Thursday, 31 July 2008

Fuji Rock Festival part one: days one and two

DAY ONE. THURSDAY JULY 24th 2008.

After four hours of annoying people with our massive amounts of luggage on local trains, we finally arrived in Yuzawa. Then came an hour standing in the rain waiting for the bus to the festival. Rain is an unfortunate but unavoidable consequence of holding the festival at a ski resort way up in the mountains of Niigata. Rain is what caused me to get drenched on Sunday, the only day I forgot to bring my poncho, and probably why I now have a cold.

campsite golf

Getting there on Thursday is definitely the way to go. We managed to find an ideal camping spot near some toilets, a stream and not on too much of an angle. In the next couple of days we witnessed people pitching tents all kinds of wacky places like the side of hills, in swamps and in the trees.

tentpole tent disaster

The atmosphere on Thursday night was amazing. There were fireworks and surprise bands and thousands of grinning fujirockers. We mixed up some drinks at the campsite and went in to the festival. Takkyu Ishino got us dancing, and soon we were drinking more and more and making friends with almost everyone who passed, people who we kept running into and hanging out with throughout the festival. A bunch of 20-year-olds we met happened to be our campsite next-door neighbours. Despite the language differences, they had a great time with Pete drinking at their campsite until they started vomiting in their tents. Who taught Pete "iki iki"?

DAY TWO. FRIDAY JULY 25th 2008.

my tent sleep

As it did every day, the bright morning sun woke us up way too early and turned our tents into saunas, causing us to seek alternative places to sleep. Fellow Melburnians, Midnight Juggernauts kicked off Saturday in the Red Marquee with a solid dancable set that got us in the right mood for the rest of the day.

midnight juggernauts frf

Then it was time to explore the festival site and make ourselves familar with the location of all the stages. It is an incredibly huge place! Walking over to Orange Court took about 40 minutes and on the way we had to endure a couple of The Presidents of The United States Of America songs. Who invited them? Once at Orange Court, we only got to see a couple of songs by French hip-hop group, Hocus Pocus before it was time to turn around and start heading back to Red Marquee again to see Spoon.

hocus pocus orange court

On the way back we watched a couple of Quruli's songs. Well-polished Japanese indie-rock. Spoon gave us more indie-rock and I was happy that they played lots of songs from their last two albums (their best, in my opinion), and the big Spoon fans would have been happy that they played lots of oldies too. It started raining when I wandered over to get food and I heard Travis from the Green Stage very appropriately playing 'Why Does It Always Rain On Me?'

The Gossip were up next in the Red Marquee and Beth put on an amazing show that was definitely one of the highlights of the festival. She howled, sweated and announced, "Japan is so hot!", taking off a layer of clothing. The crowd loved her and went absolutely wild, especially when she came down from the stage to sing among them. They included a very punk cover of 'Like a Virgin' as well as their hits like 'Jealous Girls' and 'Standing In The Way Of Control.'

Unfortunately, the main role of the security guards was to stop people from taking photos, so it was hard to get any decent band shots.

Maybe it was partly because of Gossip's amazing performance just before, maybe it was partly because of the rain, or maybe it was because I had such high expectations, but whatever it was, although I did enjoy them, Bloc Party failed to impress me all that much.

bloc party boardwalk

My Bloody Valentine were everything I wanted them to be. Incredible. They played my favourites from Loveless and Isn't Anything and even some from their EPs. They even did 20 minutes of delicious noise in the middle of the last song! The fans absolutely loved them, and Pete, Meri and I were speechless for a long while after they finished. The rest of our group didn't dig them much though.

mbv my bloody valentine

Wandering over to Orange Court, we caught a bit of The New Mastersounds who sounded as good live as they do on record. Unfortunately, Orange Court was ridiculously crowded making it impossible to properly appreciate Dexpistols and Denki Groove. We had to sit right up the back on the side of a hill trying to balance our drinks. Should have just stayed and watched The New Mastersounds.

It was time for late night hip-hop back way back at the Red Marquee. I've been really loving Dan Le Sac vs Scroobius Pip's debut album lately so I had been looking forward to seeing them play live. This duo from England ended up being one of my highlights of the weekend. For their song, 'Thou Shalt Always Kill,' Scroobius Pip changed the words to include Fuji Rock bands.

Grandmaster Flash reminded us that he is the DJ who first made the turntable an instrument and that he is the first hip-hop artist to be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame countless times, told us to put our hands in the air countless times, and continually ranted about a Japan Times interviewer who he thought had dissed him (in fact, all he did was ask why many Japanese people didn't know who he was). But he also played a fun selection of old and new songs that got us dancing, and we all loved him because, well, he is Grandmaster Flash! At one hilarious point, after referring to the Japan Times reporter yet again and boasting about how Japanese people loved him, he played 'Smells Like Teen Spirit!'
I heard that song three times throughout the festival...

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