Fuji Rock 2006

Fujirock 2006

Kaiser Chiefs


DATE : 28th July, 2006 (Fri)
PHOTOGRAPHER : Masanori Naruse / Yasuyuki Kasagi / uchuutaishi star
TEXT : Matt Cotterill (HigherFrequency)

Cooper Temple Clause, Green Stage, 14:20
The once mighty post-hardcore kings from Reading, dubious haircuts threatening an ill advised comeback, kicked off an afternoon that couldn't decide whether to rain or not. This was their first foray into Japan minus bassist Didz Hammond, whose defection the band went to great lengths to downplay, and who, in a questionable scheduling twist, would be joining Carl Barat's post-Libertines endeavour Dirty Pretty Things on the same stage a couple of hours later. After some gritty vocal meandering through earlier albums "See This Through and Leave" and "Kick up the Fire, and Let the Flames Break Loose", cowboy-boot-brandishing frontman Benedict Gautry saw fit to reward the crowd's faintly curious gait with the bold admission that Fuji was his "favourite festival in the world". This heralded the arrival of the new stuff - from their unreleased third album "Make This Your Own", a fizzy guitar-driven track called "Damage" dished out enough rock to rock the crowd. Cooper Temple fans at Fuji all seem to dance with three fingers in the air. Why? They wrap up with "Panzer Attack".


The Music
The Music

Franz Ferdinand, Green Stage, 21:30
Perennial Glaswegian showmen Franz Ferdinand have braved the mercurial waters of public vicissitude to become, consciously or not, bona fide rock stars. Two years ago a wide-eyed Alex Kapranos led the band to their first afternoon slot at FRF and seemed to damn near keel over at the heaving enthusiasm that greeted "Take Me Out". No such stupefaction this time - Franz Ferdinand have got BIG. Gone are the finical ties and pristine haircuts, nods to the indie-mod tradition, in are the garish silk shirts and flowing locks. Out with the mod-style synchronized guitar swaying, in with the tried and tested stage shenanigans - old-school kicks, leaps, rock swagger and textbook bravado - a gusto that affirms the Ferdinands have finally capitulated to the rock star DNA. Nowhere was this more apparent than in the saccharine showmanship during "The Fallen", when (not for the first time, a weary Higher Frequency notes) the band launch into self congratulatory, back-patting intros. At least we learn one of the session musicians has become a dad, as Alex fumbles through the alliteration: "the first father of Franz Ferdinand. That's a lot of Fs!" The highlights were the predictable crowd favourites - "Do you Want To", "Jacqueline" and "Take Me Out" - performances that carried enough energy to fire a light reactor. Get through the theatrics and it's undeniable that these boys are truly on top of their game - no other headlining act (and a paltry few others) of the weekend commanded, compelled and cajoled the crowd with anywhere near the flare, furor and frenzy of Ferdinand. That's a lot of Fs.

Fuji Rock 2006
Fuji Rock

Madness, White Stage, 22:20
Welcome to one of the treats of the weekend - a twenty-year hiatus from Japan for the ska/pop nutty-boy outfit from new wave-era London, celebrating their thirtieth birthday this year. Madness headline the White Stage to a crowd whose infectious zeal belies the reality that most of them would barely have had rattles to throw out of prams last time the band was here. If last year's get-beered-up-before-you-play-and-crack-groaning-gags-onstage award could be claimed by New Order's Bernard Sumner, then avuncular, irreverent frontman Graham McPherson (Suggs) would be a contender this time. After a belting opening with the addictive "One Step Beyond" and a romp through the classics "Baggy Trousers" and "House of Fun", Suggs lets leash on the comedy valves. "This one's for Franz Ferdinand, coz they're lovely, lovely guys!" he quips before launching into the ska-heavy hybrid "It Must be Love". It's a long and venerated Fuji tradition for the crowd not to have the faintest what's being said, but an unfazed Suggs perseveres with an untrammeled bout of lyrical improvising: "bless the bees and the birds... especially the BIRDS!" After a vaguely endearing gimmick of getting the kids to work the crowd for the encore, they're back on with "Night Boat to Cairo", and the crowd's finally all at it - the Madness walk, immortalized in a toothpaste telly ad somewhere in the eighties. Around the same time they recorded the soundtrack for a car ad in Japan (apparently), which made the final encore. They hadn't played it in two decades, prompting Suggs to ruminate, in his distinctive Cockney twang, "Did they even make the car? I don't fucking know!" An eminently beguiling performance - pure Maaaaydness!

Tiga, All Night Fuji, Orange Court, 00:00
A new walkway has decongested the human traffic between the Green and White stages, but you're still slogging it out like a convoy of Naeba refugees to get to the Orange Court. Record crowds and two paltry bars - well done, Smash, most of the Orange Court experience, where the weekend's generic cluttering is typically at its most energetic, is spent queueing. Some hours earlier a disgruntled and sodden Higher Frequency was stranded in the rain, feet way from a dry press room, missing some serious rocking on the Green Stage, waiting for an interview with Canadian DJ and baseball cap-toting Tiga that, three time changes later, didn't happen. Coupled with recent announcements of European gig cancellations on his website, it was a surprise he showed up at all. The set opened under an uncharacteristically minimal sound that just seemed to lurk above the stage, frowning and not going anywhere fast. It wasn't until layers of electro began filtering in that the set started to come into its own. For many the electroclash movement is a beleaguered and exhausted affair, cowering in some of the lesser corners of clubland, but Tiga's debut artist offering "Sexor" is an indubitable celebration of the genre, liberally slathered with the presence of 2manyDJs/Soulwax's David Dewaele, who helped produce it. The crowd response to "You Gonna Want Me", featuring vocals from Scissor Sisters' Jake Shears, proved they got something right on the project. Other gems from the set were the electro synth-layered "3 Weeks", the bombastic "Louder than a Bomb", and a heavily remixed Royksopp track - the hauntingly vocal-driven "What Else is There?"

Fuji Rock
Fuji Rock

Coburn, All Night Fuji, Orange Court, 02:40
After more or less an hour of audio torture courtesy of the Discotwins (one word - Nirvana), UK duo Tim Healey and Pete Martin, who make up Coburn, can boast the weekend's unenviable accolade of 'act most welcomed onstage because the preceding one was so egregiously crap'. Tim has described Coburn's music as "dirty-ass electro-house, beats, breaks and booties", and it's a brand that has earned them acclaim from the sublime (Carl Cox, Pete Tong, Mylo) to the ridiculous (Paris Hilton, who spat her dummy at one of her parties when Tim refused to play Madonna). Their set was a perfect pitch for the Orange Court, reeling around pulsing electro and edgy rock, finding its depth charge in the duo's electro groove-loop handiwork "Give Me Love", the centrepiece to their recent "Addict" mix, and a rendition of The Soup Dragons' "I'm Free".

Damian Lazarus, All Night Fuji, Orange Court, 03:40
He's a safe bet is our Damian. DJ Mag once described him as playing the best underground tracks in the world, and he has long been recognized as walking that razor-thin line between underground and appeal. Not a bad way to see in Saturday morning at Naeba at all, then. Deep and gentle electro grooves with spikes of techno provided soundscapes whose contours blended perfectly with the steady onset of morning in the mountains. At times more minimal and you'd need a microscope, any deeper and you'd be subterranean, but he held the crowd throughout with his dark and edgy grooves. A notable appearance of X-press 2's "Kill 100", all rounded off with Damian throwing some promo mixes into the crowd, which a wilting Higher Frequency made a half-arsed attempt to grab, but was honestly too tired.

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