- 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
- 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.
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.
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 15, 2019 ● From Fujirockers.org
A very special two-day event is taking place in Taipei in early July attended by some of the key cast and characters behind Fuji Rock. The man known and loved as “Bunny”, Akiyoshi Takada, and 50 of his furry footed creatures will be unpacked for the first time on foreign soil. A special installation of his work will be unveiled to the public at popular Huashan 1914 Culture and Creative Park, a renovated wine factory in the heart of downtown Taipei.
- June 11, 2019 ● From Fujirockers.org
Have you heard of ‘Andes Step’? No, it actually isn’t a diverse bioregion of South America but rather a new sub-genre of infectious electronica heavily influenced by folkloric sounds and traditions. This is the term french-born Ecuadorian Nicola Cruz uses to describe his music, despite not being a fan of creative labelling, it does accurately sum up his strong sense of place and awareness of ancestry.
- June 6, 2019 ● From Fujirockers.org
Since China’s decision last year to refuse to be the world’s garbage dump, teamed with a growing collective awareness of plastic ocean pollution, the backwash through the media and society may feel like you’re being bombarded with constant requests to make better consumer choices, use fewer plastic bags and straws and generally make more changes to your behavior as an individual in order to affect change. However, as we delve into the topic of eco-friendly festivals and how you can make your festival-going as light on the Earth as possible, we also consider how festival organizations can do their part.
World travellers often have epic stories of hauling heavy luggage through brutal (see: stupid) situations. They make for funny anecdotes but, once we’ve collected a few notches on our shins, most of us would rather find a better way. Enter the good people at Luggage-Free Travel. Masterminded by people who care about your happiness, Luggage-Free Travel allows globe trotters to drop off their luggage at three locations in Narita airport (or one in Haneda Airport) to be delivered to your choice of seven hotels in Naeba; making your voyage more relaxing, and fulfilling.* ** ***
- May 21, 2019 ● From Fujirockers.org
Akiyoshi Takada goes by many names. The most obvious is “Aki” and there’s “Madbunny” which UK friends use because of his signature character. In Japan many simply call him “Bunny”. During the festival, he can be hard to spot, either tending to his art work, or hiding behind a large camera as he’s an accomplished photographer with three published books of photos.
Befitting the bunny, Aki’s route to Fuji Rock was circuitous and unpredictable. Born in nearby Gunnma Prefecture, he had an early passion for snowboarding and skateboarding which inspired his world travels. Later, his art career took him to capitals such as London and Berlin where he continues to split time. It was the The 311 earthquake and tsunami led him to think of home, inspiring his “Hope” installation at APART London Summer Show (2011). The work paired concrete rubble with rows of flowers, reflecting the fortitude of survivors. Attracting the attention of Fuji Rock’s UK art team, Aki earned an invitation to join and specifically, “do something with the Boardwalk”.
“Despite” is a fitting adjective with which to start a sentence about many artists performing at Fuji Rock 2019. Many musicians on this year’s roster have so surely secured their place in the hearts of the masses, that they’ve graduated from the Hero’s Journey and onto a special place akin to artistic immortality. Death Cab for Cutie have secured a slot at this year’s festival despite having parted ways with their signature producer and lead guitarist Chris Walla, and Ging Nang Boyz accomplished the same feat despite only retaining the lead singer of their original lineup.