June 16, 2009

Fuji Rock Fashion

Amazing Fuji Rock ad from Aigle boots, official sponsor of the festival. I know many Fujirockers have a weakness for those girls in muddy boots every summer. The text say in French... 'For the reintroduction of men in nature'

Thank for Tetris to tumblr it. The original image appeared in Magazine Figaro.


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?

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June 12, 2008

Capitol F


When the Gossip approach the Red Marquee next month, it won’t be hard to locate vocalist Beth Ditto...

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August 10, 2006

Killing Joke - Dark and deadly serious...


When Youth, bassist from Killing Joke, dj'ed at the All Night Fuji Rave at the festival last year, I wrote about how his band had stood me up one New Year's Eve 26-odd years ago. I never did get another chance to see them. So, understandably, Killing Joke instantly became my most-wanna-see band this year. And, true to form, they kept us waiting in the Red Marquee on Sunday night for a good 15 minutes after the official start time. But, hey, what's a few minutes compared to a quarter century?

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August 7, 2006

Likkle Mai


Likkle Mai garnered a lot of attention for her wispy ethereal singing on several tracks by the Japanese dub/reggae band Dry & Heavy, an outfit heavily influenced by the Jaimaican Dub sound of the 1970's. This is her solo debut tour, promoting her album Roots Candy. She continues to play a similar brand of Dub and Reggae with her new band.

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Jason Mraz


The entire time I was watching Jason Mraz, this was my thought: "does he really think he is as cool as the 'I-know-I-am-cool' pose and facial expression he strikes between every note, or is it something at more of a meta-level in which he is striking an 'I-know-I-am-cool' pose and facial expression because he knows that is what he is supposed to do in his situation, so he is doing it ironically, but then if he is that smart then that makes him cool and therefore the pose is no longer ironic and he is no longer cool." In truth, the thought hurt my head a little, being so philosophically complex and all, so instead of thinking it I spent as much of the show as I could talking to the girls next to me about how many angels could fit on the head of a pin.

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August 6, 2006

Best Party Place at FRF ...


How could you possibly walk by something so cool and not even be tempted to stop in?

Watching hordes of people leave each night from the fest it pained me to see a lot of them pass right by the Palace Of Wonder without batting an eye, let alone strolling in. Decorated with elaborate sculptures, the awesome Crystal Palace tent, and entrance gates that spit out fire, this obviously isn't an easy thing to do. All I can say is that all those people missed one hell of a party each night.

With a continuous flow of young, exciting bands striving to be the "next big thing" on the Rookie-a-Go-Go stage, a wealth of insanely hip DJs and more experienced acts in the Crystal Palace tent, and a whole lot of flames erupting from the fire-based performances in the Arena area there was no shortage of things to see. Add in all the interesting people floating around (including performers such as Madness, String Cheese Incident, Super Furry Animals, and many others), a casino, a darts room, and plenty of spaces to drink and dance and you've got a party-loving individual's version of Disney Land just waiting to be explored and enjoyed.

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Collect 'em all!

things1.JPGAs I wandered around the festival throughout the weekend, I often found myself at different places down by the river. I would dip my hands into the clean, clear and cold mountain water. Splash a little on my face. Think about fishing. What's it like up here when the festival isn't?

During these small welcome meditations, I would turn to find silent company.

"Oh. You again."

I would just nod respectfully, same as I did the last time, and wonder how they always found me.

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August 5, 2006

Joe Strummer, RIP

The Joe Strummer Memorial beside the Crystal Palace.
There are stories about this, but you have to go there to hear them.


Eddie Egals Fire Shower

Late--way late--at the Palace of Wonder on the closing night.
He wore leather.
He had a lovely assistant.
He climbed into a cage with a large shower.
She torched him.


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Support your local Fuji Riders

fujiriders.jpgI think he was a little worried. I had spent a good fifteen minutes casing the bikes parked near the entrance gates. When I saw him he had a large clipboard that he was handing to riders, and a small digital camera. Each rider took the board and wrote a message on it--their name and a greeting—then held it up as they sat atop their bike and had their picture taken. The young man would check their name off a list, and head back to the one of the tents set up near the bikes. I thought he was going to come back out with a crowbar. He didn’t. This isn't the Hell's Angels at Altamont. He just politely asked what I was looking at.
Meet Yuki Shirai: steel horse wrangler.

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Digitalism mix, concluding Fuji Rock on the dance floor.

Chunky beat

Part of France’s label Kitsuné, Digitalism are Jens Moelle and Ismail Tuefekci, two cool guys from Hamburg, Germany. Following killer mixes of hipster bands such as The Presets and The Futurheads last year, we also eared their work on some compilations of Kitsuné, Ministry of Sound and Soulwax. With chunky beats build into sturdy synthesizers and funky acid riffs, the turbo-charged DJs took the Red Marquee for a last frenzy bash to close these 3 days of festival.

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Chilling With The Gypsies

20060730-ball_001.jpgAh... another year, another favourite place.

Last year I wrote that my favourite place at FRF was Field of Heaven at night. Heading up there to check out Rovo I quickly became enamoured with all of the elaborate candle displays, mirror balls, and giant glowing sculptures that were hidden in the trees.

This time around, my heart was captured by a neighbouring region − Gypsy Avalon. Located mere minutes from Heaven and the White Stage, Avalon is the perfect place to chill out and catch some unique, relaxed tunes. It's not as crowded as most other spots at the fest, has a food court beside it, and provides some of the best opportunities to catch an intimate performance - something that's not always easy to do at something as massive as FRF.

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August 4, 2006

Nightmares On Wax Sound System: The sound of now

Nightmares On Wax Sound System seemed to be a rallying point for people headed long into the evening on the final night of Fuji Rock. I headed down to the Red Marquee with fellow FujiRockers Dom and Shawn, where I was also going to meet some friends from Tokyo. Once there, as the sound system got cranked up, I bumped into another friend of mine that I had been trying to hook up with since Friday (to no avail), and then yet another couple of friends from work who were there prior to heading off to the Palace of Wonder.

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August 3, 2006

Finally some hot food.

taco.jpgAlthough there is a ton of great food to be had at FRF each year, it's often difficult to find something that's hot. Long line-ups and working out of a small stall often result in food that's prepped beforehand and is kept warm for the starving masses.

That wasn't the case at the Crazy Taco booth. Located beside the Oasis entrance to Red Marquee, their tacos were so hot that I burned my mouth as I took my first giant bite. After ordering there 500 yen chicken taco I was given a soft taco shell overflowing with loads of chicken, cheese, cabbage, taco sauce, and some kind of white dressing. The chicken was a tad dry (maybe more dressing would have helped), but it was fantastic to have a hot meal.

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Okay, okay, it's over. Happy?

boots.JPGI guess this is a sign that the show's over: dozens of rain boots left in the parking lot, still standing next to where their owner has parked his/her car. At first we thought it was a fluke − in a rush to beat traffic back to the city, they forgot them. But keep walking and they were everywhere.

August 2, 2006

It Ain't Over!!

TuskandCyka.JPGWell actually, FujiRock IS over, but when this photo was taken (6 am monday morn) we were still in denial. Here's Tusk of the Firetusk Pain Proof Circus yukking it up with buddy Cyka.

Onstage, Tusk, with his tattoos, loincloth, bed of nails and permanent drool, is more than a little intimidating. But after the show he was chatting us all up and keeping everyone laughing with anecdotes of his and Lucifire's misadventures. Not bad for a man who had darts thrown into his back a few hours earlier.

And Cyka was fascinating. A Russian native, when she's not touring with these nutters she lives in Nairobi working with Wangari Maathai and the Green Belt Movement . She even has an office in Osaka for the cause. The stories she told were fascinating - I'll relay some here if I remember them (this was the woozy hours of dawn, remember) or can scrounge my notes for a clue.

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August 1, 2006

Chiling-out on Sunday night


Umphrey's McGee heal your ears

Like the name imply, Fuji Rock Festival provide a great dose of rock to the attendance. However, when you reach the 3rd and final day of the wild celebration, it's understandable that you find yourself looking for something more serene to spend the last few hours in the mountains of Naeba. Anyway, that is exactly what happen to me on Sunday night when I decided to leave the stimulating performance of The Strokes and head to the Field of Heaven where Umphrey's McGee where peacefully presenting their art rock compositions.

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July 31, 2006

Farewell White Lodge, Farewell Fuji


For four solid days, this wee little lodge set a few meters away from the White Stage has been the home of Fuji Rock Express. We have enjoyed its easy access to hot shit bands that we never heard of such as Envy, Isis, and Broken Social Scene; as well as the friendships, the late nights, the rubber mattresses and

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Mogwai was totally great, but what I couldn't figure out was why the stage left guitar tech was wearing an orc hat? I mean, he must have changed changed guitars at least a half dozen times, so what was with the horned Lancelot helmet? Did this have anything to do with the Super Furry Animals' Power Ranger? Are Scotland and Wales suddenly going cosplay?

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Potty Training

We know it was a pain in the ass waiting in lines for the toilet, but you can't say there weren't alot of toilets at the festival. Some even had a nice view of nature, and a faucet to rinse your hands. Whether or not they all had toilet paper is another issue, but if you want to know if these toilets did, keep reading..

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Buffalo Daughter

Doodling around on synthesizers and guitars with cool electronic-sounding loops is great and all, but Buffalo Daughter need to realize what the difference is between plateauing high and hitting the musical orgasm.

I love this band, and their set Saturday night on the White Stage was pleasing, but I left wanting a little more, like maybe a rendition of "Earth Punk Rockers," if they even play that song any more.

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A Seed Japan

Hey, we know that you can't just plant a tree and call yourself an environmentalist, it's the mundane, every day stuff that really counts. And at Fuji Rock, as well as other festivals such as Asijiri Jam, no one does it better than A Seed Japan who brought 300 volunteers to man recycling bins throughout the festival grounds. It wasn't always easy sorting garbage and picking up after megasets by the Red Hot Chili Peppers, but this group of volunteers are our "rockstars" and

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Is This It?

strokes-crowd2.jpgThe Strokes headlined Sunday's Green Stage, though for a moment it looked like frontman Julian Casablancas was stunned by the size of the audience. He should have been expecting a big crowd cuz its a festival, and the only one left playing are the Super Furry Animals.

Casablancas and The Strokes struggled early on, ultimately gaining confidence and a little energy when Casablancas hopped a few metal fences and joined the crowd to sing the hit song "Is this it". Even then he seemed a little hesitant, but when he returned to stage he asked the soundman to "turn it up" because "you only live once" and the band later played a marathon set that surprised many festivla goers, with Nick Valensi and Albert Hammond Jr. doing a nice job on guitar, and bassist Nikolai Fraiture supporting on numbers such as "The Modern Age", "The End Has No End", "I Can’t Win", and "Last Night", a back catalogue of many hits which any band would covet.

Jenny's precedent

jenny.jpgSince it's fashioned after Glastonbury, Fuji Rock tends to lean more toward English rock than American, which probably explains why Amerindie and, particularly, alt country don't get much representation at the festival. Consequently, it seemed doubly odd that former Rilo Kiley vocalist Jenny Lewis was given the 11 pm slot at the Red Marquee on Sunday night, a place normally reserved for dance or techno acts. For sure, there were only about 50 people in front of the stage when Lewis came out with a full band, including the Watson Twins on backing vocals. Lewis came to dazzle, as demonstrated by her silver lame minidress, which was complemented by the Watsons gold lame shifts. And dazzle she did. Jenny Lewis performed the only encore I saw all weekend.

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Lisa Ono

lisa ono.jpg

The Japanese Queen of Bossa Nova

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rack of beer.jpgThe Raconteurs played a shortish set that lasted just long enough to get through this rack of beers, not that it wasn't excellent, which it was, but we just wanted a little more. Equipment troubles delayed the set, and have been haunting the band recently, potentially cutting short a coming out party for tuneful songwirter, Brendan Benson. But to tell you the truth, it was hard to compete with the dramatics of Jack White, even as he shared the same microphone with Benson on tunes such as "Together" and otheralbum tracks such as "Level", " Hands", "Steady as She Goes" and others. If you want to see more, like we do, we hear the Raconteurs are doing an in-store performance at Tower Records in Shinjuku on Monday.


When The Thrill took the stage to end the weekend at the Orange Court there were probably less than 70 people in front of the stage, but an hour later there were easily eight times that number, and everyone was having the time of their lives. Like Shang Shang Typhoon two nights earlier on the Field of Heaven, The Thrill enjoyed their heyday in the early to mid-90s, and this was their first time at Fuji Rock. But don't call them retro. This fourteen-piece big band's rock sound is as timeless as the sun.

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July 30, 2006

Everybody Dance Now

With the Naeba Shokudo stage located mere steps away from the world food court, it made perfect sense to have Safi & Channel Sphynx open the line-up on Sunday night.

Safi is a belly dancer. Providing the eclectic, worldly instrumentation for her dancing was Channel Sphynx, a quintet comprised of a violinist/accordian player, a digireedoo player, and three percussionists (Shinshi, Rentaro, and Koara) from a fantastic Tokyo-based act called Tabla Kwaiesa.

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The Super Furry Animals: Strokin' it


Welsh rock band Super Furry Animals were up against some stiff competition when they took to the White Stage here on the closing night of the festival. A schedule change meant that T-shirt faves and New York City hipsters The Strokes were to hit the Green Stage more than an hour early, and the two bands would be playing at the same time. Regardless, the White Stage area was packed out with fans when they started.

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Searching for 24hrpartypeople

Nostalgia thick in the momentum of Happy Mondays, a thinning crowd shook down to the historic beat. By "24hrpartypeople," the name too of the movie about the famous Manchester club The Factory, the disphoric Joy Division and Happppppy Mondays in their rave day, the crowd was thumping up and down, one arm raised. An encore did not, despite muchos effort, from the stage, occur. Sunday night Fuji, Green Stage.

Rino^ce´rose fait tremble´ le Japon

Sa bouge a` Fuji Rock

Fuji Rock Festival est le plus gros festival de musique au Japon, plus de 35,000 personnes s'y pre´sentent a` chacune des 3 journe´es qui composent l'e´ve´nement annuel. Cette anne´e encore, les gros noms s'y ont pre´sente´ pour faire bouger nos amis Nippon. On y a vu The Strokes, Red Hot Chili Pepper, Sonic Youth, 2 Many DJs, Tiga, Scissor Sissters, The Yeah Yeah Yeah ainsi que les Sue´dois The Hives pour n'en nommer que quelques-uns parmi mes pre´fe´re´s. Cette anne´e, le festival de music de Naeba, une station de ski dans la pre´fecture de Niigata, ce´le´brait sont 10ieme anniversaires et c'est dans ce superbe paysage montagneux que le groupe francais Rino^ce´rose e´tait charge´ de repre´senter la France.

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Highs & Lows

It's difficult to do. There's around 80 different performances of one sort or another every day here at FujiRock, and that's just what's on the flyer. In reality there are at least 20 or so more happenings that don't make the cut come printing time. Multiply that by three days, and you'll see what a punter is up against.

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Sierra Leone Refugee All-Stars (Green Stage)


If you had been walking from the Green stage toward the White stage on Sunday just after noon, you would have been forgiven for concluding that the amount of joy contained in a set of music was inversely proportional to the prosperity of the country from which it came.

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This Just In: Mystery Stickers Continue to be Discovered

Yes they're everywhere: on jeans, amps, dogs, boots, babies, guitars, the back of heads,the knees of passed-out drunks, and here on the posterior of Joanna Peacock. Where do they come from?

Best Rock Star Reception

The Stroke's Julian Casablancas took to the promenade for "Hard to Explain" and got the proper Rock Star Reception. Flocks of Japanese girls swarmed around him in Beatlesque hysteria as he leaned into the crowd and banged out the first album hit. For a studiously restrained stage band, the enthusiastic response to ground floor engagement was immense. Rock Star.

Sun Paolo - Electro rock from the sun god...


I first met Taiji Sato, former member of Japanese band Theatre Brook, four or five years ago right here at the Fuji Rock Festival. He told me then that he had just started a new band called Sun Paolo. A couple of years later I acquired a copy of their sample CD which was hard to categorize musically. The best I can do is: jazz-meets-rock on the edge of minimalism. Now all i can say now is: they've come a long way.

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Kids Rock (cont'd)

Every FujiRock attracts more and more families. You'll see a few shots here but expect a big photo essay on the Fujirock Express Site once it's up and running again.

Have you seen me? - The Sticker Mystery

We at Fujirockers have started to notice a trend of simple, metallic stickers on a wide cross section of people at the fest: concertgoers, staff and musicians alike. We’re curious, because they’re not a pass and give you access to nothing, and most people say they received the sticker by someone they didn’t know. So where are they coming from? There are several colors: red, blue, silver and maybe more. People wonder if (or why) they’ve been selected. And does the color mean something? Can anyone help with this? And am I a red or a silver kinda guy?

Afro-Soundz: Orchestra Africa Share the Beat

The next logical step for Fuji Rock is to have it's own world-music stage, but for the time being the Orange Court has done nicely.

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Dark Ones: Yura Yura Teikoku Bring on the Night


Placing Japanese psych-rock unit, Yura Yura Teikoku at the Field of Heaven felt like a mismatch, especially since their last appearance two years ago at the more indie-informed White Stage seemed like better fit. But the Tokyo-based trio proved the space doesn’t matter as much as the crowd and volume.

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Sun: For Hippies It's Even Better Than Mud

heaven web.jpg

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Have You Seen My Passport?

I lost it in the mud at the Yeah Yeah Yeahs last night, but, oh my God was that a great show!

mingyi.jpgWhat Fujirock misses from the Dead shows of my youth is the randoms in the parking lot with "Need a Miracle" signs. So at a festival where being over-prepped is the norm, it's good to see someone rocking at all costs. Enter Mingyi.

From Taipei, she is an occasional concert promoter and more full time runs a small rocker cafe in an arts. Last week she came to Japan, first staying with friends in Kyoto she met through Couchsurfer.com. It took her 15 hours to hitchhike to Naeba, including four big rig trucks and three cars. On the free shuttle bus from Echigo-Yuzawa, she met two Japanese girls with whom she's now sharing a tent.

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Dinner Music At Avalon

Comprised of two guitarists and a violinist, The Suzuki tantalized audience members at Gypsy Avalon with a solid set of folk music.

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Baxter Dury

060805P7309397.JPG Baxter Dury has a lot to live up to. The son of Ian Dury of Ian Dury and the blockheads, he started his musical career even later than his father, who went on to gather a strong cult following. Baxter played the Red Marquee this evening at around 5pm, and had a small but appreciative crowd. I must admit myself to only being drawn in by the melodic tones that started emanating as I enjoyed a short break in the Oasis area. I had to go and see what was happening in there, as it seemed tailor made to my mood at the time.

Baxter started off with a series of slowly moving tracks that built steadily, reminding me somewhat of the Snow Patrol set I had witnessed earlier in the day at Green stage. His tracks built in musical intensity over the course of five or more minutes for the most part. While the track built, Dury's voice raised only slightly in volume, retaining the slow pace and never bursting into a scream as seems to be the norm for british performers of the moment. A rise in urgency only, the steady rhythm remained constant from start to finish, usually with a cacophony of sound by the end.

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Alternate settings for Green Stage guitarists

The Raconteurs, what if we heard Jack White in a Allman Brothers setting instead of Zepplin bombast (three Zepplin covers would have been a great addition).
Or how about John Frusciante leading a heavy blues band? I don't know if that is quite it, but the guy came off way classy on Saturday, he's always had a damn unique sound, what if you took him out of the RHCP personality and he was put in charge of his own, straight-ahead four piece?
Who would you back him with?

Alternate settings for Green Stage guitarists

The Raconteurs, what if we heard Jack White in a Almond Brothers setting instead of Zepplin bombast (three Zepplin covers would have been a great addition).
Or how about John Frusciante leading a heavy blues band? I don't know if that is quite it, but the guy came off way classy on Saturday, he's always had a damn unique sound, what if you took him out of the RHCP personality and he was put in charge of his own, straight-ahead four piece?
Who would you back him with?

Screaming Social Scene

Broken Social Scene's Brendan Canning and Kevin Drew, and maybe art porn photographer Terry Richardson -- or perhaps that was Charles Spearing -- broke into the British Music Tent to play a quick and excellent set (set list below).

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They all danced


It was quite a chore hiking out to the Orange Court to see the Refugee All Stars of Sierra Leone. The Fishmans show at the Field of Heaven was apparently packed, and if you took the usual route to the Orange Court via the boardwalk, you found yourself snarled in a traffic jam, since they weren't letting any more people into the area and folks were sitting on the boardwalk listening to the show. By means of some rude, un-Japanese antics (leaving the boardwalk and cutting through the underbrush), I was able to make it just in time for the opening reggae song.

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Giant Canuck Party


Paying homage to yesterday's rain, Broken Social Scene' Brendan Canning emerged for the Toronto act's set clad in a long green rain coat. He walked to the front of the stage and raised his hands as the large crowd assembled enthusiasticaly cheered him on. He removed the jacket as Charles Spearin and Andrew Whiteman met at centre stage and bowed to one another before the band kicked into their opening number.

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The Dewaele brothers do it for real

Radio Soulwax presents Niteversions Live

Probably better know as 2 Many DJs, David and Stephen Dewaele are amongst the most praised DJ/producer of today’s club music scene. With their own success as Radio Soulwas or 2 Many DJs but also with popular remixes of top figures such as LCD Soundsystem, Gorillaz and Daft Punk. Fans of the Belgium born DJs coming to Fuji Rock where blessed with the 2 performances of the Dewaele brothers in one night. The first one as Soulwax whith the support of a live band formed of Stefaan Van Leuven, Steve Slingeneyer and Dave Martin and the second one as 2 Many DJs.

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So what Does Scissor Sisters mean?

It was all glam and camp at the White Stage on Saturday night of Fuji Rock Festival. For the occasion, the craziest band of New-York City took Naeba’s mountains by storm and invited everybody to join the bash. Humoristic, decadent, crazy and shamelessly sexy, the Sisters’ sound his a nice mélange of different influences. Rock until your aren’t you aren’t afraid to disco his their motto and the play was accessible enough for everybody to have fun.

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Barrence Whitfield and the Rizlaz - All the cats were rockin' down the house....

This show was one of the most unexpected treats for me at FRF06. I had no expectations and even less insight into who these guys are, but, hey, when it all comes down to it, the only thing that matter with music is the experience. And this was a hot 'n' rockin' show.

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Snow Patrol: Light duty in the mountains of Naeba

snow.jpgWhen semi-Scottish group Snow Patrol took to the Green Stage here on Sunday afternoon, people were doing something they don't do very often at the Fuji Rock Festival--squinting into brilliant sunshine.

With the sun radiating down from behind the stage, it could be a little difficult to see the band, even with sunnies shading the eyes. Not that anybody was complaining, mind you. The crowd eagerly soaked up the sun's rays, as well as the smiles emanating from singer Gary Lightbody's face. Snow Patrol's straight ahead, not-too-soft, not-too-hard, guitar crunch sound was easy to get into, even if you could go blind looking directly at the stage.

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Nika in Avalon

Nikaido Kazumi, professionally known as Nikasoup sometimes of Nika Soup & Saya Source, provided Gypsy Avalon's typically sunny Sunday vibe.

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Double Famous - a trip to the tropics


The only thing missing from this show was sunshine. Not that it was raining, it's just that it night had already fallen. And the Afro-Cuban music that this band plays emotes breezy beaches and palm trees. Oh well. At least the stage at Gypsie Avalon is hugged by trees.

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Rock Question

Here's another one. Lot's of rock going on around here, right? Has anyone ever seen anyone at Fuji Rock smash their guitar on stage? It must be done, who done it? Drop a line.

Festival Question

Walked by it many times doing the length of the concert grounds, does anbody know the name of the river that runs through Fuji Rock? Drop a line here.

Rhythmic Roots: Kodo Bang a Drum

The majority of music at FujiRock may be derived from outside sources, but the guys who run the fest were proud to put on a little Japanese roots music to open the Green Stage Sunday morning. As one of Japan’s premier Taiko (Japanese Drum) collectives, Kodo are as well-oiled a machine as they come, able to organize eight pairs of hands into an almost eerie precision.

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Junior Senior Boogy

junior-senior2.jpg Junior Senior proved to be a huge crowd puller on Saturday afternoon, as the crowd was about 50 deep outside of the Red Marquee! Yup, people were even rockin in the food court, dancing around to the hyphy sounds and simple electronic beats of this Danish duo. In case you were wondering, the group saved their kitschy, flourescent accessories for their videos, appearing here in both a smart, op-art sweater, and alternatively

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Milburn differ from your typical Britpop bands a little. I was trying to put my finger on it as they played, and it took me a while

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Why Tour Anywhere Else?

Envy.jpgMany foreign bands I've spoken to during my time in Japan have been blown away by the kindness and dedication of Japanese music fans.

This weekend's FRF easily illustrates their point. The audiences in every area are going absolutely bananas for every band that plays. Regardless of whether they are familiar with the band's music, EVERYONE gets up and dances and cheers on the group's every move. Chanting, clapping, and waving their hands in the air are done with out any requests from the performing artists. Any crowd participation that is asked for is quickly obliged. There's no attitude in the crowds and no one deems themselves to cool to participate. Out for the specific reason of enjoying the beautiful surroundings and having a fantastic time, attendees are doing whatever they can to ensure that they and the bands have loads of fun.

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Gonna Move Me A Mountain


Anyone at White Stage still a little groggy from last night had whatever cobwebs were left in their head blasted away by Isis.

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After Hours: Go relaxes after a set

rizlas.JPG Guitarist/Vocalist, GO from the Rizlas. Backing up a R&B wailer like Barrence Whitfield is no easy task, but the Rizlas sounded like they'd played with Whitfield for years. Old-school Rock & R&B go over incredibly well here in Japan, and this gig could have very well been my highlight: 700 people, Japanese and foreigners alike, dancing their asses off to Little Richard-era rock. Gotta look for the Rizlas back in Tokyo..

The String Cheese Incident 2: The delicate sound of wonder


Blue lights shone from the stage, but the mood was anything but as Bill Nershi and friends did their Jerry best to raise soggy spirits at the Field of Heaven Saturday night.

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Red with Envy

envytee.jpg The sun finally came out on Sunday, rousting campers out of their tents early in the morning, and apparently sending all rockers to stages for early morning shows by Guitar Wolf (Red Stage) and Envy (White Stage). It was too hot to be carrying a backpack judging by these sweat stains, but it was all worth it for fan's of Japan's premier emo band. Keep reading for a longer review of the show.

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Mass Transit

Transit Kings played a sprawling, organic set on the White Stage to a predarkness dancing crew.

All day the White Stage was host to folks getting it down -- Rhinoserose had a full crowd raving and during Broken Social Scene at one point the audience collapsed towards the front gate in a spontaneous upheaval.

Transit Kings started as the cofounders of The Orb, Jimmy Cauty and Alex Paterson with Guy Pratt and Dom Beken. Cauty and Paterson played Fuji back in 1999 and 2003 as The Orb. Paterson came this time with a gang of guitarists to fill out the sound on the decks. It was alternately ambient, chirpy, big, bouncy, boxy, beaty and momentus. Now it's up to Super Furry Animals to keep the peeps popping.

Fire and Nice

joannaANDeddie.JPG Joanna Peacock and professional pyromaniac, Eddie Egals at Palace late-night. Standing in the path of flamethrowers two or three times a night sure makes a man thirsty. Mr. Egals ("That's Ee-GALS, not Eagles") was in high spirits, even offering to let me into the fireshower act, assuring me of it's safety: "Look here [lifts his pants leg to show me his bushy calves] See? It won't burn off your hair if you do it right"

Dangergirl: Joanna Peacock Hits Her Stride

peacock.JPG Anyone concerned for their safety after an earlier report of aliens wandering the Oasis area can rest easy - maybe. The giant silver vixen on stilts was actually Joanna Peacock, a performaance artist and sculptor who does the fest circuit full-time. You can check her site to see what she does, but all I saw her doing was causing trouble - a perfectly appropriate thing to do at Palace of Wonder in the wee hours.

Peacock works with glass, cement, steel and whatever else tickles her fancy, but she says that working in costume holds special significance: "I get to have alter-egos," she explains. And how many? "Thirteen." One of those egos looks like a giant metalic butterfly, and another was striding through the Oasis area in a silver body suit, stilts and blue LED antennae, picking up unsuspecting passers-by and hugging them, their feet danging a meter in the air.

KO, Performance Art Super Hero, Yeah

Karen O appears from the side dressed like an aquatic cousin of the alien from "Predator." She golems across the stage wailing "We're just another part of you" from "Fancy." Maybe you should take another look at yourself cause she's skreeling like a banshee and you might be soon too.

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Mumm-Ra, RA-ther good.


Named for a cartoon character, Mumm-Ra are on their first overseas jaunt as a band. They have been creeping onto the scene and the airwaves for a short while, however this group of 20-odd-year-olds have been playing together for five years now.

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Who are we buying?

t-shirt seller.jpg Bands make alot of money from t-shirt sales, and we all know the formula that if you rock out, your t-shirts fly off the shelves. So who has done the most rocking this year at Fuji Rock? According to Rui Ishigami who has been manning the official souvenir shop on the festival grounds, bands who are completely sold out, t-shirt wise, include Sonic Youth, Mystery Jets, Buffalo Daughter, Ken Yokomama, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The Hives, and two out of three Flogging Molly Shirts. We're not saying this is the only way to juge a band's popularity, as some major bands have made major shipments of tour t-shirts. If you wanna see who's the all time top seller, keep reading.

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Barance Whitfield the Savage

"Its hotter than a pistol in here" screamed Barance Whitfield halfway through his hourlong set at the Crystal Palace. He was speaking the truth as he wrung the sweat from his bald pate, flinging it into an packed dance floor where fans danced to tunes such as "Juicy Fruit", "Wild Shake", and "Stop twisting my arm". The former he played twice as he ran out of songs for his second encore. Not that anyone cared as Whitfield got the crowd rolling with a unique form of blues and rock and roll, as well as not so witty comments between songs such as exhorting the crowd to shout "hog shit" in one refrain, and telling a story about "take out those false teeth mama and let me suck on your gums." It was classic Whitfield, and his backing band, the Rizlas did him proud, rocking out New Orleans type numbers such as "Shame, Shame, Shame". However, it was an American Indian number that really got the crowd going, "Geronimo Rock" complete with Whitfield swining his arm in the air and doing hatchet chops.

He's a peaceful monster

rakuzo.jpgThe sun was shining brightly on the Field of Heaven at 11:30 am when Razoku took the stage in front of a respectable crowd. Heaven tends to have a permanent contingent that's content in the belief that anyone booked there will be to their taste. A look at the list of bands who have officially allowed tapers to record their show (there's a Tapers Area right nest to the sound booth) confirms which bands adhere most closely to the jam band protocol: String Cheese, Umphrey's McGee, Benevento/Russo, Magnolia, and Razoku.

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Rock 'n Roll Nightmares!

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Denki Groove


In the last few years, FRF has consistently slotted big time electronica acts as big stage Saturday night headliners, and following the Fatboy Slim and the Chemical Brothers in the last two years, Japan's own Denki Groove showed why this year they aren't playing second turntable to anyone.

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Parking violations

As everybody knows, the main message of FRF06 is the Global Cool Campaign, whose aim is to reduce the amount of carbon produced in the world. The festival itself has always been conscientious about its impact not only on the Naeba ski grounds, but on the planet as a whole. But obviously the message hasn't reached everyone. Many people drive to the festival and park their cars in the designated parking lots for the weekend. This morning, I walked through the parking lot and passed at least three automobiles with their engines idling. Their owners were not in the drivers' seats, and given that the back windows were blacked out (one was a station wagon, the other two were vans), I assumed that someone was asleep inside and they had the engine on in order to run the air conditioning. Maybe the festival should appoint a special patrol.

The Red Hot Chili Peppers: Me and my, me and my friends

As I headed to the Green Stage area from the Field of Heaven it was obvious who most everybody had come to see at Fuji Rock. From the official merch store to the very edges of the Green field, there was nothing but people and more people, all waiting for the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

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Zukunashi - A Little Soul Never Hurt Anyone


Having the good fortune of opening the Rookie-a-Go-Go Stage on Saturday night meant that Zukunashi got to play to those looking to duck out of the massive post-RHCP flood of people leaving the festival site.

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Island boogie

ryukyu.jpgFew music units describe their sound so exactly in their name as Ryukyu Disko. But while the requisite sanshin sound of Okinawan music is central to the textures of the group's dance music, it isn't quite as doctrinnaire as you might think. Made up of two brothers who go by the monikers RKD1 and RKD2, RKD is more than just Juliana's for the island set. There's a tongue-in-cheek appropriation of Okinawan sounds and images, and the result is dance music that sneaks up and tickles you.

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Head East: Nagami Jun Heads Out on His Own

Wandering by the Naeba Shokudo stage I stumbled upon a huge crowd in awe of a single man onstage. I found out it was Nagami Jun, vocalist for J-Indie band, Eastern Youth, in the middle of a solo set.

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Into the Woods: iLL do it naturally


2006 marks the first year at FujiRock where the concerts on the Boardwalk between White Stage and Orange court were announced ahead of time, but most people still looked stunned when they ran across a performance tucked into the woods. A scrim was placed in front of the stage, with projectors and lasers creating fractal patterns on the screen and beyond into the woods.

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July 29, 2006

Fuji Dog Wonderland - Recommendation: HOLD

dogrun01a.jpgAfter the festival added a kids area, the Fuji Dog Wonderland was probably inevitable. After all, many couples now prefer dogs to kids because they are 1) cheaper and 2) more loveable. Clearly, the idea was a good one - stay in step with the current trends. The dog run has been placed in the new BTOC (Beyond The Orange Court) development zone.

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T-Shirt Sensitivity Awards: Vol. I

sensitivity.jpgMake your guess as to what show this guy was watching and click below left to continue reading.

He was at Sonic Youth.

Creek Jumpin in the cold dark night

Creek Jumpin 1 blog.JPGJoel and Shelley from South Carolina, visiting Japan for a month. They had been standing there five minutes before I introduced myself, and when I said I was working on the Web site they told me to wait a second cuz they were about to jump in the creek. My feet went numb when I dipped them in, so needless to say I was impressed. It was Joel's idea; Shelley just gave in to the peer pressure.

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On the Ritz: UA Goes Over the Rainbow


Japan's alternative music scene is full of shape-shifters, and few are as well appreciated as Kansai songstress, UA. I've seen her half a dozen times, and if it weren't for her signature siren vocals I'd have thought it was different bands. This year she has chosen the guise of a sultry chanteuse, slinking out on stage in a backless see-through dress lined with turquoise sequins, her hair a torrent of locks arching off the crown of her head. Is this the same woman my son watches on NHK's kid's programming weekday mornings? If so, then I need to tune in more often.

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This Just In: Strange Sightings

alien250.JPGIt has been reported that a pair of strange, tall and eerily sexy creatures were seen roaming the Oasis area posing for pictures and picking up unsuspecting Japanese college students and shaking them in what was seen as an act of affection.

Over two meters tall, these creatures walk on stilts and seem to have glowing skin, which may be radioactive. Interaction with these beings is encouraged, but approach with caution − you don't know where those antennae have been.

Humanature - the laser art of Craig Walsh

High-tech laser technology meets mother earth

As I walked from Gypsie Avalon over to Heaven to get something to eat, I was suddenly accosted by the ghostly image of a face hovering in the trees. I will admit that this is not the first time that this has happened - I also spotted one on my way back from the All Night Fuji Rave this morning. And I can tell you, at that hour it really was a bit scary to be wandering through the woods virtually alone and encounter such a ghoulish image.

Both times I stopped in my tracks and stood stunned. But this time, I turned to the person on my right and shared my thoughts. "It kind of spooky, isn't it?" I said. To which the man on my right replied, "Yes, it's supposed to be." It turned out that he was, in fact, the artist himself - Australian Craig Walsh. Not only that, but the gentleman to his right was none other than the Japanese man who had acted as model for the work - Noriyuki Okubo.

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A Hat Trick Of Dropping Sonic Bombs


Tokyo's Back Drop Bomb came out with guns blazing for their third appearance at FRF. Have played on the White Stage in 1999 and on Green in 2003, the sextet were no strangers to the large crowds and adverse conditions of the site.

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Straightened Me Right Out!


With the rain falling steadily, Straightner took to the White Stage for the Saturday afternoon gig. Feeling a little dreary and wet, my troubles were instantly cleared awayed as the group kicked into their infectious set of J-punk.

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Great moment of Story of the Year


Punk/Rock band from St.-Louis is banging the White stage.

Formerly know as the Big Blue Monkey, the guys from Story of the Year had to change their name because a blues band had already taken the name Blue Monkey. I guest Blue Monkey are getting overly popular this days. This style of ska/punk/rock music always have a good audience in Japan and the band from St.-Louis provided an amazing doze of fat guitar drift, heavy drums and loads of testosterone to the Japanese fan.

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A breath of fresh air

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Mystery Jets


Flying in to superstardom.

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Ripped in the rain


Like Mogwai, Sonic Youth is one of those foreign bands who it seems is willing to play every Fuji Rock if given the chance. (Rumor has it there's some kind of limitation--two years in a row then one year off.) They don't come here to make a buck or spread the word. The come because they dig coming, and the New Yorkers did their damnedest to cheer up the rain-soaked early evening Green Stage crowd on Saturday. Thurston Moore made the needless introductions before a note was played, but rather than seem gratuitous it created the needed feeling of community. "We're always happy to come to Japan and see your beautiful faces," he said, and you had to believe him.

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Benevento Russo Duo in the Field


The Field of Heaven shimmers on Saturday afternoon, rain or shine. The Benevento Russo Duo brought ethereal music to complement the rain showers streaming down.

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Big Willie's Burlesque at Orange Court


Bad girls 'n' chill jazz...

As soon as Big Willie walked on stage the crowd started clapping. I suppose that most of those present had seen his show last year and had come back for more. And Willie had obviously taken the time between visits to Japan to learn a little Japanese. "Minna genki desu ka?" brought a roar of approval from the crowd. And once they'd settled down again he said, this time in English, "We're gonna play some jazz now." And they did - as smooth and gentle as a summer breeze and just as refreshing as the rain which pounded down a couple of times during the show.

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Gaz's Rock 'n' Blues


I ran into a second unscheduled performance today. This time a DJ session by Gaz Mayall at the Big Cake tent in the World Restaurant area. The Palace of Wonder had not yet opened so all the usual suspects from that area were milling around out the back of Solomon's Queen Shiba restaurant tent, among them Gaz, who just happened to have brought a box full of 7" vinyl with him. And, so, he was set for a quick spin on the Big Cake decks.

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Ken Yokoyama

I think that one must be Mt Fuji!

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Skating Around with Tommy G

tommyblog.jpgAn audience packed the White Stage this afternoon to witness Northern Californian native, Tommy Guerero, bring his unique style of music to the local crowd.

Defying categories, Tommy G, played a range of free jazz, funk, and rock and roll. In fact, he felt equally confident switching between musical genres, at one point telling the audience he was playing "some good old motherf*(&* rock and roll."

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Moon Caravan: Car Camping in the Mud


Naeba authorities have recently zoned the valley beyond the Orange Court as the new FRF development zone. On offer is the rock 'n roll living experience Fujirock campers spend the year pining away for, namely huddling in tents in the rain and the mud.

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Scratch Perverts: Chiropractors of sound manipulate discs

"The world...the time has come to--the world...the time has come to--"

As Dom and I approached the Red Marquee late Friday Night (or early Saturday morning, whichever way you want to look at it), the beats of the Chemical Brothers' "Galvanize" were attracting a steady stream of people into the booming red shed like moths to a flame. The audience was already right up against the stage and jumping around with abandon, and the Scratch Perverts were only spinning their second track.

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Rifles in the range


The U.K. is exporting guitar bands like they were expelling criminals to the colonies.

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Like minded

like.jpgThe all-female, Los Angeles-based power trio The Like got one of those unearned rain bonuses. Their 3:40 pm slot at the Red Marquee coincided with the first of several late afternoon downpours so the venue was packed. If the reaction to the group's dream pop was muted, it had nothing to do with the quality of the songs (pretty excellent) or the performance (professional if somewhat subdued), but rather to the fact that the back half of the Marquee was filled with people dozing on the ground. As more people crowded in to escape the rain, these supine forms turned into an obstacle course.

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Emo afternoon

Saturday afternoon at the White Stage was mostly for emo, and Philadelphia's Valencia served up a characteristically energetic set of punky pop for the knot of people who'd lingered after the set by local emo heroes Eastern Youth. Introduced to the strains of "Born to Run" (regional thing?) and a five minute window of sunshine, the quintet bounded onto the stage and never stopped bounding the whole time they were there.

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The Kingtones: A trip down memori-dori


I knew we were in for a treat Saturday afternoon when the audience started clapping--and the musicians were only organizing their charts. Then The Kingtones walked out on to the Green Stage sporting their best pink lame tuxedos, smiling and waving to the anticipatory crowd. They turned, pointed off-stage, and the crowd gave a roar of approval as Uchida Jun-san, the senior member, shuffled on stage with the help of the youngest member, Jimmy Irera, and a well-used cane. He grabbed the mic, smiled out into the crowd through his Ray-Bans, struck a note, and from then on it was a non-stop ride of doo-wop, standards, and classic karaoke rock.

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Throw Your Hands In The Air For Mo'some Tonebender


Many bands have asked the audience to put their hands in the air thus far this weekend. Instead of making the same tired request, Mo'some Tonebender singer and guitarist Kazuhiro Momo decided to lead by example.

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The Man

Sonny.JPGAnyone who's been to a few Fuji Rocks knows Sonny (center) as one of the fest's most entertaining personalities. Sonny has been a fixture of the fest for years, cracking jokes and bellowing invitations to the Queen Sheeba food stall where he works. (Try Queen Sheeba in Naka Meguro or Blue Nile in Osaki for some killer African-fusion food). The man is a magnet for staff, artists and everyone else. I've wanted to name him King of FujiRock, but Kiyoshiro Imawano will forever hold that title. Perhaps "Ambassador" would fit better. I can think of no one more capable. Here he is with the FireTusk Painproof Circus late-night (3am? 4?) at Palace of Wonder.

The Boys Next Door: Valencia Want You to Like Them

I'm not sure exactly when rock stars stopped having to look like rock stars, but nowadays it's hard to tell if the guy backstage is in the band or just a fan from the suburbs. Same goes for Philly-based band, Valencia.

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Zutons in control of your fever

In 2004, they were out to impress, dressed in identical lab coats and angling in on their madness, their Zuton fever. This year the know they have it and hit straightforward; no need for gimmicks the music is angular, antic and hot.

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Silk on Stone: 101-A Crank it Gently

As the Zutons chugged through their set a hundred meters away, I thought that Japanese trio 101-A who were playing the Naeba Shokudo stage set up near the Oasis and Food Court areas wouldn't be able to compete with the Red Marquee sound system. I was wrong.

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Help Them Obi-Won

leatowel.JPGHand towels went from working-class perfunctionary to fashion statement years ago here in Japan, but now I think I've spotted a new trend: Princess Lea-like wraps. Whether this is a tribute to the Star Wars heroine or simply another example of Tokyo-bred cutism, I'm unsure, but either way I have one question: How does it stay on?

Frying up a greasy Gnarl

A short order cook walking around the White backstage gave away that Gnarls Barkley were going to be fry up some mean Fuji beats. And sure enough bounding out on the stage are Chef Ceelo and Chef Dangermouse, trailed by orchestral waitresses and dish washers.

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Little Boy Tiga

It's boogie time at All Night Fuji

When Sugiurum left the stage at the Orange Court, the crowd was already well warmed-up and comfortably installed in front of the stage. With a blend of fresh house & solid anthem songs, the opening of All Night Fuji had been a solid performance and people were just eager to get more.

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Don't Try This At Home: Eddie Egals Burns His Balls

eddieegals.JPGLook into the eyes of pyrotechnician extraordinaire, Eddie Egals, and you'll see a man who loves his job. It's not every day that you find someone who relishes fire on their bare flesh. But hey, it's a living.

Egals entered the Palace Arena followed by his vinyl-clad dominatrix-informed assistant, both brandishing DIY flamethrowers hooked to blowhorns. Egals walked us through the routine: three flamethrowers trained at an open shower stall in the center. Place fresh flower in their sights, and flowers becomes black and crispy.

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They Wanna: Franz Ferdinand Take Us Out

franzALEXblog.jpgAlex Kapranos's locks are longer than his last Japanese appearance this past winter, but as he and Franz Ferdinand proved tonight, they appear no older or less enthusiastic. Then Green Stage is for headliners, and Franz proved 2 years ago at their first FRF that they can draw a crowd. And an attractive one, to boot.

The band has said their first album was to make women dance, and their second to make them cry. Whatever they're doing, women are certainly reacting. The male/female ratio around me was skewed sharply towards the gentler gender (ha), and everyone around me shrieked at every side comment or coy lyric (the "Buttons of my blazer" one prompted the loudest squeal of all). If it gives you an idea of their popularity, when they performed a DJ gig here earlier this year, there was a line of young women around the block. Yet despite the attention, they seem to be quite cordial. I saw Kapranos at an M.I.A. show smiling and shaking hands with anyone who approached. [addition: same thing happened last night at Palace of Wonder].

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Put a Hump in Your Back Shake Your...


Big Willie's Burlesque is not so much about the dancers in skimpy barassieres with glitter nipples and pink or blue plastic wigs, though of course you get that too.

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Powerful Enough to Turn Goat Piss into Gasoline

"It's 273 kilometers to Fujirock, we've got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it's dark and we're wearing sunglasses."

Katsute ni Siyagare is...

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wolf.jpgAustralia's retro-hard rock power trio Wolfmother was the ideal band to open the Green Stage on the second day. The group's blend of Zep-like blues power chords and sixties proto-psychedelia (as translated by Jack White) is a guarantee to pull all the jokers who drank too much the day before back on their feet, at least until they gather their wits about them enough to consider breakfast (and a lot of water--those hangovers can be extra worrying in a camping environment). The threesome opened with "Dimension," their most well-known song, and inserted a new line about "finding myself at Mt. Fuji." This is what's known as the Patti Smith problem--artists who think that because they are playing a festival called Fuji Rock that the hill in front of them is actually Mt. Fuji. Later, singer-guitarist Andrew Stockdale confirmed his lack of geographical wherewithal by asking the crowd, in classic rock-performer rhetorical style, "Can we jam at Mt. Fuji?" Hey, be my guest. But it's a bit of a bus ride.

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A Message From Your Hosts

DSCF0327x.jpgForeign guests often marvel at how clean the Fuji site is and how well-behaved the patrons are. For sure, there's a cultural component at work here, and much of it has to do with doing what you're told. And as everyone knows, people are more likely to do what they're told if you tell them nicely.

Where they at?


Ganga Zumba. Ganga Zumba! Ganga Zumba. Ganga Zumba! Ganga Zumba. Ganga Zumba! Ganga Zumba. Ganga Zumba!

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Tucker: Restless?


Remember that kid in high school who couldn't stop tapping his foot? The one staring out the window, thinking about the big fat ollie he'd rather be doing over the safety railing on the stairs out there? That one, he was on stage tonight, showing the random assortment of skills he picked up along the way on the turntables, organ, bass, guitar, loops, drums and drink service.

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Afra's A Cappella Hip-Hop

How can they be so skinny and sound so fat? Afra and Incredible Beatbox Band don't need no decks, the effects is in the flex and the twist and the thorax of beat.box.beats.

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Kids Rock

familyfun.jpgYou might think it, but Fuji Rock is not just for the ravers, rockers, trippers, hippies, headbangers and moshers. It takes all kinds of people, big AND small, to make something as special as FRF.

People are into all kinds of things, and all kinds of things are what the festival specializes in. Whatever gets your freak on, you can probably find it here at Fuji Rock. For example, this is a threesome enjoying the vibe outside the Red Marquee on Thursday night just prior to the Painfree Circus:

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Green with Hungry

P1010036.jpgAfter drinking... err... working all afternoon & evening, a Fujirockers.org staffer can build up quite an appetite. If you find yourself in the same boat, head for the Thai food stall in the Oasis area next to the Red Marquee. These guys are ultra friendly will serve you a nice cold beer, and most imprtantly, serve up a good bit of tucker too. I opted for the green curry on rice, which was pretty damn good. There was a fair amount of chicken, a couple of good sized bits of eggplant, and most importantly it was sateming hot to the taste and the touch. The ebi (prawn) sticks were cold, but good nonetheless.

Report by Dom

July 28, 2006

Back for the first time

shang.jpgIt's surprising to learn that Shang Shang Typhoon has never played the Fuji Rock Festival before. Their catchy blend of Okinawan-Asian pop, pre-70s kayokyoku, and bluesy American rock has been charming non-sitting audiences for more than 15 years, but their heyday was during the early 90s pan-Asian boom and Fuji didn't launch until 1997. Still, they looked right at home at the Field of Heaven Friday night, where they headlined in front of an audience that probably wasn't old enough to appreciate what they did in their heyday, so there's always a silver lining.

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Platforms to the Pedals


Playing at Naeba Shokudou at 10pm, 101A impressed for the lead singer and guitarist's ability to hit her case full of effects pedals with 5-inch wood-soled platform boots. The music was also a nice surprise, especially since I wasn't too interested in Franz Ferdinand to begin with, which was the only other thing going on within range. It was much better to stand just at stage left and listen to this band crank through some driving post-punk with her cool, siren vocals. But best was watching her footwork. Not bad. Not bad at all.

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Yamaguchi Hiroshi (Heatwave)

Rarely do I hear a Japanese singer and wish I understood the words he was singing. Its not that Yamaguchi Hiroshi (Heatwave) played such amazing music that I thought his lyrics must be brilliant, its just that I got such a good fealing sitting and listening to him, I imagined that the lyrics would only make me feel better. You can't go wrong with ther word "Happiness" in your chorus if you can manage to sing it with both sincerity and irony at the same time.

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Harry Hosono Quintet

Harry Hosono is a Japanese popular music old-timer, having started in the early 70's playing a Japanese version of the U.S. west coast hippie folk rock that peaked during the summer of love. He later formed the Yellow Magic Orchestra in the late 70's and, embracing new electronics as they became available, became a pioneer of electronic music respected worldwide. When they disbanded in 1984, he turned to world music and spent much of the late 80's and early 90's exploring that genre.

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Southern Fried Coolness

Easily the most badass thing I've seen at this year's FRF was the washboard solo during North Mississippi Allstars gig at Field Of Heaven by Cody Dickinson.

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10-Feet ... Starting The Day Off Right!


10-Feet got things rolling at Red Marquee with a whole lot of infectious pop-punk. A large crowd of mostly Japanese spectators made their way into the tented area to celebrate the opening of FRF '06 with guitarist Takuma, bassist Naoki, and drummer Kouichi.

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Dirty Pretty Things

The Things went well!

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The Cribs

Britpop's new "Royal Family"

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Have about a nap in hammock

hammock 2 250.JPGThis is surely one of the most brilliant ideas to hit Fuji: a hammock court. For just 500 yen you can crash in a hammock for an hour. A friggin' hour. 500 yen. Thats the price of a beer that you won't even remember drinking. Thats 2000 yen for FOUR FREAKING HOURS.

(Note: I dont know if they will actually let you stay for 4 hours. These hammocks are prime property yo.)

Oh! Eye! Oh!


During OOIOO's set at the Orange Court, an short, interesting conversation sprung up about whether the band's cosmic core, if you will, Yoshimi P-We, was the inspiration for the "Yoshimi" of the Flaming Lips' album Yoshimi Versus the Pink Robots. Like all trivia question answers, the real answer was on the internet, and to sum up it reads: Not Really. Flaming Lips maestro Wayne Coyne writes that Yoshimi is a "fictional character," and right after that acknowledges respect and friendship for Yoshimi P-we since playing with her in 1994 at Lolapalooza. FRExpress colleague Donald noted that the death of a Japanese woman friend of the band's also happened around this time and inspired a song, which was written both out of sadness and consolation for the woman's sisters. Anyway, Coyne says it better, and it's all in his post at the link.

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Lost in the Woods: Barbi Thump Thru Set

Wandering through the clouds at Daydreaming Stage's mountaintop precipice, I stumbled onto a few wet Japanese lads, playing their heart out.

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The IN Flock: A Hundred Birds Orchestra Soars

Add some strings to a pop band and the expression "classically trained" is bound to emerge. In the case of Japanese Chamber-Disco troupe, A Hundred Birds Orchestra, the phrase may be apt, but their music actually draws out the symphonic sounds already present in club music rather than trying to install mirror balls in Symphony Hall.

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What it is

Take a walk from the headwaters of Naeba's stream on Friday morning and you will see a snapshot of Fuji Rock Festival gearing up for its annual weekend of Rock, Rebellion and Alternate Reality. Starting past the Prince Hotel, in the clear waters a lone yellow-jacketed fisherwoman throws her lure plop in the current under the bridge. Through the parking lot, a man with one boot on finishes of a bag of chips before he propels himself into the mouth of the Beast. Two girls polish off a beer beside the cooler in the back of their car.

Every year the question is the same: what is Fuji Rock? What is the vibe? What is it? Try to answer, it's this, it's that.

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Head in the Clouds: The Dragondola Sends We High

whiteblog3.JPGThe best views of the fest are hands-down from the Dragondola, the cable-car system owned by the Naeba Prince hotel. FujiRock takes place on an off-season ski resort, so the ski lift offers a bird's eye perspective on the revelry happening below. Here's the White stage:

And once you get past the stages and helicopters buzzing past (no kidding − they're offering rides this year), then it starts to get quiet. The cable zips over peaks and valleys out of a postcard.

Then hovers mere meters over a river.

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blackx.jpgThrough a perverse bit of serendipity, Gnarls Barkley and Blackalicious were scheduled within twenty minutes of each other on consecutive stages. The similarities have less to do with style--Gnarls' lead singer Cee-Lo Green was a rapper with the Goodie Mobb but with Gnarls he's into rock and soul--than with image. Both Cee-Lo and Blackalicious's MC the Gift of Gab are rotund and bald. The difference ends there.

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In the Mix: Blendz Makes Home-Grown Hip-Hop

blendzblog.JPGHitching a ride on the back road between Red Marquee and White stage, I jumped into a van with who I assumed to be US soldiers here working as security. I was half right. Yes, they're doing security detail, but they didn't ride up here from Yokosuka Air Force base or any other. Nope. They grew up here, the offspring of mixed parentage. Hip hop was cranked on the staff van's sound system, and it still sounded good. And familiar. When I asked where I might have heard it, they mention the Yokohama Baystars' stadium. Oh, and by the way, he says. "That's us."

MC Reggie (left) and Igor (right) are half of the DJ/MC troupe, Blendz, a home-grown hip hop group comprised of half-black, half-Japanese emcees, and as serendipity would have it, they have a release coming out August 23rd. They tell me their release party will be held at Club Logos in Yokohama (some of the Baystars will be there, too, if you're a fan).

So far so good.... no rain yet.

pocari2.jpgDay 1 is coming to a close and the weather gods have been with us, with not a single drop of percipitation thus far. A look at Yahoo! weather says the outside temperature feels like 78 Farenheit, with 89% humidity: for some, this was as good as beach weather. We don't to get anyone's hopes up, as it would be a good idea to keep those rubber boots on through Sunday.

Martha to the Bone

martha1.jpgThe after-lunch crowd who took in Martha Wainwright's solo acoustic performance at the Red Marquee on Friday didn't seem to know what hit them, though one young woman took the opportunity to declare her love out loud whilst the Canadian singer-songwriter was retuning her guitar. "Will you marry me?" the young woman screamed. "Uh, OK," Wainwright said with total lack of sarcasm. "Do we have to have sex?"

Known famously as the daughter of Loudon Wainwright III and Kate McGarrigle and the sister of Rufus Wainwright, and infamously as the composer of the enigmatic "Bloody Motherfucking Asshole," Wainwright's frank emotionalism was not at all diminished on stage. Dressed in a half-yukata, very tight jeans, and slivery high heels, she disavowed any folkie image her pedigree and the chosen means of her art might lend her. Though songs like "Factory" and "Far Away" are about the inevitability of growing away from loved ones, she swung her hips sexily to the rhythms, melding the personal and physical in ways that can only be experienced directly in order to be properly understood. The audience was moved by her sensual honesty, realized in a voice that very much sounded like it was coming from someone who once studied acting but quit because acting could never compete with the pain of real life.

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Slug lines

204_5_1.jpgThe MC known as Slug to hip-hop fans and Sean Daly to his divorced parents is as hard and real as they come, but the Minneapolis rapper isn't into fortifying his macho prerogatives. If anything, Slug's songs recreate an adolescence devoid of confidence and self-esteem. What's hard and real is life, especially love. Atmosphere, as his rap group is known, is mainly famous for three recordings called the Lucy Ford EPs, which document the pain Slug felt after breaking up with the love of his life. "You remind me of me," he rapped, "and that's not a compliment."

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Spinto spaz

190_1_1x.jpgSlackers who arrived at the festival not knowing that Clap Your Hands Say Yeah cancelled a week or so ago might have thought that the indie band of the moment had been reslotted had they walked into The Spinto Band's set at the Red Marquee at lunch time. Dual singer-songwriters Nick Krill and Thomas Hughes aren't that much different from CYHSY leader Alec Ounsworth in the vocal histrionics department but since there's two of them the clueless would probably have figured this out right away.

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Camera Obscura

camera-out-blog.jpgThe "Amazing Portable Camera Obscura" has finally made its way to Fuji Rock. A long-term fixture of Glastonbury, the trio of Dominic Patteson Tony Willett and Jem Finer have brought a simplified version of their optical tomfoolery to the festival.

Many may know Jem Finer as the banjo player from The Pogues. When he's not on stage, he's an active installation artists, undertaking multiple projects such as "1,000 Years of Music" and an art installation involving natural water music in Kent.

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Organic Wine

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At past festivals, artists ranging from Jimmy Eat World, to The Bees, and The Music, have all stopped by Vinbio's organic wine bar. The company is offering a half-dozen 100% organic wines ranging from Fontedicto red wine to A Vin de Table, a rose wine that commands quite a high price at Tokyo area restraurants, however, at Fuji Rock it is a relative bargain at 600 yen per glass, and 3,000 for a bottle. The business is a family affair, headed by Francoise Dumas. "My father started this wine import business because he learned you don't get a hangover when you drink organic wine, says daughter Annabelle Dumas. So when you get tired of beer and are looking for something to put you in a better mood, stop by and try one of these wines.

Flogging Molly


Its no secret that punk rock and Celtic music go together like cheese and cake (I think the Irish would win the drinking contest, but the brawling competition would beinteresting), but FM is the first to combine LA punk/metal with Celtic music to such wide recognition. Band leader Dave King was a member of Fastway, a late 80s/early 90s heavy metal band, and they use hard rock to good effect.

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July 27, 2006

More Songs About Animals and Food

140_9_1.jpgIt's unusual for an act not scheduled to play Fuji Rock proper would deign to play the pre-festival party, especially a band who's slated to appear at a number of other summer festivals, including Fuji's main competitor, Summer Sonic (well, at least the Osaka end). But Shonen Knife was just the ticket, and if they didn't deliver the knock-out punch that openers Flogging Molly did with their Irish uppercut, their songs about cute animals, junk food, rockets, and twisting Barbies reminded everyone that they were still in the land of Hello Kitty and cartoon manju--and are we glad!

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Shonen Knife!?!!?!!? + the rest of the Opening Night Lineup

Opening night schedule as follows:

20:00 start

Flogging Molly

Shonen Knife


The Cooper Temple Clause


Mamezuka will play between all band sets.

If you`re wondering why Shonen Knife is in the lineup, so are we. They`re not playing Fujirock 06 at all, so aparently they`re just here for the love of it. Shonen Knife is however playing Summer Sonic, but only in Osaka, so maybe that`s outside the scope of any exclusivity agreements? Not that we really care at this point. So be sure to check them out!!!

- Dave and Phil