Fuji Breaks Attendance Record

The 16th Fuji Rock Festival, held at the Naeba Ski Resort in Niigata Prefecture, Japan, July 27-29, was the most successful ever attendance-wise

Saturday and Sunday were sold out, with 40,000 people per day, while the Friday session saw 39,000 attendees.

About 21,000 showed up for the pre-festival party July 26. The news was surprising because Japan lingers in a recession that has negatively affected concertgoing in general, and concerts by foreign artists in particular.

It was not surprising that Sunday sold out, as Radiohead was the headliner, but it wasn’t until Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds was announced as the Saturday night headliner several months ago that sales of three-day tickets took off.

With the reunited Stone Roses topping the bill Friday, the weekend was a love-in for fans of stadium-level British rock, of whom there are quite a few in Japan.

In addition, Noel’s brother and former Oasis partner, Liam, brought his band, Beady Eye, to the festival, where they played just before the Stone Roses.

Some media people, in fact, seemed to have trouble distinguishing Liam from Roses frontman Ian Brown, but in any case the ongoing Gallagher Brothers rivalry received ample coverage, even if they never came within spitting distance of each other.

During Beady Eye’s set, the band played two Oasis songs, one of which, “Rock N Roll Star,” Liam dedicated to “the one and only Mr. Noel Gallagher.” He dedicated the other, “Morning Glory,” to “the High Flying Smurfs.”

Noel also played two Oasis songs. While he didn’t mention Liam on stage he did tell British tabloid The Sun that he “couldn’t” appear on the same day as his brother. “I don’t think either camp would allow it,” he said. “What happens if we’re on the same bill? People start asking if we’re reforming, that’s what. Or they’ll ask if we’re going to get on stage together and sing Digsy’s fucking dinner.” Of course, a good many Japanese fans probably foolishly hoped for precisely that.

Nevertheless, it was Radiohead’s two-hour closing concert that dominated the festival. Normally, Fuji follows up the final headlining act of the weekend with a surprise guest but there was none this year, the organizers obviously thinking there was no reason to try to top it.

And there wasn’t. The other six stages at the time had noticeably small attendance even though they were presenting very popular acts like Ray Davies and At The Drive-In.

Despite the massive crowds and unusually rain-free weather that brought punishing heat and a lot of dust, there were no reports of anything more serious than the occasional fainting spell, and only one act canceled during the festival: AraabMuzik.