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Fuji Rock wants attendees to ‘refrain from speaking’

Japanese festival Fuji Rock has published a series of measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19 at this summer’s edition – one of which discourages festivalgoers from speaking to each other.

The Smash Corporation festival is set to take place at its usual home of Naeba Ski Resort in Tokyo, between 20–22 August 2021, but not as we know it.

This year, the festival’s typical international bill has been replaced with a completely domestic line-up which includes Radwimps, Man With a Mission, King Gnu, Cornelius, The Birthday, ROVO and Denki Groove, while stage capacities may be restricted depending on circumstances.

Festivalgoers must adhere to a number of stringent restrictions which range from wearing a mask and socially distancing to the more bizarre requirements.

The festival has published an extensive list of prohibitions for attendees which includes raising your voice, cheering, shouting, high-fiving and having ‘unnecessary conversations during the performances’.

Naoki Shimizu, president of Japanese promoter Creativeman, told the Japan Times that requirements like these are necessary if the live music industry is ever going to stage a comeback, especially in a country where cases have recently been spiking and the vaccine rollout still hasn’t hit its stride.

Raising your voice, cheering, shouting, high-fiving and having ‘unnecessary conversations’ are discouraged at Fuji Rock

Shimizu revealed that Creativeman festival Supersonic, which welcomed 300,000 people across three days in 2019, will also set out a number of requirements for attendees: “We will have to check everyone’s temperature, first. Capacity will be limited. And alcohol … we probably can’t have alcohol at the festival.”

This year’s Supersonic will be a post-Olympics version of its trademark Summer Sonic event held simultaneously in Chiba and Osaka prefectures and will feature 10 acts across three days – though the line-up is yet to be announced.

With Japan’s borders largely closed to international travel and the Tokyo Olympic Committee moving to ban international spectators from the Summer Games (23 July to 8 August), it’s likely that Supersonic will also opt for a domestic line-up.

Both Creativeman and Smash have spent much of 2021 lobbying for the resumption of international touring in Japan via a new consortium of Japan-based international promoters.

Earlier this year, the consortium succeeded in getting the Japanese government to amend its compensation scheme to include domestic shows by foreign artists.

The alliance’s next goal is to ease the business visa restrictions for foreign artists to enter Japan with no quarantines.


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Japan: Fuji Rock’s virtual event, Supersonic finally cancelled

Promoter Creativeman Productions has finally called off this year’s Summer Sonic festival, meaning neither of Japan’s big two outdoor music festivals will take place this year.

Summer Sonic – which became a ‘new’ event, Supersonic, for 2020, with the main festival taking a year off to accomodate the planned Tokyo Olympics – can no longer go ahead because of new restrictions on foreigners entering Japan from 1 September, following a spike in new Covid-19 cases.

The 1975, Liam Gallagher, Fatboy Slim, Skrillex, Steve Aoki, Post Malone and Black Eyed Peas were among artists booked to play Supersonic 2020, which would taken place 19–21 September in Tokyo and 19–20 September in Osaka.

All tickets for Supersonic 2020, which has been postponed a year, will be valid for Supersonic 2021, with full refunds also available.

Both Fuji Rock and Summer Sonic are staging virtual editions of their 2020 events

In a statement, Creativeman president Naoki Shimizu offers his “sincere gratitude to all of you who believed in us” and promises “fireworks” when the festival returns next year. “I cannot wait for the day when we can once again watch artists perform their wonderful songs live to the world,” he comments.

Smash Corporation’s Fuji Rock, meanwhile – originally scheduled for 21–23 August – is this year taking place as a virtual event featuring a stream of archival footage from past festivals.

Fans can watch the live stream on Fuji Rock’s YouTube channel, or in the YouTube Music app, from 21 to 23 August. Performances will include Beastie Boys, Coldplay, Ed Sheeran, FKA Twigs, James Blake, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Sia, the XX and Vince Staples.

Summer Sonic 2020 will also take place as an online festival, streamed on YouTube, featuring BTS (2015), Metallica (2013), Arctic Monkeys (2014) and more.


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Record attendance marks Summer Sonic’s 20th year

Creativeman’s Summer Sonic overtook Smash Corp-promoted Fuji Rock to become Japan’s biggest outdoor music festival this year, welcoming 135,000 visitors over three days to its twin sites in Osaka and Tokyo.

Taking place from 16 to 18 August, Creativeman debuted a new three-day format, in celebration of the festival’s 20th anniversary. The pop- and rock- focused line-up featured the Red Hit Chili Peppers, Babymetal, the Chainsmokers, Fall Out Boy, the 1975, Blackpink and Japanese rock bands Sakanaction and B’z.

All tickets sold out for the Tokyo-based side of the event, held at the adjoining Zozo Marine Stadium and Makuhari Messe exhibition hall. The Osaka leg of the festival, which took place at the Maishima Sonic Park, shifted all Friday tickets and weekend passes.

Speaking to IQ ahead of the event, Creativeman director Sebastian Mair said one festival day sold out three months before the festival started. “I don’t think we have ever had a day that has sold out that early,” Mair told IQ.

“[Japanese festivals] are safe and peaceful, and people are there for the music as opposed to anything else”

Just like fellow Japanese rock festival Fuji Rock, Summer Sonic suffered from adverse weather, with Typhoon Krosa causing the cancellation of performances on Tokyo’s beach stage on Friday.

Summer Sonic will take a one-year break in 2020 to accommodate the Tokyo Olympics.

The Japanese festival scene has become fairly saturated in recent years, with international brands such as Ultra, Electric Daisy Carnival, Download and Ozzfest setting up shop in the country.

Mair comments that the festival market remains “stable”, saying that international managers and agents are “always astounded by how well they [Japanese festivals] work”.

“They are safe and peaceful, and people are there for the music as opposed to anything else,” Mair told IQ.

Read more about the “booming” Japanese live scene in IQ’s country feature below.

Land of the rise in fun: Why booming Japan is such a tough market to crack


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Fuji Rock to move dates after successful 2019

Smash Corp.’s Fuji Rock, Japan’s largest outdoor music festival, will next year move to August from its traditional last-weekend-of-July dates, to accomodate the Tokyo 2020 summer Olympic games (24 July–9 August 2020).

The 2019 edition of Fuji Rock – with Creativeman’s Summer Sonic one of Japan’s two marquee rock festivals – took place from Thursday 25 to Sunday 28 July, welcoming a total of 130,000 people (5,000 more than last year) for its 23rd event, held at the Naeba ski resort in Yuzawa, in central Japan.

Despite more challenging conditions – for the second year in a row, programming was disrupted by a tropical storm (dubbed, with typical Japanese understatement, ‘Typhoon #6’) – Fuji Rock “finished all three days with cooperation and understanding from the audience”, according to organisers.

Some 15,000 people attended Thursday night’s free opening party, with capacity crowds of 40,000 on Friday and Saturday, and 35,000 on Sunday. Headliners were the Cure, the Chemical Brothers and Sia, with other performers including Thom Yorke, James Blake, Janelle Monáe and Martin Garrix.

Fuji Rock 2020 will be held on Friday 21, Saturday 22 and Sunday 23 August, after the Olympics. Summer Sonic 2020, which would have taken place in Tokyo and Osaka, has been cancelled altogether.


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Fuji Rock Festival celebrates 22 years with 125,000 fans

The 22nd Fuji Rock Festival closed last week, having welcomed some 125,000 festivalgoers to the Yabusa Ski Resort in Yuzawa Town, Niigata Prefecture over the course of the four day event.

In a statement on the Fuji Rock website, organisers thanked fans and staff and invited them again to next year’s festival, saying 2018’s event had been “successfully completed with great cooperation of everyone.”

This success was in spite of the adverse weather, brought on by Typhoon Jongdari, Japan’s 12th named storm of the year. Further on, the statement adds: “I would like to thank the customers who visited us during the bad weather due to the influence of typhoon 12 (Jongdari).”

The event had been “successfully completed with great cooperation of everyone”

In late July, the storm formed in the ocean south-east of Guam. For nearly two weeks, it battered much of southern Japan and eastern China, including the festival site of Fuji Rock. On Twitter there were reports of disruption caused by the adverse weather. One tweet spoke of tents collapsing in the high winds, while the festival warned guests some events were being postponed.

Fortunately for fans and organisers, the effects of the storm were not constant, providing some instances of relief throughout the weekend. The line-up featured a mix of old and new musical talent; Kendrick Lamar, Years & Years and Post Malone shared the stage over the weekend with the likes of Bob Dylan and Johnny Marr.

Dylan began his performance in a well-timed lapse in the bad weather. Reporting on the performance of Dylan and his band, Rolling Stone Japan labelled the headline set a “luxurious moment” and an “exquisite performance.”


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Fuji Rock booker James Smith joins Live Nation Japan

Live Nation has hired talent buyer James Smith, formerly of Fuji Rock promoter Smash Corporation, to attract more major international acts to the company’s events in Japan.

Tokyo-based Smith becomes VP of touring and festivals, reporting to John Boyle, president of Live Nation Japan, in an appointment the company says “signals its ongoing investment in Asia”.

At Smash, Smith focused on securing talent for both Fuji Rock – Japan’s largest outdoor festival, which draws more than 100,000 attendees annually – and the promoter’s touring business, where he worked on international tours by artists such as James Blake, Grimes and Bonobo.

“James’s knowledge of Japan’s music industry runs deep, and he has a true passion to unite artists with fans, existing and new,” says Boyle.

“My ultimate goal is to bring acts from all over the world to Japan”

“His dedication and expertise makes him the perfect addition to Live Nation’s team to help us expand our business as we continue to meet the growing demand for international concerts in Asia.

“I can’t wait to see what amazing shows we create together for the people of Japan thanks to his extraordinary vision.”

Live Nation currently operates across ten markets in Asia, including China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand. Recent successes include Bruno Mars’s 24k Magic world tour, whose Asian leg sold out 14 shows across seven cities.

“My ultimate goal is to bring acts from all over the world to Japan, which is why I’m so excited to be joining Live Nation entertainment and begin tapping into their unparallelled artist pipeline,” adds Smith. “There is enormous potential in this market and I plan to maximise these opportunities for growth with a hands-on and artist-centric approach.”


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