Well, what can one say about rock festivals, the only thing certain is the uncertainty of what happens and the lack of memory there after 🙂

I should say, I have never been much into contemporary music, let alone rock music and that to Japanese rock. I choose to live under the cool confines of established musicians doing their thing and follow up on the music I can appreciate… So when I look at the schedule and I cannot recognize more than 2 names, I am not disappointed. The positive is that with lack of preference, the choice becomes very easy, listen to whoever is near by, if they get too annoying, move on to the next concert…

I have mentioned earlier that the weather was more than inclement, kind of added to the atmosphere I must add, but it is difficult to figure out what to wear when one minute it is 30C and 100% humid and the next, it is raining cats and dogs. One minute, it is hot sun and the next is cool and windy. I guess I resorted to a ample choice of shorts and a buttoned shirt with a rain jacket and a bandana. It was a good choice in the end as I managed to be comfortable within reason with this combo.

Much of the music was really below par, at least in my book. They seem to go for over the top noise and extremely loud base drums to keep the energy in the crowd up, but after one hour, the music starts to look dated and in the next, it gets downright annoying. So in effect, the concert jumping turned out to be a concert escaping plan and I actually, had to spend an hour in a nice brook away from the concerts just to give my ears a break. May be the rock concerts are not really my cup of tea…

However, in between escaping concerts and walking around in pissing rain, I managed to find out a few acts that I really like.

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Superfly: this turns out to be a very popular Japanese band. The lead singer, Shiho Ochi, is like a Japanese version of Gwen Stefanie, petite in frame but a rocking voice. The concert was the opening act and it did live up to the occasion. It is likely that my head was fresh and I am over estimating the quality of music, but a quick check with the locals over the next 2 days tells me that she is indeed good.

Mutemath: this was a proper American rock group but with pretty talented members, seems to me that every one played all the instruments. The big letdown was the sound engineering, they seem to have preferred the recently married drummer and he whacked the he’ll out of his instrument and my ears are still ringing… I would try their studio albums to see if they recorded it any better. If they did, it is well worth band to follow. I did pick up their album and I should say they sound good, lote of Synth but one band I might look for new albums.

Jaga jazzist: I missed them completely, but in between walking around venues, I caught the last 10 minutes and they are a really cool band led by the drummer, the music reminds me of pat metheny group and that is a good thing.

Corinne Bailey Rae: she is a name I have heard but never followed as she got popular with the girl-singer-songwriter fad a few years ago. I got nothing against them but it was too much of a formula for me to stay interested and the corny lyrics always kept me at bay.  She had a couple of radio friendly tunes but 10 minutes into her act, I could not take it any longer… Too slow and overly soppy for me. Jaga jazzist is the kind of sophistication I look forward in music.

John butler trio: to me these guys were really the best act in the festival… An Aussie trio pretty much playing blue grass / country but with more sophistication and lot more harmony. This is band I will definitely be following up and buying albums… The guitarist / lead singer was brilliant and the drums and bass complemented well… It lacked the oomph of a jazz trio with the missing improv sections but they made it up with tons of energy and good vocals.

Jamie Cullum: what can I say, this guy is one of the fellers trying to revive big band jazz with his slick good looks and smooth vocals. He has been very radio friendly and without doubt a hit with girls all over. Anyway, he is a big name and I had nothing better to follow. So off I went. It was impressive he did a couple of covers of Beyonce and rihanna and hit them through the roof. Brilliant. And he brought a lot of energy to the staid piano playing and it was a good concert to watch. I know this guys songs and don’t buy his albums simply because it is not my kind of music but his live shows are a hoot and well worth watching.

So what next? I have had enough of rocking and rolling… As I type is, I have sold my last days ticket to a black market seller for a paltry sum and am on my way to Sendai for some peace and quiet. Rock festivals are a hoot but I don’t really think they are my cup of tea…

My buddies noted that the festival is boring because it is not rowdy enough, but I like it this way, fuji rock is great with its organization. People were generally reserved but I guess it is a Japanese thing… Most people seemed to hang around in cliques and that is common. I guess the place is too chaotic to meet someone to have a decent conversation with. Or may be I am not ‘in the scene’ and too much of an outsider to be accepted in the scene. I am alright either way, it was like a 2 day long party and I am hung over, looking for a quiet place to give my ears some respite…

I would take reserved over rowdy any day. The people I will remember are Ari, Taeko, Natsuke, Jenny and a couple of elderly gentlemen grooving in the sun and rain…

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