We’ve seen the worst of times and the best of times at Fuji Rock. And we’ve been more than a few times. So here are some tips, both musical and practical from Philip Brasor, Elliott Samuels, Mark Thompson and Alyssa I. Smith.
Also, make sure you’ve gone down the FRF survival checklist. Sure, the selection of amenities sold at the camping site and on the festival grounds has improved over the years, but it’s also likely they’ll be considerably more expensive … so save yourself the hassle and the yen by planning ahead.
- ES: The Comet is Coming: It’s possible The Cure may indeed end up playing for three hours to close the festival as it did back in 2013, but this electrifying electronic jazz trio could actually be as epoch-ending as its name suggests …
- ES: Khruangbin: No one knows exactly how to pronounce its name, but this trio from Houston, Texas, produces psychedelic grooves that takes its influences from places as diverse as Thailand, Afghanistan and Iran. It’s like crate digging without a record player.
- ES: Vaudou Game: This where the party starts. Think James Brown meets Fela Kuti and throw in some 1970s funk from Togo, Benin and Nigeria for good measure. This Afrofunk outfit is playing twice on Sunday and so you’ve really got no excuse to miss its infectious jams.
- PB: King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard: Wigged-out psychedelic garage rock from Australia that’s way cooler than you, though they may not look it.
- PB: Janelle Monae: She dances! She sings! She raps! She acts in movies! She may even have sex with robots, but in any case she’s the biggest star at this year’s fest even if she isn’t a headliner, and her stage show is just that side of mind-blowing.
- MT: Yaeji: Will the weather be in sync with “raingurl”? At least, Red Marquee has a roof.
- MT: Shibusashirazu Orchestra: A surrealist troupe of gypsies par excellence. How many musicians and dancers they’ll pack on to the stage this year is anyone’s guess.
- MT: Chemical Brothers: They never fail not to fill space in front of the Green Stage with the block-rockin’ beats. Since you don’t really need to see them pump their fists in the air from up close, probably best viewed from on top of the hill, for the full visual spectacle.
- MT: Jim West: Spinner of rare vinyl guaranteed it put you back in the groove. You’ll find him almost every night at Blue Galaxy’s DJ tent.
- MT: Takkyu Ishino: Alas, it might be awhile before we see Pierre onstage for Denki Groove, at least we have half.
Blast from the past
- ES: The Cure: Even if you’ve already sat through every single song these goth icons have ever produced at their headline performance in 2013, we’re talking about a line-up of glorious tormented stadium rock melodies that are a perfect final curtain call for a Fuji Rock Sunday on the Green Stage.
- PB: The Waterboys: Mike Scott’s albums are not quite as effortlessly soulful as they were back in the early ‘90s, but his live shows never flag, and with Japan as his new second home, the Scottish-Irish troubadour should be in his element.
- MT: Cake: “Short Skirt/Long Jacket”
Call us curious
- MT: Sia: Will she even be on the stage?
- MT: Daito Manabe: Probably better known for his video/electronic art.
- MT: Matador! Soul Sounds: Offshoots of The New Mastersounds and Soulive. Sure to make it funky.
- ES: Thom Yorke: Having not followed much of the Radiohead frontman’s solo work, his recently released third album, “Anima,” sounds almost like noise that has been deconstructed and reassembled into someone’s never-ending nightmare. The final track on the album’s even called “Impossible Knots,” which sounds like a painful mind-bending experience if we’ve ever heard one.
- PB: DYGL: This Anglophone Japanese rock quartet comes across on record as being sly and capable but somehow subdued. If they loosen up, it could be very good.
- PB: The Paradise Bangkok Molam International Band: The name sounds like a ringer, but this Thai group reportedly plays club jazz and funk on traditional instruments. Color me intrigued.
- MT: Pizzeria La locanda del pittore Iwappara
- MT: Sours at Tokoro Tengoku as you dip your feet/head in the river
- MT: Coffee at Field of Heaven
- ES: Hang out at the Blue Galaxy DJ tent near the international food court/bar between the Red Marquee and Green Stage. If you’re lucky, you might even find an empty chair nearby.
- ES: Drag yourself all the way to the area near the Café de Paris when you’re feeling like you need a break. Featuring random buskers, activities such as 10-pin bowling and slacklines, AND Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, it offers a true oasis to escape the musical intensity when you need to.
- MT: Fully charged portable battery charger and all the right cables. There are a few charging stations near stages, but who wants to waste time?
- ES: A pocket flashlight. You really don’t know what you’re missing until you can’t see anything at all.
- PB: Small towels for whatever. Band-aids.
- AS: A folding chair so you’re guaranteed a comfortable place to sit even when the ground gets muddy. Something light and easy to pack.
- AS: A hat. Handy for any kind of weather, rain or shine.
- MT: Factor in the fact that unless that you’re staying near the festival entrance, you’ll gonna need at least one bar of energy to walk back to your bed/futon/sleeping bag. Alternatively, you could just pass out the Palace of Wonder.
- ES: If you do decide to choose rain boots over other forms of footwear (the perennial Fuji Rock conundrum), slip some comfy sole supports into the bottom of them. After standing for much of the day, your feet will certainly thank you for them.
- PB: Heineken is the official beer vendor, but it’s worth waiting until you get to the Field of Heaven or further for a brew, since they have some craft beer stands out that way. Also, in the World Food Court there are British beers.