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My Ultimate Rock Festival

Two of OJ’s music junkies dream up their ultimate rock festival. Some artists on the list are actually scheduled to make a stop in Japan this year, while others would have to make the trip. Here’s to all who made the final cut!

Rock, My Way
By Shotaro Takahashi

Although I’m from Sendai, I’ve yet to see a rock festival in northern Japan – strange considering my younger brother worked at a record company and was in charge of digging up talent from the Tohoku Region. His favorites are Sendai’s Arabaki Rock Festival, which already took place this year, and the Aomori Rock Festival.

It looks like I’ll only be able to make Fuji Rock this year. The event always gets me thinking about putting together my “ultimate festival.”

First, I’d keep the festival in Naeba. Arriving early, I’d find a flat spot to pitch my tent, then head to the stage where Ash would be kicking off the show. Waiting in the wings would be newcomers such as Mika, The View, Keith and The Feeling, warming up the crowd for the reappearance of Billy Corrigan (Smashing Pumpkins) playing with New Order like back in 2001. It would be great to once again see the summer sun shining off his bald head? Ocean Colour Scene would then stop up with “Travelers Tune,” followed by the Manic Street Preachers, who’d let me pick their set list. A bit over the top? Before the main act Kula Shaker would bring their Indian-flavored “drama rock,” perfect for a summer festival. And the main dish…The Red Hot Chili Peppers. It would be storming like the first time they played Fuji Rock with a deluge of rain and lightening. You can’t forget your rain gear!

(2)Peasants, Pigs & Astronauts
(3)Freedom Lovin’ People
Reunited just last year, their last summer’s Fuji Rock performance was filled to the brim with great tunes. Just hearing “Hey Dude” live would do the trick for me. This year’s show will follow the release of their new album and should feature some new tracks.

(5)Free All Angels
(6)You Can’t Have It All
“Shining Light,” a single from their 2001 release, still makes the rounds on my iPod. This bittersweet song ranks in my top ten and brings a smile to my face whenever I hear it. Ash puts out so many good songs; I’d imagine their Fuji Rock performance would go into overtime.

(7)Generation Terrorist
(8)This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours
(9)Send Away the Tigers
For a group whose albums tend to be hit or miss, “Send Away the Tiger” is a bull’s eye. Everyone at last year’s festival performance was hoping for the famous old tracks, this year’s Summer Sonic crowd will be screaming for more of the new.

(10)The Day We Caught The Train
(11)Marchin’ already
(12)Travelers tune
(13)On the Leyline
OJ’s Traveler’s Tune column takes its title from this B-side track that found new life with some rearrangement. This is one tune to be on the look out for at this year’s shows.

Mellow Old
By Taro Muraishi

My picks for festivals this summer would start with the Earth Celebration on Sado, although I have to admit I’ve yet to go myself. Everyone who’s been seems to be enamored with the place. This year I plan on biking around Sado Island before the concerts. Natural High (www.naturalhigh.jp) in May is another must-see. The relaxed camping environment is a great for families.

Tama Rock (ameblo.jp/tama-rock) is another festival to put on your calendar. Taking place along the Tama River in Fuchu, it has a “down-home” feel to it. Last year’s inaugural event will be followed up with the much anticipated second show this summer.

Most of the bands I want to see this year, however, are gathering at Fuji Rock. It seems everyone on my “wish list” is a seasoned veteran. Perhaps this says something about my graying hair? I’m particularly looking forward to seeing Jonathan Richman, Iggy & The Stooges, The Beastie Boys and Ocean Colour Scene. The beauty of the outdoor festival is you have ample opportunity to sample new artists. Last year I was turned on to Fields, and this year Sandi Thorn looks like a good bet. If there was a way to bring together all my favorites at one Fuji Rock, the stage would be filled with the likes of Primal Scream, Ian Brown, Beck, Neil Young, Patti Smith, The White Stripes, Ben Harper, Lou Reed and The String Cheese Incident. The Cheese rank among my all-time favorites; I imagine more great memories kicking back in the woods with a beer and the sweet sounds rolling in from the stage.

(14)Rock`n`Roll With The Modern Lovers
(15)Jonathan Richman & The Modern Lovers
(16) Modern Lovers 88
Ten years ago I saw Jonathan play Shibuya’s Club Quattro with just him and an acoustic guitar. His relaxed musical stylings and his musical genius always put a smile on my face. My favorite album is #14, which sounds like a one-off recording in his bathroom.

(17)The Stooges
(18)Fun House
(19)Lust For Life/Iggy Pop
The “Godfather of Punk” linked back up with The Stooges for their first new release in 34 years. The result was less than impressive, but to hear them “bring it” live to the fans would be a real treat.

(20)Ill Communication
(21)Hello Nasty
(22)The Sounds of Science
The Beasties worked up cover hits with Run D.M.C. and Aerosmith, inspiring a whole generation of Far Eastern youth. Back in the day, the meaning was lost in the beat, but as I listen now I begin to understand how deep some of those lyrics run. Pick up #22 if you still dig the “Fight For Your Right” anthem.

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