Shintaro Sakamoto is a true artist. And unlike many artists entering their 4th decade of performing, he shows no signs of slowing down creatively. His Friday Fuji Rock performance will no doubt prove him an artist still in his prime.
Having started producing her own music at an astonishingly early age (in grade five or grade six, by her recollection) 4s4ki released her first full album in 2020, and makes her Fuji Rock debut this year. I caught up with her via Zoom, to get a feel for where she is headed. READ MORE
We gather this year to protect and conserve a legacy that we built together; a movement of aficionados gathering from far and wide, each year. And, just as important as gathering is to the protection of our “culture,” security measures are put in place, to make sure all see next year. Anyone disregarding public safety may be asked to leave, or may be refused entry. READ MORE
- July 31, 2021 ● From Fujirockers.org
With nineteen days left before this year’s concerts, I welcome you to a whole new experience! My name is Laurier Tiernan, and – in addition to being a broad-spectrum artist – many years of music journalism have led me to leading the official English bloggers team this year. READ MORE
Friday is International Clash Day, a celebration of the life, work, music, and politics of “The Only Band That Matters“. Begun seven years ago because of a “listener request”, Seattle’s KEXP enlisted 110 radio stations around the world to host special broadcasts and live events ala “Radio Clash” from London to Uruguay.
So lift your jug like Clash front-man Joe Strummer, who is pictured here outside the Fuji Rock entrance way back in the day. And here’s a fun fact, Joe Strummer’s birthday, August 21, coincides with the start of this year’s festival. Call it synchronicity or happenstance, but you gotta believe their will probably be a few covers and on-stage tributes as well as many t-shirts and Mohawks championing The Clash’s anti-hate, anti-racism message.
- July 24, 2019 ● From Fujirockers.org
F@king at Fuji Rock!
Music can serve as a powerful aphrodisiac, and live music even more so. Perhaps no events are more iconic of this phenomenon than the Summer of Love, and the legendary festival that followed soon afterwards; Woodstock. However, as your own pheromones start flowing at this weekend’s festival, consider these factors before getting your love on.
Many recent articles in the print media proclaimed that Japanese people – especially the younger set – are having sex less than their predecessors. This may create the illusion of a decreased risk of STD’s. However, anyone buying into that delusion would be sadly mistaken.
A Japan Times article from January of 2018 reported that new cases of syphylis – an STD nearly eradicated in Japan years ago – had surged in 2017, to more than double those of 2015.1 Syphilis can be transmitted not only through vaginal and anal sex, but also through oral as well. The latter sometimes leads to infection in a person who assumes the risk of an STD is low due to the lack of intercourse during a given encounter. The international appeal of the Fuji Rock festival also increases your risk of infection; with music fans from around the globe flying in for the festivities. In Alberta, Canada, cases of gonorrhoea are reported to have doubled between 2014 and 2018, and cases of syphilis have gone up nearly tenfold.2 Another news story in the Washington Post from May 9th of this year, reveals that cases of gonorrhoea being spread through kissing are also on the rise, particularly in the demographics of gay and bisexual men.3 A good rule of thumb is to use a different condom before every sexual activity; oral included, if you want to be as safe as possible. And, the truest of truths is that you are never perfectly safe. However, as always, being informed lets you minimize the risks.
An official from the Minami Uonuma Police Station in the province of Niigata (where Fuji Rock is held) would like to warn you that, while there are no specific laws prohibiting you from f@king while camping, if someone should contact them complaining about the noise (etc.), then charges may be filed. Our source informs us that this is part of Niigata’s “anti-nuisance ordinance”; against disturbing the peace. He also said there is a zero-tolerance policy for public nudity in Niigata. His final words on the subject of sex-related crimes are that sexual contact with minors is strictly illegal in Niigata. This brings us to the following point.
It’s not just for medical forms anymore. To paraphrase a recent viral British video likening it to tea, “just because you made some (tea) for someone, doesn’t mean they have to drink it. People can ask for tea and then change their minds. And, most importantly, remember, unconscious people do not want tea”. When in doubt, a good rule of thumb may be the F.R.I.E.S. acronym; (consent is) Freely given, Reversible, Informed, Enthusiastic, and Specific.
Observing the aforementioned tips can help keep you free from diseases, and can also help keep you out of jail. Whether enjoying an amorous encounter with a partner who comes with you, or one you meet at the festival – like a good flight attendant – this author wishes you a safe and pleasant journey.
See You in the Field of Dreams,
N.B. Author Laurier Tiernan is both married and monogamous, thus will not be f@king at Fuji Rock.
1 Japan’s dramatic surge in syphilis cases, with particularly high incidence in Tokyo, puzzles experts
2 ‘Alarming rates’ of syphilis and gonorrhea continue in Alberta
3 Got gonorrhea? It may have come from French kissing, study says.
- 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.