Summer Sonic in Review

OK, so it’s the last day of hols. The last couple of weeks have wavered between being insanely busy (like… really, really insanely busy) and being an absolute slob-fest. I’ve done very little reading, no writing and only a smidgin of photography – so basically kind of a creative write-off.

But I did go to Summer Sonic, Osaka.

I’ve never gone to a music festival. Not my thing. But this year’s line-up convinced me to a) pay a metric craptonne for the tickets and b) brave two full days of heat, over-priced junk food and the crowd of smelly reprobates who usually attend these things (irony). In order to compensate for the aforementioned long hot days, we splurged on a swanky hotel opposite Universal Studios Japan (we had fun watching the rollercoaster at night), packed long-sleeved clothing and broad-brimmed hats, and off we went.

And… it was pretty cool. Aside from a lot of standing in queues in sweltering heat waiting for buses/ tickets/ wristbands/ entrance/ shaved ice/ water/ T-shirts. The first day was marred by a pretty horrible lightning/ thunder storm which resulted in 40,000 people evacuating to the only indoor venue and standing around dripping for a few hours. There was little or no official communication at this time, which I thought was pretty shocking. But eventually it let up, and we trooped back outside.

So here we go, the details. (Unfortunately no photos because cameras weren’t allowed. I kinda hated that, but was also slightly grateful for not feeling obliged to lug around the DSLR. That thing weighs a tonne.)

Day One:

The Cardigans, Ke$ha, Foster the People, Tears for Fears

The Cardigans were amazing – Nina Persson, with a diamante gasmask propped jauntily on her head and Tetris-patterned cloak, was pretty goddamn sexy and they played all my favourites. Then we were supposed to see Jamiroquai. I wanted to get as close as possible so we decided to brave the last part of Ke$ha’s set… big mistake. I’d forgotten that the sets had been bumped back because of the rain. So we got to see the whole of Ke$ha’s set.

And it was vile. Vile! Seriously. The hubster was actually standing with his back to the stage with earplugs in and a pained expression on his face. I watched on in horror as Ke$ha and her fetish-costumed dancers rubbed, waved, jiggled and generally displayed CROTCH. I’m sure someone could make that sexy, but not Ke$ha. Between songs she dropped a lot of inane comments liberally laced with “fucks” (“You know what would make this evening even fucking better? If someone sprinkled fucking glitter on my titties!”). At some point for some song about cannibalism, she ate a fake human heart and got lots of fake blood in her increasingly dishevelled blonde locks, which remained red for the rest of her performance. It was just so gross, so utterly uncool.

And then, just when we thought it was over and we’d be rewarded with Jamiroquai… four dudes in suits came onstage and said that someone had a chest infection and they weren’t coming. It was pretty cruel.

With nothing else to do until Tears for Fears, we made our way indoors, mostly because it was somewhere to sit down. At this point, we discovered Foster the People, who delivered a pretty awesome performance (see today’s My Sunday for a Song!). Catchy tunes and a performance full of driving, relentless energy – really a fantastic act (except for Mark Foster flinging a guitar across the stage and their roadies randomly flinging drumsticks at the audience while they were tidying up – that seemed a little… rude).

And lastly, Tears for Fears. As soon as Foster the People finished, 90% of the audience disappeared and the average audience age increased by about 20 years. I went largely so that I could send my sister a message to tell her I was standing in the front row, but I thoroughly enjoyed myself. I grew up listening to Tears for Fears, so getting to see them live was pretty amazing. There’s something really classy about aged popstars, and they sounded perfect and performed absolutely beautifully.

Day Two:

Grimes, St. Vincent, Death Cab for Cutie (about half the set), Gotye, Sigur Ros (a tiny bit), Green Day (an even tinier bit)

I’m just going to go ahead and skip straight to Gotye, who was the highlight of the entire weekend. I’ve loved his music since I first heard it, but hot damn, what an amazing live performer. Even the samples are live triggered, the band works together like a well-oiled machine, and the video background screen is almost as mesmerizing as the performers. I came away feeling frankly a bit awed at Gotye’s sheer overwhelming talent. In fact, it’s the kind of talent, creativity and innovation that I actually tend to associate with theatre rather than music. Oh yeah, and he speaks Japanese pretty well, which went down excellently with the audience.

Something that kinda bothered me though was the hecklers. Maybe it’s because I’m not a ridiculous fangirl (I certainly don’t think everything that comes from Gotye’s lips is golden and magical), but somehow screaming “I love you!” or “Awesome man!” between songs seems a little inane. Why is it that people seem to feel possessive of celebrities? I think it’s kind of shitty to act like a knob when someone is basically dazzling you with their talent. I dunno. Kind of a silly gripe perhaps, but there you go.

Anyway, all round a super cool weekend.

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