Japan's Fuji Rock Fest Powers Through Despite Kanye Cancelation

Andre 3000 of OutKast at the 2014 Counterpoint Festival
Paras Griffin/Getty Images

April 27: Rapper Andre 3000 performs onstage during the 2014 Counterpoint Festival at Kingston Downs in Rome, Georgia. 

Japan’s premier international rock fest, Fuji Rock Festival, completed its 18th edition July 25-27 at Naeba Ski Resort in Niigata, Japan.

The Fest powered through despite the cancelation of proposed headliner Kanye West. Scottish rockers Franz Ferdinand, Canadian indie outfit Arcade Fire, surf music star Jack Johnson, and hip-hop duo OutKast top-billed the event.

Attendance, however, suffered. This year 102,000 people came, down from 118,000 last year, and the biggest attendance ever, 140,000, in 2012. Fuji Rock Fest has drawn well over 100,000 fans every year since 2005, so the drop is significant.

Still, Billboard estimates the ticket sales resulted in revenue of 1.91 billion yen ($18.6 million) for the three-day affair. It’s one of the largest-earning single-venue fests in Japan. The 2014 proceedings offered more than 200 acts to fest-goers on six main stages and at least six minor ones. It’s the oldest continuous rock festival in Japan.

Observers pointed to the headliners -- as well as St. Vincent, Yoko Ono, Foster the People and The Pogues -- as the highlights. Phil Lesh and the Terrapin Family Band brought three hours of Grateful Dead music to a stage that was originally created solely for Phish.

The mountain climes of the event usually mean heavy rain for part of the fest, but this was a remarkably dry and sunny year.

Despite the drop-off in attendance, promoter Smash has already announced dates for the 2015 Fuji Rock Fest.


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