Got my ticket for Summer Sonic ’06 the other day. This is a two-day festival where the line up alternates between Osaka and Tokyo over a weekend although technically the Tokyo leg is in neighbouring prefecture Chiba but given that Tokyo International Airport and Tokyo Disneyland are both located there I don’t think it really matters.
I’m only going to the Sunday event which is on August 13th and features international acts Linkin Park, Massive Attack, Arctic Monkeys, Muse and Nelly Furtado as well as many Japanese acts.
I went last Summer too which was a rather different experience for me compared to the traditional field festivals i’ve been to in Europe and the US. Instead, the main stage is in the baseball stadium but to get to the other stages I had to walk for about 20 mins to the big indoor exhibtion centre known as Makuhari Messe (or I could even have taken a free bus!!) which meant crossing a very busy road. A world apart from Glastonbury and Reading!
In between live songs the crowd went completely silent while waiting rather than cheering, whistling, chanting, shouting, chatting etc. Maybe this ‘silent’ atmosphere could have been helped by having music played in between bands but why no-one spoke I don’t know!! While the Japanese did get excited during the actual songs they didn’t in-between them which was maybe due to the western bands not being understood. Or maybe its just because silent, patient and respectful anticipation is in their nature.
One thing that the western festival organisers could learn from is the organisation of the rubbish which was great. For me it was strange but very good to see the Japanese picking up the bottles and cups at the end. At other festivals it can be quite annoying that waste is not taken too seriously and that watching a band has to be done while constantly treading on used bottles etc. This time I will know exactly what to expect.