Fuji Rock 2012 Review

Music - August 2nd, 2012
radiohead_a

Something crazy happened in the skies above Fuji Rock this year. The sun shone.

From the scorching Friday feeling we all thought there was no way could last, somehow, through to Sunday, it lasted. And whether they were there for Radiohead or the Stone Roses, the weather seemed like the headliner on everyone’s lips.

No boots were needed (although those Australians we spotted with the sandals may have regretted their choice when it came to jumping to Jack White) and it was sun hats and cold drinks all round; people couldn’t have been happier.

The 140,000 people mark was met after unprecedented day-ticket sales rates, but while the site was packed full, the mood was so good that nobody seemed to mind… Unless they spotted the queue for that ice cream stuffed croissant. There were even bumper crowds at the night venues as people put off heading back to the campsite without the usual need to go and dry off. There are so many reasons to say that Fuji Rock was the highlight of the year.

And so to the music. Tastes and opinions are what matters when it comes to tunes – and we all like to have something to agree or disagree with. When a music loving Tokyoite who writes agreed to tell us a little bit about what worked and what didn’t for him, and how it felt to be up in the mountains for three days without a care in the world, we were delighted. Here are his thoughts:

Rare clouds above Fuji Rock

Rare clouds above the dusty 'fields'

By Tom Hall

Fuji Rock Festival 2012, on the surface, was all about nostalgia, with reunion sets from The Stone Roses, At The Drive-In and Refused alongside the Gallagher brothers’ new bands and classic acts such as The Specials (pictured to the right), Ray Davies and Elvis Costello.

For most, though, the highlight came with Radiohead’s forward thinking Sunday night headlining set. Always a band to push forward rather than look back to the past, the flawless set was heavy on their new album and peppered with spine-tingling versions of their famous songs.

The Stone Roses‘ headlining set had reviews ranging from ‘the best gig of my life’ to ‘nothing special’, and the Oasis brothers’ two new bands apparently only got decent crowd reactions from playing Oasis songs.

For me, only one reunion was worth seeing at this festival – the mighty Refused. Their Sunday night White Stage set brought proper punk energy to the festival. It was a pleasure to see the reformed band playing at their best, keeping their show simple and putting in an amazingly energetic performance.

The Specials

Other musical highlights for this festival-goer included James Blake, Cloud Nothings, The Field, The Specials, Toots & The Maytals, Justice, Seun Kuti & Egypt 80 and toe, but by far the most fun was had at The Very Best‘s Friday afternoon set.

Dancing in the sun with a bunch of friends to their awesome modern take on African music was one of the best experiences of the weekend.

Special mention for Mop of Head for their blinding Monday morning 3am closing set – I don’t know how they had the energy after three days of partying with the rest of us.

Of course, the music is just a small part of Fuji Rock. From traveling up on Thursday morning to arriving back home in a daze on Monday, I made some funny-as-hell new memories with my old friends and met a bunch of crazy new friends too. That’s the thing that keeps me going year after year, no matter what bands are playing.

I’ll definitely be there again next year.


Keep an eye on the site, and our magazine for more of our pictures and reviews from our writers and photographers at Fuji Rock 2012.