Supersonic, the only Japanese music festival to feature foreign artists this year, took place September 18-19 at Zozotown Marine Stadium in Chiba City, just east of Tokyo.
The Osaka edition of the festival had been canceled several weeks earlier due to logistical difficulties in transporting artists between the two cities after undergoing government-mandated quarantine protocols. However, it was these protocols that drew angry comments on social media after Saturday night headliner German DJ Zedd posted a video of the luxury hotel suite several days earlier in which he was staying for his quarantine of three and a half days. passage accompanied by an inventory of all the wonderful gifts he had received. As it stands, no foreigners are allowed to enter Japan due to the pandemic unless they already have permanent resident status, and even they and genuine Japanese nationals are required to stay. quarantine their homes for 14 days. And depending on what country they’re from, they may also have to stay up to a week in a small, government-designated hotel room with no outside access (all meals are delivered to the room). Zedd’s video therefore drew a lot of negative feedback, especially from students and guest workers who haven’t been able to enter Japan for over 18 months.
In addition, the city of Chiba had asked the organizer, Creativeman Productions, to either postpone the festival or reduce the number of audiences due to an upsurge in infections during the month of August, and when Creativeman refused to do either, the mayor withdrew the sponsorship. Therefore, the rules for attending the festival were particularly strict, as all eyes were on Supersonic to avoid the kind of issues that plagued a recent hip-hop festival that took place in central Japan in August and which received a lot of negative press. , not to mention local government fines.
First, all Supersonic ticket holders had to download two COVID-related apps on their smartphones. One was the government-approved tracking app called Cocoa, and the other was a dedicated festival app where the ticket holder uploaded their health status daily, including body temperature and whether they had been vaccinated. These apps were verified by security upon entering the stadium on both days (day two participants had to update the dedicated app with their body temperature that morning). In addition, alcohol was not sold on the site and was not allowed to be introduced. Re-entry was prohibited every day. Masks were not only mandatory (Creativeman provided his own special masks for the festival) but constantly checked by staff members who patrolled the stands and arena and harassed participants if theirs had slipped under their noses. Like a bit of performative hype, other staff were constantly walking around wiping the surfaces of the balustrades and empty seats with disinfectant. On the floor of the arena, that is to say the field in front of the stage, the seats were far enough from each other for good social distancing and the occupants were asked not to go outside the indicated limits. They could get up and jump in place, but shouting was prohibited. Applause was allowed.
All the foreign artists were either DJs or electronic musicians who did not need full bands. The Japanese groups included idol groups who also sing on recorded tracks as well as local DJs and rappers. All ostensibly supported the “no screaming” rule, some creatively. The female vocal trio Perfume came up with an elaborate set of hand gestures for people to show appreciation and adopt the appropriate frame of mind for their performance. Headliner Steve Aoki at one point said the Supersonic crowd was “the most exciting and calm crowd I’ve ever played in front of.”
One of the scheduled artists, Frank Walker, couldn’t make it to Japan at the last minute, so his niche was filled with a DJ battle between Zedd, Aoki and Alan Walker (no report).
Attendance for each day was estimated between 10,000 and 13,000.