Photo by Keiko Hirakawa
I was worried I might have overdone it on the rock front this festival – perhaps I should have requested something totally different to balance out the guitar-heavy reviews I’d be writing (Sophie’s “latex pop” perhaps?) As it turned out, I had a fantastic mix of bands to see and review. Noteable mentions should go out to Jump With Joey for a super set at Field of Heaven, Bo Ningen for the best start to a Sunday morning ever (and for having amazing hair) and to Rookie Stage band Hero Complex who lit up Sunday night when I was about ready to drop.
It’s tough to pick a Top 5, but I think the following bands I covered made my weekend all the more special.
I’ve been on the fence about Babymetal for a while now, but I was mightily impressed with their Fuji Rock set. They’re performance is polished, the Kami band are awesome and the fans are, unsurprisingly, rabid. The band were so popular a draw that the White Stage was seriously overcrowded and foot traffic into the arena came to a standstill way before the band even hit the stage. Highly entertaining stuff.
4) Sigur Ros
Another band I’ve often had trouble with is Sigur Ros, though for totally different reasons. Whilst a friend described them to me as relaxing and bit like whale song, I find Jonsi’s falsetto gobbledigook tends to get me right in the feels and not always in a good way. Despite owning their albums, their 90-minute show on Friday night is the longest sustained length of time I’ve listened to them and it was just at times quite a moving show. The light show was amazing, the music simultaneously sparse and expansive – an immersive and unique experience.
Report: Sigur Ros
A rare thing it is so see full-on black metal screaming at Fuji Rock, but Deafheaven brought their brand of darkly textured post-rock to the White Stage, mystifing some and entrancing others. There were plenty of people in Envy t-shirts hanging round for this set, which gives you some idea of who they appeal to.
2) Explosions In The Sky
A gorgeous thing this was – atmospheric smoke and lighting almost entirely removing the band from the picture, and these multi-faceted soundscapes wafting in undulations of complex noise and subtle and layered lulls. If you ever need a soundtrack to write to, these are the gentlemen to oblige you.
Report: Explosions In The Sky
1) Con Brio
Totally at odds with the the rest of my selection, but utterly deserving of the top spot, are this fabulous San Francisco band. I had my eye on Con Brio before Fuji Rock thanks to them appearing on a Spotify playlist, so I was stoked to find out they’d be playing three times during the festival. Their opening set at the Red Marquee I heard but couldn’t see (the perils of being short); the 1:30am set at Crystal Palace was apparently off the hook (synth-solo mosh pits?) but I was half dead with exhaustion, and their afternoon show at Field of Heaven caused me to forsake my job of note-taking and get down with my bad self at the front of the show – yeah, that person in a STAFF t-shirt grooving awkwardly? That was me. Even better, the band will be returning to Japan in November to play Shibuya Duo Exchange. Expect to see me there in my finest civilian dancing gear.
Report: Con Brio