Summer Sonic Better Than Ever

Japan’s premiere urban rock festival, Summer Sonic, enjoyed its biggest success ever the weekend of August 13-14, when it was held simultaneously in Osaka and the Tokyo suburb of Chiba.

About 90 Japanese and foreign acts appeared, divided between the two locations and switching places on the second day.

In Tokyo, two-day tickets sold out almost immediately after going on sale earlier this summer. Soon thereafter, the Sunday tickets sold out, largely due to headliner Oasis, still exceptionally popular in Japan. But even the Saturday-only tickets eventually sold out. A grand total of 101,000 people attended the Tokyo edition, while 65,000 went to the Osaka show.

Only one artist, Rammstein, canceled in the weeks leading up to the festival. However, Bullet For My Valentine scotched its Sunday afternoon Tokyo show at the last minute because the band’s drummer was unable to play. In addition, Public Enemy had to do without the services of Flavor Flav, who was prevented from coming to Japan due to what fellow MC Chuck D called “passport issues.”

This year’s Tokyo festival was both bigger and better. A new stage was added to the indoor complex, bringing the total number of stages within the Makuhari Convention Center to four. In addition, more space was allowed for the so-called Mountain Stage and concession areas were placed between each indoor stage to help alleviate the bottlenecks that plagued last year’s festival when the stages were placed much closer to one another.

The uniqueness of the set-up – a summer festival that is mostly held indoors – was remarked upon by the Arcade Fire‘s Win Butler, who asked the crowd if they were playing in “an airplane hangar.” When told it was actually a convention center, he said the next song would include “a Power Point presentation.”

The outdoor component of the festival – which includes the Chiba Marine Stadium and the tiny Beach Stage featuring mostly acoustic acts – was expanded with a Dance Tent sponsored by HMV.

— Phil Brasor