Jonathan’s best of the Fest
© Photo by fujirockers.org© Text by Jonathan Cooper
Posted on 2018.8.1 23:22
It was a heck of a weekend, folks. We managed to survive the typhoon, the heat and the fun. This year’s Fuji Rock had a lot of gems if one was willing to dig to find them, and it left me with a lot of record shopping to do. With no further ado, and no particular order, these are the acts that most impressed me this year.
I have been a fan of Marc Ribot’s for a long time, and it was one of the sets I was looking forward to the most prior to the big event. And boy was I impressed. Even going in with high expectations I was still blown away at how raw and powerful the set was, and how artistically unique. It felt like watching a man with the experience to know when things have become absurd run wild with surreal anger and impotent rage. More than simply his amazing guitar talents, the show was grounded by Marc’s words, occasionally sung but more often taking the form of spoken word. It is hard to put into words what the set felt like to me, but emotionally it was akin to Rage Against the Machine with a lot more experience and wisdom. And in a way the wisdom to accept that sometimes the whole thing is just messed up and it is hard to say what there is to do about it. Powerful stuff.
CHAI was an amazing way to close out the weekend, and it gave me renewed faith that sometimes little, interesting Japanese acts can blow up and not sell out. Fundamentally they have lost nothing of their artistry as their star has risen, and they seem like a band that will not compromise it in the long run either. Fun, funky, funny, political, cheeky and fresh. Not many bands can manage to roll all those adjectives into one set.
The Daidogei Set
I’ll admit up front that I have a soft spot for these clowns, specifically buskers like EPPAI, Masato Moja and Kano Mami. While Fuji Rock does have a lot to distract you between acts, most of them are basically things to eat, buy or see. The street performers who played around the fest, often around the Oasis, gave the event a nice sense of unpredictability and fun. They were performers who were accessible in a way main stage acts are not, and they certainly could whimsy-up what could have otherwise been a slow 30 minutes.
I’m sorry, but this is the kind of thing I am a sucker for. Karma Bar had a selection of band pun drinks, which were cheap and generally quite tasty. Allow me to indulge in a sub-list of best band-pun drinks of the fest …
1. Orandrink Lamar
I was surprised by how good this orange, cranberry and rum drink was. It managed to deliver all the punch I expected it to, but I was still surprised by its balance and confidence.
This yogurt liqueur, coconut rum and Red Bull concoction turned me off conceptually. But when I actually relaxed and gave it a chance I found that, while not my favorite drink of all time, it was much better than I expected it to be.
3. And Sour Club
This drink, whose name comes from the Osaka band And Summer Club, was in many ways just a sour mixed drink, something I have had many times before. But there was a little something extra in there that set it apart from the crowd without going so far as to blow my mind.
4. Like a Jamestone
Jameson, ginger ale and lemon. Old familiars. But when mixed by a seasoned veteran the result was something familiar but slightly updated and refreshing, like an old highball that found a little bit of a new groove for itself.
5. Rumpine Weekend
Too strong on the pineapple, with a little bit of sickliness about it. While there was fundamentally nothing wrong with this drink, it left a little bit of a bad taste in my mouth. The kind of cocktail I wouldn’t turn down in a pinch, but definitely not my first pick if pick I could.