Fuji Rock Festival ’13 kicked off in the same vibrant, bright and respectful fashion that was so endearing at last year’s edition.
With the masses that come, queues for the initial hours of the festival are to be expected, and so we were caught up with various errands, and it wasn’t until mid-afternoon until we got to catch our first artist.
Local Natives started their performed in the only undercover space, the Red Marquee to a reasonable Japanese crowd. By the end of their set, the space was packed with masses of hands in the air and total appreciation. Wide Eyes, the album opener from their 2010 album, Gorilla Manor showcased the bands ability to put together some mesmerising four-way harmonies and to put on a brilliant live show. The mention of the word Japan in their song Airplanes received an almighty cheer as Local Natives wrapped the crowd around their little finger. The opening half of their set was very singles-heavy. While some bands might fade away as they work their way through album tracks, Local Natives managed to reimagine their songs and so they became as much of a live spectacle as their crowd favourites. Come the end of their set, Local Natives encouraged everyone to be in the Red Marquee come the end of the night to catch Tame Impala.
My Bloody Valentine were next up on the Green Stage – the main stage of Fuji Rock. Having witnessed them just once at an indoor sports center in Altona, seeing them in the Japanese mountains really could not have been a more different experience. Their walls of sound matched the surrounding mountain peaks and the slight fog that hung just above the stage’s roof. Their set, a mix between their early material and last year’s album, was met with the signature Japanese appreciation and cheer by the audience, many of which had brought their children to witness the recently reformed band.
A 10 minute walk through the tall Japanese forest leads you to the White Stage where Of Monsters and Men played to a full space. The crowd bopped and clapped along as the Icelandic outfit worked their way through the album which has gained them such international kudos. While Of Monsters and Men were playing Mountain Sound, the heavens opened up and it was a mad rush to put rain jackets on.
As the rain continued to pour, Gary Clarke Jr was playing on the fourth largest stage, in the Field of Dreams. The crowd enjoyed the American singer/guitarist’s brand of bluesy rock n roll. Playing many songs from his 2012 album, Blak and Blu, Gary Clark Jr and his band broke away from the recorded versions and jammed out continuously over their 40 minute set, constantly exchanging glances and smiles to indicate they were enjoying themselves, despite the now drenched audience.
A quick power walk back to the Red Marquee and it was time to watch the Australian banner boys for psych-rock, Tame Impala. Kevin Parker and co, despite their single heavy set, struggled a little bit to get the Japanese crowd going in the same fashion as Local Natives (although, they seemed to adore every moment). Between songs Kevin Parker said how grateful they were to be playing at Fuji Rock and it was probably the most beautiful festival they had played. This was met by cheer and one crowd member yelling out, “What about Meredith?”… Oh Australians. Highlights from the set included an extended version of Half Full Glass Of Wine, Elephant, Feels Like We Only Go Backwards and Apocalypse Dreams.
Nine Inch Nails were the headlining band for the Friday night and the cult favourites didn’t disappoint. While the weather was against them, Trent Reznor and Nine Inch Nails worked their way through a career spanning set of their industrial rock classics which had the Japanese fans ecstatic. Their stage presence and a mix of lasers, strobes, smoke machines, walls of lights and steam pouring out from the mosh pit made for incredible viewing. Closer was of course a crowd favourite, and it surprisingly featured quite early in their set.
Once the bands had finished, the rain continued to pour, and those wanting to kick on into the wee hours flocked to the Red Marquee where Death Grips and DJ Shadow were due to play. We unfortunately missed Death Grips as we were caught up in the crowd and rain, though DJ Shadow was very good. As the Californian DJ/producer made his way to his turntables, he mentioned coyly “Are you ready? By the way, no laptop”, before launching into an eclectic set of his current favourite tracks of all genres.