Mukogawa Festival : Muko River Hyogo Prefecture

The 'new Avalanches' - Adelaide band Suvome, prove to be the highlight of Japan's first major festival of the summer...

Held annually on the banks of one of the less polluted rivers in Japan, the

Mukogawa Festival is significant because it is the first summer music carnival of the year. It’s a chance for music lovers to dust off the baggy shorts, eat suspiciously overcooked fast food and queue 30 minutes at a time for filthy portable toilets. It’s also an opportunity to sample a selection of Japanese and overseas talent too fresh or too obscure to make it onto the larger Fuji Rock and Summer Sonic bills of July and August.

Headlining the main stage, Australian three-piece Suvome prove to be the highlight of the event. Like The Avalanches before them, Suvome are set to redefine the Australian music scene for the 21st century. Their sophisticated exploitation of circuitry and samplers relegates pub rock of the Antipodes to embarrassing memory. Add the transcendent vocals of Jenni Lush on songs such as ‘Movie Part 1’, or some discerning guitar swagger on tracks like ‘Fieldtrip’, and

you have one of the new vanguard of southern artists set to invigorate airwaves across the world. Not bad for a band who played their first gig in December. That they are acquiring London addresses for the summer is no small cause for excitement.

Meanwhile, frenzied Japanese punks 3.6 Milk play a kind of ska with more than a nod to West Coast sportz metal. No surprise then that they have an anthem called ‘California’. Amongst the others, there’s little respect for genre as acts cross between funk, soul, reggae and rock with varying success. Magic mushrooms, legal and available, fuel the crowds. New age dancers stare incredulously at their upraised hands while stage-divers nurse bleeding heads under the shade of giant speaker stacks. Not much different to the European summer experience then – just with less mud.

Bryan Scruby