Fuji Rock: who to watch

20 unmissable acts at Fuji Rock Festival ’12

Fuji Rock: who to watch

Photo © Masanori Naruse

Fuji Rock: who to watch
Friday | Saturday | Sunday

You've bought your ticket, stocked up on sunblock, dug your wellies out of the closet and spent a fortune on outdoor accessories that (be honest, now) you know you're never going to use anywhere else. There's just one question remaining: who are you actually going to watch at this year's Fuji Rock Festival? We've drawn on our vast reserves of musical knowledge (and irrational dislike of the Gallagher brothers) to compile a guide to the truly essential acts at this year's FRF, from current music blog faves to a few veterans old enough to be our grandparents. And since music fests are all about new discoveries, we've thrown in a few tips for lesser-known or emerging acts who are worth your time.

Don't agree with our picks? Head to our Facebook or Twitter pages and let us know who you would've chosen (or just tell us what idiots we are – we get that a lot).


The Stone Roses

The iconic Manchester act had barely started their reunion before pundits began to speculate about when they'd split up. But after an early scare, it looks like The Stone Roses will actually stay together long enough to play at Fuji Rock. What's more, reviews of their shows to date suggest that the band – a notoriously inconsistent live act even in their prime – don't sound any worse than they used to. Green Stage, 9.30pm

Watch on YouTube: I Am The Resurrection (Live)

The Very Best

Johan Karlberg's club-tailored productions provide a distinctive foil for the exuberant vocals of Esau Mwamwaya in The Very Best, whose thumping new album MTMTMK is released this month. They should work perfectly in their late afternoon slot – assuming that it isn't pissing down with rain, at least. White Stage, 5.15pm

Watch on YouTube: Yoshua Alikuti

James Blake

Start nodding: everyone's favourite son-of-dubstep singer-songwriter is here. Japanese audiences fell hard for James Blake's eponymous debut last year, but the nuances of his songs – intimate, strangulated soul paired with massive sub-bass – risk being lost on an outdoor stage. If you aren't convinced, check back later in the night, when he'll be doing a DJ set in the Red Marquee. White Stage, 10.25pm; Red Marquee, 1am

Watch on YouTube: Limit to Your Love (Live)

Ernest Ranglin

Bob Marley learnt a thing or two about the guitar from Ernest Ranglin, one of the greatest players ever to emerge from Jamaica. Now aged 80, the axe slinger – as conversant in jazz as he is in rocksteady – hasn't lost his touch, as proved by his performances at the Blue Note Tokyo last year. Field of Heaven, 5.10pm

Watch on YouTube: Lively Up Yourself (Live)


While the '90s had turntablists, today we've got people like AraabMuzik, whose astonishing beat workouts are played in real time on an MPC sampler. James Blake's DJ set beforehand will draw the crowds, but this is the one worth staying for. Red Marquee, 2.15am

Watch on YouTube: AraabMuzik Cooks a Handmade Beat

Onda Vaga

These shaggy Argentinians are playing so many times during Fuji Rock that it might be harder to avoid them than it is to catch one of their sets. Like Räfven in 2009, Onda Vaga's loose, psychedelic blend of folk, rumba and reggae might just become the de facto soundtrack of the festival. Friday: Boardwalk Stage, 1pm; Crystal Palace, 1.30am; Saturday: Orange Court, 3.40pm; Naeba Shokudo, 10.40pm; Sunday: Café de Paris, 4pm; Gypsy Avalon, 7.30pm; a few other places

Watch on YouTube: Mambeado

Django Django

Heirs to the art-pop tradition of The Beta Band and Super Furry Animals, Django Django make the kind of smart, adventurous music that's been in short supply on the UK's meat-and-potatoes indie rock scene. Their eponymous debut charmed the critics when it was released at the start of the year, while the ensuing six months' worth of touring should ensure that they can actually play it all live now. White Stage, 12.50pm

Watch on YouTube: WOR

Take a chance on...

Twenty | One | Pilots (Red Marquee, 1.55pm) Fall Out Boy, Coldplay and indie rapper Sage Francis are points of reference for this emo-dance-pop duo from Ohio, who built a huge grassroots following before signing to a major label a few months ago. Next big thing, maybe?

Moritz Von Oswald Trio (Orange Court, 5.30pm) Dub techno pioneer Moritz Von Oswald's improvised electronic group (with Vladislav Delay and Max Loderbauer) can be entrancing live, though it's hard to see them working in this time slot. Still, you never know...

Gezan (Rookie A Go-Go, 11pm) While most of the bands who get to play on Fuji's misleadingly titled 'rookie' stage are – how should we say this? – rather dull, these long-haired psych-rock mentalists from Osaka are anything but

Fuji Rock: who to watch
Friday | Saturday | Sunday

By James Hadfield
Please note: All information is correct at the time of writing but is subject to change without notice.


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