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