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Friday, July 1, 2011


Rock and pop: The A, B, C's of J-music

Special to The Japan Times

We start the ball rolling with rock and pop. The Peaceful Love Rock Festival will be held in the southernmost prefecture of Okinawa on the weekend of July 9-10. The festival leans heavily toward indie rock, with Okinawa-based HY and Zukan headlining. However, there will be some good old-fashioned rock 'n' roll in the shape of veterans Murasaki and S.K.p., eagerly awaited regulars at the event.


Ian Martin (@ianfmartin)

Favored festival: Tokyo Boredom
Number of attendances: 2
Must-see acts: Ultra Bide, Yolz in the Sky, Fluid Unlike the name may suggest, the event will be in Kyoto (July 23-24) this summer (there should be a Tokyo one in October). The event has a great intimate atmosphere, with musicians and fans hanging out together in the crowd.

The very next weekend is a double-whammy, with Nano-Mugen Fes and the playfully-named Goose Fresh Beat taking place July 16-17.

Nano-Mugen was created by rock group Asian Kung-Fu Generation, who are festival favorites themselves, and the event has been garnering more support every year. As a sign of its success, the venue was upgraded to the massive Yokohama Arena in 2005, and will take place there again this year. Aside from Asian Kung-Fu Generation, headlining the event will be U.S. band Weezer and British act Manic Street Preachers. Among the local acts will be The Hiatus, Negoto and Boom Boom Satellites.

Goose Fresh Beat will also be held in the Kanto region, but that's pretty much where the similarities end. Don't let the name fool you, this festival means business. Taking place outdoors in Yukari no Mori Park and camping grounds in Ibaraki Prefecture, this year's top draws are the industrial-strength Mass Of The Fermenting Dregs, and the less vigorous Mo'Some Tonebender, who released a best-of album in April. Qomolangma Tomato, Sister Jet and De De Mouse will also hit the stage.

There being such precious little time in summer, the following weekend has yet another pair of rock events on offer. Being held July 23-24 are Setstock in Hiroshima, and Join Alive in Iwamizawa, Hokkaido.

Headlining Setstock are The Cro-Magnons and Straightener. The two bands are both seasoned festival acts who will be playing other outdoor gigs this year as well. Also look out for indie trio andymori and instrumentalist duo Pia-no-jaC.

Up north at Join Alive, acts that stand out are famed "soul man" Sam Moore, Ego-Wrappin' and the Gossip of Jaxx and British group The Music.

Rock In Japan in Ibaraki Prefecture and World Happiness in Tokyo both take place the weekend of Aug. 6-7.

Although Rock In Japan may seem like just another festival, what makes it unique is that all the artists who perform are Japanese and there is more balance between musical genres. Covering J-rock, J-pop and all other forms of J-music (from garage-metal band 9mm Parabellum Bullet to Auto-Tune sensation Perfume), this festival is for those who want to get completely up to date with the local music scene in three days of J-bliss.

World Happiness, held at Yumenoshima Park on Tokyo harbor, is a one-day affair. With synth-pop powerhouse Yellow Magic Orchestra annually headlining the event, other highlights this year are Sakanaction, Kimonos, Scha Dara Parr — a rap group with a twist — and rising rock act Shinsei Kamattechan.

Finally, the Arabaki Rock Fest, now in its 11th year, takes place in the verdant Michinoku Park in Miyagi Prefecture on Aug. 27-28. Like Rock In Japan, its lineup comprises only domestic artists, however Arabaki appears to have left out the predominantly pop-based acts in exchange for more indie bands: Envy, Lite and more. Look out for Arabaki Blues, an ensemble put together from bands playing this year's event by ex-Roosterz drummer Junzi Ikehata.

Festival lineup

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