Asia: Summer Sonic, Ariana Grande

Summer Sonic Gets Rickrolled

Dave Grohl and Rick Astley
– Dave Grohl and Rick Astley
at Summer Sonic in Japan

Summer Sonic 2017, which organizer

But while a storm hit the city itself on Saturday, the festival site across the bay in the city of Chiba only saw a brief evening shower that was finished before headliner Calvin Harris hit the main stage in the Zozo Marine Stadium. Total attendance for Tokyo was 117,000 for the weekend, with 50,000 on Saturday, 45,000 on Sunday and 22,000 showing up for the pre-festival Sonicmania rave on Friday night-Saturday morning.

Osaka welcomed a total of 55,000 people: 30,000 on Saturday and 25,000 on Sunday. The only cancellation was Charli XCX, who apparently made it to Asia, but issued a statement Friday night that she was too sick to make it to the festival.

“I have been seriously ill for the past couple of days with really bad tonsilitis and fever. I haven’t been able to leave my hotel room at all,” she wrote on her Instagram account, adding, “I passed out when going through security in Beijing and I’ve since had injections/been on antibiotics but nothing is making me better.”

She said she stayed in bed on doctors’ orders. Certainly the most talked-about performance of the weekend in Tokyo was the instant collaboration between the Foo Fighters – the headliner for Sunday – and British pop singer Rick Astley, who joined the group on stage for an impromptu version of Astley’s biggest hit, “Never Gonna Give You Up,” which he sang to a modified version of Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit.”

Leader Dave Grohl admitted onstage that though Astley was the group’s “new best friend,” he had only met the singer “about two minutes” before the set began. It was, as many media pointed out, the ultimate Rickroll – an internet meme where users are fooled into clicking on a video clip of “Never Gonna Give You Up.” Still, it was the second time that day that Astley showed off his hard rock chops to stupefying effect.

During his own set at the Mountain Stage that afternoon, at one point he climbed behind the drums and sang a straight version of AC/DC’s “Highway to Hell.” Astley is on tour to promote his new album, 50, which designates his age.

 As with the other major international pop festival in Japan, Fuji Rock, this year’s Summer Sonic was heavier on local acts than it’s probably ever been, and the argument is over whether that has to do with the greater difficulty in getting top-line foreign acts during festival season or attracting more punters.

The evidence so far seems to point to the latter. Though they play frequently throughout the year in Japan, local acts at SS clearly outdrew foreign acts, especially idol-identified artists such as Kyary Pamyu Pamyu and the AKB48 sidebar Keyakizaka46.

However, the biggest draw of the weekend was undoubtedly Babymetal, which performed just before the Foo Fighters in front of an audience that was about one-third larger than Dave Grohl’s band.

Other highlights included Kesha’s triumphant return to Japan to push her new No. 1 album, St. Vincent premiering a brand new stage show during the Hostess Club All-Nighter event Saturday, the Black Eyed Peas with guest CL from Korean Kpop outfit 2EN1 and a dozen or so international acts making their first Japan appearances, including Kehlani, Hey Violet, Jasmine Thompson, Pond and Circa Waves.

Grande Fans Still Feel Snubbed

The controversy surrounding the Aug. 15  concert in Seoul continued into its second week. In the wake of the concert the South Korean press reported dissatisfied fans saying they didn’t get their money’s worth from the American singer, who reportedly flew into Seoul only three hours before the concert took place and quickly flew out.

VIP ticket purchasers were supposed to have the chance to watch her rehearse, but there was no time for a rehearsal.

Also many complained that Grande had treated her Japanese fans to a three-hour show whereas she only gave South Korea an hour-and-a-half. Consequently, Universal Music Group, Grande’s label, was compelled to issue a statement, which said that “Ariana Grande’s ‘Dangerous Woman Tour’ and the stage setting, choreography, setlist, and performance are the exact same in every concert around the world. That means the concert length is also same in every country.”

As to reports of greater consideration given to Japanese fans, Universal said, “The 3-hour concert in Japan is incorrect reporting. She performed the same in Japan, for an hour-and-a-half. In her third Japan show she did sing one additional song.

As for the number of concerts, it all depends on the size of the market, and is decided by the event organizer.” Mainly, the statement emphasized that Grande did not shirk her professional responsibilities. “She put extra care into the vocals for the Korea concert,” said the statement, “by hitting the high notes she didn’t hit in other concerts and also adding ad libs.”

Universal added that the reason for the extra care was that the label plans to release a DVD of concert in South Korea sometime in the future.

As for the VIP perks, the statement pointed out that “watching the rehearsal was never part of the VIP package. However, it’s true that early entry to the event did not take place.”

Nobody complained about Grande’s performance in Manila on Aug. 21, but a lot of fans grumbled about the added security. Since the terrorist attack that killed 23 people at Grande’s concert in Manchester earlier this summer, subsequent venues on the tour have beefed up security.

According to the Philippine Star, the precautions were particularly Draconian at the Mall of Asia Arena. Without receiving prior notice, all ticketholders for the concert were only allowed to bring wallets and cell phones into the auditorium.

Everything else had to be checked, and the system for identifying belongings was so complicated that after the concert many people had to wait on line “deep into the night” to retrieve their possessions.

One Twitter user said he spent three hours waiting for his bag, which is more time than he spent lining up for pre-concert security and watching the concert combined.