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 31, 2019 ● Experiences
Saturday’s deluge would’ve done in a lesser festival, but Fuji Rock staff quickly worked to ensure the safety of footpaths and major stages. Measures such as opening up a conference room in the Prince Hotel for campers was no doubt greatly appreciated for those whose tents were waterlogged. And when the sun emerged on Sunday, much of the festival was dry, a testament to ground crews and drainage work which goes on throughout the year. Smash has mastered the art of logistics, everything from providing artists outstanding equipment and stages, as well as new toilet areas for festivalgoers. Continual improvements in all areas of the festival has impressed me, and up and coming areas should be making it on your radar such as Pyramid Garden, Don’s Café, and NGO village.
I’ve long championed Fuji Rock’s Joe Strummer Memorial, 3-ton European ski gondola which perched princely above the Palace of Wonder. Unfortunately, brutal snowfall in Naeba each winter tossed the gondola around like a crushed beer can. Two years ago, it was flattened into little more than a pedestal for another artwork. A sort of rescue effort was made a few months ago to cut it open and rescue valuable works inside such as handwritten, festival specific lyrics penned by Joe Strummer himself, artwork attributed to him and others, and whatever other seeds of rock and roll history could be recovered.
- 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
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