Facebook R&B crooner Mario has been relatively quiet on the music front for…
- Posted on Aug 2nd 2010 10:56AM by Charley Rogulewski
George Napolitano, Getty Images
Simply put, Fuji Rock is a trippier Bonnaroo. A 20-minute ride up the "Dragondola" -- a stomach-dropping gondola/rollercoaster hybrid over mountain tops and scenic river valleys -- lands you at a meadow-y summit amidst the clouds where people dressed up in giant animal costumes greet you with bear hugs. Back below, vending machines stocked with cigarettes, beer, green tea and electrolyte beverages round all corners, usually fully loaded. Yes, you read that correctly -- beer falls from vending machines everywhere. And despite the gray cloudy skies, the landscape lights up like a psychedelic kaleidoscope due to Japan's festival reveler's acute taste for outdoor fashion: bright colored raincoats, ornate trippy long underwear patterns and funkadelic footwear for battling the elements flank every festival reveler.
Despite the soggy weather -- so extreme its inaugural year that the festival was forced to relocate from its namesake spot at the base of Japan's tallest mountain, Mt. Fuji -- thousands flock to the Naeba Ski Resort, a 40-minute bullet train ride directly north of Tokyo, for the three-day festival each summer. (A one-day winter ski lift ticket, in case you are wondering, will cost you $60 USD). This year's lineup -- the 14th year of the festival -- included Fogerty, Muse, Air, Roxy Music, MGMT, Atoms for Peace, Massive Attack, the XX, !!!, Hot Chip, LCD Soundsystem, Broken Social Scene, Flogging Molly, Third Eye Blind, Dirty Projectors, Broken Bells, Moe., Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi Band, Foals, Boom Boom Satellite and Belle and Sebastian -- just to name a few. And those worn out by the booming music, binge partying and intense weather conditions could hit up two natural Japanese hot springs located at the bordering hotel for a nice relaxing dip.
For the most part, Fogerty's set was heavy on his Creedence Clearwater Revival hits -- fitting considering songs like 'Have You Ever Seen the Rain' and 'Who'll Stop the Rain.' There was a good 10-minute, three-man guitar shred session following 'Born on the Bayou' that people in the crowd went crazy for with audience members shrieking "Johnny!" Fogerty covered Roy Orbison's 'Oh, Pretty Woman,' brought out the cowbell for 'Bad Moon Rising' and even sampled his solo work playing the title track from his 1985 album 'Centerfield.' Proving that good old-fashioned rock 'n' roll can withstand all communication barriers Fogerty started off 'The Midnight Special''s lyrics -- "Well you wake up in the mornin' you hear the work bell rings/And they march you to the table to see the same old thing" -- like he was telling an old story from rock n roll's yesteryears.
Roxy Music, whose crew included Bryan Ferry's two own sons staying up until 8AM setting up projections for the glam rockers' set later that evening, sampled from throughout their decade-long discography. Incredible instrumentation from an electric violin, grand piano and saxophone switched songs from ambient jungle beats on 'While My Heart is Still Beating' to the twangier 'If There Is Something' off the band's 1972 eponymous debut. Despite not having released any new albums since 1982's 'Avalon,' Ferry and co sounded like they hadn't stopped playing together some 25 years ago, especially when they delivered their hit 'More Than This.' But by this time in Roxy Music's set the White Stage was on lock down as people gunned it for the MGMT gig.
The band's second trip to Japan and first Fuji Rock appearance made MGMT one of the most anticipated acts of the entire weekend. The crowd instantly sang along to the acoustic parts of the 'Pieces of What' opener and attempted to dance until their hearts exploded during 'Flash Delerium' as the lyric from the song suggests. When MGMT finally played 'Kids,' the rain came down on cue in buckets, but nobody really cared or noticed, an immunity that is trademark to Fuji Rock. The set's lesser known tunes like 'Destrokk' off their 2005 'Time to Pretend' EP and encore 'The Handshake' -- the latter complete with a Shamisen dub intro that made it sound like it was being played on the traditional Japanese instrument -- came off like surprising metal headbangers. Japan wasn't going to leave the band from having fun on stage and MGMT, while it might have been midnight somewhere else in the world, was proving that above all it was time to rock.