HigterFrequency PARTY REPORT

JAPANESE PARTY REPORT

FUJI ROCK FESTIVAL 2005

FUJI ROCK FESTIVAL 2005 REPORT / DAY 03

DATE : 31st July, 2005 (Sun)
PHOTOGRAPHER : Daishi Uchu / Masanori Naruse
TEXT : Matt Cotterill


Royksopp, Red Marquee, 18:20
Nearly three days of constant drizzle, some impressive thunderstorms and thousands of stomping feet had turned the mountains into a mudbath. So imagine the sense of dislocated irony we felt when, returning from a brief jaunt with The Doves on the White Stage, we catch the Beach Boys on the Green Stage; those aging rock-surfers of yesteryear, crooning their inimitable sun-soaked California anthems while we stood knee-deep in mud up a mountain in Naeba. The best thing was the crowd loved it. We were on our way to see Norwegian duo Torbjörn Brundtland and Svein Berge, better known as Royksopp, where we and a brimming Red Marquee were soaked in their irresistibly hypnotic, vocally radiant, electronica inspired grooves. Taken largely from their latest offering "The Understanding", their delicately surreal soundscapes had an almost transcendent quality that was so beautifully rendered no two people were dancing in quite the same way, and we caught ourselves moving in ways we never thought possible— or, for that matter, normal, but hey, it's a festival. Jessie Banks from Chungking had rejoined them to provide the vocals on "Sparks" and the haunting, mesmerizing "What Else is There?", and the old favourite "Poor Leno" made a much appreciated appearance.

FUJI ROCK FESTIVAL 2005

New Order, Green Stage, 21:30
You have to love New Order. They're your best mates and legends at the same time. What other band in history can survive the death of a genius, bask in immense popularity in four different decades, survive run-ins with nazi thugs, create the biggest-selling 12-inch single of all time ("Blue Monday") yet make no money from it, and still get away with lyrical casualties like "I just want some action, give me satisfaction"? Or perhaps the unforgettable "I'm applauded, then forgotten, It was summer, now it's autumn", a gem from "Crystal", which opened a set that most of us had waited the whole weekend (and some of us our whole lives) to see. Irreverent frontman Bernard Sumner provided some of the best cracks of the weekend. While there should probably be a law against overpaid artists being whisked from dressing rooms onto dry stages to bellow to a weather-beaten, rain-soaked crowd that's paying them, "C'mon it's a festival! We don't care about the rain!" (and there'd been plenty of that this weekend), Sumner had all the sarcasm sewn up: "I know what it's like at festivals, when it's been raining, you're cold and soaked through, and there's only your tent to go back to... Yea, I know festivals, I've got a friend who goes to them".

FUJI ROCK FESTIVAL 2005

FUJI ROCK FESTIVAL 2005

After "Crystal" they play "Regret", and the smoke machine on the stage goes into overdrive, the band is temporarily engulfed and invisible. Cue Sumner: "Whoever's cooking burgers in the deep fat fryer, turn it off please, it's making me sick... I've already been sick once today!" While it was hardly MacGowan territory, we suspect Mr. Sumner had been at the ales that afternoon. Now, even the most ardent New Order fan would have bristled at the inclusion of the Japanese version of "Krafty" on their latest album. Taking the tortured 'arrigato's' to new heights, the band launch unashamedly into an anguished karaoke-esque version of the song, with Japanese characters on the bottom of the giant screens for the teeming masses to sing along to. Not that many people bothered, but it was a funny gesture. "How was my Japanese?" quipped Bernard at the end, "Yea, shit means bad, bad means good!" These boys were having almost as much fun as we were. The set had a firm foot in the retro camp, with only two songs from their new album (the other was the album's title song "Waiting for the Siren's Call", which Bernard described as one of his personal favourites). We were treated to a heavy dose of the classics— "Bizarre Love Triangle", "True Faith", and the encore "Blue Monday"; and when you think how many times they must have played it, it took some genius to make it sound that fresh. Three Joy Division songs— "Transmissions", which they dedicated to Ian Curtis, a man still very much alive in the hearts of this band, "Love Will Tear Us Apart", which sent us into orbit, and "She's Lost Control", before which Peter Hook bellowed into the mike, "I dedicate this to Mani over there, just so I can show him how fucking useless he really is!" While Friday's Chris Martin/David Grohl spat dripped with high-brow ambiguity, this was pure rock! He spent most of the rest of the set down in the trenches by the mosh pit. They played with a passion and devotion that can only be borne from their turbulent and vital history, and with every strum of the guitars the ghost of Curtis was ever present. Break New Order down you get mediocrity (the playing's so-so, the singing's bordering on bad, the song-writing's uncomplicated). Put them together and you get magic, something we couldn't get enough of that Sunday night.

FUJI ROCK FESTIVAL 2005

Primal Scream, Green Stage, 23:30
It was now down to Primal Scream to do what what was becoming an increasingly unenviable task of rocking the unrockable—the last gig on the main stage, some class acts to follow, three drenched days, a swamp for a field, and a crowd that had taken on the gait of a wounded puppy. Primal Scream are big enough to do this but it just might be possible that Bobby Gillespie is lacking in the patience department. They opened with something called "Country Girl" to a lacklustre feedback from an audience craving some classics. Primal Scream have always oscillated wildly between acid house, tech-rock, and gritty rock n roll, but they sound best when they throw it all into the mix. Their newer material (one as yet unnamed song called "Suicide Sally", "Johnny Guitar", or "Final Solution", take your pick), was failing to jolt the crowd. The set started working when they pulled together their edgy electro/techno influenced rock sounds, encapsulated in the spectacular "Kowalski" from the 1997 album "Vanishing Point". That, the lighting engineers finally doing their jobs properly, and a couple of other scorchers like "Burning Wheel" and the maddeningly frantic "Swastika Eyes", which Gillespie aptly renamed "American Eyes", and things started to pick up. The timeless "Movin' On Up" from "Screamadelica", an album that still has the power to blow minds, was dedicated to Peter Hook, and it had just enough shock therapy to get a buzz from the crowd. Not enough, it would seem, for Mr. Gillespie, who was not having the best of nights. "You want an encore? Well, you're going to fucking get one anyway", and in full rock overdrive a "fuck you very much!" and an exit. The encore saw a portly J. Mascis from 80s grunge pioneers Dinosaur Jr. join them for a rendition of the Iggy Pop classic "No Fun", which apparently no one had rehearsed. "No Fun? You wanna do No Fun?" barked an irritable Gillespie, while we were left wondering if that title was just a bit too fitting. Not that it mattered; we had fun, even if they didn't.

FUJI ROCK FESTIVAL 2005

FUJI ROCK FESTIVAL 2005
FUJI ROCK FESTIVAL 2005

Mylo, Red Marquee, 01:00
Isle of Skye-bred Myles MacInnes a.k.a Mylo delivered a refreshing and richly layered electro set into the early hours. His style was characterized by sparky electro, groovy, lumbering bass lines and crisp breaks that kept our muddy feet somehow moving, but that might have been because we were back on dry land. His down tempo electronica owes something to Air and Royksopp, but there is a unique flavour to his computer generated sound that has earned him huge acclaim of late, and tonight it was obvious why— you can tell this guy enjoys himself in the studio. His addictive, bouncy "Drop the Pressure" made us drop our pints and leg it indoors for a swift dance before it was all over.

FUJI ROCK FESTIVAL 2005

FUJI ROCK FESTIVAL 2005

Peter Hook, Red Marquee, 02:00
Well, how about this then? You have an image of Hooky brandishing his bass, legs akimbo, sweating like a beast; that you can handle. But Hooky behind the decks? This we had to see. It was very party. It was definitely clubby. It started mellow, even ambient, then ended hard and housey. And why not? His band had given us the biggest treat of the weekend, at this point he'd get away with anything, even Nirvana. Mercifully that didn't happen; what did happen is Hooky managed to rock the Red Marquee to its feet with his brand of hard vocal house. This was where Fuji Rock 2005 began to play out, as the rain clouds cleared and the crowd squeezed every last bit of rock they could out of Japan's unique and pre-eminent musical event. In an age where for many the click of a mouse button has sterilized the listening experience, the gathering of live acts has taken on a more urgent meaning, and the grassroots connection between music and audience has become ever more vital. There is unlikely to be a soul here who will not want to celebrate Fuji Rock's tenth birthday and beyond. We came, we saw, we are still nursing our wounds from all the rocking.

FUJI ROCK FESTIVAL 2005
FUJI ROCK FESTIVAL 2005 FUJI ROCK FESTIVAL 2005

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