People in Japan have the luxury of living in the world’s second-largest music market. This means artists cater to customers in the form of a surfeit of concerts and festivals that run the gamut of musical tastes from rock to electronic to jazz to classical and world music. Music festival culture really took off here in the late ’90s with the birth of Fuji Rock and has meshed nicely with Japan’s traditional summer festival scene — adding another facet to the ancient-modern dynamic that keeps the nation so intriguing.
Fuji Rock Festival
After last year’s bill topped by guitar rockers the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Beck and co., this year’s 22nd Fuji Rock Festival takes a more progressive turn. The opening Friday of the three-day summer music festival event at Naeba Ski Resort sees Damon Albarn’s virtual act Gorillaz headlining the main Green Stage. Promoter Smash’s Johnnie Fingers says lining them up was something of a coup. “Though they have a new album [Humanz],” he notes, “they hadn’t planned to do festivals this year, so we’re very happy. Their appearance at Fuji Rock will be the only festival they play this year.”
Two more main acts also chose Fuji Rock for some of their only festival appearances of 2017, a sign of the event’s key position in the world’s second-largest music market. “We were pleased Bjork agreed as she will only play two festivals this year, Fuji Rock being one,” Fingers adds. “Aphex Twin will also only do a few shows this year and there is a lot of interest as to what kind of show he’ll do.” In a show of his enduring legend in Japan, the British electronic music innovator tops the bill ahead of LCD Soundsystem, something you would be unlikely to see in another country.
Acts making a welcome return include Kiwi songstress Lorde, Irish rockers The Strypes and drama-filled English outfit The XX, while anticipation is building for appearances by eclectic American DJ Diplo’s Major Lazer, South London singer-songwriter Sampha, Irish electronic music producer Eden, ironic indie rocker Father Misty and crossover country artist Sturgill Simpson.
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