Summer Sonic, then: the verdict
What with the Fuji Rock line-up being a sorry state of affairs this year, thank the Maker for Samaa Sonikku Zero Sebun!! (^_^)
So how the devil was it? The answer is simple: a series of nothing but mishaps and happy happenings, simultaneous heaven and hell. Why? Read on…
You’d think that waking up on the first day of the festival to glorious weather would be perfect, right? Wrong! I’m such a wally…I thought it would be in the same place as last year; all indoor stages, boasting industrial air conditioning and all. Ooops, nope. Instead, a ginormous open air site, much akin to the British festivals I’d been to back in the day.
So what do you get when you cross a wide open space with the mid-day sun? Yes, that’s right, this mad dog (and I’m not even fully English) gets sunburnt to a crisp. The worst thing was that I only went in one of those tank top vest thingies…now I have a reverse sihouette seemingly tattooed on my body in the outline of said garment…lily white tramlines against bloodshot beetroot red. Lovely. I woke up this morning only to find bubbles forming on my right shoulder in a most unsightly manner. I’m telling you, 真夏の日本晴れはferociousだよ！Grrrrr!
That was mishap no. 1. Rolling on to no. 2, I was supposed to go on the first day with my buddy, Shinya. Little did we anticipate that several thousand music fans in one place at the same time would render the reception of our mobile phones as useful as a car without wheels. 全然電波がなくなったんで、大変だったよ！Unable to hook up, needless to say, I spent the first day a lonely barsteward. Guh!
Mishap no. 3: the journey back on the first day. Can you imagine trying to get an entire festival’s worth of punters from the site back to the nearest train station in shuttle buses?!? Yes, that’s right; I ask you again, can you imagine?!! Actually, please don’t try to imagine, because the less said the better. Suffice is to say the ‘queuing system’ turned into a rugby scrum. Thoroughly dehydrated and having been on me poor little tootsies all day long, the prospect of waiting 2.5 hours to get on a bus was less than enticing to say the least. Pah!
Any more mishaps? As if that lot wasn’t enough, try adding foot blisters, excruiating calf muscle soreness from all the excessive pogo-ing (I blame Klaxons for that!) and something much akin to nappy rash (I kid you not!)…I feel like my entire body has been put through an incinerator and mangled slowly. Ouch!
Still, rustling up a British stiff upper lip, I marched on in the face of adversity. Happy happenings there were a-plenty. Namely, la musique pop. 色々メッチャよかったよ！
OK, get on with it, Sir…
DAY 1 (Saturday 11. August)
Let’s face it, there’s nothing more uninspiring than a bunch of straight white boys swilling beer and pretending to be this decade’s answer to The Farm, is there? Enough said about The Twang, then.
That’s why it’s occasionally nice to have something against the grain of that kind of ethic with bands like Bloc Party. I’d never really given them a proper chance before, but their drummer stole the show for me. So talented! He rocked my world, literally!
The Manics played a greatest hits set, but it makes you wonder why they don’t get bored of playing ‘You Love Us’ over 15 years after the occasion.
Speaking of which…oh Brett! How could you do it to us?! When I was a wee teenager with long hair and heard ‘The Drowners’ for the first time, I felt as if my world had turned upside down. Was it any more possible to be in love with music any more than that; with a band any more glam and fabulous than Suede? No! Fair enough, Brett Anderson wanted a solo career, but what is the point of splitting up your old band, only to play a set comprising mostly Suede material with a Mr. Butler copiest on guitar? And as if that wasn’t bad enough, all post-Bernard Suede material to boot! It’s all too upsetting. Moving on swiftly, then.
I know that Arctic Monkeys are so hyped-up that you couldn’t get a more hyped-up band if you tried, but really, they are worth all the hype and more. Phenomenal! Not only is the drumming to die for, but also the way the guitars do that double octave rifferama thing…AND! They have the best rhyming words ever. Who would have thought to rhyme “circus” with “beserk as fook” before, eh?! My only gripe with them is that they don’t seem to have much onstage charisma. We need some personality, boys, then you’d be perfect. Still, you can’t have it all.
One thing that did make it perfect, though, was the fact that even though I was friendless, I had a damn good bop on my own. At gigs, Japanese people are notorious for being all polite and tend to just stand there, occasionally clapping their hands when instruced to do so. At first, everyone was wondering what this weird foreigner was doing, going ballistic to all the songs by himself…which resulted in everyone making a circle around me to allow enough room for some frenzied dance action. I was so excited, I went bananas, I couldn’t help it! ごめんネ。But in the end, they must have just thought, “If you can’t beat ‘em join ‘em”, because the next thing was, everyone was at it! We all went bananas together! At the end of the show, there were a bunch of fireworks to celebtrate our celebratory mood, and out of the blue, this adorable girl, whom I’d just been going bananas with, spontanoeously gave me a massive hug. So unusual in Japan! She was tops! The moral of the story is if you don’t have any friends, just make some more!
DAY 2 (Sunday 12. August)
Not wishing to repeat the perils of the first day, I over-reacted and went dressed in a spacesuit. That certainly kept that scorching sun at bay, I tell you. Also, having arranged to go with my musical partner in crime, my absolutely wonderful pal, Lito, and petrified of the same thing happening as it did with Shinya, I coerced him into meeting up with me beforehand, where I proceeded to handcuff myself to him for the rest of the day. Heehee.
First up, we checked out Editors. I saw them last year and was well impressed; this year they were even better. That new single they’ve just brought out…lyrically it’s a right rip off of an old Verve song from their second album…the name of which eludes me, but it goes something like “You come in on your own and you leave on your own”…anyway, that song is proper brilliant, like (check Northern accent, lost in Japanese translation, that one, I’m afraid).
The Horrors were, er, horrible. More than horrible, in fact. Call me old-fashioned, but call that singing?
Thank heavens all was redeemed by the dark vivaciousness of Interpol. In a word, shithot. Especially the drumming. I’ve got a ‘thing’ about drumming, in case you haven’t noticed. I stand by the maxim, you’re only good as your drummer.
CSS…hmmm…well, Lovefoxxx was clearly having a wail of a time, which was endearingly infectious, but I couldn’t agree more with Lito when he described them as a “sonic free-for-all”! If queuing for the shuttle bus on the first day could be music, this would be it.
Watching Gwen Stefani was like being at the MTV awards or something…all those dancers going hell for leather with all that cartwheeling and stuff. Same with Avril Lavigne, really.
Highlight of the festival was probably Klaxons. All salute the bassist chappy who recently smashed his leg up in an ill-judged stage-diving incident, who carried on regardless…in a wheel chair…spinning round and round more than Gwen Stefani’s dancers! They played in the dance tent. Yes, think about it…a tent in the baking heat. Result? Yep, no prizes for guessing it made a furnace seem like an igloo. But, wow, they were fantaaaaastic! Bloody hell! Having stood on the fence for too long now, I’ve been thoroughly converted! That song, the one that goes, “Woo-oo–oo-oo-oo-oo-oo-oo–oo-aaahhhh” is sooo one of my songs of the year, I’m in love with it!
Crawling out of the tent, barely alive but thoroughly exasperated, last up was Travis. Aw, bless ‘em, Fran the lead singer is so lovely. I saw them exactly 10 years ago, and they are so familar it felt like going to see your old mates. Hard to say great or not great, exactly because of that, really. But I liked the idea they had for the encore, where all four of them stood around Fran and his acoustic guitar…the bassist did the hand postioning of the chords while the guitarist strummed way…and Fran just sang his little heart out. Most sweet and most entertaining.
So anyways, that’s just about it, me thinks. It was a rollercoaster of trials and tribulations, but was it all worth it? Hell, yeah.