Summer is my favorite time of the year. I experienced long, cold winters and cold wet springs and autumns growing up in pre-global warming northern Michigan. The brief respite of the “tropical trumpet” as ecologist Tim Flannery calls it, during July and August was such a respite from the usually inclement weather. It also coincides with school holidays and as a busy educator, I find summer a time to reconnect with myself and my family. As I am writing this on September 1, I am feeling a bit of melancholy and looking back at the peaceful and sweaty days of July and early August. I’ve been so busy with the start of the school year that I did not write much in August, so I am catching up with the end of our summer family activities.
Nadia, Ocean and I attended a big summer music festival called Summer Sonic. The tickets were expensive (14,000 yen – $130 USD) and we were kind of grumbling about being tired and not wanting to go, but what a mistake it would have been to stay home. We all had such a fantastic full day of music, dancing and spending time together! It was well worth the price. It was the first time in years that I’ve attended a summer festival. We went to the first day of the 2-day festival and there were 4 stages with 6-8 bands performing on each one. We walked between venues and the concert times were staggered so we saw an amazing range of music. We caught all or some of the sets of the following major pop music artists:
- Walk the Moon, Alessia Cara, J Balvin, Beck, Tom Misch, Rex Orange County, Portugal The Man, St. Vincent and Jess Glynne
It was a super hot, humid glorious summer day so the water stations and air conditioning of the Sonic Stage, inside the Osaka Evassa basketball arena helped us keep cool. There were many highlights.
- Beck – I forgot how much I liked him and he was a true entertainer, providing a good 90 minutes of delightful music. It was the best overall performance.
- J Balvin is massive on the pop charts for his reggaeton/hip-hop style of music. I had never heard of him, but loved his more traditional Colombian cumbia and salsa-inspired songs.
- St. Vincent reminded me of Talking Heads and I loved her visual style and dance grooves in her music.
- Lots of energy from Walk the Moon and Portugal the Man. Both groups had huge pop hits, but I felt both really wanted to play arena rock and Metallica-like hard rock respectively instead.
- Ocean absolutely loved Alessia Cara, whose target audience I think is teenage girls.
In between shows, we went to the food court/village and had some super greasy but delicious hamburgers. The concert was held in Maishima Sports Park, an artificial island in the port area of Osaka Bay. The professional baseball team Orix Buffaloes have a training grounds there and the professional basketball team Osaka Evassa’s arena is also located there. It was a distinctive place to hold a festival and despite the tens of thousands of people, it didn’t feel crowded at all. Japanese culture keeps things orderly and the need for security and seeing young people fighting, vomiting or causing havoc was not happening, thankfully.
The highlight of the day was bonding with my daughter Ocean, my wife Nadia and our friends! What a great way as a father to spend time with a pre-teen girl! We will definitely go back next year if possible. Having two teenagers in the house keeps us “hip” to pop music and culture and keeps us young!