Selected by Dan Grunebaum

Summer Sonic

James Brown
James Brown
The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion
The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion

Not to be outdone by rival Smash' Fuji Rock Fest, promoter Creativeman this year launches Summer Sonic, a two-day festival at Fuji Q Highland which, by virtue of its location, is perhaps better deserving of the Fuji moniker. Creativeman's Mistuhiro Kato says that, with a tighter focus on rock than Smash's more varied lineup, the festival is "more like Reading or Leeds, if Fuji Rock is Glastonbury." Summer Sonic will feature a selection of bands well-known in Japan, but also introduce a host of new talent.

Among the headliners who have proven their mettle with Japanese audiences are California punk rockers Green Day, noisemeisters The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, veteran US indie rockers The Flaming Lips, piano-centered rock trio Ben Folds Five, Britpop outfit Teenage Fanclub, and US rappers Arrested Development. But the festival will also introduce some more obscure but nevertheless intriguing bands.

Snail Ramp
Snail Ramp
The Living End
The Living End
Green Day
Green Day
The Bluetones
The Bluetones
The Mad Capsule Markets
The Mad Capsule Markets

The oddball duo Ween, for example, have created a zany world of rock satire since their founding in 1984, but have mostly remained on the sidelines while trends like grunge passed them by. The pair's work includes masterpieces such as their 1994 tribute to comedian John Candy, Chocolate and Cheese (Elektra), and White Pepper, recently released after a three-year hiatus.

Also on the bill are Grandaddy, a solar-powered space-pop combo from California. Toiling in anonymity since their founding in 1992, the five-piece band scored a creative breakthrough in 1997 with Under the Western Freeway, which saw "Summer Here Kids" earning Single of the Week honors in the NME. Their latest is The Sophtware Slump on V2.

Another relatively unknown but intriguing band in the line-up is Sigur Ros, the Iceland-based alternative/experimental rock trio formed in 1994 in Reykjavik. The unit created a stir with their debut Von (Bad Taste), and since have gone on to release, most recently, Agaetis Byriun.

Also outside the usual purview of rock bands usually invited to Japan are France's Tahiti 80. Formed in 1993 by students at the University of Rouen, the quartet debuted with the EP 20 Minutes in 1996, releasing their first full-length, Puzzle (Minty Fresh) in 2000.

Alternative US rock band Muse, who recently boosted their profile warming up for the Red Hot Chili Peppers, are another band on the lineup - which is still subject to change as the festival date approaches - worth checking out.

Summer Sonic takes place at Fuji Q Highland on August 5-6. See listings for details.

Concert Listings
394: Regurgitator
393: Art Garfunkel


392: Belle and Sebastian
391: Super Furry Animals
390: Ben Folds
389: Elton John
388: Dido
387: Papa Roach
386: Beast Feast 2001
385: Summersonic
384: David Sylvian
383: Maxi Priest & Big Mountain
382: Fuji Rock Festival 01
381: Roxy Music
380: Bo Diddley
379: John McLaughlin & Zakir Hussain in Remember Shakti
378: Paul Weller
377: Coolio
376: Backyard Babies
375: Marcus Miller
374: Black Crowes
373: Megadeath
372: Dionne Warwick
371: Arrested Development
370: Mouse on Mars
369: Duran Duran
368: Linkin Park
367: Maceo Parker
366: Japan Blues Carnival 2001
365: Ben Harper
364: Cheap Trick
363: Stephen Malkmus
362: Mogwai
361: Weezer
360: Marilyn Manson
359: Green Day
358: AC/DC
357: Richard Thompson
356: Bob Dylan
355: J. Mascis
354: Leigh Stephen Kenny
352/3: Limp Bizkit
351: Boyz II Men
350: Reef
349: Park Tower Blues Festival
348: Roni Size
347: Compay Segundo
346: Incognito
345: Jimmy Page and The Black Crowes
344: Bad Religion
343: Japan Soul Festival 2000
342: Rocktober 2000
341: Richard Ashcroft
340: Motorhead
339: Festival Halou
338: Ricky Martin
337: Taj Mahal
336: Asian Dub Foundation
335: Lou Reed
334: Earth, Wind & Fire
333: Sting
332: No Doubt
331: Camel
330: Fuji Rock: Smash Talks
329: Summer Sonic
328: Mt. Fuju Aid 2000
327: Salif Keita
326: Buena Vista Social Club
325: Bill Frisell
324: Maxi Priest
323: Lenine
322: Rage Against the Machine
321: Tommy Flanagan Trio
320: Smashing Pumpkins
319: Pet Shop Boys
318: Japan Blues Carnival
317: Gipsy Kings
316: Steely Dan
315: Pshish
314: Big Night Out
313: Femi Kuti and the Positive Force
312: Harry Connick Jr.
311: Sonny Rollins
310: Speech
309: Santana