Selected by Dan
By now you' just about
recovered from Fuji Rock, your hearing has returned and you've swept the cobwebs from your
brain. So brace yourself: Summer Sonic is next in the lineup of what has proven to be
Japan's most festival-packed summer ever.
With Summer Sonic relocating close to Tokyo after last year's inaugural event near Mt
Fuji, the two-day festival can expect to draw larger crowds than last year's 20,000.
"We're hoping for 40-50,000," says promoter Creativeman's Kunihiko Koike.
This year's Summer Sonic has front-loaded its billing with a number of bands that have
proven themselves to be guaranteed draws in Japan. Lo-fi slacker rocker showman Beck,
for example, has demonstrated his pulling power with sold-out shows at the venerable Nihon
Budokan. Fellow headliners on Saturday at stage 1 (Marine Stadium), Primal Scream,
have also been perennial favorites, staging highly rated shows at Fuji Rock and in solo
tours. Another guaranteed draw is Marilyn Manson, appealing both to the
face-painted Goth fans of Japan's "visual-kei" bands and to alternative rockers
The festival is also
guaranteeing crowds with a heavy contingent from the chart-leading nu-metal sector. Horror
movie costume specialists Slipknot will be purveying their own theatrical brand of
shock rock, while "nu" entrants Skrape recently debuted with the album New
Following Beck in the post-alternative category are, first and foremost, Air, the
French duo of Nicolas Godin and Jean-Benoit Dunckel, who will be headlining stage 2
(Makuhari Messe) on Saturday. Air's third album, 10,000 Hz. Legend, featured Beck
on the song "The Vagabond," and the band will be making their long-awaited debut
performance in Japan.
Also of interest in the post-alt-rock grouping are Eels, whose offbeat album Electro-Shock
Blues brought dance music textures to lo-fi indie-rock, and the alt-country rockers Cosmic
In a bill notable for its almost total absence of any rock bands predating the 90s,
England's The Cult, who recently marked their comeback with Beyond Good and
Evil, their first album in years, are the notable exceptions. The only other band
that could really qualify as veterans are Southern California melo-core punkers Rancid.
The testosterone quotient
will be relieved only with the appearance of Texan singer-songwriter Shea Seger.
Dubbing her style "mutt dog blues with beats," Seger has been the toast of the
record industry since the success of her debut album May Street Project, released
earlier this year on RCA. Japanese womanhood is also given token representation in the
form of New York-based Cibo Matto (whose member Miho Hatori will be
performing at the all-night party Summer Mania), and Tokyo's current retro-rock flavor of
the moment, Love Psychedelico. The only other Japanese group of any import are Rize,
another MTV-ready band whose pallid take on rap-core isn't likely to stand up against the
With the main stage set in the blazing hot flatlands of Chiba's bayside area, Creativeman
is recommending that festival-goers take every possible precaution against heat exhaustion
Sonic takes place at Chiba Marine Stadium and Makuhari Messe August 18-19. See listings for details.