Summer Sonic 2004

Yesterday was day 1 of the 2004 Summer Sonic music festival in Chiba. It was a great line up and is similar to an urban Fuji Rock festival, as half of the stages are indoor at the Makuhari Messe the rest outdoor in the Chiba Marine Stadium, or on the beach. In an added twist, the two-days are swapped with a twin venue in Osaka, so Chiba’s Saturday bands play Sunday in Osaka.

We spent a couple of hours checking out some of the smaller bands at the indoor stage, but they weren’t as interesting as the smaller bands from FujiRock. Then we headed out to the sweltering Marine Stadium to watch some of the bigger bands.

Pennywise were on when we arrived, and they did an OK set. I was looking forward to seeing The Darkness, but unfortunately they cancelled earlier that morning so the organisers got another band in to play – old British rockers The Wildhearts, who I haven’t seen live for about a decade, but I have to say that even though they’d only landed at Narita a few hours before, and minus a lot of their own stage gear they actually did a damn good set.

Inaba (one half of the group B’z) did a great set too – the guy is pretty good on stage, and mixed with rock and more blues influenced songs. Next up were Canadian band Sum41 who I’d never heard of, but to their credit they did a pretty good set, with some good festival music. Then the first of the ‘headlines’ came on – Avril Lavigne – but I was a bit disappointed – it all sounded and looked like it was straight off the album to me – I’m not saying it wasn’t good, but it was a bit formulaic, especially for a festival.

Finally the day’s headliner came on – Green Day, and they didn’t disappoint – a rocking 90minutes of fun and good music and stage work. They did many of their top songs, and now just from the last ‘Warning!’ album. They also got a guy out of the crowd to play guitar on one of the songs. All in all, it was a great set, complete with a couple of fun cover versions, ending on Queen’s ‘We are the Champions’.

The venue itself was very good indeed, but suffered from a complete lack of decent signposting and staff who knew where things were, but overall summersonic is a great festival to check out. Is it better than FujiRock? Maybe not – it feels more ‘corporate presentation’ than festival, but it’s proximity to Tokyo (and Osaka) make it a pretty simple way to see quite a few bands over a weekend.