- August 10, 2017 ● Experiences
This year’s festival was memorable in many ways such an outstanding Field of Heaven line-up and rainfall which was “intermittent” instead of constant. But how does this year stack up against of yore? For this we need to look back at the records.
Many Fuji Rock veterans believe the festival really hit it’s stride in 2005. That was when the fest expanded to 200 plus bands, many performing on stages that were little more than boardwalks, noodle stalls, or any clearing big enough for a pair of speaker stands. Doubling the number of performers also led to international visitors Many were drawn to Fuji Rock in 2005 as two Billboard No. 1 artists, Foo Fighters and Coldplay, played on the same night (Friday) and on the same stage (Green).
And holy shit something so cool couldn’t go off with a little incident as Dave Grohl would trade barbs with Chris Martin which would carry over into their sets. Saturday was a similar double scoop of stars with Fatboy Slim and Beck on the Green Stage and Sunday it was God bless UK legends New Order and Primal Scream. Imagine that, 6 bonafide festival headliners in three days. It was like the festival gods aligned in Japan that weekend. The excellent programming didn’t end there as the Pogues played and so did My Morning Jacket, and Sigur Ros.
But basically the reason the festival hit it’s stride was because it went bananas in creating multiple stages in areas where you thought it wasn’t possible to put a stage. Getting to the festival site a few weeks before the event must have stirred some creativity and with a little bit of lumber and extra equipment, we got more performance spaces so artists could do multiple sets at the festival. I am sure the record companies loved it, and so did the audience. Take a look at this Mokudo Tei (boardwalk stage) and here we see a photo of Los Lobos playing on the damn footpath without even a tent! That’s just plain nuts.
Fuji Rock’s resident DJ Jim West tipped me off to the fact that 2005 could have been the best year ever. He noted than Australian photographer living in Taiwan, Jimmie Wing, took pictures for UK’s Total Production magazine (TPi) which is the music industry’s most authoritative monthly dedicated to the design and technology of live events, from concert, gigs and festival productions. Appearing in this magazine for the first time leading keyed in the international audience to just how huge and significant of a festival Fuji Rock has become.
More importantly, Wing’s photos really captured the spirit of the festival and the fans, even impressing concert organizers when later published. “He saw a totally different side of Fuji Rock that we never did. We spend all our time looking down at turntables and equipment and never get a chance to walk around.”
We did a little bit of digging around and got in touch with Jimmie Wing and he’s agreed to let us use these three photos from 2005, photos that as of yet, have never seen the light of day. Enjoy.
All images credited to JIMMIE WING
Only a couple weeks until the start of Fuji Rock, and if you’re like me, you’ve started trying to pencil in all your “must-see’s” in the overwhelming stage schedule. For me, the 2017 Fuji Rock outing has a particularly high number of “must-see’s”, none more than opening day. Previously, James laid out a very tempting and relaxing plan for us on the first day of the festival, but I’m going to put my money on using all my energy at the start, no matter how high the risk of spending Saturday and Sunday with tired legs might be.If you’re up for running back and forth between each of the far corners of the festival grounds from morning to night, Friday is the day to do it. Riding high on the initial energy you’ll have at the start of the festival, put your walking shoes on because here’s one way to catch a great range of variety on opening day:
As the festival is now less than a week away you should start getting your packing organized sooner rather than later. This year, like many of you, I will be braving the elements, pitching my tent and camping in the mountains of Naeba. So partially for myself, as well as the readers of this blog I decided to put together a short list of essential or commonly forgotten camping items. I’m going to exclude obvious things like your actual tent or sleeping bag, as those go without saying. The list is purposely short as I want to get the conversation started. Are these 5 items essentials for you too? What else is on your Fuji camping checklist? Read my list below then tell me what I missed. READ MORE
- July 20, 2017 ● Experiences
First things first. After enjoying a beery bus ride or an express taxi, get your wristband right away. The line will be shorter. You don’t want to be like a few pals of mine who put it off for another day only to get stuck in hour plus lines the next day. And don’t pull your wristband too tight as three days of drinking and lead to some swelling in your extremities, especially your beer drinking hand. For campers, the site opens at noon, so pick a spot with some shade rather than settling for steep slope. After you’ve dropped your load, grab your wallet and a rain coat and head to the festival gates which officially open at 6pm. That’s when the vendors start selling inside the festival as well so no need to get there too early.
The Bon Odori dance is well documented and is probably the first public event that takes place on Thursday night, just as the sun is beginning to dip below the kebab tents. The music is a mix of blaring Nakashi music and taiko drums performed by Naeba native, Fujio Moroto. There’s a little dancing to this easy beat and it’s slow enough so that foreigners can easily join in. Mr. Moroto has been keeping the beat steady for the past 15 years and he’s a good example of how the festival has ingratiated itself into the community. If you didn’t know it, this Thursday pre-party is free to the general public and is when the good village folk of Naeba and a few local politicians walk the grounds.
The award-winning latin ska singer Mimi Maura returns to Fuji Rock this year for the first time since 2012, and will perform in the Crystal Palace Tent and at Cafe de Paris. A native of Puerto Rico, her career has carried her through both North and South America, where she’s a legitimate star, playing on some of the biggest festival stages in Latin America. When not touring, she’s in Argentina, where she raises a family and makes music with her husband Sergio Rotman, guitarist and saxophonist in the Argentinian superstar band Los Fabulosos Cadillacs (who will also be at Fuji Rock as part of her backing band, and also playing a DJ set). Mimi’s unique brand of ska vocals — sexy, upbeat, and highly danceable — will be perfect for Fuji Rock’s cabaret-style stages, so mark it on your schedule! She looks forward very much to coming, and took time to answer a few of our questions by email.
- July 19, 2017 ● Bands
With about a week to go until Fuji Rock 2017 officially gets underway, soon-to-be punters are probably staring at the three-day schedule trying to figure out how they are going to approach this whole affair. While you debate the merits of seeing Aphex Twin vs. Quruli, you should also save some space to see some of the domestic gems playing smaller stages…like, off-the-beaten-path stages (with Rookie-A-Go-Go ignored, you should make time to swing by there anyway)…while you are out in Naeba. We are here to help, and here are five acts to pencil in to your itinerary this year.
- July 14, 2017 ● Interviews
An interview with Shogo Komiyama, the promoter who brings danceable madness to the Crystal Palace…
And the story behind Fuji Rock’s biggest pre-party, Radical Music Network!
If you are a fan of Fuji Rock’s Crystal Palace Tent, if you have danced like crazy to an amazing band playing ska, cumbia or Latin music, you are probably also a fan of the Radical Music Network event series and the promoter Japonicus. You just might not know it yet. Japonicus has been working with Fuji Rock and Smash Japan for more than 15 years, bringing Spanish rock stars like Manu Chao, Fermin Muguruza, La Grossa Sorda, great cumbia bands like LA’s Very Be Careful, and some of Japan’s best “mestizo” bands. You’ll see them especially at the Crystal Palace and Cafe de Paris stages. Japonicus was founded in 1999 by Shogo Komiyama, who was born in Argentina to Japanese parents, and is now one of the biggest pipelines bringing Latin music to Japan. He believes in music as a radical social force for good, and is one of the most friendly and down-to-earth guys you will ever meet — just like the musicians he works with. This year he’s bringing several acts to Fuji Rock, and he’s also preparing for his annual pre-Fuji Rock party, Radical Music Network at Club Asia in Tokyo on July 26 (event info here). He took some time for an email interview to tell us what’s coming up.
Don’t know where to start to plan your day at the behemoth that is Fuji Rock? Let us do the work for you with our curate your day series. This (hopefully) series of articles from your friendly Fuji Rockers team will take the work out of planning your day at Japan’s biggest music festival.
Let us lead you on a themed journey throughout the day. Last year I planned a day called Jimi’s Jazzy Sunday. This year I bring you Freedom Friday at Fuji! READ MORE
Yeah yeah, exciting new bands and genre-bending electronic acts, plenty of that at Naeba…sometimes, you <em>want</em> a throwback to a different time, and Fuji Rock Festival 2017 has a wide variety of performers who have been honing their craft over the last few decades. This year’s line-up, in particular, offers up a convenient timeline of Japanese music, featuring influential acts from the 1960s and breakthrough producers from the Aughts on the bill. It’s not quite a comprehensive history of Japanese music, but here are five acts from five different decades worth checking out in a few weeks.
Last year you may have downloaded the 2016 Fuji Rock app, set up your timetable and used it to co-ordinate your timetable for the 20th Anniversary celebrations. Or you may have relied on a printout from the Internet, or even just pure luck and serendipity to put you in the right place at the right time.
This year the Fuji Rock app is back in new and improved form, thanks to iFlyer, with a whole swathe of useful and entertaining features to add to the Fuji Rock experience. We sat down with iFlyer Director of Business Development Joshua Barry to talk about iFlyer, the new app, and his thoughts on Fuji Rock past and present.