July 22, 2009

Fuji Rock Express

As we predicted - some misplaced items and getting lost in our new surroundings during our move to www.fujirock.com.

No worries - there is still all the info sitting here on this site, and from tomorrow (woo-hoo!) we'll be sending all the info as it's happening from the 2009 Fuji Rock Festival!

You can get the all the info you can handle in English (and some French) at Fuji Rock Express.

We'll see you up there!


July 19, 2009

Movin' On Up

A little bit of news for you regular (and irregular...and just plain weird) readers of the Blogging with Fuji Rock site: we're moving!

This blog goes back to 2006 and we aren't stopping now, but after years on the MT platform we are moving to WordPress and taking all our inside info with us. We also have a shiny new URL so you can now find us, the FujiRockers, at www.fujirock.com.

As with any move, there will be some boxes misplaced and some things shifted around and it will take us a little while to get everything just so - especially with the festival starting in a mere matter of days.

Some other things to note:

As we have done every year, the FujiRockers cover the festival in English (and French) live as part of Fuji Rock Express. We set it up Thursday and go 'til the Monday. We will announce the site URL once it is ready to go live on the new Fuji Rock blog site.

You can get more really good information, ask questions, and connect with other Fuji Rock festival goers on the FujiRockers English bulletin board service.

So, bookmark the new site and we'll see you at this year's Fuji Rock Festival!


July 17, 2009



Party time starts early and finishes late!

One of the worst things about Fuji Rock is that a lot of you can't go. Even members of our team vary year to year as some of us can't get the time off. Kern and Dave were missed last year due to conflicting schedules. And then there's the Tokyo-centric nature of the whole touring scene. But the saving grace is all of the sideshows that mean you don't have to miss out altogether, and over time a lot of these guys get to the smaller parts of the country as well.

Starting this list, let's look at the Official after party at Warehouse 702. This will see Basement Jaxx spinning a DJ set, with Crookers, The Bloody Beetroots, and The Shoes all up to the task the day after the festival finishes. Get in fast, as this one usually sells out in advance.

Thursday night on the eve of the festival, catch the Funky Meters at Shibuya Ax from 7pm.

ASA-CHANG & 巡礼 do duty at Club Metro in Kyoto on Sept 7.

See Comeback My Daughters at Unit in Daikanyama on Sept 26th.

According to my sources, De De Mouse will play at Liquidroom in Ebisu on September 27th, though I can't find any official link to give you.

Yokohama outfit (and faves of Jeff) Asparagus head the BKTS tour of Osaka (Oct 12), Hokkaido (Oct 24), and Tokyo (Nov 1), along with Comeback My Daughters, The Band Apart, and Lostage.

I'm led to believe that Franz Ferdinnd will play three dates across Japan in early November.

And finally, The Birthday play Yokohama on Oct 18, Chiba on Nov 21 and Tokyo on Nov 27.

Former FujiRock artists playing around town over the next few months include Boom Boom Satellites on July 28th at Shibuya O-East, Kasabian playing in Shibuya on Aug 8 (sold out, sorry!), Flower Travellin Band in Osaka on August 26, Ken Yokoyama in Sapporo (Aug 13) and Osaka (Aug 27), Frontier Backyard playing nearly every city in Japan during September and October, and Bloc Party doing a slew of dates in November.

So if you miss(ed) them at FRF this year (or years past) get your arse down to their local gigs!


July 16, 2009

HMV and Tower FRF- related In-Store Performances

Some of this year’s FRF acts have in-store performances scheduled at HMV and Tower Records outlets in Japan before and after the fest.

Here are the performers and dates:

7/18 13:00 at HMV Yokohama VIVRE
7/19 17:00 at HMV Tachikawa
7/20 14:00 at Tower Records Shibuya
7/20 17:00 at Tower Records Shinjuku
8/1 18:30 at Tower Records Umeda NU Chasamachi

Tom Freund
7/22 19:30 at Tower Records Shibuya

The Higher
7/27 19:00 at Tower Records Shinjuku

7/27 19:00 at Tower Records Shibuya
7/28 15:00 at Tower Records Shinjuku

All in-store performances are free of charge, but sometimes Tower Records in Shibuya requires that attendees purchase an album of the artist playing in order to gain entrance to the gratis gig.

Click on the names of the music chains for more info (Japanese only) on the above in-store performances and all other store events at HMV and Tower Records in Japan.

Coglione’s blog post on Tom Freund here.
Kern’s blog post on The Higher here.
Dom’s post on Räfven here.


A clue about who is playing Thursday night


If you look at the fine print on this flyer, and past the Taipei date, you will see a very big clue about who is playing Fuji Rock's Thursday night party.

I, for one, think it's a great choice because they are loud and rock out! Start listening to The Inspector Cluzo now as they bring rollicking funking madness without no damn bass player!

If you wanna start prepping, I mean timing your jumps, handclaps, whatnot, click on the video below to see what I am talking about. You can also check out their myspace to learn more about this French duo (they also got Thursday at Fuji Rock listed here as well).

//sean s.

Play it, Steve

It's been reported that Steve Cropper, legendary guitarist and songwriter/producer for Otis Redding and everybody else who passed through the Stax Records legend-making machine in the 60s, will join the tribute on Sat. night to Kiyoshiro Imawano. That makes two MGs in the house.

As it happens Cropper is in Japan right now with the Blues Brothers Band doing the rounds of the Billboard Live clubs, and apparently Smash boss Masa Hidaka extended a special invitation to extend his sojourn here so that he could pay his respects to his old friend in the only way that really matters. Kiyoshiro always talked about the debt he owed to the Memphis/Stax sound. He once hosted a documentary about Memphis for NHK, and, of course, he hired Booker T and the MGs, of which Cropper was a charter member, along with the Memphis Horns as his backing band on one of his arena tours in the early 1990s. In fact, one of the last live appearances that Kiyoshiro made in the past few years was at a Blues Brothers concert at the Blue Note, where he showed up and sang a few soul covers for old times sake.

Of course, Booker T is already slated to participate in the tribute, and will be fronting his own band later that night as the headliner at the Orange Court. It ain't the MGs, but it certainly isn't far-fetched to imagine Cropper showing up on stage for the gig. It would be way too much to expect Duck Dunn to also show up (but wasn't he in the Blues Brothers band, too, at one point?) and, of course, Al Jackson died in 1975, but two MGs is better than one and, who knows? Maybe some of the Funky Meters will wander over after their headlining set at the Field of Heaven for a bit of a jam. Considering the lucky miracle of Steve Cropper being in the vicinity for just such an occasion, you're allowed to dream a little bigger.


July 15, 2009

Patti Smith Takes Requests

At a press conference earlier this week before her concert in Zagreb, Croatia, punk legend Patti Smith reportedly asked the journalists if they wanted to offer any input on her set list. She also said she cruises MySpace a lot. So if anyone is really dying to hear some Patti Smith rarities when she plays the Green Stage a week from Friday, leave your comments here: http://www.myspace.com/pattismith


FRF Staff Picks: Dave

WHO NEEDS A BONK ON THE NOB? Rob Harvey, lead singer of The Music at FRF05 (left) or at FRF08 (right).

Last year in Taipei before a show by The Musik, the well known Britband, lead singer Rob Harvey walked up to me and asked about the Taiwanese opening band. I had some vague idea that he was with the band, but otherwise couldn't place him. We had a short, polite conversation, but at the same time, I was having inklings of deja vu. It was only later that I realized I'd seen him somewhere before...

It was about 5am, August 31, 2005 at the Palace of Wonder. Maybe it was closer to six At that time, he had a much wilder mien, and apparently was having a disagreement with a rather slight Japanese fellow, enough so that everyone for 50 meters around couldn't help but notice. The incident was recorded under the quotes of the festival section of a Japan Times article, for which I was the (till now) anonymous source, as follows:

"I love acid too much" -- an unnamed, tattooed Japanese man, when asked why he punched The Music's vocalist, Rob Harvey, in the face during the regular early morning after-party at Palace of Wonder. The punch cut Harvey's face.

Ahhh, the Palace of Wonder. Yes, that is my FRF Staff Pick. Even though it has practically become a mainstream stage -- I seriously have no idea how Takyuu Ishino and Diplo can be scheduled for a tent that holds only 250 people Saturday latenight -- it is still a magical place, a place where anything can happen. Once, a group of Japanese girls there even believed that I was one of the Chemical Brothers. But that's a totally different story...



It's the one thing everybody forgets. I never will again.

At FRF 07 I was bitten. Bitten by the bug? No, that happened in 05. I was bitten by, I believe, a spider. I didn't see the brute, but I certainly felt the after effects. 8 times the bugger got me, and my ankle swelled up like a bloody balloon.

So since then, I've been an avid believer in insect repellent. It is kind of like deodorant in Japan though, bloody hard to find. So when a friend came out last May I got him to bring some of the World-Famous-In-Australia Aerogard out. Sorted. That will take care of you nasties.


But then today, I found this little ripper in my local drug store! The NoMat V 130. Now this puppy looks like she'll do the trick, all day long. For 22 days, if you believe the hype. But I don't, so I got a two pack of refills with it. Straps to your wrist (or ankle) so you don't have to worry about reapplying in your drunken stupor after the sun goes down and the nippers come out. All told ¥1100 and I'm set for the weekend!


Also available in girly baby blue, but I opted for the manly black version.


July 13, 2009

The Inspector Cluzo: The Interview


Inspector Cluzo are two Frenchmen, Phil Jourdain and Malcomt Lacrouts. They are are both loud and funky, so much so that they often tour and record with Fishbone. Their debut album led to 123 consecutive gigs and the label "garage blues" which is something they hate. I think they're are a good bet to play Thursday’s opening party cuz they can rock the house.

Here’s an abbreviated email Q&A I did with them ahead of their Taipei show next week. It covers all kinds of things such as various clichés (a French word), playing at 105db, and how one French journalist described the band "as if the Melvins f@%^* Marvin Gaye!!”

Q) You’ve been doing lots of touring these days and probably have met some cool
people and learned some new riffs. I think last time we talked you mentioned Dan Auerbach's solo show.

A) We will end this year with 123 gigs in 21 countries ...the tour will stop end of August as we need to have a rest and we need to record our 2nd album …. which will be released worldwide in 2010. We have met a lot of good bands, but are still so proud to share the stage with the best live band of the world: Fishbone. They are doing the best shows we ever seen since 25 years without any hype or concessions.

Yes we played with Dan Auerbach in Bluesfest-a bit disappointed by his show etc as we do prefer the Black Keys definitely -we saw an amazing show of Michael Franti -even if it not our stuffs-he knows how to catch an audience -

Q) Does the 2-man band give you lots of freedom. Someone told me that this is a classic blues arrangement and you really don't need a bass player.

A) We f@%$ the bass player :)) We did a song on this to be clear. So i think it is clear that we obviously don't need bass player. Seriously a "true" musician don' t need specific instruments to create his art. At the basic level, we are funk musicians-so we played with a lot of bands (all together for 17 years) with bass players, horns etc.. to do funky music -

Maceo Parker-when is playing his saxophone alone is more funky that all the biggest funk band in the world. So all the people saying "clichés" like you need a bass to groove are nuts. They are just not true musicians-You need to be open minded -If you are musicians, there are no borders in the world. For us there are no borders in the world-Music is the last universal language that people could hear from Argentina, USA, Taiwan, Australia, France, Japan. We're all listening the same notes. We need to keep that alive -so we do what we want in our music -we are free spirits, free people, free musicians, we are 2 and we are sounding like 7 musicians!!!

There are a lot of duo playing now. And we do not feel really close to them as they are always into this garage blues things. That's good when it is done like the Black Keys but now it is a cliché. Besides they are sounding too "garage" for us ….

Q) You guys are somewhere between blues and funk. It seems more blues these days but, who really cares, as long as its music right?

A) We are a mix between 70's rock and funk and soul. A well known French journalist said last week after seeing us in France at the Eurockeennes Festival that we are sounding "if like the Melvins f@#$%* Marvin Gaye !!" :))) That's a really funny picture, and close to reality. Our new album will be more rock & soul-so we will have more horns for example-as rock is "the son of blues ", it is obvioulsy sounding blues, but it is not an influence.

Q) Someone described your band as being very loud. Is this true?

A) Yes -this is rock n' roll !!! Rock is loud, Rock cannot be mainstream. Rock needs to be vulgar. Rock needs to be troublemakers etc..

We have forgot what "Rock n Roll " means since some shitty pop music and some shitty hype indi bands get air play on commercial radios saying they are doing 'rock "' as a marketing thing

Rock is not marketing. Rock is against something -we are against "consumer society." We are proud to play loud and are really happy to disturb people playing so loud -

Our sound engineer is forbidden to mix the PA less than 105 DB-!!!!If he does he is fired.

Q) I will give you this opportunity to say anything you want to the people
of Taiwan and Japan.

A) Taiwan and Japanese people are really close to where we are coming in Southwest, France. There are a lot of traditions etc.so we are really proud to play in such brilliant countries that have a richness of history like France. We are really curious to meet and enjoy all Asia-We will play South Korea with the band Nevada 51 and will enjoy Korea as well. We are open minded people, we want to discover all the culture etc, especially if they are so different than our own. We are not American !!! Fuck USA and their fucking regular food!!! We need quality and quality is not regular food !!!

Grinta y suerte

Malcolm and Phil from The Inspector Cluzo

Questions and a lil' editing by Sean S.
photo provided by Inspector Cluzo

Careful with Apache

Some well meaning fan of jam band Disco Biscuits has done something that probably seemed like a great idea at the time, but it’s crap. About a year ago this video went viral, so you may have seen it, an al fresco performance of ”Apache” by Danish pop savant Tommy Seebach. ”Apache” was originally recorded by The Shadows in June 1960, but with dancing (Danish) Indian girls in tassled bikinis, a bongo player and a spooky voiceover predating Michael Jackson’s ”Thiller,” Seebach’s video stands on its own both as a funky ass musical capsule and a cheesy ass ’70s freakout.

Fat Boy Slim even sampled Seebach’s version almost wholesale to great effect -- wicked, ambling keyboard lead and all -- on ”On the floor at the Boutique”. The fan dropped Disco Biscuits’ new tune, also called ”Apache,” over the original video, shown in all its glory here:

Seebach won the Danish Melodi Grand Prix with the song “Disco Tango” and reportedly died of alcoholism. Disco Biscuits? They named themselves after a slang term for Ecstasy (and danced all night long).


You want a mashup? Try AC/DC vs. Apache mother.

You have to be dancy? Try Chemical Brothers vs Apache (at least there’s menace)

This explains so much: Duran Duran vs. Apache

And holy shit, Children of Bodom vs. Apache

And oh there is so much more.

-- Donald

Shaking with Flower Power


Soul Flower Union have a great back story. The band rose out the ashes of two Osaka-based punk groups, Mescaline Drive and Newest Model, back in 1993.

Then when the Kode Earthquake demolished the port town two years later, they really found their voice, wandering through the aftermath and playing acoustic sets to lift spirits. The experience put them on that most unusual of trajectories in Japan, politically informed artistry. While there are hippies a plenty on the islands, and they surely have their own views on the powers that be and the history that put them in place, you hardly hear those opinions spoken of publicly. Soul Flower Union, however, wears its politics on its flowing sleeves, supposting minority groups in Japan and antiwar campaigns throughout Asia. (But don’t tell them that: Street spirits plug in and out.)

Combining traditional song writing and instrumentation with a jam band spirit, SFU are almost like The Pogues for Japan. Ok, if Billy Bragg was fronting The Pogues, and he was sober of course.

-- Donald

July 12, 2009

Tents & Bugs & Rock N Roll: 10 Years Of FRF On DVD

At the very beginning of Jon Helmer’s DVD Tents & Bugs and Rock N Roll, we see a dreadlocked Aussie or Kiwi or Brit (damned accents) standing outside the Naeba hotels getting totally blitzed about the fact that, somewhere within the walls of that hotel is Limp fucking Bizkit (profanity added by the present writer to better portray said excitement). This first section having been filmed in 1999, I concluded that either a) this was exactly the sort of time-warp nostalgia experience you look for in a DVD like this, because clearly the memo from on hipster high that the Bizkit suck hadn’t yet been circulated, or quite possibly b) this gentleman just thinks for himself. (For the record, I still think “Break Stuff” is one of the top 5 greatest raging angry songs ever.)


If it’s the latter, then the DVD is performing another valuable function, which it does fantastically throughout, of showing just what makes the Fuji Rock Festival special. In this case, it’s the fact that Japanese people, and consequently their premier outdoor festival, are just plain not cooler than thou. They just love music and love to party, and they love to do it in a safe, clean and inclusive manner.

(Member of Minneapolis hip-hop group Atmosphere: “Sometimes people try to lock us in [to a genre], but they can’t, and here they don’t give a fuck, they just want to shake their ass”.)

This point is demonstrated on this DVD a few minutes later when we see the head of security, a massive North American guy, mention that they have 80 staff on security detail, but that they’d have to have twice as many if this fest were anywhere else. Reason number 2.

Elsewhere in the bin we see the lost and found guy explaining their honor system for picking up your lost items from the cardboard boxes (pan over to festival goers freely digging through the boxes) carefully sorted into t-shirts, sunglasses, hats, etc. “We believe people”, he says “A little bit different from other countries, but we do.” (Sometimes a little nationalistic exceptionalism is alright in my book.) There’s even a clip at the beginning of Joe Strummer grousing about the idiot slob British who can’t seem to handle throwing a can in the bin instead of on the ground at their festivals, while the Japanese have such things completely sorted (my pun). Reason number 4.


Since the man behind the camera is a Brit, this ends up being a gaijin’s-eye view of the festival, as even the Japanese folks usually bust out with their best English for their observations (or, more often, drunken screaming). It’s a unique thing, this perspective, being that even though half the acts are Western and the headliners almost always are, attendance at the fest is surely well over 90% Japanese (and other far Easterners). So you end up as a Westerner stepping into a Japanese world that’s trying to step a little into the West, and that is composed of the outsiders and artists and the folks who know how to cut loose. Very different from the every day world that exists in Tokyo. This is one of the things that gets Westerners everywhere raving about the Fest, is that it’s really the best of both worlds, consistently from year to year, and it shows no signs of changing.

And this DVD captures that energy excellently. None of the billed musical acts are featured of course, but instead it is a series of clips of the festival goers and behind the scenes workers and the sideshows and the roving conceptual art and the spontaneous music and dance outbreaks (and one helicopter ride, in ‘06, to boot), alternating between people talking to the camera and musical and conceptual montages.

There is a roughly equal amount of footage for every year between 1999, when Helmer first had the camera shoved in his hands and was told to “point it at something”, and 2008. The DVD is easy to navigate too; just click the year you want to watch.

At 245 minutes, I didn’t think I’d be watching the whole thing in one afternoon, but I almost did, as the succession of clips just kept pulling me along, stoking my excitement for ‘09 happening a mere two weeks hence. (The disc sleeve recommends watching 30 seconds every morning before you go to work; seems reasonable.) I can’t think of a better way to promote the essence of Fuji Rock to the Western world than this DVD, so long as the tossers continue to stay home. (That is, the garbage tossers, i.e., the ones who toss their garbage on the ground. Of course that’s what I meant.) I hope it sells and plays in little corners the world over for years to come.


You can buy a copy for 1500 yen at the fest, or email info@vibeylibrary.com (or check the website of one of the producers, www.vibeylibrary.com; no info on the video posted there yet, though).


(Screenshots courtesy of Jon Helmer)

The Great Fuji Footwear Debate: Kern’s Solution


As the gender theorists have been telling us for years, simple dichotomies never give the whole picture. (And they are usually instruments of power wielded—knowingly or unknowingly—by those with a vested interest in maintaining the dominant paradigm, but that’s surely a discussion better left to the Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra post). So too with the current debate among FRF staffers as to whether wellies or sandals are the better choice of footwear for a three-day outdoor festival with a good chance of rain.

I’ve had bad experiences with radically shifting my footwear paradigm at the very moment my walking habits become heavier. I once almost ruined a nine-day trip to central China by buying a brand new pair of Reeboks my first day there that shredded my feet (they were the genuine article too).

I’ve never been able to walk in any kind of sandals for more than about 15 minutes, and large rubber boots just seem risky in all three elements of the term. So I’m sticking with my tried and true Saucony Jazz, which I wear everywhere; I’m just making a concession to the weather by bringing more. Luckily I have three raggedy old pair. I may have wet feet all day, but at least every morning I’ll be able to start each day afresh. And isn’t that what the gender theorists have been fighting for anyway?


July 11, 2009

Burnt rubber rock in the morning


If you are looking for Japanese rock 'n' roll swagger at Fuji Rock, one of your best bets this year is The Birthday.

After playing in the on-again-off-again acts Rosso and Thee Machine Gun Elephant (who appeared at Fuji Rock in 1998, 2000 and 2003), vocalist/guitarist Chiba Yusuke paired up with guitartist Imai Akinobu to keep the psychobilly going. Their latest release, ''The Birthday meets Love Grocer at On-U Sound'' -- a five song CD out this May -- was remixed by Adrian Sherwood, the master producer who has worked with everyone from Lee ''Scratch'' Perry to Nine Inch Nails and frequently comes for dub DJ sets in Japan.

Like compatriots Guitar Wolf, who open the White Stage on Friday, The Birthday are scheduled first thing in the morning -- Green Stage on Saturday at 11 a.m. -- so expect the smell of hot leather, gun powder and tequila to get you going at the start of the first day of the weekend.

-- Donald

July 10, 2009

Ok ... Really All Full Now


Based on a message that appeared on the FRF official site last week I posted that the 8th lineup announcement was most likely the final one. Turns out the fine folks at Smash had two more small additions for us.

Both of the newly added acts will play on Friday, July 24.

Shuntaro Takabatake, who played at Gypsy Avalon in 2006, will kick things off at Mokudo-tei (Boardwalk Stage) from 13:30 - 13:45. Photos from his FRF '06 appearance are here.

Asano Tadanobu will perform as part of All Night Fuji in Orange Court from 1:10 - 1:40.

The full lineup and schedule for FRF '09 is here.
Only two weeks to go!


July 9, 2009

FRF Staff Picks: Phil

The pre-festival party on Thursday night is notable for several constants. Ostensibly thrown as a kind of thank-you to the Naeba community, it's gratis--anyone who happens to be there can attend, though the festivities are limited to the two food courts. The locals set up a bon odori platform, around which people dance to traditional music, and the evening is usually climaxed by a brief eruption of fireworks. And then there's the bands at the Red Marquee...

From what I understand the organizers solicit bands who happen to already be on site to see whether or not they'd like to do a set at the pre-fest party, usually about a half hour. Over the years, some of the best music I've seen at the festival has been at these mini-rave-ups in the Red Marquee (which didn't make its debut until 2000. It wasn't there the first year at Naeba. The Levi New Stage occupied that piece of real estate, with the Virgin Dance Tent--talk about suggestive naming!--filling in for what the Red Marquee would eventually offer after midnight). Though I can't rightly remember the exact years, some exceptional pre-fest sets by Electric 6, Shonen Knife (who showed up just to play the pre-fest party), Ratatat, and others linger in my mind. The pre-fest party is stoked by anticipation, and anybody who plays feeds off that anticipation in a big way. Being in the Red Marquee on Thursday night is just a pure adrenalin high, no matter who's playing.

I dug out this diary entry, later printed as part of the Japan Times' Fuji wrap-up in 2003. It describes pretty accurately that vibe. Danko Jones was an artist I knew nothing about beforehand, and heard nothing about afterwards, but for that single night he was the greatest thing I'd ever seen...

"Danko Jones, a blues-rock singer from Toronto built like a bullet and with a stage persona to match, is blowing away a near-capacity crowd in the Red Marquee, the only venue hosting bands on this, the night before the festival officially begins. An estimated 18,000 people, or roughly half the maximum who could buy tickets for a given day, are here; which is both a record and a clear indication of what the festival has become. Seventy percent of total ticket sales were three-day tickets, and Saturday was completely sold out. Jones--hyper, super-focused, and previously unknown to these people--has a lock on their attention right now and he connects in an elemental way. The audience reacts as if they'd discovered oil. But maybe it's the excitement of just being here that fires them up so much. The Counterfeit Beatles, a covers band who played before Jones did, are the most predictable act on the whole roster, but they also blew the crowd away. There was even a mosh pit."


FRF- Staff Picks: Sean S

Best Thing About Fuji Rock: Being Alone! That’s right, nothing like going to a festival with 30,000 people just so you can get a little solo time! If you are with a bunch of bros or hanging with the wolf pack ala “The Hangover” you might want to break away for some solo beer runs and never come back. Being alone means you’re your inner caveman can come out, and you bum smokes, share a jug of wine, throw a few elbows in the mosh pit, well,…you catch my drift. Anyhoo, catching up with entourage is pretty easy, either meeting at the Heineken tent during the Oasis set or night cap at Palace of Wonder.


Best Drink: Heineken Beer
Always cold, always refreshing, and most importantly, always available! This is the stuff that sustains me from morning to evening, the fuel for my fire, and an ever present companion throughout the festival. Sure it might come out a little foamy and it may give you a four alarm headache the next day but I got to hand it to Heineken cuz they keep it flowing all festival long. By my estimation, its still a pretty good bargain at 600 yen but your gonna need 3 of them in quick succession to get a buzz on! Who cares if they toss sochu with a lemon slice at the Tengoku bar, do you really think this festival would run without beer?


Best Food: Anything that sops up the beer
Fish and chips work, so does paella, curry rice, hot dogs from the Nathan’s Famous van in the parking lot, and if your lucky, sometimes you can grab pork on a stick without a long line. Ramen noodles really help when your fatigued.


Best Place to Sit:
So you've done the caveman, consumed a boatload of beer, sopped it up with something, rocked out, and the only thing you need now is some down time in a place where you won't get trampled. I recommend this patch of grass across from the t-shirt tent. You can't see any of the stages here no hear anything, but its elevated and the long grass can feel just as sweet as a featherbed.


Other Odds-n-Ends

Best Stage: Field of Heaven

I dunno why, but this place is downright magical at night time. Maybe it’s the candles.

Best Place to Catch Up With Us: Lily Allen

This little pixie must've done something right as everyone wants to write about her.

//sean s.

photos from fujirockexpress 08. Caveman, man with 3 Beers by me, (sean s.) plate of curry and place to sit (dominic raos)

July 8, 2009

In Praise Of Great, Lesser-Known Works: Take Me Back To Your House

This song and video first came to my attention when I got a text from my Serbian friend Sasa that said something like "Basement Jaxx! OMG U gotta hear this!". I'm not as big a fan of dance music as Sasa, but he was right of course, just like he was about Royksopp. So what makes this tune so great?

Partly: Banjos. BANJOS MAN! Also, it's a club song about wanting to get the hell out of the club and go someplace warm and cuddly. Being that clubs tend to just piss me off at about the 3 a.m. mark after the alcohol starts to wear off, I can relate.

And the cartoon Siberian Soviet Russia in this video is of course priceless.

Judging from these two blog posts, many of the hard core don't quite get it, expressing surprise that this was the choice for a single. But that's what makes Basement Jaxx the club group even for people who don't like clubs (apparently there's been more grumbling from the fans about their new single Raindrops; see Coglione's previous post here). As in previous hits Red Alert and especially Romeo, they usually find a way to go outside the expectations of the endless chicky thump thump thump thump of an average night out.

(See also my post on The Greatest Man That Ever Lived


July 7, 2009

FRF Staff Picks: Jeff (Part 2): Wellie wanging


It's an eternal debate: Boxers or briefs? Ginger or Mary Anne? Whisky or whiskey? And for Fuji Rock Festival goers it seems to come down to Wellingtons or sandals. I, for one, am a Wellie man and wholeheartedly endorse the low-tech rubber boot. Here's why...

Call them what you will: Wellingtons, Wellies, rubber boots, gumboots, gummies, topboots, or butt ugly; I consider them ideal and essential for my Fuji Rock foray.

There is nothing like the confidence that comes from knowing that no matter what the weather holds for the weekend, you can trudge with confidence from stage to stage. Some people opt for the open, all-weather sandal and I understand why: they're comfortable, weather proof, light and probably a tad more fashionable than the lowly vulcanized rubber boot.

BUT, grit and mud between my toes is not my thing. When the rain comes (and it will come, my friends, maybe not in Glastonbury floods but a little combined with 80,000 pairs of feet is enough to turn FRF "into a muuuuuud piiiiiitt!") you don't want hippie bare feet while slogging through the foot sucking mud. The straps break, people step on your feet, and you really will be "getting back in touch with nature" in more ways than one.

Meanwhile, I'll be walking through everything--and I do mean everything, as we all know the areas around the Heineken beer tents turn into cesspools by Saturday night (well at least it sure smells like it). My feet will always be dry and clean. My footing and grip will always be sure. Nothing will stop me and my feet will be happy.

Oh, and girls in in shorts with Wellingtons? The sexiest thing at Fuji Rock! It's what turned me on to them in the first place. It's a fetish I can't shake and I welcome this time of year as much as the awesome boots and mini-skirts season in the dead of winter here in Japan.

Seb's previous post sums up that aspect of it.

Other recommendations? Hmmmm...bring a hat, spray it with waterproofing, bring a rain coat, and wear shorts. Oh--and don't get suckered in to buying the ¥2,000 rubber boots they will be peddling in Naeba. You do get what you pay for.

The Tokyo Gig Guide Blog has a decent article on some essential items to pack and bring.


DJ Tim Healey

This is a pretty fantastic remix. I liked the song better when I heard it without the video on MySpace, but the video is pretty great too. I can't figure if this newscast is real or not. At any rate, it just proves what grandma always said: white people sure are funny!

I like Tim Healey's beatz and soundz. Here he is in front of what looks like a Japanese crowd, and you can hear how he repeatedly changes up the feel, from foot stomping distorted rock to spacey disco to greazy slide blues (although that last one always sounds ironic when played in a club set, but still).

More vids at Myspace


Major Lazer: BBQ not included, but completely necessary

This pretty well sounds completely badass. Major Lazer is a collaboration between Diplo and Switch, the pair that brought you M.I.A.'s Paper Planes last year, a song that is perfect in itself and for which I have since discovered it is impossible to do a bad remix (even Wreckx-N-Effect Rump Shaker seems to work pretty well--yeah I don't understand why either).

As you can see, Major Lazer is a cartoon character, a la Gorillaz, something about a Jamaican commando to whom something bad happened in the 80's and...actually, I don't really care, because don't watch cartoons while I listen to music.

I tend to like the hipster version of any kind of local ethnic music better ("this music speaks to me!") and Major Lazer's version of Jamaican dancehall is no exception. It's easy quick access to the soundz, and they have most of the biggest vocalists and collaborators from the scene anyway. Plus, it lets you go all meta on a "When I fuck her all night"-type song, as in "What U Like".

And I think I really like Annie Mac Mini Mix, which is included in full on their Myspace page at the moment. 80's mainstream pop tune? Check. Autotune? Check. You might think you know where this is going after that. But you probably don't. Because it is mostly random. Great use of a Nirvana sample too.

Great pitchfork review, rightly recommending this be used as a soundtrack to this summer



July 6, 2009

Billy Boy On Poison: White Stage...yeah I never heard of 'em either


They don't have an album out yet and they aren't legal to drink, but L.A. rock band Billy Boy On Poison do have a "charismatic lead singer" and "principle troublemaker" (and other cliches, according to the bio on their Facebook site penned by Lonn Friend), and a slot on this year's White Stage on Saturday. This one's a head scratcher...

To be sure, they have some Hollywood weight behind them. Their label, Ironworks Music is owned by Kiefer Sutherland and another product of the 80's, Jude Cole. Don't remember Jude? Either did I, so here is a memory jog:

ANYWAY, while I say they don't have an album out, they will tomorrow apparently. Called Drama Junkie Queen it has already found it's way into the hands of some dude who writes for The Guardian, and he has this to say:

"You want to hate BBOP, you really do. Problem is, they go and spoil it all by doing what they do so well. Of the five tracks we've heard, Angry Young Man is boogie so louche it makes you want to grow a beard and drink Jack Daniel's, Four Leaf Clover is a slow-burning epic and On My Way is a statement of intent to rival Noel G's Rock'N'Roll Star. Standing Still sounds like the Strokes in a Velvet Goldmine and makes you wonder why Leduke and his pals didn't just do 10 covers of Suffragette City and cut out the boring matter of writing original songs."

Wow. It's the only article I wanted to dig up on them. I felt reading any further or actually listening to them would ruin the whole fucking thing for me. I want rock to be dirty and scuzzy and glam and ironic posing - but I also think you gotta have some cred. I think you gotta get laid before you write about sex, have your heart trampled before you write about bitches, and open for nobodies at backyard parties before you play the Whiskey.

The band playing before them (Yokohama's 9mm Parabellum Bullet) can sell out Blitzes and Zepps and Quattros, headline Japanese festivals, and have three or four major label releases out.

BBOP have...ummm...a name taken from Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange and a video directed by the Emmy Award winning Hollywood heavyweight himself, Kiefer Sutherland:

So it's kinda strange that they land a White Stage gig with Rookie A Go-Go credentials. It makes me think their chaperon just might be Jack Bauer (and perhaps there's more celebrity addresses - remember Orlando Bloom launching the Global Cool campaign as a stand-in for Leonardo DiCaprio?).

Anyway, maybe these kids have what it takes, and maybe I should shut up, but I'll walk by the White Stage on Saturday afternoon to find out.

Check out their JET fueled sound on MySpace. (Or go see JET on the Green Stage later on the same afternoon.)


Street Sweeper Social Club


His father was Kenyan, his mother a white American. He attended Harvard. He hails from Illinois. He developed an early interest in politics. And Rolling Stone rated him the 26th greatest guitarist of all time. He's Tom Morello, of Rage Against the Machine, Audioslave and most recently, Street Sweeper Social Club.

Among the gazillion guest spots Morello has agreed to, he played on and produced The Coup's 2006 album 'Pick a Bigger Weapon'. His relationship with the band's Boots Riley blossomed into SSSC, the rap-rock "supergroup" that's been out on tour with Jane's Addiction and Nine Inch Nails recently.

Stanton Moore, who was at Fuji Rock last year as the drummer for Galactic, was also part of the line-up for the recording of the eponymous SSSC debut album, out last month. You may recall that Riley appeared on stage at Fuji last year with Galactic. There's no news about whether Moore will be Riley's guest this time.

SSSC have the 12.30pm slot on Sunday on the Green Stage, so you can laze around on the grass, easing out of your hangover to gentle rap-rock lullabies such as "Fight! Smash! Win!", "100 Little Curses", and "Megablast".

Get a blast of their first single here:

Get a taste of their full album here:

Take a look at their Myspace friend list here:




FRF Staff Picks: Jeff (Part 1)

Some thoughts on eating and drinking.

When you're roaming around the festival you're going to need sustenance. Remember - the festival site is big. Real big - this ain't no Lollapalooza or Summer Sonic. Add the crowds all commuting to and from stages and walk times can get up there. Like thirty to 45 minutes right after big acts have finished on the Green or White stages. It pays to keep a few things on your person so you don't get caught hungry and thirsty at the wrong times. I always have a couple of chocolate bars/granola bars with me when I'm walking around the site. I buy myself two for each day of the festival before I head up. Keep a bottle of water or sports drink handy, too, and try to remember to purchase bottles of these at various beer tents through the day as well.

Most foodstuffs, by and large, are only ¥500 - a nice round number for coin change. Spend your coins - the service staff will appreciate it and you'll go through less bills and avoid that jangly, heavy pocket that spills when you sit down on the grass somewhere.

If you pass by food stands with a dissipated lineup, you might want to take advantage of it and get some grub while you can. When you're hungry it'll be too late and you can bet your Aigle rubber boots that everyone else will be, too, and the queues can get horrendous. Save yourself the trouble and think ahead.

A couple of places I like:

Jinki's "Best place for a drink/meetup" was also mentioned by Coglione, and I'll have to concur: the Tengoku ("Heaven") bar between White and Green Stages. It’s near the river, it’s on the major thoroughfare, you bump into friends all the time here, and when I just can’t drink another Heineken, this is where I go for some junmai nihonshu - nice dry sake.

The Tokyo Ale tent at Field of Heaven is great if you can get a seat and they don’t run out of their namesake microbrew - it has happened, so sample it earlier rather than later.

Field of Heaven is also the only place to get a decent cup of coffee (Lotus Cafe - strong, dark, organic). It’s a helluva trek first thing in the morning, though, and there is all that tie-dye and patchouli to wade through.

You can peruse this Japan Times piece by FujiRocker Jude (ret.). It's a few years old, but the tried and true venues remain.

Here's the lowdown on what you can get at Orange Court: small plastic cup cocktails and cigarettes.

There is also a cool "club style" bar down in the Gan Ban Square. Can't remember the name of it, but I do remember that it's always red and that I always forget about it.

Food? I’m a big fan of Mexican, and we were finally able to get our tacos on last year at Tacos Fire in the Oasis area. Fellow FujiRocker Dom and I ate there whenever we happened to be trudging through. It is (or was) down toward the Red Marquee side entrance. You can’t miss the cool and colorful Jimi Hen signs:


Your best bet to grab some food and and be able to sit down is up by the Gypsy Avalon/NGO area. Curries with rice, bad Indo food, and stuff on a stick (believe me - you really don't care at that point). Later in the evening there are usually tables and chairs available here since most people head down towards the Oasis area and the World Food Court closer to headliner time.

That's it off the top of my head, but I'll post some other festival recommendations tomorrow.


In Praise Of Great, Lesser-Known Works: The Greatest Man That Ever Lived

"If you don't like it you can shove it
But you don't like it, you love it"

I had pretty much given up on Weezer by the time Red was released last year; they'd done some catchy enough songs in the 00's, but nothing inspired like Blue and Pinkerton. Then along came the swift jab of Pork And Beans and the long wind-up upercut of The Greatest Man That Ever Lived, and I was once again laid out flat.

From informal polls, I've found that most people who aren't great fans of Weezer have not yet heard this song, so please allow me to set you straight. It is, as the subtitle says, a string of variations on the melody of an old Shaker hymn. Depending on how you count, there's 12-14 sections, each one 16 bars, different tempos, times and melodies, and they never repeat.

The apex comes at 4:38, when they break down into a 16th-century style three-part vocal counterpoint, an art Rivers learned from his private classical music tutor, before busting into a Queen "so you think you can stone me and spit in my eye!"-like punk rock breakdown and bombastic finale.

This all could have been just a compositional exercise, stringing together disparate parts, but it's more than that, because this time the parts are tied together like they belong, and at the end of one section you get another section that is exactly what you are begging for, much like Bohemian Rhapsody.

Set lists indicate that they have been playing this gem live, closing out their set with it. I'm anxious to see how they manage a Bach chorale for a festival crowd. Better than Spinal Tap's jazz odyssey, I imagine.

This is a fantastic NPR Fresh Air interview with Rivers. Check out the section at about 28:00 where he talks about 'practicing' with his friends to go to public school.


FRF Staff Picks: Don


After Jinki's take on the best of the fest, here's the word from the Don.

Best stage: Yeah, yeah, the Palace of Wonder is a riot, but I'm sick of hearing about it. And if everyone wasn't pissed or worse by the time the Palace opened, they might notice that the Field of Heaven is better. It's got A-list names, check Lee Scratch Perry and Spearhead last year, The funky Meters this, Jack Johnson, Phish, Femi Kuti and Ben Harper in the past - but it does just as well with smaller acts. When there are 200 people at the Green Stage, you feel sorry for the artist. An empty Red Marquee looks empty, but somehow a lightly populated Field feels just fine. Ask anyone who saw the party Undercover Express put on last year.

Best food: the pizzas from the full-scale pizza oven in the Field of Heaven. Worth the wait, and the only food at the fest that you could serve in a posh restaurant.

Most disappointing food: the samosas in the Oasis area. Half of them are empty.

Best drinks: like Jinki said, the Tengoku bar

Best celeb spotting: just in front of the Palace of Wonder, around 2am

Most what-the-fuck-were-they-thinking scheduling this year: Booker T, the funky Meters and Public Enemy on at the same time. I know festival schedules are supposed to clash a bit, but what the fuck were they thinking?

Best place for sex: the woods between Gypsy Avalon and the NGO area. Fresh air, and just enough chance of getting caught.

Best place for a souvenir: the woods between Gypsy Avalon and the NGO area. You never know what you'll pick up there.

Best stage name: New Power Gear Stage. If Prince opened a hardware store, he'd call it this.

Daftest way to spend your time: Lining up for an official t-shirt on the first day. It goes something like this: Friday: 2 hour queues; Saturday: 20 minute queues; Sunday: 2 minute queues. Bring something to wear for Friday and go and enjoy the festival. We don't care who your favourite band is anyway.

My 2009 hitlist:

Last year I didn't see one act at the Green Stage, this year I'm all over it on Friday. Lily Allen, Paul Weller, Patti Smith, Oasis, and if I could get up in time, which I won't, Tokyo Ska Para. But then, there's Rafven and Orquestra de la Luz at the other end of the site. Then, for the first time ever, there's a Rookie a-go-go act I'm not going to miss - the great JariBu Afrobeat Arkestra, and then what will surely be the most oversubscribed show at the fest, Lily Allen at the Palace.

Wake up late. Spend day grumbling about the schedule clash in the evening, then stand watching Public Enemy, wondering if I should be watching the Meters instead, go watch some Meters and wonder if I'm missing something great with Booker T, and so on. It's not too late to change the schedule, Smash.
Oh, and Rafven will be playing the new Cafe de Paris stage in the PM.

Royksopp rocked the Red Marquee last time they came. Anyone with any sense will be there at the White Stage to see if they can do it again in the open air. Plus Rafven again, and Shibusa Shirazu.

July 5, 2009

FRF Staff Picks: Jinki


Fujirockers staff writer, Jinki, offers up some of what he'll be doing/seeing at the fest this year.

Best place for a drink/meetup: the Tengoku ("Heaven") bar between White and Green Stages, near to the river. Stategically located, always plenty to fresh fruit for cocktails, decent shochu and generous pours in years past.

Click "Continue Reading" for more...

Best View: The Dragondola ski lift to Daydreaming Stage. A bird's-eye view of many of the stages (White, Orange, etc), then chirping birds and a lush mountain valley. Some people love Daydreaming's DJ's and costumed cohorts (fuzzy pandas and turtles, etc), but the ride itself is worth it, whether you stay there or not.

Best Party: Thursday night. The FRF regulars have already arrived, secured the choice camping sites and thrown on yukata. Unnanounced shows, fireworks and the Naeba locals having their summer "O-bon dori" dance with country grandmas and and city punks alike.

Don't Forget: Extra pair of shades, earplugs and a few energy drinks

Fave shows Friday:
Major Lazer (White): Diplo and Switch serve up the dancehall with a Rock n Roll soul.
Peaches (Red): She's not just raunch and an 808. Expect a full band and an Iggy Pop aura.
Red Marquee night session: Eye/Boredoms, Gang Gang Dance, Diplo and Buraka Som Systema

Seun Kuti & Egypt 80 (Green): They're playing several stages throughout the fest, but Green Stage in the morning will be better than coffee
White Stage the rest of the day: Gaslight Anthem, Melvins, Zazen Boys, Bad Brains, Public Enemy.

Juana Molina: Will have probably seen her twice already by this point
Shibusa Shirazu Orchestra: They're back, and probably freakier than ever: over 30 musicans, with dozens of extras
Asakusa Jinta: These guys on the Crystal Palace stage will be a circus indeed.

Time Conflicts:
Melvins(White) & Juana Molina (Avalon): same time, but not far apart. May see a little of both
Franz Ferdinand (Green) & Public Enemy (White): I'm sure Chuck D's upset about this, too
Bad Brains (White) & Easy All Stars (Field of Heaven): Two of the only ostensibly rasta acts at the same time?
Weezer (Green) & Seun Kuti and Egypt 80 (Orange)

Beyond the Bands


Any Fujirock veteran will tell you that the fest is more than just live music. Each year the organizers make an effort to provide enough stimuli to give the boys and their guitars some competition. Here are a three new additions to this year's spectacle.

#1) Keep your eyes peeled for a massive kaleidoscope. If what I was told is to be believed, it's as large as taxi.

#2) Phil has already explained the Cafe de Paris area out beyond the Orange Court. Nearby you'll also find the 78rpm record shack, a spot dedicated to spinning old-school 10" records on a Gramophone.

#3) For a more modern take on spinning wax, look for the "One-man-disco booth." As it was described to me, there is a phone booth-sized dance floor, complete with its own dedicated DJ, bouncer and velvet rope to keep the cue in check. A regular at Glastonbury, this club-for-one functions quite similarly to a real club: if a VIP shows up, the bouncer bumps him or her to the front of the line.

la vie en rose

The outer limits of the festival just got more civilized with the addition of a new "stage" called Cafe de Paris, which is "inspired" by "Moulin Rouge," the famous Montmartre night club, not the movie with Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman warbling rock hits from the 60s-80s.

The press release says that patrons can enjoy a true Parisian cafe experience with "full-scale cocktails and wine," not to mention the obligatory "amorous and strange atmosphere," though that last descriptor seems to have more to do with the stage's location at the "back end of the festival" than any Gaullist connotations. It also says that chanson and gypsy music will be offered. Chanson for sure, but gypsy? Francophone is definitely the order of business for Zaz, a young French woman who will be singing quite often at the cafe. Dick El Demasiado doesn't look French at all, and plays what is enticingly called "digital cumbia." Basque reggae/soul group esne beltza will also be at the cafe, as will all those Mongolian circus performers and their musical cohort Altan Nurag, taking a break from their punishing schedule at the Palace of Wonder. Big Willie will bring his American style burlesque to the cafe as will the Swedish "street band" Rafven. Obviously French Cafes aren't just for the French any more.


esne beltza
Dick El Demasaido
Alta Nurag

July 4, 2009

Late Breaking News: Takuya at ageHa tonight!


Day Dreaming opener supports some big names tonight.

One of the more prolific Tokyo players at Fuji Rock is playing a few dates in the lead up to Fuji Rock. No surprise there, as he manages to play just about every weekend somewhere around Tokyo. But for me, tonight is the pick of the bunch, in ageHa for the Real Grooves event alongside some of the more interesting names in modern minimal techno. Think Cobblestone Jazz & The Mole, Mike Shannon, Fumiya Tanaka and more. Real grooves goes from strength to strength since losing its former home at Spacelab Yellow last year, this being thier first event at the warehouse that is ageHa.

You can also catch him at Womb on the 9th, Air on the 10th, and then Womb again on the 18th for the M_nus connected party with Magda, before he does the Saturday morning opener, 10am at the magical Day Dreaming area, accessed by the Dragondola, reason enough to make the trek!

Make your way down tonight. I'll be there!


Real Grooves

What's with that Amazing Baby?

Amazing Baby - Headdress - Uncensored from Shangri-La Music on Vimeo.

OK, these guys seemingly came out of nowhere. They caught attention at this year's SXSW and are keeping it with ''Rewild,'' their first album.

Amazing Baby are hard to categorize despite being linked to the ''neo-psychedelic'' bands coming out Brooklyn, such as MGMT and Chairlift. Their single ''Narwhal'' does sound like Zepplin, but where they actually land -- though it seems to want to be in the '70s -- is hard to place. An uncensored video for the band's ''Headress'' (above) has topless women ala a Roxy Music album cover (along with a goat, a llama and girl about to devour white mice), though the music could easily be a toned down, keening Muse tune. I could be way off here, but perhaps the best if least obvious touch stone is Mark Eitzel's under-appreciated American Music Club, which has always occupied its own corner in the musical universe. If the young Amazing Baby keeps it up, where could they go? Sunday afternoon at the Red Marquee, could be magic, could be who knows.

-- Donald

White Lies for Killers


Though Paul Weller is replacing The Killers in their timeslot, I doubt that he'll replace them in the hearts of Killer's fans (one can always hope though). But no worries, there is a band that could do it and become that new hot fuss that Japanese K softies are looking for: White Lies.

With a similar driving alternarock sound powered by an electric edge, the three piece (four piece live with the addition of a keyboard player) from Ealing in London are also playing the Green Stage on Friday (12:30-1:30). Think of them as The Killers with more of a death wish and less sunny Mormonism. With singles such as "To Lose My Life," "Farewell to the Fairground," and "Unfinished Business," I guess they have the right to title the lead page on their Web site ''The Summer of Death''.

White Lies -- who were formerly called Fear of Flying -- was awarded Best New Band in 2009 by NME, and has a suitably long Wikipedia entry for a band that started in 2007 to vouch for them. (Favorite line: Fear of Flying disbanded in October 2007 with a MySpace bulletin stating "Fear of Flying is DEAD ... White Lies is alive!", before introducing a darker sound and a new name that reflected their maturity.'') Sunny day or stormy whether, White Lies should do fine as a Green stage warmup.


Friday will you clammbon?


While on Saturday night there is clearly going to be a funky traffic jam at Fuji, the Friday 9 pm slot on the major stages is breaking clean along lines that won't require you too think to hard about where your allegiances lie.

Brit Rockers: Please head to the Green Stage to see Oasis. Enough said.

Nostalgics: Proceed to the White Stage for some American R&B/Soul -- with the Neville Brothers in the house tonight for a little Fiyo on the Naeba Bayou.

Feeling trippy/dancey: You are at the Orange Court for an outdoor lounge experience with System 7. Don't forget your glow sticks.

Leaving the Field of Heaven, where jazzbo-electro trio clammbon have a two hour set under the disco balls in which to keep J-Pop fans swaying to piano-driven jaunts. Keyboardist Ikuko Harada, drummer Itou Daisuke and bassist ''Mito'' are returning as a group after two years of recording silence with a new single, "NOW!!!" which they will release on August 1. Each member does plenty of side projects though, so that doesn't mean they have been sitting idle. Expect to hear some new material and probably bits from each of their solo projects.

-- Donald

Photo: By hanasan at Asagiri Jam/www.smashingmag.com

July 3, 2009

Fuji Fashion

Now that you have bought your ticket and you’ve decided on where you gonna stay, the next thing you gotta think about is what to wear. To help you along this difficult road, we suggest a few looks for you to consider.

Basic Rocker
He/she styles with a simple t-shirt with some logo or ironic phrase, pairing it with athletic shoes and shorts. A flimsy, disposable rain poncho is within easy reach, and by the end of the night, this person is running on fumes


Rain Suit
Head to toe rain gear, even accessorizing with a folding camping chair and neck towel, these people have been to Fuji before, and they know what it takes to get through a whole festival in fine, upstanding shape.


The popularity of this musical movement will, I suspect, bring no end to off-the-shoulder neon colored, animal prints, and even animal portraits. Wear this if you came to dance your ass off and sleep all day.


This person is the holdover when festivals were free! A floppy hat, maybe a sunflower, and something tye-dyed. Its important to wear natural fibers cuz they just feel better. This look is still very, very popular, especially in areas where peace & love still rule.


Look at Me!
Do you think you’re the only one wearing a maid costume? These people crave eyeballs and camera clicks. For those who wear costumes for another purpose, like hooking up with other, like-minded freaks, take the Dragondola to Day Dreaming where you can prance around in complete freedom.


And finally, F@&^ Up!
Party On! This person probably played in the mud earlier in the day, and got clean by tossing his clothes away! Expect this type of scene in the early morning at Palace of Wonder


photos from Fuji Rock Express '08. Photographers include from top Basic Rocker (Sean Scanlan), Rain Suit (Funa) Electro (Sébastien-Philippe Fortin) Hippy (Funa) Look at Me (Sébastien-Philippe Fortin) F@&^ Up! (Sébastien-Philippe Fortin)

//sean s.

Chuck D on PBS

Public Enemy front man Chuck D is one of the featured interviewees in a new TV documentary Freedom Songs: The Music of the Civil Rights Movement now airing on America's public television station, PBS. The above YouTube clip seems to be some sort of rough cut of the Chuck D interview used in the doc, though it's hard to be completely sure. Slightly confusing, the documentary also appears to be for sale under a slightly different name, Let Freedom Sing: How Music Inspired the Civil Rights Movement on amazon.com.


July 2, 2009

Reviews: Tortoise Gets Dancy on New Album

Album: Beacons of Ancestorship
Artist: Tortoise

Tortoise relased its latest album, Beacons of Ancestorship, about a week ago (June 23-24) and has garnered solid, though not perfect, reviews.

Wired calls it "the Chicago-based quintet’s most self-assured record yet"..."a potent dose of unclassifiable sound that veers from dub, funk and hip-hop to jazz, punk and rock without ever dissipating into incoherence." The LA Times says it's the band's "most invigorated set of omnivorous instrumentals since 1998's TNT."

But the most canny observation comes not surprisingly from Pitchfork Media, which notes that several songs go - dare one imagine! - a bit ravey: "Dance music has always been in Tortoise's arsenal, but it takes center stage here."

See Tortoise's new video (which, among other things, fires up some nostalgia for road trips on small-engine motorcycles) after the break....


July 1, 2009

Here's Conor!

For those whose well of nostalgia is pretty shallow--say, back to the pre-Lady GaGa days of 2006--the sudden inclusion of Bright Eyes at the Red Marquee should be a welcome surprise. Though Bright Eyes IS Conor Oberst, on his last two albums he's jettisoned the nom de singer-songwriter that graced his many albums since debuting at the age of 14 for his birth name. Can we expect those great old songs, like his only number 1 hit, "Lua"?

It probably doesn't matter. Of all the conventionally attuned singer-songwriters who've emerged in the last twenty years, Oberst can be said to be the one with the most viable career. There's a straight line from his early callow work to his latest country rock with the Mystic Valley Band. The mark of a great singer-songwriter is how far he can travel into himself without losing his listener. In pop, such a trait can be annoying, and though he's finally pushing 30, Oberst still sounds like someone trying to act older than his age. With his cracked singing voice and reckless verbosity, Oberst overcomes most people’s misgivings about his immature songs through the sheer audacity of his self-confidence. But Oberst doesn't wallow in ennui. He really does try to assume the attitudes of authorly personas. We've all become used to his exaggerated diphthongs and crisp consonants, so the seriousness of his sentiments are now easier to process on their own terms.

One of the great things about Bright Eyes as opposed to the Mystics is that it's a collective (rather than a band) that really knows Oberst's style and arranges accordingly. When they last played Japan at Summer Sonic two years ago, they filled the stage and the barn of Makuhari Messe with a gloriously full sound that didn't betray the intimacy of the songs. By all accounts, it seems Oberst is bringing a much smaller ensemble, but the Red Marquee is smaller, too. Still, I'd prefer it if he played the Field of Heaven.



All Full


The eighth (and most likely final) lineup announcement has been made for this year’s FRF. The timetable has been revealed too. Oh yeah, and another stage has been added to the party!

Street Sweeper Social Club (which is comprised of Rage Against The Machine guitarist Tom Morello and Boots Riley of The Coup), Major Lazer (Diplo and Switch), Bright Eyes, and Oni from Afrirampo (who kicked some serious arse on the White Stage in 2005) are just a few of the latest additions.

The complete lineups for Gypsy Avalon, Naeba Shokudo, Mokudo-tei (the boardwalk stage – definitely something you should try and check out), and the brand spankin’ new Café de Paris (Ooh La La) are all listed to.

The full list of performers for FRF ’09 along with their set times can be read here.

Only three weeks until the fest starts. You better get cracking on your schedule now to ensure that you squeeze in every act that you want to see!


Photo by Yusuke Kitamura and used with permission of Smashing Mag

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