Selected by Dan Grunebaum

Summer Sonic

Primal Scream

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 alike.


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 Killer America.

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 Rough Riders.

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.

Shea Seger

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 overseas competition.

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 and dehydration.

Summer Sonic takes place at Chiba Marine Stadium and Makuhari Messe August 18-19. 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