August 15, 2017
Fuji Rock 21
By Adam Garwood
2017 marked the 21st installment of the famous Japanese music festival Fuji Rock (FR). The impressive lineup of bands featured the Gorillaz, Aphex Twin, Bjork, Lorde, Queens of the Stone Age, Major Lazer, the XX and LCD Sound system. The name Fuji Rock may mislead music fans that have never attended this mammoth festival into perceiving it as a strictly rock-themed event. But with 125,000 attendees and 200 bands performing at stages spread throughout the forest, virtually every musical genre is represented. This all-inclusive selection renders the daylight portion of the event all-ages. When the sun goes down, however, some of the performances can get quite adult.
The large geographical magnet of the self-professed cleanest music festival appears to be growing as more nationalities were present to experience this magic. Foreigners who have come to Japan for the purpose of experiencing FR for the first time were genuinely impressed with the patience and respect that Japanese people are known for. When the human traffic becomes congested the crowds remain calm and collected. The cooperation of the local community and businesses contribute to the thriving success of the festival.
Recent FR manifestations were blessed with beautiful weather, persuading fest-goers that sunny weather may be in the forecast again this year. No dice; the relentless downpour of rain challenged the wits of the poor souls who decided to tempt nature by camping on the hill side of this otherwise gorgeous resort. My tent was transformed into a swimming pool, submerging all of my belongings underwater. Though my sleeping arrangements were thwarted, this didn’t stop me or anyone else from enjoying breath-taking live performances by some of the most gifted musicians in the world.
The XX returned for a 3rd session and were noticeably excited, performing to a full capacity audience on the Green Stage. The rain seemed to complement, and even collaborate with, Aphex Twin, aka Richard D. James. The timing of the downpour with the music and refracting laser beams intensified the edgy orchestration. Unique and oversized visuals are an integral part of the live music experience, especially for the more electronic instrumentation. The sheer size of the stages and energy of the music is one factor that attracts people enough to brave the elements and make the journey continuously year after year. Smartphone recordings of this simply do not represent what it is like to actually be there.
Regardless of the challenges that the rain brought there is simply no damping the spirits of the Fuji Rockers. Already looking forward to see who will perform in 2018.