Summer Sonic Pt. 2

Justin Fiedler

Yes! Summer Sonic is nearly here! I can finally spend a week’s worth of salary to pay for intolerable heat, suffocating crowds, overpriced food, and exceedingly long lines for portable lavatories after having drunk too much beer! The tickets for the Tokyo event seem to be sold out, so looks like it’s Osaka for me.

Let’s see what the stages have to offer… Hot Chelle Rae..? Capital Cities..? Kodaline…? What’s this? I’ve never heard of any of this stuff; I think I’ll stick to the two main stages, the Ocean stage and the Mountain stage. That’s where all the big/famous acts are playing! Nostalgia and corporate bands win this year. I’ll simply lose myself among the legendary names and big crowds.

The Ocean stage seems the most appealing on Saturday, but it’s hard to say no to Japanese girls who can rock out, so I’ll start my day with the awesome bass and drums of Scandal on the Mountain stage. Then, considering that I’m also a man of slender proportions and a sucker for a gentleman in a sweet three-piece suit, I’ll have to stick around for Willy Moon and the song “Railroad Track.” There’ll be no time to linger, though! I must rush over to the Ocean stage soon after for my own personal pop punk parade of Zebrahead! Are you a fan of Avril Lavigne? Well, they have a cover of “Girlfriend” that is just as uninspiring and mindlessly singable as the original.

Cyndi Lauper and John Legend are playing roughly around the same time. Which one of my pleasures is the guiltiest? I love Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun”, but John Legend is a huge pull for the Japanese. He is smooth and soulful and loves taking his shirt off in public just as much as I do… But I think the Mountain Stage and nostalgia win this round again with Cyndi Lauper.

To end the first day of musical debauchery, the last three acts will be dominated by the Ocean stage: Smashing Pumpkins, Mr. Children, and Muse. These days, I can’t decide whether Smashing Pumpkins fits more in the nostalgia category or the guilty pleasures category. With Billy Corgan as the only original member still in the group, it’s difficult to still consider the band with its original name anymore. However, I can’t deny how much they shaped my adolescence. There’s no doubt in my head that I’ll be standing in the front row shedding a tear as they play their classics such as “Today” or “Tonight, Tonight.” Please, Billy, nothing new. Let us remember you as you were…
The last band of Saturday will be buffered by Mr. Children, a J-pop group I have little to no interest in, but hey, the Japanese like them and I’m sure I can find some kind of enjoyment out of their performance. To top off the evening is the rocking, Radiohead-esque stylings of Muse! I was able to enjoy their melodic energies years ago at the Fuji Rock Festival, and now I can enjoy them again! Earth, Wind, and Fire at the Mountain stage can satiate my eclectic funk and jazz demons, but Muse wins the night.

What’s up for Sunday now? After a vodka and orange juice breakfast smoothie, I think I’ll head to the Mountain stage for the modern alternative British group Alt-J. This is the one band that does not fit my nostalgia and guilty pleasure theme of Summer Sonic. They can put together a haunting juxtaposition of low bass guitar licks and high treble vocals in some of their hits such as “Breezeblocks,” and “Fitzpleasure.” Out of all of the bands headlining the two main stages of Summer Sonic, this is the one that I am by far the most excited to see.

But wait! If my aluminum recycling bag is any indication, I’m a big fan of chuhai commercials and their representatives: namely the J-pop band, Perfume! Could their bubbly and auto-tuned performance of “Laser Beam” possibly rival the deep and introspective songs of Alt-J? I may have to flip a coin to decide which artist to see.

Not much seems to be going on until Fall Out Boy’s performance at the Ocean stage. In complete honesty, I haven’t listened much to this band but they seem popular with the younger generations. Additionally, their new album Save Rock and Roll seems to be getting good reviews, so why not give them a chance?

The next two bands on the main stages rival each other in nostalgia. How far back should I reminisce?

On the Ocean stage we have Linkin Park and their angst rock anthem “Crawling” along with other hits. On the Mountain stage we have Cheap Trick and their classic “I Want You to Want Me”. Simple toe-tapping and head-bobbing wins out. Cheap Trick, I’m all yours until I have to rush back to the Ocean stage for the one band I’d never forgive myself to pass up if ever given the chance to see live: Metallica. I don’t care if they’ve gone more mainstream and less hardcore as time has worn on. I don’t care if they haven’t put out an album since 2008. I don’t care if Lars Ulrich is a complete tool despite the fact that both he and I are drummers.

Metallica is a legendary band. They’re not merely an American rock music legend. They’re a historical rock legend. They’re world rock legends.
And on the last night of the Osaka Summer Sonic Music Festival – with beer in my belly and a buzz in my head – I will lose myself in the music of one of the most legendary bands in the world. Among a crowd of people I do not know, I can turn to any one of them and know that he or she is having a significantly personal musical experience, but a experience that we will share forever.

Summer Sonic: August 10/11, 2013

Tel: 0180-993-030 for information (Japanese)
Full line-up:
Tickets: (English)

Tokyo: ¥15,500 for one day ticket or ¥28,000 for both days.
Makuhari Messe (

Osaka:  ¥13,000 for one day ticket or ¥23,000 for both days.
Maishima  (

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