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Japan festivals return to international-heavy lineups

Marquee international festivals Summer Sonic and Fuji Rock have unveiled their first heavyweight international line ups since the pandemic

By Lisa Henderson on 20 Mar 2023

Summer Sonic in Japan

Creativeman's Summer Sonic festival

Japan’s marquee international festivals are heralding a return to form with lineups featuring some of the world’s biggest stars.

Summer Sonic, set to be held concurrently in Tokyo and Osaka on 19 and 20 August, recently unveiled a bill headlined by Kendrick Lamar, Blur, The Strokes, Lizzo and Foo Fighters.

Other non-domestic acts on the bill include Fall Out Boy, Blur, Niall Horan, Thundercat, Two Door Cinema Club, Wet Leg, Honne, Pale Waves, Liam Gallagher and Evanescence.

Last year, international acts accounted for just 40% of Summer Sonic’s offering due to stringent pandemic travel restrictions.

In addition, the Creativeman-promoted festivals were reduced in capacity (Tokyo to 55,000 and Osaka to 30,000) and fans were subject to a number of restrictions.

Last year, international acts accounted for just 40% of Summer Sonic’s offering due to stringent pandemic travel restrictions

The Japanese government only recently announced a relaxation of its longstanding ban on cheering at concerts and sporting events, along with a reclassification of Covid-19’s disease status.

From 8 May, coronavirus will be downgraded from class Class 2 to Class 5 – the same tier as seasonal flu – in the country, with residents told to use their own judgement when it comes to mitigation measures, including mask-wearing.

Smash Corporation has also announced a bill heavy with international artists for the 2023 edition of Fuji Rock, set for 28–30 July 2023 at Naeba Ski Resort.

The Strokes, Foo Fighters, Lizzo, Lewis Capaldi, Weezer, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Denzel Curry, Romy, Dermott Kennedy, Alanis Morrisette and Black Midi are among the overseas acts booked to perform.

So far, the festival has not announced a single Japanese act – a far cry from 2021’s all-domestic bill – and, in a nod to the lifted cheering ban, Fuji Rock’s website assures festivalgoers that this year’s event will “make you shout out that you feel great!”.


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