There was some minor Fuji controversy last week after Primal Scream and The Birthday were placed into high performance slots on Sunday to replace a cancellation after having previously been scheduled to play Saturday as well. Some fans voiced their disappointment with the same "big name" acts appearing on both nights. Although I can understand where my fellow Fujirockers are coming from, after seeing The Birthday's powerful set on the White Stage tonight, I think anyone not psyched about watching them tomorrow will be pleasantly surprised and likely have a hell of a night if they give them a chance.
Two big motel style neon signs saying "The Birthday" and "Motel Radio" (which is the name of the act's latest disc) were illuminated at both sides of the stage as The Birthday emerged. Someone counted slowly from 1 - 6 and then guitarist and vocalist Chiba Yusuke said the numbers again much quicker as the group kicked into their opening cut. A well known band in their own right, The Birthday's reputation has obviously been bolstered by the fact that Yusuke and drummer Kazuyuki Kuhara are both former members of late Japanese garage rockers Thee Michelle Gun Elephant. Well-schooled in the ways of rock n' roll, Yusuke had little difficulty leading the group as they thrilled the large crowd with big, stadium-worthy anthems that should sound fantastic blasting through the Green Stage's massive speaker system.
Although there was little movement onstage, the large amounts of smoke and red, white, and yellow lights that illuminated the act along with some subtle posturing gave them a larger than life persona that was very entertaining to watch and fit in perfect with the relentless onslaught on fast, guitar driven tunes being turned out. Displaying solid musicianship their bare bones approach to playing live ensured that the focus remained squarely on the quality songs being created. Material from Motel Radio and older cuts like "Stupid" were all met with huge cheers from a very satisfied audience. The latter, with its chorus of "Are You Stupid?" was especially meaningful because you'd have to been stupid to not have enjoyed this.
Photos by by Naoaki Okamura
Reported by Shawn Despres (2008.07.27 / 00:11)