July 24, 2008

Where'd everybody go?


There's not been much happening on here the last couple of days. We're on the bus today, and will be reporting from Fujirock Express's English page over the course of the festival. Check it out as we try to get reviews, news and other fun stuffs online pronto!


July 23, 2008

Is their still tickets left?

*photo : by TerumiFukano&sleepy

With only few hours to go before the first of us start our trip to the mountains of Fuji Rock. Those who don’t have tickets yet are starting to panic and look the possibility to join the party rather then getting stuck in Tokyo. If your plan was to stay in the city and go to the official after party of SMASH, bad news, it’s already sold-out. But for the big gig in Naeba there’s officially still some tickets to buy. PIA machines? Ganban shop? From some people going to be stuck at the office selling tickets? Is their still tickets out their?

If you have already you ticket, lucky you. It seams a bit problematic to get some at this time. Friends of mine reported that at the Ganban shop in Parco yesterday they refused to sell tickets without buying a matching campsite ticket that where sold-out. They have been advised to try back today by the friendly staff and successfully got their own

Earlier, they also reported having tried on the Lawson PIA machine but without success. This time, I’m not sure if it was attributable to their bad Japanese kenji skills.

I have ear you can find people selling cheep tickets on Mixi for the funniest reasons. You can also always keep a look at the bbs.

Have any extra tickets you are looking to buy or sell? Know any good place to buy last minutes ticket or cheap bus tour or train combo? Leave some comments and let us know where you bought your tickets.

by Sebastien-Philippe Fortin

July 22, 2008

A Wave of Fuji


And I only made it through R

Looking at all the Sunday banter, I remembered Smash's "Fuji Rockers," a DVD history of the festival, cause they listed bands that had played there over the last 10 years. Every once in a while in a pub the background tv will start screening something that I quickly realize is Fuji footage. It's nice, though I'd never play it at home. But when I looked at the list of people who have played over the years I got curious. This what I found, a microcasm of Fuji on Youtube that only scratches the surface. I was defeated at R.

*Not all footage from Fuji Rock,


Asian Dub Foundation

Audio Active

Back Drop Bomb




Boom Boom Satellites













eastern youth




Fumiya Tanaka

George Clinton/Parliament/funkadelic
















Panorama Steel Orchestra










And in case you neeeded a U:


and a V:


Find yr own Fuji Rock.

Day Dreaming & the Dragondola


Cure that hangover with a trip out to Day Dreaming

This is that hidden secret of Fuji Rock. Many people take advantage, but so many more miss out. That's right, the Dragondola, a 20 minute ride out to the Day Dreaming stage. Check out the schedule on there, and you're bound to find something achill to satisfy your tastes. Better than lying in your tent or wasting away in a dark hotel room, don your sunnies and get on for the most picturesque view of the festival. Well, maybe the helicopter ride is more exciting, but this will give you a bird's eye view of the whole site at a fraction of the cost! Just ¥1,000 for a return ride, head up the walkway between the Red Marquee entrance and the international food area, and let the security guards guide you, and you're at the entrance. Once onboard you will wonder why it took you so long to do so.


Once up there, you can chill to the grooves of some of the most eclectic performers at Fuji Rock. Perfect for laying back and chilling your way through to those mid arvo bands you'd usually be getting up for. Start your weekend with Eccy then cruise through Stoned Green Apples, in my opinion well worth a look. Many more through to the 4pm finish. Neon start Sunday's festivities, seemingly no relation to Neon Neon who start the Sunday Session in the Red Marquee, but you never know, it may be just one of 'em! Both the Friday and Saturday are filled out mostly with short 30-40 minute performances, barring the finishers who get an hour or so each. The ever popular Dexpistols round out the Saturday Session.

Look out for four longer sets on the Sunday, starting with Richie Hawtin, who will be fresh (?) from his 5am Saturday night Red Marquee finisher. Ever a popular billing in Japan, he's the highest profile spinner out at Day Dreaming this year. Will be nice to see him perform out of the confines of a club (or tent as in the Red Marquee's case!). Move through the day with Daisuke Matsusaka, the interestingly named (and near impossible to find any info on) Yoda, and finish up with Seinoize. These three have played on bills together before, so it should be a tight afternoon up there at Day Dreaming!

Once it's all over, well, there's nothing else for it. Get back on that Dragondola and get groovin to a different beat!

Report by Dom.

Photo from FujiRock Express 07, by saya38

More weather talk

Naeba Weekend Weather Summary: Heavy rain (total 34.0mm), heaviest during Sun afternoon . Warm (max 27°C on Sun morning, min 18°C on Fri night). Wind will be generally light.

Expect and prepare for some wet weather - shorts, a rain poncho, and a pair of Wellies do me nicely - but don't fret over it. The weather is what it is, you have no more control over it than you do over the Sunday night line up.

Revel in it, it's the music that you're going for, right?


Flower power

Videos of 1970s hippy Japan

Given the above video of the Flower Travellin' Band , Saturday afternoon at the Field of Heaven could be a real, surreal treat. Looks like it's been shot in Tokyo's Hibiya park, but wherever it is, there's elephants. In a 1969 Chunichi News story frontman Joe Yamanaka his African-American/Japanese blood flows with the essence of rock ‘n’ roll. Find out for yourself whether the former professional boxer and fashion model has still got it, and if the audiences are still groovy.

-- Donald

They get along


Lee "Scratch" Perry and ... Andrew W.K.?

Maybe Kele Okereke of Bloc Party and John Lydon of the Sex Pistols can't find racial harmony, but dub originator Lee "Scratch" Perry and "so-dumb-it's-smart" Andrew W.K. have a friend in Jesus. Pitchfork has a "One Week Only" video here that shows the two in the studio recording Lee's latest album. Apparently Lee is off the inspiration of any substances, including meat, but Uncle Jam is still preaching and drawing the visible/invisible art -- which might have something to do with pee. If you don't understand it all, don't worry there are subtitles.

Will Andrew W.K. show up with Lee on Sunday at the Field of Heaven? I have no idea. Or even any idea of what to think if he did: "I get dub"? "Dub hard"? "Dub till you puke"?

-- Donald

Can't We All Just Get Along?

For all you gossip hounds ... members of Bloc Party (who, as you know, are playing The Green Stage on Friday) and Sex Pistols (who are headlining the Mountain Stage) at Summersonic got into a bit of a row Saturday night at the Summercase festival in Barcelona.

Unfortunately, the two-week gap between fests won't allow for the two parties to hug and make up at Narita Airport. Festivals are supposed to be about spreading the love, not fighting! Read all about the altercation here.


Photo by Ryota Mori and used with the permission of Smashing Mag

Budget Blowout?


Prepare your budget and avoid disappointment.

After reading Jinki's great entry on what to bring with you, I got to thinking. One thing that the Fuji Rock festival could do with is ATMs. There is a sore lack of them on site, and even if there were, 100,000 of you pulling cash out would see them emptied in five minutes flat. So, make sure you bring enough with you.

So how much is enough? Well, how long is a piece of string? How much of a completist are you? Do you need a T-shirt for every band you see, or just your favorite? Budget ¥3-4000 apiece. Budget five hours of your time here each time you try to get one too, the queues are ridiculous! Food, there is so much variety, and it's all good. You'll want to go back for more. Remember that you're going to be more active than your usual day sitting on your a__, and you'll probably need to eat more to make up a shortfall. You will probably want to try more of the food too, there's a great variety. Budget ¥5-700 per feast, more if you're a fat bastard like me.

Beer. This is where the lion's share of my budget goes. Mental note: Gotta pester Smash for a beer budget next year. Anyway, as long as I can recall, it's been ¥500 a cup, not a bad deal at all considering the size, especially if you can sweet talk the server into leaving off the head and filling that cup properly, Aussie style. But as we all know, the price of everything has risen in the last year. Let's hope that doesn't include the beer at Fuji Rock, but well, hey, a ¥100 rise to ¥600 would blow a ¥7-10,000 hole in my budget. A ¥200 rise? *shudder* Look out for a disappointed (but decidedly healthier looking) me on Sunday, begging for dregs...

Report by Dom.

July 21, 2008

Who's on first?

The Thursday evening pre-fest party, open to everyone for free and traditionally thrown as a kind of thank-you to the people of Naeba, has basically become an integrated part of the festival. Every year, more and more people show up so you might as well refer to Fuji as a three-and-a-half-day rock festival. Focused on a big old bon-odori blowout and climaxing with fireworks, the pre-fest party is the most Japanese thing at the festival, but the organizers always ask artists who happen to be there whether or not they'd like to play at it. In fact, some of the best performances we've ever seen at Fuji were at the pre-fest party: Dropkick Murphys in 2001, Electric Six and Danko Jones in 2003. We won't know until the 24th which 5 or 6 acts will deign to perform at the Red Marquee, but it wouldn't hurt to predict.

Obviously, the artists would already have to be at the festival site to perform, it's usually people who are appearing on the first day. In our humble estimation, these are the most likely volunteers.

Rodrigo y Gabriela: Buskers at heart, these two versatile guitarists will be all over the festival so it wouldn't be surprising that they'd play the pre-fest party. Also, they open the Green Stage the next day, and statistically the artist in that slot is very likely to play the pre-fest gig.

Galactic: This New Orleans funk group used to be lumped in with jam bands, though their latest incarnation as the ultimate hip-hop instrumental band has changed a lot of people's minds about them. Still, their most cogent attribute is a love of playing, and so I can imagine them saying, "sure, why not," when asked to participate. With or without the rappers.

The Whigs: This indie-rock power trio from Georgia is on a sort of mini-roll, meaning they're probably up for any sort of exposure. And for sure they can probably generate more word of mouth with a hot Thursday night set than with the mid-afternoon slot they've been given on Friday.

If we had a vote in the matter, we'd choose The Gossip, since Beth Ditto's incendiary stage presence is exactly the sort of thing that gets the festival off to a blazing start; or Gogol Bordello, since their inclusive Easter European punk rock sets the proper communal tone: everybody party RIGHT NOW! TOGETHER! We won't hold our breath, but we'll definitely keep our fingers crossed.




All this talk about what to bring made me think about my own little list of must-haves.

According the the UK Fujirock site, the "no duh" items include:

1. Raincoat (no umbrellas allowed)
2. Hand towels
3. Extra change of clothes
4. Comfortable shoes
5. Hat
6. Portable ashtray
7. Warm jacket
8. Plastic bag
9. Pocket tissue
10. Instant first aid set
11. Torch/Flashlight

Sure, these are essential, but I wanna share a few of my own.

Additon #1: Sunglasses
How could this not be in the top 10? I'd sew up my injuries with dental floss before I'd go 3 days in the blazing sun without shades. Bring two pair in case you sit on one. Make the 2nd pair something you would never, ever wear to the office.

Addition #2) Earplugs
Yeah yeah yeah. Old man gear you say? Whatever. I sometimes use one pair (cut in half) when I'm in front of the amps, and another (full) pair for sleeping wherever I lay my head

Additions #3) Water
Keep a liter by your pillow. It makes the beer taste better the next day.

Additions #4) A pick me up / energy to go
User's choice. Mine is usually bananas and genki drinks. Few (if any) stalls have sold them, surprisingly, so I bring my own. Red Bull don't taste so good warm, so I bring the old-school stuff.

anything else missing? Add to the comments below.


Mono & Me


I saw Mono play a couple of years ago, and when I was given the task of writing about 3 bands playing at this year's Formoz Festival in Taipei, I naturally chose them. I gotta tell you I was skeptical because post-rock bands aren't the most articulate, and sometimes there is a language barrier involved.

To my surprise, the band was totally on the ball, and a little upset by one totally stupid question I asked. Oops!

Q) You have been called the first "post rock" band. Is this true? Who influenced you? Maybe you can talk about another Japanese band, Envy?
A) Who called us the first post rock band? It must be a bad joke! Slint, GYBE, Mogwai, Low etc., there had been many great bands before us. The music critics called them so when these bands were playing their music which people thought it was impossible to put them in certain existing genre. We are one of the bands who was influenced by the hardcore, independent music scene of those era. Musically we are more inspired by the classical music, soundtracks of the films especially by Beethoven, Ennio Morricone. envy's US labels is our US label, and we often share the bill in Japan. They are nice people and their live show is strong. We love them.

Q) I saw your last show in Taipei at Formoz many years ago. It rocked! Do you have any memory of Taiwan?
A) Wow, It's unbelievable that you were there. Actually we had a hard time at the show because the guitar amps we requested had not been delivered. We had to use a keyboard amp instead. We had never experienced such a trouble before. It's been a while since then,,,, so we are very excited to return to Taiwan.

Q) What's it like touring all the time? Are you living the modern, nomad existence?
A) Long tour is very hard for any band. To be honest, I don't think we can keep doing this if we don't have any support of the fans. The fans who's been waiting for us give us positive energy. No matter how exhausted I am, I can keep going once you see their faces when I go upon the stage.

Q) Is it cool to learn that kids all over the world like this music?
A) 100% yes. We feel we are very fortunate and we are proud of our fans.

Q) Japan is more famous for ska and punk, is there a growing interest in post-rock?
A)The situation seems to be getting better over this couple of years.

Q) For indie artists like yourself, the internet has made promotion much easier... do you still remember days of fanzines and local gigs?
A) The buzz over the internet must be a big element for promotion for anything. We are basically a live band. We think the most important thing for us is to communicate directly with the audience at live shows, which is a real thing.
Thank you. Taka/MONO

//sean s.

Very be early


For those about to Fuji Rock, get a preview of vallenato mob Very Be Careful's act at Marz in Shinjuku this Wednesday. I've heard they'll also play at Canyon's in Minakami on Thursday, but although there are flyers around advertising the show, neither the band nor Canyons seem to be promoting any show on their site, so don't go there just cos I said so.

Either way — here's a clip from the last time the band played Canyons.

And here's a video interview in which they may or may not be under the influence of something that's making them a little mellow.


July 20, 2008

How are you travelling?


Whether it's hitch hiking or a Porsche Cayenne, here's the lowdown on how to get up.

So you're only a few scant days away from the festival. Hopefully you have your transportation sorted by now, but where should you turn off? Well the official access map is here. I kind of like this one a bit better though:


Take the Kanetsu Expressway from Nerima in Tokyo all the way to the Yuzawa interchange, my preference of the two available. Follow Route 17 from there on in. Can't go wrong. Make sure you have parking organised in advance. Parking passes are cheap for cars, but in very limited supply. I noticed some for sale on Yahoo Auctions this week if you find they've already sold out.

If you're heading in by Shinkansen, find your way from wherever you start out to Echigo Yuzawa station on the Joetsu line. There is a free shuttle bus from there to the site for ticket holders, the timetable should be up soon. The Joetsu line starts at Tokyo station via Ueno. If you are travelling from the other side of town, take the JR Takasaki line from Shinjuku station and change to the Shinkansen at Omiya. If you'd like to travel in style all the way, you could try the Limited Express Nikko 1 from Shinjuku to Omiya, for a premium price of course! If you're travelling in from the west of Japan, the recommendation would be to head in all the way to Tokyo Station via Shink, then out again on the Joetsu. Check the finer points of how to get there at Hyperdia. You may be able to find a cheaper way via local trains if you've splashed your last cash on tickets... or plan to splash it on beer!

If you're wanting to head up via motorcycle, well, you're in for a treat. Parking is free, right next to the entrance gate, and the twisty roads on the way up there are an absolute delight. Take your time and come via the backroads, or use the expressway as detailed above. If you're a deft hand with the internet you may be able to locate the Street Bikers, a Tokyo based group intrepid FujiRock Express reporter Jeff ran into a couple of years back. Unfortunately no amount of searching on my part has raised their contact details, so get searching.

Whatever your plans, if driving up please allow plenty of rest time, and make sure you're sufficiently rested and that any residual alcohol has had time to pass out of your system before returning home. Remember that in addition to any mishaps that may befall you, if you are caught driving with alcohol in your system, ALL passengers in your car will receive the same fine as the driver. Play it safe please guys!

Report by Dom.

Good To Know


The Official English Fuj Rock Festival Site has posted a bunch of info that fest-goers may want to quickly peruse before heading to Naeba.

Bulletins include:

Exchanging tickets for wrist bands
Shuttle Bus / Car Park time table
Courier service / Must-have items
Thursday's pre-party and merch sales
Children / People with special needs
Lost and found

Keeping checking the official site regularly for more updates and extra info. We'll do our best to keep y'all well informed through this blog as well!

Only 5 days till things kick off Thursday night! Hope to party with many of you in Naeba...


Meet The Stars!

Interested in meeting some of Fuji's acts?

Different bands will be stopping by Gan-Ban's two booths to meet fans, sign merch (and maybe a random body part or two if you ask nicely!), and play some intimate acoustic sets throughout the fest. Visit each booth for time schedules, more additions, and to check out the wide array of cool stuff for sale.

Here is the list of artists schedule to appear so far:


July 25
* KASABIAN [talk show & autograph]
* FEEDER [autograph]
* THE RASCALS [autograph]
* THE WHIGS [autograph]

July 26
* SIMPLE PLAN [talk show & autograph]
* HARD-FI [talk show & autograph]
* THE CRIBS [autograph]

July 27
* THE MUSIC [talk show & autograph]
* CSS [autograph]
* THE GO! TEAM [autograph]
* WHITE LIES [autograph]

GAN-BAN Official CD Shop Outside The Main Gate

July 25
* RYUKYUDISKO [autograph]
* JANET KLEIN [autograph & acoustic performance]

July 26
* THE ZUTONS [autograph]
* THE COURTEENERS [autograph]
* THE FUMES [autograph]
* M!NK [autograph]
* MICHAEL FRANTI AND SPEARHEAD [autograph & acoustic performance]

July 27
* MYSTERY JETS [autograph]
* THE FUTUREHEADS [autograph]
* FOALS [autograph]
* FANCY [autograph]
* ONE NIGHT ONLY [autograph]


July 19, 2008

The weather gentleman ...


Time to predict the future

It's the question every year: rain? again? And if there is no rain, then my god the heat. Whether you'll need rain ponchos, sun glasses or your snowboard, you'll know for sure in a few days. But to get worked up about it in the meantime, I dug up an old link to snow-forecast.com from the 2006 Fuji blog so you can check out ski conditions for Fuji Rock. As of today, it looks like Friday is going to be ...

- The Weatherman


Belly Dance under the Milky Way


More of the Palace of Wonder's wonders!

With so much variety in the Crystal Palace, there's something to pique everybody's interests. If you're planning on staying at the festival on the Sunday night and heading home sometime Monday, I suggest you try to find yourself in the Palace tent at 3:30. Coming on stage at that time are bellydancing troupe Samanyolu supported by DJs JVC Force Tyo. No strangers to the Crystal Palace, JVC Force have put on some of the most energetic and lively performances there in the past. Check HYPTYO's YouTube for some footage of JVCs past performances.

Samanyolu, seen here at Baba Zula's record launch, "Tanbul - Turkish Psychedelica Night", means "Milky Way" in Turkish. They are one of Tokyo's most innovative belly dance troupes and have been performing around Japan and Asia for around ten years now. Individual members have trained in Egypt and Turkey, and have been invited to perform at dance festivals as far away as the States. Mentor Mishaal is one of belly dance's most respected and requested artists. Don't miss their performance in the late night's most interesting Palace!

Report by Dom.

Almost Local

The Death Set's guitarist and vocalist Johnny Siera used to live in Tokyo!

Siera spent two years doing the ESL thing in 2004 and 2005 and says he "spent many many hours sucking on Asahi and Chu-Hi while admiring the crazy clothes and cute girls." He played one show in Shibuya while he was here, but “was too busy partying” to really focus on making music while in Japan.

He'll be making his first trip back since leaving with The Death Set to play Fuji. He never got to hit the fest when he lived here so is obviously pretty psyched about playing the Red Marquee on Sunday morning.

Although they are getting more used to performing on big stages, The Death Set prefer playing old school hardcore-influenced floor gigs where they can get up close and personal with all who enjoy their noisy electro-infused party punk anthems. According to the official timetable, the lineup for the Mokudo Tei boardwalk live space has been set, but who knows, maybe The Death Set peeps will be able to talk their way into getting a second more intimate show there as well.

Check next Friday's Japan Times for a feature story on The Death Set. Will make for some good reading on your way up to Naeba!


July 18, 2008

Don't scream


So the almost-consensus out there is that double booking Primal Scream is a bit of a rip off after everyone had their eye on that TBC slot and hearts pumping for something legendary. With a bit of luck, Bobby and the boys will do more than just repeat their Saturday night set, but hell, it's only an hour or two from the 3-and-a-bit day festival, and the best bits are almost never the superstar headline acts. So here are a few of the people you can catch by skipping one of the Scream sets:

Flower Travellin Band
Mark Stewart + The Maffia
Big Willie's Burlesque
The Music
Rodrigo y Garbriela
Bill Laswell presents Method of Defiance
Blues the butcher

And if you stay away from one of Asian Dub Foundation's shows, you'll be able to catch:

The Cribs
Roger Joseph Manning Jr
Oki Jin
Nakagawa Goro
Adrian Sherwood
Sheena & The Rokkets

Surely one of those is enough to keep y'all occupied. Catch you at the Mark Stewart show...


Let be friends

The young Brazilian bands CSS release their new album named Donkey this summer. It sounds cuter and sexier than ever. Fellow Fuji Rock featuring artist Midnight Juggernauts just released a remix of the excellent track Left Behind available to listen on electrocrash.com. Don’t be surprise to see those south hemisphere guys hanging out together at Naeba.

Also check out an interview from Vin, lead signer of the Juggernauts, on TheMusic.FM where he’s talking about is fear of translation mistakes while touring in Japan.

Left Behind official video

by Seb

Slotting in


To newbies, repeaters and transformers, I am going to add ... categorists? Genre markers? Fill in the blanks?

Certain standard slots start to become apparent at the festival after a couple years: White Stage afternoon pop-punk like last year's Less Than Jake; Red Marquee English invasion; Green Stage Sunday night geezers (Happy Mondays, Primal Scream); and any hippy band out on the far end of the fest. They don't always play the same stage, but they fill out the categories that Fuji Rock thankfully blanketly covers. So who are this year's Battles, who rocked the White Stage last year with their polyrhythms and vocoders? How about Oxford's Foals. Maybe they got a bit more Franz Ferdinand/The Cure-revival going on than American math rock, but if you want to dance to angular tunes in the afternoon, Sunday 3:10 at the Red Marquee is yr ticket.

-- Donald

July 17, 2008

P.O.W. Watch


Anyone who has spent time at the Palace of Wonder in the Wee hours knows you are bound to see some of the bands staggering about. But who's likely to be partying in the big tent this year?

There a few givens: Gogol Bordello, Rordrigo Y Gabriella and Sheena & the Rockets will all perform there, and Primal Scream seem to always be around (this year more than ever...).

Some of the lunatics that put POW together are Brits here fresh from Glastonbury (see some of their handiwork here, here and here), and that can draw fellow countrymen like Kasabian, the Courteneers and the Zutons. And when the DJs start playing old-school soul and R&B, perhaps we'll see Jamie Liddell getting down.

If I had to guess on others, I'd place my bets (hopes?) on the Brazilians. Saturday night the Cumbia Kid performs in the Crystal Palace, and if we're lucky, Very Be Careful will play another guerilla set (one year they played from the back of a moving truck). That might bring fellow countrymen, CSS.

Or one can dream.

Photo by Naoaki


Piniella Einstein.JPG
A change in the Fuji Rock lineup for Sunday, June 27 was announced this morning, though it's not the breakthrough news you might be expecting.

Due to the cancellation of Kyoshiro Iwamono, the Fuji Rock Fest organizers have shuffled a number of artists to fill his spot and the slot before him (the [still] vacant TBC "legendary artist").

The upshot is that Primal Scream will now headline Sunday night, in addition to playing their Saturday night spot before Underworld. Joining them in the shuffle will be The Birthday (ex Thee Machine Gun Elephant) and Asian Dub Foundation.

The schedule for the final acts on Sunday night's Green Stage now look like this:

19:30 to 20:30 - The Birthday
21:30 to 23:00 - Primal Scream
23:40 to 24:40 - Special Guest: Asian Dub Foundation

Both The Birthday and Asian Dub will retain their previous Saturday night spots. The former from 20:30 to 21:30 on the White Stage, and the latter from 15:50 to 16:50 on the Green Stage.


Department of film

For those festivalgoers who are still awake at midnight but don't feel like partying any more, the festival will once again offer some movies along the river out near the White Stage. Beatles, lizards, funny Brits and...soul food in Shimane?

July 25...
Midnight: "Sguy and the Family Stone" Feature movie version of a late night TV anime series about a family in Shimane who run an African-American-style soul food restaurant. Gangsters, funk music, afros of all colors and shapes, and even the FBI!

1:30 a.m.: "Galapagos" BBC documentary about the island that Darwin made famous. Learn all about spiny lizards, big ol' ugly turtles, and more birds than you can shake a wire clothes hanger at. Reinforce your knowledge of evolution for that next run-in with the fundamentalist Christian down the hall. The music's supposed to be groovy, too.

July 26...
Midnight (parts 1 & 2) and 3:15 a.m. (parts 3 & 4): "Little Britain" The first four episodes of the hit BBC series lampooning all things British. See Elton John, George Michael and Kate Moss get made fun of--on purpose, with their permission!

1:00 a.m.: "Across the Universe" Director Julie Taymor's (The Lion King) hybrid of Hair and That 70's Show is about a Liverpool lad who comes to America in the late 60s to find the G.I. father who left his mother after World War II was over. He hooks up with a rich lily-white college girl whose boyfriend has just been killed in Vietnam. Hardly compelling stuff, but get this: it's all scored to Beatles songs, which the principals sing with passable skill. My only complaint is that they stick to the hits. I would have given my right nut to hear these kids take on "Me and My Monkey."

July 16, 2008

Give it up for the drummer

Our favorite timekeeper in the world is Janet Weiss, formerly of Sleater-Kinney and Quasi and currently manning the kit as a Jick for ex-Pavement honcho Stephen Malkmus, who'll be gracing the White Stage this year with his snarky post-irony classic rock. Drummers don't normally get a lot of media attention, but there's a wonderful interview with Weiss that just showed up on the Village Voice website.

In the interview, which you can read for yourself here, Weiss talks about drumming from a practical standpoint--not so much about technique and chops, but about being the band member who takes the longest to set up and break down, the person who's usually stuck at the back of the stage, and the meaning of being a woman drummer and how awesomeness just sort of attaches itself more tenaciously to females who beat tom toms. It's not a sexist thing at all; it's more a matter of cognitive dissonance. Most people still think of drums as a macho thing, but anyone who has every seen Weiss play will agree that the instrument can also be a thing of subtlety and range. It's difficult to think of any extant straightforward rock drummer, with the possible exception of Blondie's Clem Burke, who is more distinctive. We'll be staring past Stephen, you betcha.


July 15, 2008



Take a look through this year’s lineup and you’ll see a few categories emerge. We’ve already discussed the newbies and seasoned veterans, but look a little closer and you'll begin to see artists who have been to Fujirock before but have now transformed into another acts. Let’s call them the happy mutants.

Bill Laswell leads that nebulous pack. He played Naeba with Ruins drummer Yoshida and that freakazoid, Buckethead, as Praxis. Welshman, Gruf Rhys has come to Japan numerous times with Super Furry Animals, but this year he gives his new project Neon Neon a spin. Bassist, Kim Deal, came with her alma mater, the Pixies, in 2004. Now she’ll hit the stage with her sister, Kelly, and the rest of the Breeders.

On the Japanese side, there are more than a few musical permutations. The Soil and “Pimp” Sessions let their rhythm section loose to jam as, er, J.A.M.

Then there are professional mutators like Fuwa Daisuke and Seichi Yamamoto: Fuwa-san’s unspeakably kickass Shibusa Shirazu Orchestra has been bringing its nearly cult-like fans (including me) since 2001. This year they won’t appear (rumor has it they misbehaved too much last time) but Fuwa-san will perform with fellow SSO cadre, Ayako Sasaki (also of the great Chan Band) and Seiichi Yamamoto, one of Japan's most prolific guns-for-hire, playing numerous Fujirocks with the Boredoms, Rovo, Praxis, and now with Para (great article/interview here).

But perhaps the happiest mutant of all is Boredoms frontman and all-around professional noisemaker, Yamantaka Eye (pictured above). After a stint with his main gig last year, Eye is back again to play as AEO, ostensibly to DJ and do god knows what else.

Decent Boredoms profile in the New Yorker here.


It'll Still Be A Party

Bloc Party bassist Gordon Moakes is about to become a daddy and won't be touring with the band for the next few weeks. Kudos to him for having his priorities in order.

Fear not Bloc Party faithful for the group will still be performing on the Green Stage early Friday evening. According to a post made on Bloc Party's site by Moakes, Daniel Lindegren (aka Tommy Sparks) will be handling "bass, keys, buttons, knobs and things that go 'clonk'" during his absence.

If all goes according to plan, Moakes will rejoin the group at the end of August just in time for their Canadian tour. Best of luck to him and his wife.


* Photo by Keco and used with permission from Smashing Mag


As the new kid on the Fuji Rock block, I've been wondering where it will rank in the memories of festivals gone by.

Will it be like that time I went to the second Lollapalooza festival? That would be the time we threw a tarp over a branch somewhere on the Ontario Hydro grounds in Barrie, Ontario...and proceeded to camp out under the stars. And cut ourselves climbing the fence by the highway...and met some nice young ladies from New York State who let us drive their car back home...long story, way to personal to get into here. Amazing to see how Lollapolooza spawned so many events (including Fuji, in a way), then died and came back to what it is today.

The last time I got to a rock festival there was a Japanese connection - I drove nine hours to Chicago for the Intonation Festival, mostly to see the Boredoms. There was no drunken stumbling through the heat...no mosh pit...in fact, everyone seemed extremely well-behaved. Are audiences acting older, or is it just me?

What I'm looking to explore is how the audience at a Japanese festival is going to behave. I've been to enough rock shows in both Canada and Japan to know that there's a different kind of appreciation shown by Japanese audiences. I've heard you'll never meet a friendlier bunch of people and that the vibe is unbeatable. To be honest, I'm as interested in experiencing that as I am seeing the music.


July 14, 2008

Big Opening In Sunday Night's Lineup Now


Well, it looks like Japanese frontman extraordinaire Iwamono Kiyoshiro has pulled out of his headline slot to close the festival on the Green stage Sunday evening, citing health concerns.

Kiyoshiro-san is one of Fuji Rock Festivals biggest repeat performers, and a crowd favorite. Many people were looking forward to closing the festival out to the energetic sounds of IMAWANO KIYOSHIRO & NICE MIDDLE with NEW BLUE DAY HORN plus NAKAIDO "CHABO" REIICHI (a mouthful to say the least, but eagerly awaited by many).

Fuji Rock's official announcement in English is here.

We wish him nothing but the best, and he will no doubt be asked back next year after some more rest.

Questions remain, though. With the Green Stage spot before him still TBA, this will only fuel the fire surrounding discussion on just who will be booked to close the 2008 Fuji Rock Festival.



Bastards of Young


I almost spit out my coffee when a cover of the Replacements' “Bastards of Young” popped up on The Cribs’ myspace site. I was nervous. Would they do the song justice? Giving proper respect to this slacker-punk anthem....

I listened on, and their version kind of rocked. Like, I was glad they were playing a song that I had nearly forgotten about for the past 6 months. That said, there’s simply no way to reproduce the swirling guitar sounds of the late, great, Bob Stinson. No matter how good you are.

I checked youtube.com to see the band play it live. And, OMG, they even had the guts to play this song in Minneapolis This is something that very few American band would even consider. Pulling off this tune, and event telling the Minneapolis audience “you guys should be very proud of that song” takes some moxy, something that the Replacements had in bunches.

So in the end, I think The Cribs did right by this song. They put it out there, even tagging on the emphatic, repetitive chorus of “Get drunk, get drunk, get drunk, get drunk” at the end.

And if you are looking for other modern-day incarnations of the Replacements, check out The Whigs from Atlanta, Georgia. They got the same slept on hairdos and a touring schedule that includes nearly every campus ghetto in the US. Need more proof, their major label debut, “Mission Control”, features a picture of a guy who seems to have been pelted with a couple of eggs.

If you’re wondering who The Whigs cover, it’s usually Brit rockers, The Who just proving that bands can look across the pond for inspiration.

//sean s.

July 13, 2008

Missed them at the festival?


Don't despair! Catch them afterwards!

There are so many things to see at Fujirock that it's just impossible to see them all. By the time the dust settles, the number of performances usually comes out to about the 300 mark. With 100 things to see every day, you just have to make some sacrifices.

So, it's a good thing a lot of the bands on deck play a sideshow or two. Not all are in the Tokyo area, they get around the country too. The place to start should be the Official Fuji Rock After Party, with Foals, The Courteeners and White Lies. Always a bit of a britpop bonanza, I say you should start here, but you can't... It's already sold out! If you're one of the lucky ones already clutching a ticket, it looks like you'll be having a nice monday night out. Try Yahoo Auctions, as tickets are bound to pop up there.

So, who else is playing around town? Check out Kasabian on the wednesday before the festival at Club Citta in Kawasaki, a venue I've been meaning to get to for a while. This may be the time! Locofrank, the hardest working band on Smash, play near enough to every week of the year! No excuse for not catching them at some stage. See them at Loft in their last show before the fest on Tuesday the 22nd, they take a well earned break after Fuji Rock and won't perform again until Aug 27th.

Don't miss Jason Mraz's flight across the country starting in Shibuya Ax on July 29th, and floating through Osaka on the 30th and Hiroshima on the 31st. It might be hard to get in to Quruli's gigs as they are usually sold out, though I dare suggest there will be a few scalpers on hand to help you out, or again check out Yahoo Auctions.

Coming up a little further in the future are Cool Wise Men with Eddie Tan Tan Thornton playing in Shibuya, Nagoya and Osaka in mid August. See Mono on October 2nd at Club Quattro in Shibuya for a totally different in club experience to their outdoor performance. Well worth catching both sets, I can't say enough good things about them. Flower Travellin' Band are due to play in Shibuya in September. Looking well into the future you will see Sherbets playing Tokyo again in December and January.

And then there's all the guys who aren't playing this year, but have put in great performances in Fuji Rock Festivals of years past. Catch one of former Fuji Rock opener Frontier Backyard's shows on their tour staring in mid September. Don't miss punk rocker Ken Yokoyama if you happen to be in Sapporo on August 14. Mo'some Tonebender play Sapporo in October and Tokyo in November.

Plenty going on around town!!

Report by Dom.

July 11, 2008



I've heard it said more than once that US audiences prefer their funk slow and thumping, to nod their heads to, while UK audiences demand thunderous dance breaks to keep them jiggling their limbs. Perhaps that's why Minneapolis did so well with its squelching basslines, spacey synths and low-key drumming - while Brits were waiting for Keb Darge to bring them the gritty, raw and much more danceable deep funk.

Lettuce - headlining the Field of Heaven on Saturday - are a 7-piece from NYC who have a bit more P-funk in their blood than some of their fellow funkateers on the bill (Bootsy excepted, and even he's promising a straight JB sound). They've even had Fred Wesley playing his trombone on a couple of their album tracks. But check out their covers of Curtis Mayfield's "Move on Up" and The Soul Vibrations' "The Dump" it's pretty clear this is a band that spans the funk spectrum.

It takes some balls to cover Move on Up - but Lettuce have done a superb job. As one blogger put it "it sounds a lot like the original, but different enough". I'd bet my three-day pass that they'll play that on Saturday night and the field will rock. Eager beavers can pick up the 7" in Shibuya's DMR right now.

Also check their live album - recorded in Tokyo back in 2003. It was recorded at the Blue Note, which isn't the sexiest venue in the city, but not bad for a septet that no-one had heard of back then.



This may be Spoon's first Fujirock, but it's not their first time in Japan. How many Tokyo sites do you recognize in this video?


FRF Upstarts


Since my last post spotlighted acts who’ve tasted Fujirock’s sweet fruit and came back for seconds (or thirds, or fifths), I thought it appropriate to turn the focus on this year’s first-timers, many of whom are relative newbies on the live scene.

There’s quirky pop tart, Kate Nash, whose personal lyrics, casual delivery and Myspace ride to fame are cut from the same yellow taffeta dress cloth worn by Lilly Allen. Fellow Brits, the Courteneers, will be trying to avoid the kiss of death that an NME cover can bring, while beatnut/beatnik duo Dan Le Sac and Scroobius Pip, on the other hand, have nothing to loose but sleep (and X Factor)

From Paris, we have beats from DatA and party mixes from DJ Mehdi of the incredibly awesome Ed Banger label, who brought Justice to all last year.

From Australia we have the laptop pop of Gotye, the club jams of Midnight Juggernauts and the synth-laden spazz-rockers of the Death Set (seen above).

Acts like Austin Texas’s SPOON and Mexico City’s Rodrigo Y Gabriella are no rookies when it comes to playing in front of thousands, but this will mark the first time either have appeared at a festival in Japan. It won't be the last, I'm sure.


Repeaters and Regulars

revolving door.jpg

Look through lineups of Fujirocks past and you’re bound to see a few names pop up time and again. It’s no secret that Fujirock frequently has many returnees, and this year is no exception. What you may not know that usually it is the bands themselves that ask to come back year after year. That's right: Fujirock is that awesome.

Here’s a rundown (with links aplenty) of a few of this year’s repeat visitors and seasoned veterans.

Perhaps the best example of a band keen on returning to Fujirock is the Music, the Leeds quartet who are rumored to have loved the fest so much in 2003 that they came back the next year – not to perform but just to camp out and see the fest like the rest of the punters. They’ll be back this year, but on stage.

Other old Japan hands from the UK you’ll see wandering around this year include Underworld, Primal Scream, Tricky and crowd favorites, Asian Dub Foundation, who are known for turning the entire Green Stage lawn into an ocean of mud-spattered and spasmodic smiley faces.

British bands like The Zutons, Mystery Jets and the Go! Team will make their sophomore appearance this year. (The Go! Team's awesome homage to Ms. Pac Man here)

California also boasts a bevy of repeaters, and all of them are known for getting a party started. There is cumbia band, Very Be Careful, Latin/Rock-fusion masters Ozomatli and Spearhead with Michael Franti, second only to perhaps Kiyoshiro Imawano in Fujirock popularity polls.

And yes, Imawano is back, along with many other excellent Japanese bands like rockers Cro-Magnons, world-pop dreamers, Double Famous (interview here), club legends Denki Groove (vid here) and pop darlings, Quruli.


July 9, 2008

You Can Never Be Too Prepared Or Have Too Much Time On Your Hands

They're here. Those guides that you can't enough of. We here at Fuji Rock Express don't claim to know everything about the festival (well...that's not quite true, some of us do), but there are, indeed, other Japanese magazines and websites out there with English content aplenty. And where you find English content, you find no shortage of opinions, guides, and rhetoric (the blog you are currently reading being a prime example).

So for your research pleasure (or to alleviate your boredom), here are some other previews for this year's Fuji Rock, as well as some other Japanese music festivals you might like to check out this summer...(since we're "blogging" am I required to say - shudder! - "after the jump" here?)

The Japanzine writers like pretty much everything we've written about in their "Sounds of the Summer" article, plus writer John Wilks has an interview with songwriter Adriano Cintra from Brazilian hipsters Cansai de Ser Sexy (otherwise known as CSS, who release their sophomore album Donkey on July 22 in Japan). The cheeky wags at Idolator may not necessarily agree with WIlks' excitement.

Metropolis, the magazine for the ex-pat ADD generation, give you a typically curt "Heat and Noise" overview. They do, however (like us here at FRE), find enough column inches to encourage you to check out the small stages throughout the festival, and not just camp around the Green and White stages for the whole weekend.

The Japan Times writer Simon Bartz likes Kiyoshiro Imawano in his preview for the paper. The Times also has an interview with CSS (written in January, published late June so you may wanna read this interview first).

Also in The Japan Times, fellow Fuji Rocker Philip Brasor has a preview of the Tokyo Summer Music Festival that is currently happening in venues around the city.

Stephen Taylor at The Daily Yomiuri is a little more spartan in his approach to previewing the festival season, though he does give a good overview of some of the side gigs that many bands will be playing while passing through Japan (like The Fratellis, Albert Hammond Jr., Devo, Prodigy, Paul Weller, etc.).

Nobody actually buys newspapers anymore, do they?


July 8, 2008



The posts on this blog are all made by the E-team of the Fuji Rock Express site. Last year's Express is here, this year's will launch the week of the fest and will be updating throughout the weekend with countless reports and photos.

Hailing from all corners of the globe, members of our talented team all have different music industry-related experience including (but not limited to) being bars/club DJs, campus radio DJs, radio program directors, freelance journalists, record label staff, party organizers/ promoters, and merch dudes. Despite all the musical endeavors we've had, only one of us has had a Japanese band pen a song for them.

The band who wrote the rockin' cut are the Zoobombs. The staff member is Jamie Tennant (JT). The song is "Jamie" (click on the track name to see a live performance of it) from Zoobombs most excellent 2006 disc, B*B*B.

Zoobombs are easily one of the best live acts in Japan. They were part of the debut Fuji Rock in '97, but sadly have not played the fest since. Not sure the reason behind this, but hope the band will grace one of Naeba's stages in the coming years as I know people would go completely gaga for 'em.

Interested to know the story behind "Jamie"? Check out this story from The Japan Times, or, better yet, read Jamie's account here.


*Zoobombs photo by hanasan and used with permission from Smashing Mag

Ola Amigo

Last year we got the very cool, Stoned Circle (pics here and here). This year the always hard workin' Fuji Staff are introducing a little taste of Mexico to the festival with Cabaret Fiesta.

Cabaret Fiesta will be set up out past Orange Court, next to Stoned Circle. Yes, it's a bit of a hike - but to only hang out by the Green Stage and Red Marquee truly only allows you to scratch the surface of this fantastic festival. After working up a sweat drumming at Stoned Circle, you can chill out for a while with Mexican mariachi, female dancers and tequila girls!

If someone can arrange for a Taco Bell to be set up in the area I'll be there from open to close each day!


ALL Aboard

If you’re giddy with anticipation for Ellegarden, or if you’re in any way a fan of pop-punk from Green Day to Simple Plan, you might want to hit the White Stage on Saturday at about 14:10.

Pretty much any melodic punk band worth their salt is ripping off The Descendents. That is, with the exception of ALL. Mostly because they are the Descendents – ex-Black-Flagger Bill Stephenson, bassist Karl Alvarez, guitarist Stephen Egerton…and occasionally vocalist Milo Auckerman, too. Which makes them both ALL and The Descendents at the same time. It’s all a bit puzzling, but nevermind. When Auckerman split to finish his biochem degree in 1987, the D’s became ALL with various new vocalists in the line-up.

ALL aren’t exactly a household name, but theirs is a household sound, the sound of punk rock in its prime but with bittersweet melodies replacing the rage. Call it power pop or call it “after-school-special-core,” the Descendents/ALL sound probably influenced that punk band you like. Yes, that one. Whoever they are.

Last summer Karl Alvarez suffered a heart attack, but with his recovery complete they’re back on the road, alternating vocalists Scott Reynolds and Chad Price (it’ll likely be Reynolds at Fuji Rock). While they haven’t released an album in some time, recent ones can be found through Epitaph Records.

- jt

Not 19 Forever !


It aint easy making the cover of NME. And when your mug appears weeks before the start of the outdoor rock season, you're gonna be in for a wild ride! Next is the inevitable Glasto gig, at night no less. You better rock it hard cuz all eyes are watching.

Formed in 2006, and recently signed to Polydor for their debut album, The Courteeners are a heavily touted band who record execs are hoping will become the next Oasis. The band have a swaggering front man/songwriter in Liam Fray, and a couple of solid rock stompers that they’ve rolled out for tv shows and radio appearances. By most accounts, they've held up nicely this summer and the next stop on this summer circus is Fuji Rock.

Most striking is the rabid audience that have attached to this band.Youtube videos will reveal fans singing along choruses to songs such as “Not 19 Forever” and the band’s closer, “What Took You So Long?"

If you like Brit pop, and are looking to tag along rapidly rising to the top, check out their performance on the Green Stage on Saturday at 12:30PM. And when the summer is over, this band will be playing just about every college campus from London to Glasgow, growing a youngish fan base and preparing for their next step into the limelight. Aint all the attention grand!

//sean s.

July 7, 2008

Best. Fuji. Moments. Ever.


So what's your favorite Fuji moment ever? Forget about who played the best sets, and forget about that time in the woods with that chick/chap you met in Gypsy Avalon... I'm talking about the unique little memories that this festival throws at you.

Mine is from liver-impaired legend Shane McGowan and The Pogues:

It was probably 2005 - and the sozzled poet staggered onto the stage and cemented his reputation by sloshing melodiously along in a right old state to a couple of his songs before stumbling off for a sit down. In between songs he slurred what sounded like random vowels and almost-consonants into the mic. The Japanese girl next to me turned and said, "where is he from? I can't understand his accent."

Great tunes. Great lyrics. Great comedy.


July 6, 2008

Mokudo Tei, Naeba Shokudo and their delights.


Newly announced acts in the intimate zones!

Mokudo Tei is the official name for what most of us know as one of "the Boardwalk" areas, and is looking like it might be an interesting little place to find yourself over the three days. Connecting the White and Green stages (one way only, White to Green) Mokudo Tei has a but a couple of acts announced so far each day. Catch singer songwriterJustin Nozuka strumming his acoustic guitar at 1:45pm on the Friday on your way from Harada Ikuko on the White (12:50-1:30) through to the insanely poplar quruli who head on to the Green at 2:20pm. Saunter on down for Riddim Saunter's accoustic set at 3:30PM.

On the Saturday, expect YAOAO from Dachambo at 2pm, and another yet to be announced act from 4. Sunday sees The Hard-Core Junk Abstract One Man Rock Band! (his own description!) Boot Ton Del in a small show that promises to be a highlight of the festival for those lucky enough to catch it. He'll start from 3. Round this lot out with Yukawa Shione at 5pm on the Sunday and what you have here is a terrific relaxing oasis amongst the trees!

Naeba Shokudo is another wonderful little place, this time right in the middle of the international food court area. Cafe and relaxing space during the daylight hours, it transforms around 6pm or so each evening, playing host to some of the more, shall we say, interesting, acts of the show. Ranging from the laidback string sounds of Chopiiinkicking off the stage on the Friday night, through to Blues The Butcher finishing things off on the Sunday, there are a plethora of acts to be sampled in this terrific little place. Be early for Seasick Steve and perennial Fuji Rock Favourites Big Willie's Burlesque (how many years is it now?) at 6:30pm and 7:40pm respectively on the Saturday. Get down there for some great entertainment while you chow down!

Hooray for the small stages!!

Report by Dom.

TeeBeeDee / TeeBeeCee


Is it "To Be Determined" (TBD), or "To Be Considered" (TBC)? In either case, a large chunk of time has recently appeared reserved on Green Stage Sunday evening, indicating the schedule might not yet be complete. But who else is coming?

There was some chatter on the BBS a while back, but most of it was speculation really. It was all based loosely on someone's babblefish translation of a Japanese site that indicated a "Legendary" band was coming. Basically everyone fantasized of THEIR legendary band (Smiths, Bob Dylan, I squeaked about Zepplin). Chances of it being any of these three are close to zero, but nothing has been confirmed.

What "Legendary" artist would you like to see? Give us yr guesses (hopes?) in the comments.


July 5, 2008

Hair of the dog

Sunday morning at Fuji tends to look (and sometimes even smell) like a mile-long hangover, with weekend partyers starting to reach the end of their tolerance for lack of sleep and other manifestations of common sense. You usually need an act who's incredibly dumb and fun (like The Knack a few years ago), or one that's loud and obnoxious (any 20-something pop punk band will do). So the first instance of cognitive dissonance I experienced during this year's pre-fest run-up was when I noticed that Mono was opening the White Stage on Sunday. WTF!?

Mono, for the unitiated, is Japan's premiere instrumental rock band, and if you require such assistance than let's just say they're a cross between Mogwai and King Crimson, with a bit of Scandinavian metal thrown in for kick. However, they like classical music, not as a goof or as way of showing off their fingering technique, but for the kind of melodic purity that classical music (meaning music from the classical era) values above all. They're a huge concert draw in America and Europe, where critics mistakenly lump them in with other Japanese noise bands. They're more subtle than that, though they can get pretty loud.

It doesn't sound like the kind of stuff I'd want to hear with an aching head and a bruise on my ass from having literally fallen asleep between a rock and a hard place somewhere off the beaten path on the festival grounds. I think I'd rather hear them with the sun going down and a bloodstream full of chemicals, but then again, Mono is a lot more flexible than your average guitar monster band. They know how to respond to an audience on a minute-by-minute basis. Just be careful. What they might think you need is a good shock to the system. Make that a bloody mary, if you would.


The man who never sleeps


Richie Hawtin is a veteran on the night live scene. Like any hardcore partygoer, he has probably had his fair share of sleepless nights Djing until the morning at different parties all over the world. But when I saw that he has been scheduled to perform at Tribal Circus (Red Marquee) on Saturday night from 3 :15 AM to 5 :00 AND at Day Dreaming from 10 :00 to 11 :30AM on Sunday morning, you have to wonder when this guy will find the time to sleep. Personally, I think that his early set on Sunday is a good occasion to try out the Dragondola without missing too much of the main action.

by seb

Gan Ban Square


You missed Ryukyudisko at the White Stage because you went for Midnight Juggernauts at the Red Maquee? Or didn’t have any more energy to reach out for All Night Fuji to dance on Dex Pistols? If you are lucky, you might have a second chance to see them perform at Fuji Rock. Next to Oasis, the main Food Court next to Red Maquee, is the Gan Ban Square that might save you.

For electronic music lover, Gan Ban is one of the best shops in Tokyo. Recently relocated in Parco 3 of Shibuya, the vinyl store is a gem to find out all the recent releases of the hottest label. Once in a while, they also produce special events with great artists from Japan or oversee. With lots of good contact in the electronic music industry, the boys from Gan Ban always setup a little shop at Fuji Rock where you can buy CD, Vinyl or T-Shirt from your favorites artists but they also have a mini stage where excellent Djs take turn to spin the turntables. The schedule is not published in advance, as far as I’m aware, but they display it on screen next to the stage. In the past, I often had the chance to see intimate set from DJ that had performed on official stage of Fuji Rock.

It’s always a nice place to look out while enjoying a kebab or ramen from the nearby Food court. Many cool people hangout over their and chances are good that you can ear good music also.

by seb

Off the wall & all over the map

Portabiity has its rewards, and at Fuji one of them is the possibility of being invited to perform on multiple stages--not at the same time, mind you; though, considering the quirk factor of these two acts, I wouldn't be surprised if they hadn't tried to think of a way to make that happen.

The American troubador Seasick Steve is mainly notable for having garnered his cult after he turned 60, though, in fact, he's been in the music biz longer. Various bios have him playing with John Lee Hooker, appearing on BBC television, and recording an early version of Modest Mouse. Having left home at 14 and living as a hobo for the better part of his life in the U.S. and Europe, he now calls Norway his home (even if the band on his debut album was Swedish). Steve's country blues style is weird and arresting, built on shaggy dog stories taken from his colorful life and delivered in an off-the-cuff but entirely intense fashion. Steve and his custom-made, beat-up guitar will appear in the Crystal Palace Tent on Friday night at 11:45, in the Naeba Shokudo Saturday evening at 6:30, at the Field of Heaven Sunday afternoon at 2:00.

Janet Klein is unusual in a more calculated way. She plays pop and jazz numbers from the 1910s, 20s and 30s and dresses appropriately in flapper couture. More importantly, she accompanies herself on ukulele, and quite smartly, it should be pointed out. And while Klein's act could be considered sort of gimmicky, it is by no means museum-bound. For one thing, her voice, while perfectly suited to the old-time material, is not a caricature. Its fullness and presence is as contemporary-sounding as Erykah Badu's, it's just that she's using it to deliver "naughty" songs written fifty years before she was born. Over the years, she's accumulated a crack group of jazz musicians called The Parlor Boys that includes former members of R. Crumb's Cheap Suit Serenaders. We're not sure if she'll be hauling the Boys around to every stage she plays at Fuji--she entertains divinely with just that uke and her voice--but, like Steve, she's be all over the place so you have no excuse to not see her: Saturday, 6 p.m. at the Orange Court and 8:50 p.m. at the Naeba Shokudo; Sunday, 2:45 p.m. at Gypsy Avalon; and she'll also play Friday midnight at the Ganban tent.


July 4, 2008

FRF Taisho on CNN.com


Yes, Fujirock's own Generalissimo, Hidaka-san, is on the the CNN website now.




Alright, so I don't mean to retread old ground here. I know we've already written about Jamie Liddell, but jesus, have you seen this guy sing over his own beatboxing? Have you heard the new album?

I just did. I mean, just go and listen to "Hurricane" on his Myspace page and tell me that won't completely BLOW UP on a sunny Naeba afternoon...

Liddell may be opening for Elton John's new tour, but Indie kids, don't let that throw you. He's really a bizarre hybrid. On one side, he is full-on old-school soul a la Stevie Wonder/Otis Redding. On the other, he's all clicks and cuts like his Warp labelmates, Aphex Twin and Boards of Canada.

If you can't picture that combination, watch this to hear the former and this for the latter.

Great interview here
Cool video interview here
Liddell's a Mac fan, too, apparently. Interview and gear geek-out here


Up close and personal

The British Council tent is usually a great place to catch an up-close accoustic set by some of the Brit bands on the bill. (pictured here: The Coral from 2005)

This year there are plenty of possibilities — but I'm guessing Feeder, The Zutons, Kate Nash and Jamie Lidell — and a duet between Bobby Gillespie and Ian Brown accompanied by Adrian Sherwood on the spoons as an outside bet.

Any better guesses?


New Funky Sounds


Back in 2006 the drummer from New Mastersounds was roaming the audience at Unit looking for something that he felt might help him drum a little more enthusiastically. Either he found it or he never needed it, because the leaders of the New Funk scene whipped the audience up that night into the kind of crowd you'd expect at a heavy metal show.

Expect nothing less from their almost-headline slot in the Field of Heaven. This four-piece are legends of modern funk and the heirs to the Meters' crown. They had the wisdom to ask Keb Darge, the single-handed carver of the deep funk genre, to produce their breakthrough singles One Note Brown and Nervous.

Keb might be the biggest name in funk DJing, but he spins old-skool - no mixing, no scratching and a fair slice of microphone chit chat - all in all not an obvious choice for a studio producer. But according to the band, it was Darge that pushed for the mighty break in Nervous, which sends dancefloors crazy - and should do the same to Naeba fields.

The Mastersounds have just released an album with Dionne Charles, singer with the latest Big Things in funk, Baby Charles - not at Fuji this year, but sure will be soon.


July 3, 2008

String Theory

File this under Completely Useless Bits of Trivia
One of the surprises for me in this year's Fuji Rock lineup (then again, maybe not - this being an election year and all) is the inclusion of Seattle's The Presidents of the United States of America.

They released a new album earlier in the year These Are the Good Times People and are hitting the summer festival circuit hard this year. They play Fuji Rock's Green Stage at 12:30 pm on Friday, and the next day finds them on the main stage at Suikerrock Festival in Tienen, Belgium. (And you think you'll be tired...)

At least their guitar techs only need to do half the work!

Front man Chris Ballew plays the "basitar", a Gibson SG with all six strings taken off and replaced with only two heavy ones (a .060 gauge top string tuned to C# and a .036 gauge bottom string tuned to G# for you gear fanatics). This technique was actually developed by Ballew's good friend and Morphine front man, the late Mark Sandman.


As a compliment to Ballew's "basitar", original guitar player for PUSA Dave Dederer pioneered the - you guessed it - "guitbass" style by customizing his Fender Stratocasters and Telecasters. With this, a regular guitar is strung with only three strings. The top (or lowest pitched) string is .065 gauge tuned to C#, the middle string is .045 tuned to G#, and the bottom (highest pitch) string is .035 gauge tuned to C# again, but one octave higher. You rockers out there will recognize this as a "Drop D" tuning, down half a step. For those that don't play guitar, this is an open style of tuning that allows you to play crunchy barre (or "power") chords up and down the guitar neck with just one finger. Rock on, Wayne!


And that ain't all the customized axes coming to Fuji Rock. Also playing this year is Seasick Steve, a swaggering blues breaker and one man band. He says his chopped guitar is "the biggest piece of shit in the world," and calls it the 3-Stringed Tranz Wonder. He also accompanies himself on percussion with his "Mississippi Drum Machine", a stomp box decorated with a Mississippi license plate and a small piece of carpet.

Catch his Dog House Music Friday night in the Crystal Palace (23:45-0:30), Saturday night on Naeba Shokudo (18:30-19:10) and Sunday afternoon at the Field of Heaven (14:00-15:00).

Anybody know if any of the other artists (excluding whacked out hippie fusion art rock jazzy types) play home brew instruments? Cuz I think this is just the beginning...


July 2, 2008

Whole Lotta Love

Zepplin Lego.png

Ok, so I have now accepted the fact that Led Zeppelin's reunion tour won't touch down at Fujirock, but oh, cruel world, why must you twist the knife so?

Is it not enough that I've pulled out every Zeppelin album from my collection (ahem, hard drive) and listened to them regularly over the last 4 months? All in anticipation of seeing these very songs performed by the icons themselves, who, despite being gray and a bit haggard, still retain their chops and one helluva set of lungs?

Must you tease me by referring to influential Japanese bands as "The Led Zeppelin of Japan?"

Must you taunt me me when my Facebook status says "Jinki is cranking the ZEP?"

Must you twist the knife by placing Youtube footage of Galactic covering "Immigrant Song?"

Oh how the song remains the same with you people....


For Funk's Sake


As mentioned in earlier posts, soul music will certainly be represented at Naeba this year, but 2008 is most certainly the year of FUNK, children, and don’t let nobody tell you different.

There’s Lettuce, a spinoff from the very, very funky Soulive trio. Then there’s the New Master Sounds from the UK funking it up on the Field of Heaven. As for local talent, Saitama’s own Mountain Mocha Kilamanjaro, will lay it down in the Palace of Wonder.

But don’t miss Kansai’s answer to the JB’s, Osaka Monaurail, who will play under the thinly veiled name of Underground Express. These are the same guys who backed up Marva Whitney last year, but instead of James Brown tunes, UE will do funky covers of tunes by guys like Curtis Mayfield, Isaac Hayes and Kool and the Gang.

Ozomatli and Galactic are perrenial favorites in Japan, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see these guys playing together somewhere (on stage, at the Palace late-nite, barreling through the restaurant area, etc)

Oh and did I mention BOOTSY COLLINS is doing a full-on James Brown tribute? That’s right, the mind-freeing, ass-following starry-eyed one will headline the White Stage Friday with an onslaught of funk from the man who arguably birthed the stuff. Ol' Bootsy cut his teeth playing bass for Mr. Dynamite himself, so no doubt he knows the material.

And if that’s not enough funk in your face, I’ve been assured that the Sunday night DJs at the Crystal Palace are carrying some serious vinyl.

Mercy lawd, people. If you can't get your freak on here, then give it up, sister.


July 1, 2008

Who when where


So the schedule's up and we can start crossing names off our to-see lists. Wanted to see Galactic and Kasabian on Friday? Now you're gonna have to choose. Interested in Mark Stewart and The Maffia, but want to see if Mani really does join Ian Brown at other end of the festival in the Red marquee? No chance.

But somehow this year seems a little more.... thought out? Bootsy fans that want some more funk have 50 minutes to stroll to the nearby Field of Heaven for modern day funkateers the New Mastersounds. The kind of people who never budge from the Orange Court all weekend will probably want to catch the trio from SOIL&"PIMP"SESSIONS - who are playinga few yards away, just as the OC goes quiet.

I'm still wondering: Lee Scratch Perry or The Go Team? But for the most part, what a great piece of scheduling.

Almost Full!


Another round of artists have been announced for Fuji Rock bringing the total number of performing acts to 202! The timetable has been released as well and from the looks of it, there are only two slots left to be filled. One is Sunday night on the Green Stage, the other on Mokudo Tei on Saturday afternoon.

Gypsy Avalon, Naeba Shokudo, and Mokudo Tei’s (the boardwalk stage) lineups have been revealed and some bands have been added to other stages as well. New performers include UK alt-rockers The Zutons, Japanese hard rockers Wrench, J-punks Razor’s Edge, Canadian Justin Nozuka, and Japanese psych-pop underground fave Tokumaru Shugo.

Personally, I’m really excited to check out a special 15-minute show from AEO that takes place late Sunday night (or early Monday morning if you want to get technical) at the Red Marquee. AEO is comprised of EYE from Boredoms, Sawai, and Jo. Wonder how the always entertaining and unpredictable EYE will top the wall of guitars that he played during Boredoms White Stage set last year!


*Photo of EYE at Fuji Rock 2007 by Hoya and used with permission of Fuji Rock Express

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