Louder Than War’s Far East correspondent gives us the low down on two of Japan’s upcoming festivals, Sonic Mania And Summer Sonic Festival. All photos on here © SUMMER SONIC 2013 & SONICMANIA 2013. All Rights Reserved.
When it comes to the UK Festival’s with their lottery style ticketing, the gamble with the weather and the decline in audience behaviour, getting your festival fix overseas is increasingly becoming the go to solution. Low-cost airlines have forged a now well-worn path to Europe’s musical delights so that looking further afield for an experience above and beyond the usual is now a reachable and trauma free alternative.
With a little planning taking in Japan’s premier music festivals, Fuji Rock, Sonic Mania & Summer Sonic, is an achievable goal. In one trip you can start off your adventures in the mountains of Neaba, sightseeing your way around the dynamic and always unique capital Tokyo and enjoy a holiday culminating in a long weekend at an urban musical oasis.
Sonic Mania and Summer Sonic Festival book established names alongside young contenders and offer both outdoor and indoor performances. The established venues they use offer an easy, comfortable and entertaining experience: while the municipal location makes for the perfect festival holiday for those not wishing to pack a tent in their suitcases. Sonic Manic and Summer Sonia are traditionally held between the first and second week of August. The first of these is an all night musical feast of live acts and DJ sets with a dance vibe, the next day the delights continue with Summer Sonic, a well organised yet energetic and vibrant two-day festival of the best in rock, pop and indie acts.
Take a less than thirty minute train journey from Tokyo Station to Kaihin Makuhari Station where you’ll find home to Sonic Mania and Summer Sonic: QVC Marine Field and Makuhari Messe is a short walk from the station. While accommodation in walking distance of the venues can be expensive and is often booked a year in advance, hostels and hotels of all varieties just a short train ride away are abundant enough that space can be found even very close to festival dates. This year I am staying at a two star rated business hotel two train stops from Kaihin Makihari Station, I have a small simple private room and bathroom for four nights for less than £130 ~ this cost could be halved if I’d chosen to stay in a hostel with a dormitory. Even the low cost and most basic accommodation in Japan will be secure, clean and many offer buffet style breakfast, which is a welcome addition when you’re travelling on a budget.
Tickets for Sonic Mania and Summer Sonic are offered as separate purchases, you can even buy a single ticket for each day of Summer Sonic. While at the present time it is not possible for people outside of Japan to buy tickets details of how to do so will soon be announced on the Summer Sonic English Guideline Page how-to buy and where as soon as arrangements have been made. The total cost for tickets for one person to both Sonic Mania and two days at Summer Sonic is about £240.
Summer Sonic boast an extensive and variety filled options not just for your ears but for all your senses. As well as a food hall at Makuhari Messe there is a courtyard over flowing with options outside of the Marine Field venue, you can cool down with a kakigōri a huge cup of shaved ice flavoured with fruit syrups or fill up on a bowl of yakisoba (fried buckwheat noodles) and of course there is the ubiquitous burgers and French fries as well as plenty of beers, shots and soda’s. Your body can have its aches and pains massaged away or you can indulge your inner child with face painting, there are vendors selling arts, craft and clothing as well as performances from dancers, painters and entertainers.
This year Sonic Mania hosts The Stone Roses, Pet Shop Boys, Klaxons, Ed Banger Records, Alvin Risk, Steve Aoki and much more as yet we are awaiting a timetable but it’s certainly looking to be a night of nonstop revelry. Summer Sonic Festival has an ecliptic and fascinating mix this year, the timetables have been released and it’s been an enjoyable task planning where to be and who to see. The full line up is too extensive to list in full (timetable here) so picking out the interesting, intriguing and noteworthy highlights. Saturday there’ll be a loose fit party on the sand at the Beach Stage with Jagwar Ma, a bit of hot footing about to catch Fidlar and Chvrches opening the Rainbow and Sonic stages, the Mountain Stage has a very British flavour with among others Alt-J, Jake Bugg, Stereophonics and Liam’s Beady Eye headlining. The main arena holds the Marine Stage: this year it’s pulled on its skinny black jeans and gone ‘ROCK’ the bill includes Bullet for My Valentine, Fall Out Boy, Linkin Park and Metallica. Sunday see’s 2011 Summer Sonic Marine Stage support act Zebrahead bringing the funky punk metal when they headline the Rainbow Stage. The Sonic Stage boasts the ever wonderful Palma Violets, Johnny Marr and Two Door Cinema Club. There is bound to be quite the boogie-fest going on at the Mountain Stage with Cyndi Lauper, Earth Wind and Fire and the Pet Shop Boys. While the Marine stage still has an exciting ‘yet to be announced’ gap between The Smashing Pumpkins and headliners Muse.
This year’s Sonic Mania will be held on August 9th at Makuhari Messe International Convention Complex and Summer Sonic August 10th and 11th at QVC Marine Field & Makuhari Messe in the Mihama-ku ward of Chiba City, Japan. Check the Summer Sonic and Sonic Mania websites for further details about access, tickets and appearing artists. Louder Than War will be there and look forward to bringing you details of all the performances, excitement and gossip from Sonic Mania and Summer Sonic 2013.
All words by Katie Clare. You can read more from Katie on LTW here.