“Passport! Tickets! Tent!” The Alternative Far Flung Summer HolidayFuji Rock Festival preview
27-29 July 2012

The festival season is already underway here in the UK but with many of the usual calendar highlights either cancelled, on a year off or suffering from the weather how about looking further afield for your al fresco musical kicks? Here we get a preview of what the Fuji Rock Festival 2012 has in store.

So either you’ve now waved your little Union Jack, cranked up The Pistols or even just put your fingers in your ears and sang “lalalala” till it was all over. Now you can run freely to summer joys, sun warmed skin and cold beers aloft: the pub gardens, the lazy afternoons in the park and the freedom to festival is nigh! Hold your horses compatriot!

The Jubilee might be done with, but first are you not Olympic hosts, do you not have to welcome with a warm smile the complete grinding to a holt the capitals transport system, the eradication of any televisual choice (for the most part kill your television anyway) and the chance to enjoy the feeling that your ‘guests’ have quite frankly rinsed you dry and certainly over stayed their welcome?

“Passport! Tickets! Tent!” The Alternative Far Flung Summer Holiday

Secondly, not to further depress the hell out of you, there is no Glastonbury this year. Sonisphere UK, Titanic Lockdown and Cloud 9 among a raft of other festivals that have been cancelled. There is only one answer ~ escape!

Those last minute pocket friendly 99 quid deals in the travel agents window may indeed, if you luck out, yield you a week in the sun with buckets of cheap anaesthetic, but how about digging a lot deeper, travelling a bit further, and getting a bit of heart and soul repair?

Breaking with traditional Fuji Rock Festival 2012 announced in February that The Stone Roses would be one of this years headline acts ~ certainly adding a frenzy of excitement, and bodies, to the Early Bird sale of discounted tickets which Fuji Rock runs in Tokyo each winter and as the ice started to thaw Radiohead joined The Stone Roses as confirmed headliners.

Now tickets are on general sale and this week saw the announcement of the last headliner which turned out to be Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds.

Previous years have been a luxuriance of delights, 2011 was like shooting broccoli in a barrel (run with it) as we bounced from one stage to another from morning till night there was not a slack musical moment. The 2012 line up this year is initially a disappointment, stomach crippling excitement for The Stone Roses and Jack White, but a heart full of lead for much of what else was on offer.

Don’t get me wrong I know there is some decent names in there but I think 2012 will go down as the year that caught ‘festival fatigue’ world wide almost, each festival line up is lacking a variety of fresh and exciting artists, offering only a cornucopia of returning, seasoned and re-grouped acts. ~ Then I remembered this is Fuji Rock Festival: A festival unlike just about any festival in the world, in part because it takes place in Japan, a country unlike any other in the world, but mostly because attendees are the most cooperative, considerate and conscientious, making Fuji Rock a uniquely delightful experience.

“Passport! Tickets! Tent!” The Alternative Far Flung Summer Holiday

Now in its sixteenth year, attendance numbers fluctuate, in 2011 ”“ 115,00 attended a drop in numbers from previous years, with about 14% camping on the site for some part of the three day festival, the decrease was due not unexpectedly to the devastating earthquake and tsunami in March. Music lovers and festival junkies travel from all corners of Japan and from around the world to Naeba Ski Resort in Niigata, a swift 2 hour train journey from Tokyo, into the beautiful mountains and forests of the Gun-ma prefecture.

The site boasts a number of different stages and happening areas across a large site, performances run simultaneously so there is unlikely to be any time between early lunchtime and heading into dawn that you’ll not find something to watch, do or experience. The zones within the site boast diverse and often unique atmospheres.

The Green Stage is the main stage and often used as a meeting point for groups of friends throughout the day, people dance or camp out here for the day and the head-liners take this stage each night. The Red Marquee clocks in double duty as a stage and after hours club, a hot bed of the unexpected, loud and raucous high jinx you associate with complete abandonment, anyone at 2011`s Atari Teenage Riot or 2009`s Dinosaur Jnr. sets can bare testament too this.

The Café de Paris and The Palace of Wonders are area best explored when the sky is black and the neon is master, the former has its roots of design and form directly transported from the famous Parisian Moulin Rouge, the wild, the exotic and the unique converge of these area ‘s and performances are set to wow, inspire and excite.

Close by one of the most thrilling places to spend time over the weekend is the Strummerville sponsored after hours Rookie A Go-Go Stage allowing unsigned bands to perform, having completed auditions to get here, the artists don’t hold back throwing everything in to their live performances.

Fuji Rock however is not all about music and cabaret, it has its roots strongly attached to conservation and the coexistence between nature and music. This is evident in not only the work of the Fuji Rock Forest Advancement Committee, the exceptional recycle program used on site (dropped litter really is something you’ll see next to none of at Fuji Rock) the candle lit bio fuelled Field of Heaven, but also the environment you share with nature ~ there are a billion bugs and grubs: winged, multi-legged, biting, jumping, stinging chirping, squealing as well as larger mountain, forest and field inhabitants.

The natural beauty of the Fuji Rock home can be viewed from on high, after taking a 20 minute ride on the worlds longest gondola the Dragondola you can take in the vista and head to Day Dreaming and Silent Breeze area’s where you can enjoy diverse family friendly performances both musical and magical in the cooler mountain air.

So did digging down the back of the sofa come up with enough coinage? Bucket list just extended? Fuji Rock Festival 2012 takes place July 27th – 29th full line up, access and ticket details can be found at the Fuji Rock English site.

All words by Katie Clare. Katie will be reviewing the festival for LTW so even if you can’t make the trip don’t forget to come and live vicariously through her words and pictures.


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