Fuji Endures Rain

This year’s Fuji Rock Festival wasn’t blessed with the wonderful weather that highlighted last year’s party, but still attracted 110,000 festivalgoers July 26-28.

Photo: Doug Seymour
Aragon Ballroom, Chicago, Ill.

A major rain front moved over the entire length of Japan over the weekend, causing huge damage in Western Japan and severe thunderstorms in the Tokyo metropolitan area.

The mountains of Niigata Prefecture, where Fuji takes place, was actually relatively well off and experienced only a few downpours during the festival, with none lasting more than an hour.

The highlight musically was probably Nine Inch Nails‘ headlining performance Friday night, which was streamed live online in its entirety and during which Trent Reznor previewed a new song.

Other high points included a two hour-plus show by The Cure, the last-minute lineup addition of guitarist Wilko Johnson who has been diagnosed with terminal cancer and extended his final tour to include Fuji because of his many Japanese fans, and a late afternoon set by My Bloody Valentine,  which headlined the festival two years ago.

More highlights included a 1:00 a.m. set by Death Grips that left the capacity audience shocked and delighted, the one-two hip-hop punch of Kendrick Lamar making his Japan debut followed by Jurassic 5 on the White Stage, and several performances by Malian ngoni master Bassekou Kouyate that were the talk of the festival. And. oh yeah, it was also the first concert that Mumford & Sons ever played in Japan.

The only scheduled performer who didn’t make it was the Gaslamp Killer  who suffered a scooter accident recently. According to festival promoter Smash, 10,000 people showed up for the free pre-fest party Thursday night. Then there were 30,000 people in attendance on Friday, 40,000 on Saturday, and 31,000 on Sunday for a grand total of 111,000 festivalgoers.

Of these, 17,000 camped out on the festival grounds over the weekend.