Needless to say, 2020 was a pretty horrible year for live music in Japan, shows big and small either had to make major alterations or just cancel altogether in order to help fight the spread of COVID-19. However, this situation can only continue for so long before the organizers reach a breaking point.
For example, after foregoing last year’s live event, this year the large-scale summer music event Fuji Rock Festival ’21 at Naeba Ski Resort in Niigata Prefecture declared that the show must go on, despite rapidly rising infection rates in the country.
Major headliners Radwimps and King Gnu, will appear in the three day festival along with an eclectic line-up of artists. Interestingly, scandal-ridden artist Cornelius has withdrawn and will also be replaced on guitar with the band Metafive, and yet previously scandal-ridden artist Pierre Taki will take the stage this year with Denki Groove.
One big name that organizers definitely do not want to appear, however, is COVID-19, so they’re taking a rather unique approach at prevention and will deliver a free antigen testing kit to any and all ticket holders who request one.
On Aug 6, emails reached people who had purchased tickets informing them how to order the test kits which will arrive by Aug 17, three days before Fuji Rock kicks off. In 2019 there were 130,000 audience members, but this year it was announced that admission was limited to allow for social distancing in the outdoor venue, so it’s not clear how many tests that would amount to.
▼ Space is one thing the Naeba venue has going for it.
Everyone is asked to test themselves prior to going to the event, and if a positive test is found then they should stay home and get a full refund for their ticket. Actually, even if a healthy ticket holder gets cold feet and just doesn’t want to go, Fuji Rock will also give them a full refund.
Negative tests aren’t required for entry, but temperatures will be taken at the gate and anyone over 37.5℃, regardless of the reason, will not be allowed in. A full list of rules and safeguards can be seen in Japanese, Chinese, and English on the official Fuji Rock Festival website.
Many who got their emails took to Twitter to express their appreciation to the organizers Smash for showing so much consideration and leeway to ticket holders in these uncertain times. However, some are still uneasy that it will all work out in the end.
“I hope everyone knows to take the test right before they go and not too early.”
“The results aren’t binding though, so I don’t think I’ll go this year. The risk still seems high.”
“They’ll give a refund even if you already got your wristband!”
“Fuji Rock is amazing. It doesn’t look like they’ll make much profit this year, but they seem to be doing their best.”
“I hope everyone knows Fuji Rock is taking these precautions, because it might otherwise seem like they’re just being reckless.”
“I’m impressed with how thoughtful the organizers are being.”
“I got an email offering a free antigen test. They are really serious about holding the event!”
“I applied for a test, but I still don’t know if I’m going to go or not.”
Time will tell if it’s effective, but it is an interesting tactic. Had Smash just requested everyone get tested, 99.9 percent would probably just assume they don’t need it and not bother. But when the test is sitting in the house, there is little excuse not to do it. On top of that, handing a positive result to oneself right before the show adds more gravity to the situation, making people less likely to attend in spite of it.
To sweeten the deal of staying home, Smash is also going to livestream some of the performances on the Fuji Rock Festival’s official YouTube channel. This means that even if you’re not in Japan you can check out the show from the safety and comfort of you own home.
There’s even time to make your own Fuji Rock Anywhere kit to enhance the home experience even more!
Source: J-Cast News, Fuji Rock Festival ’21
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