.

---Finish off at least one night at Palace of Wonder
The POW is consistently my favorite area of the fest, but it doesn’t open until around 10 and goes until long past dawn. Crazy circus-type acts, giant sculptures, poker and some killer old-skool DJs (Ska, Blues, R&B) makes this place a must.

---Dress funky
Where else in your life can you wear a blue afro wig and a silver sequined sport jacket and everyone wants to give you a high-five?


---Don’t stay at one stage all day, every day:
Fujirock is HUGE. Make time to walk the entire grounds. You might be surprised at what you bump into...

---Don’t be a prick to the artists:
The main reason many bands ask to come back to FRF is that they can walk around without being hassled by haters and hangers on. You want a picture with them? Sure, but ask nicely, and accept "No" if that's the answer. Wanna chat? Maybe. Many artists get caught up in the good vibes, but remember that they may be jetlagged, with their crew or just not in a mood to hang with strangers. IUse common sense, and they’ll keep coming back.

---Don’t chuck your trash just anywhere:
The Smash staff makes it SO easy to be clean up there. There is usually a trash station within eyesight of just about anywhere in the festival grounds, and most of them are manned with staff to separate your garbage (paper, plastic, food waste, etc) for you.

---Don’t follow a tight schedule:
Go with the flow. Stop to watch bands you don’t know if you like the sound of it. Some of my favorite performances are always ones I wasn’t expecting.

---Don’t hold back:
This is a music festival, with heavy emphasis on FEST, as in festive, so leave your jaded indie-hipster world-weariness at home. This place ain’t for sourpusses, either. Have fun. LOOK LIKE you’re having fun. If there is any place where you should raise your hands in the air like you just don’t care, this is it.


May 23, 2008

Pip Squeaks and Scroobie Snacks


You are forgiven if the names Dan Le Sac and Scroobius Pip don't ring a bell (yet), but there's a good chance you've already seen them...

The Essex-based duo are far from being household names, but if you've spent any time roaming Youtube in the last 12 months then chances are you've come across their work. This video may very well be the best of 2007, and has been pinged around cyberspace enough to have ended up in your inbox a time or two.

Looking more like the unabomber than a rhyme slinger, Scroobius Pip (the bearded one) began as a small-town poet who seems to have stumbled into stardom (this Guardian interview is a laugh). But will his wit and snarky pop culture observations translate in Japan? My guess is no, but their beats beats make up for it.

Just hope they don't try covering Snoop Dog a cappella again...


May 17, 2008

Jason Falkner: Classic Rock in the Modern World

If what you like about rock is classic melodies and full multi-instrumental sound as well as musicianship and songwriting that don't need to namedrop 'punk' to excuse their simplicity, then Falkner (slated to play FRF 08 on Friday) belongs on your permanent playlist. Start with my favorite song of his, Afraid Himself To Be.

This is off his debut album Jason Falkner presents Author Unknown (here's a pretty good live acoustic version if the first link doesn't bring up the song anymore).

His latest, I'm Ok You're Ok, has been out in Japan since April of last year and is expected to be available in the U.S. soon.

He co-wrote the best songs on Brendan Benson's debut album One Mississippi, and recall that Benson was as under the radar as Falkner before he was annointed as the co-bandleader of Jack White's other band, The Raconteurs. Falkner has been similarly annointed by playing on recordings by Beck, Air, and the most recent effort by Sir Paul McCartney himself.


A Sampling of Fuji Sounds

Not familiar with all the band's at this year's fest? Here's a good place to check out some of the weekend's most excellent sounds.

This site has links to all the MySpace pages for Fuji's acts and lists official sites for those group's without MySpace pages.

Those with MySpace accounts may also want to "friend" as well. It's a great way to make some new friends before heading up to Naeba.


Spoon is coming to Fuji because of me

If you're a Spoon fan and are stoked because they'll be making their first Japan festival appearance ever at Fuji this summer, then thank me. I was the guy. I have witnesses.

Last Feb., the Austin-based band was making its long-delayed concert debut in Japan with a single Tokyo show at Unit in Daikanyama. The place was packed with Spooners (Spoonsters?) and Britt Daniel and Co. played a good, solid 90-minute set that included songs from every single one of their six albums and almost everything from their latest one, Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga.

After the final encore, Britt sat on the front of the stage and signed CD booklets and had his picture taken with a lot of fans. A friend and I caught him back stage, slightly sweaty but not damp enough to soil his tasteful if somewhat idiosyncratic stage attire (at least for a nominally indie band) of slacks and silky dress shirt. We talked for a bit, especially about his frustration at having taken so long to get to Japan. When we asked if was planning a return trip any time soon he sort of shrugged, indicating that he probably wasn't completely clear about his itinerary.

"You should play Fuji," I said. "This summer."

"Yeah, I've heard it's good," Britt answered.

Just at that moment Johnnie Fingers, an employee of Smash, was walking by and we told him that Spoon was interested in playing Fuji this summer.

"Really?" he said to Britt. Britt said he was.

"OK, I'll tell [whoever it is who takes care of those kinds of things]," and then walked away.

So, yeah, it was me.

Japan Times interview


May 15, 2008

Some More Musical Treats


Here is the next batch o’ Fuji goodness.

Hocus Pocus
Midnight Juggernauts
Paul Van Dyk
Denki Groove
The Birthday
Mongol 800

*Photo of Denki Groove’s 2006 Fuji Rock appearance by Ryota and used with permission from Fuji Rock Express 2006.

May 14, 2008

Oldie, But Goodie

Although not performing at this year’s fest, South Korean punk act Gumx are no strangers to Fuji Rock.

In fact, they made their Japanese debut in 2003 opening Saturday morning at the Red Marquee.

Taking full advantage of the fantastic opportunity they turned in a fantastic set of pop-infused skate punk that instantly won the early morning revelers gathtered at the tented performance area over. They returned to Japan for several other tours before having to shelve their fledging music careers to complete their mandatory military service. I recently had the chance to speak with the band for the Japan Times about their new album and upcoming Japanese tour that starts on Friday. They were great guys and have a very interesting story to tell. Go check them out if you can!

They said they had a fantastic time at Fuji Rock in 2003 and would love the opportunity to play in Naeba again. Hopefully they'll be given the chance to come back and party with us in the mountains sometime soon.

Smashing Mag
MySpace fan site

*Photo by Ryota and used with permission of Smashing Mag .

May 3, 2008

Here's another 25 for y'all


The line-up for each day (thus far) has been revealed as well on Fuji's official site.

New acts include:

Dan Le Sac vs. Scroobius Pip
Ino Hidefumi
Jamie Lidell
DJ Mehdi
Mice Parade
Nakayama Uri
The Whigs
Erol Alkan
The Fumes
Oki Jin
Richie Hawtin
Suzuki Keiichi/Captain Hate and The Seasick Sailors
Yanagi George & Rainy Wood
Yura Yura Teikoku
Neon Neon
Lee "Scratch" Perry
The Futureheads
Double Famous
Bagdad Cafe The Trench Town
Adrian Sherwood

And back for their third appearance in four years, faves Big Willie's Burlesque (pictured above at the Palace Of Wonder in 2006)!

Expect more bands to be revealed in two weeks or so.

*Photo by q_ta and used with permission from
Fuji Rock Express 2006.

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