Summer Festival Guide

Events Music - May 8th, 2013

Whether Fuji Rock, Summer Sonic or something slightly less mainstream, it’s never too early to start planning your summer of music and checking out the lineups…

If you are a seasoned festival veteran and need at least three crazy weekends to feel like you’ve really had a big year or you’re just eager for a day trip with music more of a sideline, we have put together a (non-exhaustive!) guide to some of the top places to let your hair down around Tokyo in 2013 and some of the best acts to see…

Fuji Rock 2013

July 26-28

We’re still getting over the weather at last year’s Fuji Rock, where it didn’t rain.

A crazy thunderstorm did blitz the Niigata sky as Radiohead finished off another fantastic year on the Sunday night and while Thom Yorke transfixed, those clouds just about held on – until we were back in the Palace of Wonder, lingering for as long as we could to avoid thoughts of the office the following day.

There are things you can take for granted about this year’s Fuji Rock, though none of them are the weather… Bjork will astound anyone who so much as wanders past the main stage on Saturday night, you’ll have to decide which side of the ‘is it ok to stay at a hotel during a music festival’ fence to fall on and, if you do camp, you’ll at least once forget where you put your tent.


After announcing that NiN and Bjork would headline Friday and Saturday, with The xx confirmed for a Sunday slot, Fuji Rock has now added The Cure to the top of the final night bill so it is eyeliner-styled king of goth-rock, Robert Smith, who’ll leave give the festival the sendoff it always deserves.

What to look out for: Tomorrow’s trends in high-end outdoor gear, today

For you if: you’re hardy.

Lineup Highlights: Nine Inch Nails, Bjork (above), The Cure, Jurassic 5, The XX, Death Grips, Foals, Haim, Kendrick Lamar, Maya Jane Coles, Modeselektor, Of Monsters and Men, Tame Impala, Yo La Tengo, Vampire Weekend, My Bloody Valentine, anything late at night in the atmospheric Palace of Wonder

Official Site:

Hostess Club Weekender

June 8-9

Though the latest Hostess lineup reads a little like the playlist of a shuffling indie-kid’s seldom synced iPod, that’s not to say there won’t be some delightful surprises. British Sea Power fans might see the bill as somewhat inverted – after all it is they whose sixth studio album is getting the four and five star reviews this month and not Travis (though the Scots-many-had-forgot do have a new release of their own coming shortly after regrouping these last few months…)

We love the atmosphere at these events – Hostess is a label/promoter that certainly knows how to put on a not-so-small pair of parties over the space of a weekend and Ebisu Garden Place is a neat venue for them to return to.

What to look out for: our editor’s favourite band…

For you if: you like good clean – indoor – fun

Lineup Highlights: Travis, These New Puritans, British Sea Power (above), Editors, Little Barrie, Múm

Official Site:

Taico Club 2013

June 1-2

We were seriously impressed when we saw Kauru ‘K’ Ishibashi – he goes by Kishi Bashi on stage – in Tokyo last year. He was born in Seattle, Washington, and grew up in Virginia so is of course better known on that side of the Pacific, but bringing his violin and live-looped beats – and voice – to Japan seemed something of a homecoming, with extended family in the crowd as stirred as anyone.

He’ll be no stranger to Of Montreal, having toured and played with them before, and will, we’re guessing, ease visitors in to a night that will become characteristically more dance-focused as time flies by. The festival, in the mountains and most easily accessed by car, has a fairly eclectic lineup and even at this late stage continues to add artists – keep your eyes on the official website.

What to look out for: your new favourite Japanese act

For you if: You like your mountainside festivals slightly more intimate, and you’re into discovery

Lineup Highlights: Kishi Bashi (right), Denki Groove, Clark (Warp Records), Of Montreal, Ricardo Villalobos

Official Site:

Big Beach 2013

June 1

Big Beach’s main man, Norman Cook – who founded the festival in Brighton, England, back in 2001 – returns to DJ as Fatboy Slim after lending the Chemical Brothers headliners duty in 2012. With quality dance acts peppering the bill, there will be little time to soak up the sun in the background – you’ll want to head to the stages and get involved in the music.

Basement Jaxx

Basement Jaxx are an irresistible live dance act.

Playing with Latin styles, dance-hall beats and hip hop sensibilities, Felix Buxton and Simon Ratcliffe often call upon flamboyant guest vocalists and performers and are themselves not shy of a carnival-inspired costume change or two – they’ll surely be one not to miss.

What to look out for: This year’s must-have sunglasses

For you if: You want a (much, much tamer) Japanese version of Ibiza

Lineup Highlights: Fatboy Slim, Basement Jaxx, Erol Alkan, Maya Jane Coles, Sasha, Ellen Allien, Damian Lazarus, Nervo, Tom Staar

Official Site:

Summer Sonic 2013

August 10-11

Sometimes all about rock, other years all about pop, and this year completely eclectic, just like the spring weather in Tokyo. Whether you’re into the danceable beats of oh-so-cool M.I.A. or want to be brought back to the alternative nineties with Billy Corgan’s distinctive voice, Summer Sonic will definitely have something for you. Put on some comfortable shoes as you’ll be running in between stages to catch everything you want to see, though a lot of the action does take place indoors – a godsend in mid-August.

Be prepared to walk quite far or hop on the provided shuttle bus to catch the headliners in the baseball stadium. Summer Sonic is definitely not the tent-and-rucksack type of event, but you can make a whole weekend of it thanks to its proximity to Tokyo. If you plan on getting any kip, there are plenty of hotels in the area, but be warned: they’ll fill up quick…

Kickstart the Summer Sonic weekend with Sonic Mania – at Makuhari Messe on the Friday night – where The Stone Roses, Pet Shop Boys, Denki Groove, Justice (DJ set), Klaxons, Steve Aoki and more will get you bouncing.

What to look out for: a trip back in time – no matter when you grew up

For you if: you want to hear some cool acts minus the tents and hiking boots

Lineup Highlights: Metallica, Linkin Park, Beady Eye, Bastille, Jake Bugg, Alt-J, M.I.A., Mew Fidlar (Saturday) Muse, The Smashing Pumpkins, Pet Shop Boys, Two Door Cinema Club, Johnny Marr, Cyndi Lauper, Palma Violets (Sunday)

Official Site:

by Matthew Holmes and Vivian Morelli