Fuji Rock Celebrates 20 With Kendrick, Dylan; Skrillex Stuns

Courtesy Prime PR

Skrillex is joined by X Japan leader and drummer Yoshiki for a set during Fuji Rock Festival in Japan.

Japan’s Fuji Rock Festival celebrated its 20th year at the Naeba Ski Resort in Yuzawa, Niigata Prefecture, the weekend of July 27-29, with 125,000 in attendance over the weekend to see international stars such as Kendrick Lamar, Bob Dylan and Skrillex.
Journalist Koichi Hanafusa, a booster for the festival since it started in the shadow of Mount Fuji in 1997, opened the pre-festival party on Thursday night with recognition of the fact that the children of the people who attended the first year at Naeba are now 20 years old, making them officially adults in Japan, and if things are as they are, they will now become regulars.
The 2018 version barely dodged a bullet, however. Several days before the festival began, Japan’s Meteorological Agency announced the 12th typhoon of the season had formed in the Pacific southeast of Japan and would cut across the middle of the archipelago over the weekend, going straight through Niigata. As it turned out, the storm made a bizarre left turn after it made landfall and headed west, into an area already left devastated by heavy rains three weeks ago. As a result, there were strong winds and rain on Saturday night and Sunday afternoon, enough to blow some tents over, but nothing particularly serious, and no acts were cancelled.
The big draw of the festival was the one-two literary punch of Kendrick Lamar on Saturday night and Bob Dylan on Sunday. Both artists made Fuji the center of short Asian tours, and as a result both Saturday and Sunday were sold out in advance. The turnout for Friday, when N.E.R.D. headlined, was slightly less than usual, perhaps owing to the notion that people who tend to show up at the last minute didn’t this time due to the typhoon warning. 
Festival organizer Smash Corporation reported total attendance at 125,000 for the weekend. Though no breakdown was made available, there was a notably large contingent of Chinese from the mainland and Hong Kong at the festival, many of whom came through tours. 
Some of the notable surprises at the festival were the appearance of Danielle Haim playing guitar and singing with Vampire Weekend on Sunday night (following Dylan, who elected to play early during an unexpectedly beautiful sunset) on the Thin Lizzy hit, “The Boys Are Back In Town”; Post Malone, making his debut in Japan without a band or even a DJ as the Friday night headliner on the White Stage, and then the next day showing up to add some percussion to Mac DeMarco’s set at the Red Marquee; country singer Kacey Musgraves, a lifelong fan of Japanese pop culture, bringing out a quartet of geisha to dance to her final song on Sunday afternoon; and X Japan leader Yoshiki joining Skrillex for a Green Stage set that included a special mix the producer made for his guest as well as Yoshiki playing both piano for an X Japan song that had 40,000 fans in tears, and then accompanying Skrillex on drums. 
“It was mind-blowing,” Paradigm’s Lee Anderson, who represents Skrillex, told Pollstar. “We have big plans for him over the next couple of years, so that’s a household name you’ll start to see out there quite a bit.”
(Additional reporting by Ryan Borba)