- May 22, 2019 ● Bands
Fujirock has always welcomed more than just your standard American, British and Australian acts from overseas. However, especially in recent years we have noticed a steady increase in performers from neighboring Asian countries. Its not news to anyone that the largest non-Japanese attendants to Naeba are from Taiwan, reflected in the recent appearance of artists from there to draw in even more fans from that corner of the world.
This year once again brings a handful of acts from Asian countries outside Japan, but what we are noticing particularly this outing is a stronger showing by artists from another country; Korea.
“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.
The Waterboys appeared at Fuji Rock in 2014 for the first time, and will be returning to Naeba this year. The UK band was formed in 1983, centered on Mike Scott. Mike has been known as one of the UK’s greatest songwriters for over 40 years, with many other artists covering his songs; for example “The Whole Of The Moon” covered by Prince. We got an opportunity to interview Mike during his recent stay in Japan. He talks about his previous appearance at Fuji Rock and looks ahead to this year’s festival appearance.
Having been both a music journalist and a musician myself since my high school days in the 90’s, my journey through this industry has been epic and winding. My first festival, as a musician, was the Boom ’n’ Blast in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. A now-defunct teen band competition in my hometown’s central park, with a stage and a sound system worthy of household names, it made me feel like I had already reached the big leagues. However, they were still decades away. My first international festivals included Zandari Festa in Seoul, which I attended as an artist, and Music Matters in Singapore which I covered as a music journalist; the former operating on a mission statement similar to that of the original SXSW festivals (with an eye on showcasing the best in independent talent) and the latter hosting headliners like Pentatonix; the hot topics of the moment.
The first line-up announcement for Fuji Rock 2019 is out and brings with it a little something for everyone this year.
Last seen in Naeba back in 2011, The Chemical Brothers make their return to the headline slot, promoting their April release No Geography, No Geography.
Celebrating 40 years of music since thier first album Three Imaginary Boys, The Cure will also be making a return. Whether or not they will repeat thier epic 3-hour, 36-song performance from 2013 remains to be seen.
Enigmatic popstar SIA completes the first of the major headliners. Reaching wider international acclaim with her 2014 album 1000 Forms of Fear, SIA has most recently work a part of LSD, a supergroup with Diplo and Labrinth. The Australian singer-songwriter makes her Fuji Rock debut (along with dancer Maddie) this year.
Other notable additions to the large line-up include Janelle Monae and Thom Yorke’s Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes. Singer, songwriter and actress Janelle Monae released her Dirty Computer album in 2018, with single “Make Me Feel” most clearly nodding to the influence of Prince working on the album with her before his death. Meanwhile, Thom Yorke’s Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes promises stunning visuals alongside glitchy and atmospheric music from this 2014 release (and perhaps a few more recent additions?).
Here’s the full first line-up.
THE CHEMICAL BROTHERS, THE CURE, SIA
DEATH CAB FOR CUTIE, JAMES BLAKE, JASON MRAZ, MARTIN GARRIX
JANELLE MONAE ALVVAYS, AMERICAN FOOTBALL, ANNE-MARIE, BANDA BASSOTTI, CAKE, CALPURNIA, CHON, DANIEL CAESAR, GARY CLARK JR., GEORGE PORTER JR & FRIENDS, INTERACTIVO, , KAYTRANADA, KHRUANGBIN, KING GIZZARD & THE LIZARD WIZARD, THE LUMINEERS, MATADOR! SOUL SOUNDS, MITSKI, NICOLA CRUZ, RED HOT CHILLI PIPERS, SHAME, STELLA DONNELLY, TORO Y MOI, UNKNOWN MORTAL ORCHESTRA, THE WATERBOYS, YAEJI
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Photo: Julen Esteban-Pretel
While the early morning mist and clouds prevented those who were ambitious enough to wake up at the crack of dawn from being able to see the sunrise, by the time most folks were rolling out of their sleeping bags, the sky was blue the mercury was rising. Asagiri Jam’s second day would show just how much fun the festival can be when Mother Nature plays along.
Feeling like a scaled down, chilled out and grown-up cousin of Fuji Rock, Asagiri Jam has been going strong since 2001. This perennially sold out, 10,000-person strong yet intimate party gives you plenty of time to sit back, relax, and really enjoy some music and some nature. And this year was no exception, with legends like Yo La Tengo, Clammbon and Boredoms shoulder to shoulder with artists like Gogo Penguin, Snail Mail and John Butler Trio. All this in an idyllic setting with an iconic view of Mt Fuji. What more could you ask for?
- July 23, 2018 ● Bands
Traveling around the Naeba Valley during Fuji Rock, you will see plenty of popular Japanese bands with hugely enthusiastic followings. Here’s my personal Top-5 for rocking Japanese bands playing major stages at this year’s festival, all great, energetic acts that will be fun to watch and sure to create an impression. Please note this list doesn’t include bands on smaller stages, like Naeba Shokudo, Boardwalk, Gypsey Avalon, Cafe de Paris and others, and there are plenty of great finds there. We’ve also already published a Rookie-A-Go-Go preview a couple weeks ago, so be sure to check that out. Lastlky, this list leans towards rock, punk, metal and ska and not much towards J-Rock or J-Pop, which is perhaps a whole other animal. OK, here’s the list: