- July 17, 2019 ● From Fujirockers.org
This year, one theme of Atomic cafe in Gypsy avalon is “Okinawa”, one prefecture of Japan. Artists from Okinawa will build a booth called “Uchina Village” (“Uchina” means “local people” in Okinawa) in the NGO village. In addition, artists performing Cuban music, Okinawan traditional folk music, and hip-hop (KACHIMBA featuring RITTO, with Hajime Nakasone, special guest: Hideko Itami from Soul Flower Union) will play together at the Atomic Cafe in Gypsy Avalon (July 26, 14:30 to 15:10). Prior to the musicians’ performance, Jinshiro Motoyama will discuss the US military base in Okinawa with Daisuke Tsuda, the current organizer of the Atomic Cafe (July 26, 14:00 to 14:30). (They may speak in Japanese.) READ MORE
The Latin-ska-hip-hop band Zoo comes from Valencia, Spain, and though it’s their first time at Fuji Rock, several Zoo band members have played the festival before. The bands Obrint Pas and La Grossa Sorda are well remembered for rocking the damn house with wild Spanish horn-fueled punk at both the White Stage and super fun late-night parties at the Crystal Palace Tent. Zoo is a contemporary evolution of these sounds. Imagine a merging a ska band with, hip hop MCs, and a raging Barcelona dance club, and that’s pretty much what you get with Zoo. When they play in Europe, it’s a giant Latin house party and audiences are in the thousands. Now they’re coming to Fuji Rock 2019 for sets at the White Stage and Crystal Palace, and also to the Tokyo Wednesday night pre-event on July 24, Radical Music Network. We caught up with band leader and MC Panxo for an email interview to learn a bit more about the band. From the sounds of it, the message is: Fujirockers! Put your hands up! And get ready to dance!
- July 12, 2019 ● From Fujirockers.org
With just a few weeks to go, many people are getting jittery moored in micro decisions such as “what to take”, “what to leave”, “where to meetup”, and “rum or vodka”. Well, we are here to tell you that everything is gonna be just fine. Just bring your ticket and a little cash. Foul weather gear can be bought outside the venue, and nothing really matters once the music starts. We are pretty sure you are gonna have a a great time. And here are a few tips to make the event even more wonderful.
“Get there on Thursday”
I can’t emphasize how important this is. I know it might be hard because of work schedules but arriving early will land you a primo camping spot and get you acclimated to the venue. If you’ve never been to Fuji Rock before, Thursday’s microcosm will help your orient for the 4-day rager that ensues. As a corollary to this rule, leaving on Monday morning is a must because the music and good times don’t end till 5AM.
Italian group Banda Bassotti have been likened to the Clash for mixing ska, punk and a fight for social equality, especially in the 1980s and 1990s. They also rock the house in a very major way, so expect them to whip the crowd into a frenzy when they play on Fuji Rock’s White Stage on Sunday, July 28. This is Banda Bassotti’s third visit to Fuji Rock, though the last time they were were here was 14 years ago in 2005. A lot has happened since then: In 2006 the group released a song called “Fuji Rock” on their album Vecchi Cani Bastardi. Last year, founding member and vocalist Angelo Conti passed away, with tributes stretching from Rome to Japan. We caught up with the band’s manager Luca Fornasier to talk about Banda Bassotti, two decades of coming to Japan, and his own upcoming DJ sets as Goldfinger Selecta at both Fuji Rock and at the Tokyo pre-fest party, Radical Music Network.
On March 29th, 2019, as The Cure stood on the red carpet before their induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, their lead singer – the eternally-lipsticked Robert Smith – was accosted by a brash reporter who, in classic American fashion, belted, “Are you as EXCITED as I am?!?!”. Equally true to form, and visibly wincing from her sensory assault, Mr.Smith quietly replied,”…apparently not”.
Despite their relatively upbeat post-punk debut in 1979, The Cure quickly ascended to the ranks of royalty as “kings of gloom”; people who made it not only acceptable to openly live through one’s depressive states; in the right circles, they even made it look “cool”.
As recent studies reveal that depression is on the rise worldwide, The Cure’s receipt of Rock’s highest honour not only seems fittingly timely; it also validates those who were bullied for being their fans in decades past. And, as Robert Smith and Co. prepare thirtieth anniversary concerts of their album Disintegration (arguably their darkest record) we can almost hear their throngs of fans silently chime, “We told you so”.
Even further cementing their importance, beyond becoming an incidental champion for those who struggle with mental health issues, from The Cure’s earliest performances, Robert Smith also pioneered another modern topic; gender and sexuality. Openly displaying more femininity than the average man since The Cure’s first shows, by 1982 Mr. Smith donned lipstick for all concerts and photo shoots. Even throngs of loyal fans assumed he was bisexual. However, ever-defiant of preconceptions, and consistently breaking new ground by default, Robert Smith would clearly state in interviews that he was monogamously married to a woman he loved; his high school sweetheart, Mary Poole. Once again, decades ahead of popular discourse, he indirectly gave millions permission to be themselves in both gender and sex.
As the band prepares to release a brand new album this autumn – reportedly steeped in “doom and gloom” – to celebrate its fortieth anniversary, its performance at Fuji Rock flows into a twenty-three date marathon of concerts, consisting mostly of appearances at legendary festivals like Glastonbury and Austin City Limits. Some may question the relevance of these ageing pioneers, in a country where visual kei and makeup on men is already seen as passé. However, for a land still struggling with gender equality, LGBTQ rights and epidemic depression, The Cure is a prescription we all need.
- July 4, 2019 ● Bands
A festival is supposed to feel grand, it is supposed to be all spectacle and grandeur. It should come across the way a circus coming to town must have felt in bygone eras- a separate time and ethereal place that only comes around about once a year. No act at this year’s Fuji Rock scratches that itch quite the way Tokyo’s Charan Po Rantan does.
- June 28, 2019 ● Experiences
Each year at Fujirock, there is an outdoor theater playing a selection of films under the stars.
The screen is placed in the Tokoro Tengoku area, near the bridge that crosses the stream leading to the White Stage.
You can catch films shown here on both Friday and Saturday night. Set up your camp chair and enjoy your favorite film in the cool mountain air. READ MORE
- June 19, 2019 ● Experiences
Connecting the main festival grounds below with two small but not-to-be-missed mountaintop stages is a Japanese feat of engineering.
The Dragondola, which was built in 2001 to connect Naeba and Kagura/Mitsumata Ski Resorts during the winter season, is a 5.5 kilometer long gondola taking about 20-minutes from end-to-end. Touted as the worlds longest gondola lift line, it traverses a number of peaks and deep valleys, offering both panoramic views of the festival grounds with deep blue lakes seen in the distance, the later swooping low across cool mountain streams before continuing onto the summit.
Legend has it that as Death Cab for Cutie sat on a porch with their indie label rep circa 1998 – trying to decide how big a run of their first album they should press – they thought perhaps 500 copies might be enough. Their label then convinced them that they could sell 1000. Eight albums and a few member changes later, the band that grew around vocalist Ben Gibbard’s solo project is still evolving. From arguably depressing, navel-gazing ambient indie rock hymns drenched in reverb that perhaps only critics, hipsters and this writer could love, they completely changed their tune(s) by their fourth album; 2003’s Transatlanticism. Despite the darkly ironic nature of some its lyrics, the music for the single “The Sound of Settling” rang out with summery jubilance meant for stadiums. Atlantic Records were quick to snap them up, with the band striking a deal to their liking; on the strength of their last indie album selling 500,000 copies; the benchmark certified as “gold” in America. The following ten years saw their ambitions rewarded, with four albums multiplying into eight Grammy nominations. Their melding with the mainstream then reached its completion with a commission to write a song for the soundtrack of The Twilight Saga; “Meet Me on the Equinox”.
2018 saw the band born anew once again and reaching for new sounds, as it released its ninth studio album, Thank You for Today. Being DCFC’s first recording without their producer/guitarist Chris Walla, it also marked their debut as a five piece; with the addition of Dave Deeper and Zac Rae, both on guitars, vox and keyboards. Keys play a heavier role here than perhaps on any previous work, which is apropos, given the heavy nod to the eighties on a lot of songs; even borrowing the lead guitar sound of fellow Fuji Rockers The Cure, on the album’s opening track; “I Dreamt We Spoke Again”. By song three, a casual listener could be forgiven for believing that “Gold Rush” was a new Pet Shop Boys single; as lead singer Ben Gibbard’s always whimsical voice leans even more towards the gentle nasal tones of PSB’s leader Neil Tennant, and the drums resemble a modern-day version of the raucous dance beats the Brits employed to chart success in the nineties. One might question how this will all translate to the stage at Fuji Rock, but given the success of 80’s flirtations for artist such as Taylor Swift and Katie Perry, and the general desire to party of the average festival attendee, Death Cab for Cutie will probably reign supreme this summer at Japan’s largest festival, with one more arrow to add to their quiver.
- June 17, 2019 ● Experiences
If you don’t know it already, Fuji Rock is big. We all already know about the Green Stage, where the headliner action takes place. But if it is your first time to the fest here is a handy little guide to some of the other stages. Try your best to visit them all!