LIVE REPORT7/30 –（AFTER）
Dave’s Best of the Fest
Posted on 2018.8.2 17:51
A year of authentic arrivals
Who else but Fuji Rock would import an entire festival area from Glastonbury, complete with all its DJs, carnival folk, graffiti artists and other wildlings? Perhaps the most amazing thing this year for me were the unadulterated, non-globalized musics of traditions and scenes from across the globe and, in some cases, the distant past, including the Glastos and also the raw musical traditions of Cuba, Columbia and a really cool performance of 1000-year-old Japanese music, Gagaku. Below is a list of Festival Bests, in no particular order, because as Keith Richards once said, “It was all a bit of a blur, really.”
THE BEST #1: THE UNFAIRGROUND
This little slice of Glastonbury may as well have been teleported in to Naeba. It could have only been more authentic had they scooped out British soil and flown it over by helicopter with hooks. This stage made me happy just thinking about it, and after partying there on day one, I kept looking for time to return. It was a wild steampunk carnival imported piece by piece and performer by performer from London and Bristol, which was only possible because Glastonbury is not taking place this summer. At least a couple dozen performers and party people were flown in, while shipping containers brought giant metal sculptures, tents and even a graffiti covered shed that served as a bar. The music was breaks, grime, drum ‘n bass and dubstep. All quintessentially UK, as if an entire party was just teleported in to Naeba. Of special note, I really loved the dancing DJ twins from My Bad Sister, the Pyratrix Circus, and DJ sets from Jagz Kooner, but in reality there was so much more than that.
BEST BAND: FISHBONE
Sitting at a bar outside the festival gates, a long-time Fuji Rock regular who lives in Nagaoka said, “There are only two bands I want to see this weekend, Fishbone and Bob Dylan. Other than that, I’m just going to stay here and drink.” Fishbone, the original lineup nearly restored, proved once again why they were known as “the world’s best live band” a quarter century ago, kicking off the Lollapalooza generation of alternative music and laying down an era-defining funk-punk sound that was widely imitated but never really copied, because they are so truly original. Here at Fuji Rock, the songs, the emotion, and the wild sense of fun were still there. This band may now be on the cusp of “legend” status, but man, can they still drive a moshpit!
THE BEST #2: CUBANS AND COLOMBIANS
Interactivo, Cubana Fiesta, Roberto Carcasses Trio, Frente Cumbiero, Rancho Aparte — these groups from Cuba and Columbia played magical music that was truly from another world. Of course it was full of wonderful Afro-Latin rhythms. Possibly even more unique, it was the music of cafes, street parades and festivals and created in an era that preceded electronic amplification. At first it felt slow, compared to the fast tempo of nearly every other modern musical genre at the festival. But once it seduced you into moving your hips and sliding across the dance floor, or shouting and clapping in the call-and-response choruses, you were hooked. Only phenomenal vision and commitment could bring such a roster and faithfully recreate such music in Japan, or anywhere else in Asia. Truly, only at Fuji Rock!
BOB DYLAN: A LEGEND
Very late on Sunday night, or more accurately, very early Monday morning, as the last drunken conversations of Fuji Rock 2018 were coming into full swing, the topic of Bob Dylan’s Green Stage performance came up. A question was posed to a group in a way that was more or less begging for someone to slag Dylan off. But there was only silence. When the questioner goaded, there came a sharp reply from Simon Bartz, a writer, editor and longtime resident of Japan: “Bob Dylan is a legend! And that’s why I will not reply to your question.” Dylan did not play sing-along versions of his classics. The tunes were rearranged and reconstructed. But he is a living legend, 77 years old and with a songbook already inscribed into the cultural cannon of late 20th century, and he came to Fuji Rock for his 100th show in Japan and continued to pursue his art. He said not one word to the crowd, just smiled, played the piano –– as arthritis now prevents him from playing guitar –– and he sang his songs, which emanated like waves of gentle kindness over a crowd of 30,000 rock ‘n roll fans.
…AND THE BEST OF THE REST
MAXIMUM THE HORMONE rocked it feckin’ hard, and I’d happily bang my head with the harapecos again! The girls of CHAI were totally adorable, neo-kawaii go! go! Go! Basque Country rockers ESNE BELTZA were a total blast. Vinyl nerd JIM WEST DJ-ed for at least 15 hours over the weekend, and I’m sorry I couldn’t stay to hear all of it. ANDERSON .PAAK was the best daytime party I could imagine and MORE THE MAN pure white-hot ska! THE FEVER 333 was the best band I missed. After I saw my friend’s videos on Facebook, I was just kicking myself. The staff at the FISH AND CHIPS booth and MILK IN VEGAS disco bar, they somehow feel like family members by now. So much good stuff, and so many great people! I love you Fuji Rock! I’ll see you next year!
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