By Bill Lawson
“For those about to rock we salute you!” There are no better words to describe my feelings about the Fuji Rock Festival. Let’s be honest here; going to this festival is a true testament to your love of rock. The three-day ticket costs 40,000 yen, the Shinkansen costs another 40,000 yen, and then all the food, drink and swag you buy at the concert is going to cost you as well. Of course, you clever people will have figured out that there are cheaper ways to get around Japan, but I couldn’t go with the clever option. I had a workshop the day before and made the last train out of Fukuyama. I was off and ready to rock out with my wallet out!
Day One – Friday
I get to the venue about 1:30 am, then eat and set up my tent. Get about 4 hours sleep and meet my friend Rory. Tip #1: When meeting people leave cell phone on! We see our first band; I’ll call them Kanji Orchestra. They have a crazy show with dancers and nakedness that totally matches their cool sound. Then we go to the “Stoned Circle” (insert your funny laugh now) to play drums and see what’s going on at the other end of this huge venue. This changes the course of events for Rory and I. Our Fuji Rock experience becomes very different from everyone else’s once a group of cavemen, or cave people, comes by. No matter what the proper term is these days for cavemen; these things grab Rory and he becomes an instant member of their group. I at once take the role of Jane Goodall. But our good friend Jane was not at a rock concert and I am. So, after some time taking photos and laughing, I go to see Kings of Leon, Muse and Fountains of Wayne. All three put on a great set and I’m enjoying Rocking Fuji. But what about Rory? I’ll explain as best I can. He and the cavemen are walking around with a big rock, bringing a bit of prehistoric fun to a concert full of people from the year 2007.
I meet up with Rory after he evolves again and we go to see Hifana. Hifana is a two man Japanese DJ group that mixes music and video to create a wicked cool show. After getting into the vibe set by Hifana, we dance the night away listening to various DJs until about 5am.
Day Two – Saturday
I hit up the onsen after waiting in line for an hour. Tip #2: Hot water feels better than cold water. Then, we hit up the Dragandola ropeway to listen to the Dexpistols and keep the dancing vibe going strong. It’s raining a little at this point, but the weather in general was great for the first time ever at Fuji Rock. Very little rain until Monday when it was over! Let’s not get there too fast, though. Rory de-evolves and joins the cavemen. I have bands I need to see today, the main one being Less Than Jake, who I’ve seen tons of times before and want to watch rocking out Japan. They live up to my expectations by getting a huge circle pit going around the sound stage. The band claims it’s the biggest one they’ve ever seen, so we must believe them! They also say later that this was the cleanest festival in the world; now this is very believable and very true. Go Japan!
After resting from mosh pitting activities, I go to chill out with G. Love & Special Sauce: apparently a very popular group in Japan, if the wall-to-wall people sweating in the covered stage are anything to go by. Rory evolves in time to see the Beastie Boys; in my opinion the best show of Fuji Rock! That night we hang out with the evolved cavemen and enjoy some music at the “Rookie a Go-Go” stage, where Kingdom Afrocks put on a pretty good show. One of the members plays the keyboard with her feet as well as her hands!
Day Three – Sunday
I wake up after another few hours sleep. This may be the reason I decide that it will be a great idea finally to join Rory and the others. Yes, I will de-evolve and get down to the basics of what Fuji is all about… Rock! Yelling the word ROCK!”, and running around entertaining people. That makes it sound a lot less crazy than it turns out to be! But really, having a blast with the concert-goers while dressed as a caveman is better than seeing any of the bands on Sunday. No offense to them; I’m just saying that I can see them again. Being a caveman is a once in a lifetime opportunity! That being said, I do get to see The Shins and The Chemical Brothers while dressed as a caveman.
So, go to Fuji Rock, because you never know what can happen. I even met some non-cave people from Wales and Australia! There is so much going on each day that you end up sleep deprived, but you still have the energy to get up and want more! The music, food, and people all make Fuji Rock worth every yen I spent and my experience, which was truly unique, will be with me forever.