Fuji Rock 2022 on Day 2 — Saturday, July 30 — didn’t fail to wow the crowd. As on opening day, the festival offered an eclectic lineup for every kind of fan.
JAPAN Forward is covering the event live from Naeba Ski Resort in Niigata, bringing you updates and recaps at regular times in the morning (via YouTube) and the evening (via Twitter Space) and through articles and photos on the website.
These are the highlights from Day 2:
Bloodywood: Sonically Intense, Beautifully Empowering
Fusing together the unique elements of Indian folk music with the fast-paced aggression and intensity of metal and rap, Bloodywood are a band out to cause a riot in the streets. Their songs serve as rallying calls for justice, equality, and social awareness.
Warming up the Green Stage on a fittingly hot day, the band wasted no time in stirring the Fuji Rock crowd into a frenzy, playing many of their popular songs, such as “Machi Bhasad,” “Dana Dan,” and my personal favorite, the emotionally charged “Aaj.”
Between songs, harsh vocalist Jayant and rapper Raoul talked about certain issues that continue to plague the world today, such as corruption, sexual abuse, and racism. The band made sure to remind the audience throughout their set that these issues are very real and it is up to everyone of us to do our part and fight back, together, no matter who we are or where we’re from.
Currently on their “Nine Inch Naans” world tour, Bloodywood made sure that their first performance in Japan was one for the books. It was not only sonically intense but beautifully empowering as well. ー Micah Go
Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra: Playful, Multilayered Music
How many bands have the power to make all generations stand up and dance?
This was the atmosphere at the set of Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra in the afternoon at the Green Stage. The band has been around for many decades, and over the years has scored gigs at major international events, such as Glastonbury.
To get everyone at Fuji Rock in the mood on July 30, the group started with their signature ska-inspired full 10-member songs that energized the crowd and had people flooding the field and waving their towels above their head as they sought to join the fun.
One moment, the trumpet; another, the trombone; the next moment, the bass — all taking center stage. And the playful nature of the ska-inspired band makes their music varied and multilayered.
Eight years have passed since the band ー sporting their yellow suits ー last came to Fuji Rock, baritone player Atsushi Yanaka warmly reminded the crowd.
Highlights throughout included their hit “Oro,” and the irresistible “Paradise Has No Border.”
Yet, there was also time for a slow keys-centered song, performed by Yuichi Oki. All in all, it was a fun event geared towards the whole family. ー Arielle Busetto
Glim Spanky: Folk Rock Duo Have Come Home
As guitarist Hiroki Kamemoto aptly told the audience at the White Stage, you cannot have Fuji Rock without good rock music.
It was in this spirit that folk rock duo Glim Spanky sang on a wonderfully cool afternoon, as a rainbow appeared overhead on July 30.
Glim Spanky are somewhat regulars at Fuji Rock, having even brought their satisfying guitar riffs to headline the Green Stage in 2018.
In 2022, they brought a mix of different songs from their repertoire, including some from their new album, which is set to release in August.
The duo also brought nostalgic vibes with a song that vocalist Remi Matsuo wrote while at university, called “When I Become an Adult.”
Conversations with the audience were peppered throughout, which added an aura of familiarity, reflecting the group’s close affiliation with the festival.
“Stay hydrated,” said Matsuo, while two minutes later encouraging listeners to follow their dreams. The rock duo have come home to Fuji Rock. ー Arielle Busetto
Dinosaur Jr: An Essential for Rock Fans
Dinosaur Jr was one of the leading bands of the ’90s indie rock scene. And it’s fair to say that here and now in 2022, it is not a modern sounding band. Yet, the group’s set on the White Stage at Fuji Rock drew a surprisingly large and diverse crowd, from old-school fans like myself to Gen Z festivalgoers keen on checking out these veterans of rock.
Frontman J Mascis’ central trick remains the same: Crank the guitar up super-loud and bust out blistering guitar solos, which squalled from his oversized stack of six Marshall cabs into the Naeba mountains. The three band members huddled together in the center of the stage for tight-knit communication ー they’re a band first, performers second, and it’s their musical chemistry that has helped them endure this long.
Bassist Lou Barlow is himself one of the finest songwriters of the slacker generation, via his many other bands, including Sebadoh and Folk Implosion. Tonight he took lead vocals and guitar on recent song “Garden,” and his delicate, jangly strumming played in stark contrast to Mascis’ howling licks.
There was of course plenty of nostalgia for older fans. The ebbs and flows of “Feel the Pain,” with its lackadaisical verses that erupt into an uptempo chorus before slowing right back down again. The country-esque guitar phrases and beautiful pop heart of “Start Choppin”…. And, at the end, a cover of The Cure’s “Just Like Heaven” ー because it’s not Fuji Rock without The Cure…. Dinosaur Jr may not be a modern band, but they’re essential all the same. ー Daniel Robson
Jack White: A Rare Set from a Rare Artist
From garage rocker to superstar, White Stripes noisenik to vinyl-plant-owning musical purist, Jack White has had a strange journey. But to the huge crowd who turned out for his headline set on Fuji Rock’s main stage, he is an icon.
The huge jumbovision screens on either side of the stage showed the action in black and white — a creative choice that did a great job of conveying White’s authentic back-to-basics rock’n’roll worldview (albeit with the downside that we couldn’t see what colors his beautiful collection of strangely shaped custom guitars were).
Playing with a band of incredibly seasoned musicians, White mixed garage, blues, and rock’n’roll on songs from throughout his career. Songs like “The White Raven” and “Hi-De-Ho” offered a chance to dance, while he introduced the oddly romantic “A Tip From You to Me” by explaining, “This song is in the key of D minor, which automatically means it’s a true story.”
Across all of these, White masterfully manipulated distortion, electrical signals, and other mechanics of his guitar to create thrilling sounds.
He also breathed new life into classic White Stripes songs, such as “Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground” and “Seven Nation Army,” which sound bigger, richer, and more nuanced when played by a full band. During a rendition of “Fell in Love with a Girl,” he cut the music momentarily so the audience could chant the chorus — a sea of voices united. A rare set from a rare artist. ー Daniel Robson
Night Tempo: Turning Hits Into Modern Classics
Hailing from South Korea, DJ and producer Night Tempo is credited with having helped create online the ’80’s Japanese city pop boom.
In practice, the artist takes hits from the time and re-edits them. And in the case of Fuji Rock, he performs in a one-hour dance set in front of a jubilant crowd full of Gen Z at the Red Marquee.
His set included the re-edited versions of immensely popular “Plastic Love” by Mari Takeuchi, and “Stay with Me” with Miki Matsubara, which he’s made into modern classics.
Earlier on July 29, Night Tempo had also performed a set on his new project, Ladies in the City (2021), with original recorded lyrics sung by Sumire Uesaka, among others. ー Arielle Busetto
ZOMBIE-CHANG: Dancing Like No One’s Watching
Playful, quirky, and unapologetically herself.
ZOMBIE-CHANG charmed the crowd with her unique style in the Red Marquee. Coming on at 2.30 AM, she still instilled energy in the crowd with some of her recent work, such as “Stress” from her album released in May 2022.
Her songs are not afraid to take a slightly ironic twist to everyday problems.
Born Meirin, ZOMBIE-CHANG addressed the crowd while sitting on a prop WC onstage (a tribute to her latest album cover). “So, guys, have any of you been feeling stressed recently?” she asked the audience.
She also sang the empowering “No to Ieru Yuki (The Courage to Say No),” which is a celebration of self-expression and being kind to yourself.
ZOMBIE-CHANG is careful not to take herself too seriously, however. Her performance also includes songs such as “Ping Pong,” in which members of the staff literally throw real ping pong balls into the crowd.
Above all, ZOMBIE-CHANG’s love of her craft infected the audience as she sang her lyrics, chatted with the crowd, and danced along like no one was watching. ー Arielle Busetto
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Authors: Daniel Robson, Arielle Busetto, Micah Go