[28 July 2019]
The 2nd day afternoon of Fuji Rock Festival was hit by the worst stormy weather in its history. The pouring rain continue to fall endlessly, as if it was trying to overthrow the audience’s motivation. There’s a long line from the other side of the gate which stretches from the camp area until the GREEN STAGE. The footsteps of the audience coming back were uniformly heavy and you could saw haggard expression on their face.
Even at around 18.30 when Martin Garrix’s appearance was near, the front stage still quite vacant. There’s a lot of people who wear raincoat rushing to the place, but honestly the brown ground was still noticeable. Speaking about Martin, he’s one of the most prominent DJ in the world who get first place for three consecutive years in DJ MAG poll at the age of 23 and swept festivals around the globe as headliners. That was a frustrating sight, but considering the horrible rainfall of course it could not be helped.
There’s probably no situation more in a pinch like this. However, Martin who is a veteran did not falter. Seven minutes before opening time of the performance, the Beastie Boys “Fight for Your Right”, which had been used as BGM ceased to sound. The VJ screen was activated and when Martin’s trademark “+ x” was projected, turbulence and heavy bass sounds slowly reverberate. Four minutes later, Martin appeared with the song “Mistaken” which featured Alex Aris’s voice, and sparks popped up from the floor. The unprecedented turnaround performance that last for 90 minutes begins from here.
From the start, Martin said “Put your hands up!” to stir up the audience, dropping more and more intensely distorted tracks. Since he’s known for his DJ style where he reads the audience’s reaction and changes the setlist each time according to it, he must have sensed what the audience looking for in this time. As if to spoke out the feeling of the audience who got drenched, violent synth sounds resounds and loud cheers erupted to relieve depression. GREEN STAGE quickly heated up as most people who might feel desperate earlier were entangled by the snapping audio visual that Martin unleashed.
To make it even more exciting, it was the latest stage set “ANIMA” which introduced last fall. The cross-shaped set installed behind Martin together with the huge screens portrayed an edgy world projection. The main characters in the video sometimes in monochrome and sometimes colorful in left and right screens. Incredible lighting synchronized with the flood of sound, also VJ with enormous special effect-like content which fly back and forth were quite overwhelming. The green laser illuminates the falling rain and extends beautifully over the audience to the mountains.
After that, Martin yelled, “Japan are you ready?”. GREEN STAGE was so packed, the earlier time when the atmosphere was gloomy seems like a lie. When I looked around, everyone danced happily to the banger dance tracks. Of course, many pop anthems where you can sing your heart out are also Martin’s strength. There’s a fluttering moment where Martin and the audience raise their hands altogether in the uplifting chorus of “Together”. In catchy “Summer Days” where Patrick Stump (Fall Out Boy) sings, the funky bassline and the VJ which used Polaroid photos produced refreshing summer moods. Before we know it, a DJ set which mixed strong & soft songs was over.
After make people sing in the chorus of his representative song “In The Name Of Love”, he drop The White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army”, guitar riffs intro and loud singing voice resounds far and wide. The last song was “High On Life”, which has been used as the finale to festivals around the world. After a sing along prompt by touching melody, a lot of paper tape flew away at the moment Martin made heart symbol with both his hands. Then, for a while after the performance ended the rain that was so intense suddenly stopped. The whole story was too dramatic that it’s even too much as a fiction.
Previously, Mr. Ryo Takasaki from SMASH who was in charge of Martin’s booking stated that Martin is set out as Fuji Rock innovation alongside N.E.R.D and Kendrick Lamar who were the headliners for Fuji Rock Festival last year, and said “From now on, I want to explore new audience and every year I look forward to the reactions of people who come to Fuji Rock” he said. I wonder if there’s other act who can raise that much excitement in that kind of situation and that kind of timing. As a result of this, Martin not only answered the challenge of the festival management with beyond impeccable performance, but also saved an unprecedented dire situation.
By the way, Martin was injured on his right foot, so he was standing on stage wearing a cast and jumping with the audience with just one foot. In the first place, in the period where many famous DJs performed in the Belgian festival “Tomorrowland”, he performed at Fuji Rock which was held at the other side of the world. With an innocent smile, he really is the no 1 DJ in the world.
Original article in Rolling Stones Japan. Translation to English by @GarrixInterview.