Manic Sheep, Wedance represent overseas indie at Fuji Rock Festival

by Shawn Despres

Special To The Japan Times

Since 2001, Fuji Rock’s Rookie a Go-Go stage has spotlighted indie talents not quite ready for the festival’s larger areas. Acts apply to play — this year 1,300 bands vied for 15 slots — and with the exception of Taiwan’s Go Chic in 2010, all the past performers have been locals. But this summer sees Rookie a Go-Go again adding a dash of international flavor, with Taiwan’s Manic Sheep and South Korea’s Wedance earning invitations.

Manic Sheep plays fuzzy shoegaze-accented rock. The Rookie a Go-Go appearance has forced the group to slightly modify its summer plans.

“We were planning to attend Fuji Rock as fans,” says bassist and vocalist Chris Lo. “But now that we’re playing it’ll be much better.”

Figuring the chances of getting selected were slim, Lo says the band applied to play Rookie a Go-Go and then tried to forget about it.

“We pretended it didn’t happen because we know it’s hard to get picked, especially as a foreign band. I screamed when I received the email from the festival!”

Manic Sheep’s eponymous full-length debut came out in 2012. The duo is recording its sophomore effort in August and will play mostly new material at Fuji Rock. Lo is excited about being able to showcase it at such a prominent event.

“Fuji Rock is one of the world’s most well-known music festivals,” she says. “This is a great chance to increase our fan base in Japan and worldwide.”

Seoul’s Wedance makes catchy electro-rock with a guitar and laptop. The duo has toured Japan three times over the past 20 months.

“All of our previous Japan concerts have been great,” says guitarist Wegui (both members use stage names in public). “We have high expectations whenever we return, so we think Fuji Rock is going to go really well.”

A wrestling fan, vocalist Wevo is thrilled that Fuji Rock wrestling-burlesque act Lucha VaVoom’s ring will be set up next to Rookie a Go-Go. Given its moniker, it’s unsurprising that a Wedance set involves lots of energetic movement. Perhaps the two-piece can even find a way to make use of the nearby “squared circle”?

“Maybe I can do a guitar solo in the wrestling ring!” Wegui says with a laugh.

That would definitely make the band stand out from the rest of the Rookie a Go-Go pack.

Manic Sheep and Wedance play the Rookie a Go-Go stage at Fuji Rock Festival in Naeba, Niigata Prefecture, on July 26 (ticket prices vary). For more information on the schedule and tickets, visit www.fujirockfestival.com. Wedance will also play WWW in Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, on July 28 (7 p.m. start; ¥3,000 in advance; 03-5458-7685). For more information, visit www.utakata-records.com.