How come nobody told us about this tropical storm? Though the Fuji Faithful know to expect some rain over the weekend, The relentless deluge that started dropping water bombs on the festival in the late afternoon was exceptional in both its intensity and duration.
There are few places to seek shelter from the elements at the festival, and, naturally, they were all stuffed with soggy punters: the Red Marquee and the Blue DJ tent at the west end; the Orange Court eating areas at the east end. Stuck out on the east end when it really started coming down, we decided to forego George Porter Jr. and American Football and hid out at the Cafe de Paris, where a DJ was spinning deep classic rock and folk-country album cuts. When he put on “I Shall Be Released” we wondered if we’d ever get out of the makeshift cafe, whose floor boards were erupting with geysers even inside the tent. At least they had alcohol.
Rather than risk another drenching we skipped over the puddles to a little makeshift eatery near the back entrance to our hotel, a place called Don’s Cafe (Don is apparently a dog; you can buy T-shirts and coasters with his panting mug), which was packed. The only food they had left at that hour was soup and pickles, but they really hit the spot. Don’s also had entertainment: a very bad Japanese comedian riffing in English; a very good Japanese country band featuring shakuhachi and a repertoire that included a Japanese-language version of Talking Heads’ “Heaven”; and a sui generis female singer sporting a white wig and accompanied by a single guitarist (very good) and some old guy shouting encouragement and adding percussion. There was even a little boy who seemed familiar with the act. She sang as if this was her big chance at stardom, here on the margins of Fuji Rock at Don’t Cafe with the rain pouring down outside. Sounds like something from a movie.