Best of the Fest: Nina
Photo by fujirockers.org Text by Nina Cataldo
Posted on 2021.8.24 21:41
Notes from a first time reporter, long time music lover
It’s been a true joy and honor to not only attend this year’s one-of-a-kind Fuji Rock experience, but to also have the chance to report and share the experience with all of you, the readers. This year marks ten years since I attended my first big-scale music festival. I was a high school student in the Pacific Northwest, USA, back then. A lot has happened in those ten years; attending music festivals in various countries, organizing small scale music events, DJing, playing synthesizer in a band…it’s clear that my love for music and the cultures built around it only grow more each and every year.
Ever since I attended my first Fuji Rock in 2016, I was immediately drawn to the positive aspects of a Japanese festival that’s different from many others I’ve attended. It’s clean; flushing Porta-Potties and personal trash bags upon entry which everyone uses. It’s respectful; never having to fight my way to the front of the stage or be on high alert. Also, it’s freeing and so much fun; away from the big city where everyone could be less stressed and happier. With this year’s Fuji Rock, those aspects that made me fall in love with the festival stayed true.
It also gave me a chance to discover and support so many domestic musicians that I would have otherwise never listened to. To hear so many of the artists speak on stage about this opportunity was moving, too. Many of them would not have gotten a chance to perform if it were for bigger name artists coming from overseas. So, in that sense, it’s been a great way to support more people in the Japanese music world. Especially in times like this where people like us in the performing arts need to lean each other as much as we can.
I’m still amazed by the leadership the festival took to show Japan and the world how a safe large-scale event could be conducted in these times. Sure, I missed drinking beer and dancing till the wee hours of the morning like other years, but to be able to witness history in the making was still rad. So, without further ado, I want to reflect back and share with you my favorite parts of this year’s Fuji Rock:
Nina picking an alternative metal band as her highlight musician?! Y’all, these are truly weird times. I was hesitant to check out SiM because I had no idea what to expect, but I was truly blown away by their performance, and more so, their energy. Frontman, MAH, is a sweet talker; not only funny, but also inspirational. Him and his similarly lively band members really got the crowd going on the Green Stage. They were frank about their main stage performance being a fortuitous one due to the domestic lineup, which was a wakeup call to me (and maybe many others) about how important it is to support Japanese artists on a global scale. Their passion for their music and wanting to spread its positivity to all listeners – whether they’re long-time fans or not – coincidentally made me become a big fan.
2. TAMIW (and everything about ROOKIE A GO GO)
Moving the ROOKIE A GO GO stage to the central part of Fuji Rock was absolutely the right move. This is the stage for rookies – the ones that can use the most exposure – and to put them in the pathway to other festival ground locations made many people stop and listen to bands that they otherwise may not have checked out. I saw quite a few bands on this stage this year, and each one of them stunned me. Many of the large stage artists started out playing at ROOKIE A GO GO so checking this stage out also means you may see some history in the making. TAMIW, in particular, became one of my favorite acts of the weekend. So much so that I listened to their music on the ride back home from the festival. Never underestimate the power of the rookies at festivals!
3. Pyramid Garden
What a great place to start and/or end the day. In the mornings, there was yoga and the best breakfast food around (Little Nap Coffee and their banana bread/muffins). By evening, live acts by candle light and bonfire helped wind down any hectic day. If I were camping, I’d choose the campgrounds around this area for sure.
This is a surprise act on my list as I wasn’t particularly fussed about their set at the time. But when looking back on the weekend, one of the big points that kept coming back to me was how AJICO has been performing since 2000 and this was their FIRST time at Fuji Rock. How is that even possible? They were enchanting, mystical, and perfect amount of wack and talent for an act at Fuji Rock. I loved the lead singer’s fashion and enjoyed their performance. I hope they come back again!
5. The SMASH Team & Everyone at the festival
This is a no brainer. A festival is nothing without the people. And the people this year were fantastic. As a first time reporter for Fuji Rock, I was nervous and unsure of what to expect. But everyone that I worked with were incredible, kind, and I was completely in awe of their talents and their teamwork.
In addition, the festival attendees were the highlights. In a hard year like this, I really had no idea what everyone would be like. But each person I saw or came across was respectful – especially of the restrictions put in place. It reminded me how much everyone wanted to be at Fuji Rock and how everyone wanted to make it a success so we can have more festival to come in the future. Many many thanks to you all!
[Photo: 3 All photo]