HigterFrequency PARTY REPORT

JAPANESE PARTY REPORT

FUJI ROCK FESTIVAL 2005

FUJI ROCK FESTIVAL 2005 REPORT / DAY 02

DATE : 30th July, 2005 (Sat)
PHOTOGRAPHER : Masanori Naruse
TEXT : Matt Cotterill



Asian Dub Foundation, Green Stage, 17:30
It wouldn't be a festival without the pacifist dimension, and who better to deliver than ADF, who one decade ago, while most of the music industry was flapping like a giant girl's blouse over something called Britpop, exploded into recognition as guardians of the cross-cultural, angered street poetry of dissent. Their last album "Tank" was a powerhouse of anti-war/anti-Bush rhetoric, and many of these salient political polemics were brought to Naeba this Saturday afternoon, accompanied by their trademark drum n bass, Bangra charged rap meets Jamaican dub, and Chandrasonic's scorching guitar work. The crowd was well and truly rocked into the furious, angular raps of Spex and Lord bouncing off MC Ghetto Priest's Rastafarian tones, a man who sings as much with his face as his voice. And if the message was hitting any language barriers, Spex had the perfect retort, when, before launching into "Flyover", the opening track on "Tank", he bellowed: "Dedicated to the world's No. 1 terrorist—Son of a Bush!" Cue the finger, cue the music! No arguments from us here at Naeba. Other recent belters were to follow—"Hope" and "Oil" from the new album, and "Fortress Europe" from "The Enemy of the Enemy". This was a more breakneck paced, harder, and maturer ADF than before. Recent collaborations with Chuck D. and the addition of Ghetto Priest on vocals form part of their ongoing commitment to bringing the injustices of our age to the spotlight, which they've been doing since forming in 1993 in the London-based organisation 'Community Music', a project that taught music to disadvantaged youth. The set was the weekend's antidote to apathy—brilliantly engaging and ethically focussed, and played with a fury few other acts would match.

FUJI ROCK FESTIVAL 2005

Beck, Green Stage, 19:20
Compile a list of ironically skewed onstage antics, and Beck will surely be high up there. True to form this Saturday evening, the audience was kept guessing where it would all go next with the emotionally ambivalent star, after a motley crew of percussionists filed out, one of them in the Bez tradition of maniacal shenanigans and onstage dancing (only this one was wearing skintight seventies tennis shorts and Adidas top). From the moment Beck opened with "Black Tambourine" from "Guero" the set had a distinctly percussive edge to it. The show was clearly appreciated by the crowd, who heartily rose to the occasion, causing Beck to quip, in typically ambiguous vocal timbre, "We're getting a sick amount of energy from you!" after "Devil's Haircut". If that was the case, the largest part was going to the resident 70s fashion disaster dancer/percussionist, who halfway through the set acquired a giant 80s style ghetto blaster and proceeded to leap around the stage with the energy of a spider-monkey on speed. Other onstage pranks included a Van Halen-esque fingertapping guitar solo from Beck, so unnecessary it was funny, and a 'banjo war' duel with the onstage dancer after "Sexx Laws", which, it turns out, they were simply miming to a recording.

But just when you were thinking the ironic lilt of the set was getting the better of the music, along came the show's comic coup de grace. While Beck takes centre stage for a solo of "Change Your Heart" on the acoustic guitar, the band gathers behind him and starts... well, setting a table. Then eating. Mild laughter begins shuffling round the audience as Beck leads into "End of the Day" from "Sea Change" - there is some comic genius in the juxtaposition of an artist singing the socks off one of his most poignant ballads while his band members sit at a table behind him stuffing their faces. But, classic Beck, don't assume anything. A steady rhythm begins to accompany the song, and as the audience starts to realize what's going on - the band are using the knives, forks, glasses and plates as a kind of impromptu percussion section-gasps of 'oohs' and 'ahs' abound, and it begins to sound more like a crowd watching a fireworks display than a rock band. The percussion gains in speed and complexity for the end of the song into a brilliantly rendered, technically dextrous piece of artistic wizardry. Wonderfully ironic, impressive rather than emotive, cerebral not visceral, this was nevertheless quintessential Beck, and not a gloomy face was to be seen.

FUJI ROCK FESTIVAL 2005

Cagedbaby, Red Marquee, 01:15
An 80's retro feel accompanied the set of Tom Gandey, founder of Cagedbaby, the Brighton based electronica tinged disco funk outfit who recently played Glastonbury. Everything from the Pet Shop Boys to T-Rex to Royksopp could be detected in this set, which pushed all the right buttons for the warmup for Vitalic and Laurent Garnier. The band's recent album "Cagedbaby Will See You Now" was released on Norman Cook's Southern Fried label, and is an exciting venture into the world of electronica funk. Though it has been said that the group's rhythmic loops, ambient grooves and subtle vocals are an acquired taste, not so for the audience at the Red Marquee these early hours—this remained an energetic yet ethereal set, with a warm and eager response. Tom told us in an after-gig interview he thought the crowd enjoyed it, but were suspiciously silent once they'd left stage. No need to feel daunted, we explained, it's a Fuji phenomenon, we don't really understand it either....

FUJI ROCK FESTIVAL 2005

Laurent Garnier, Red Marquee, 03:00
Up stepped French Hacienda legend Laurent Garnier to wrap the night up, and deliver a consummate closing set that worked its way through an electro tinged intro, a nod to where Vitalic had left off, into his trademark harder techno grooves, with a heavy dose of drum n bass licks to close. It is rare for a DJ of Garnier's calibre to fail to pump the crowd, and tonight he worked it just right-the set drew the perfect balance of hardness and edginess but held a distinctly disco feel. As dawn crept over the mountains we were treated to the only hour or two of sunshine for the entire weekend, and, for the second time, to (sigh) Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit". Perhaps by now we should grudgingly concede that, even for artists with the credentials of Garnier, festivals and DJ copouts go hand in hand...

FUJI ROCK FESTIVAL 2005

FUJI ROCK FESTIVAL 2005
FUJI ROCK FESTIVAL 2005

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