Look up: Press Play First. Enough food. We could tackle international politics, well, immigration that is, if you like — but maybe we should discuss music, ‘cause it’s summer time and the weather is hot. You can get my official word here, but there is more to tell when it comes to Fuji Rock.
Last year Fuji Rock was funk heavy with Booker T, The Funky Meters and The Neville Brothers. This year it’s not. For a dose of the funk this year in Naeba at Fuji Rock 2010, check out locals Mountain Mocha Kilimanjaro in the Field of Heavy early Sunday or New Orlean’s Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews (“Go! Go! GO!“) at the Crystal Palace on Saturday night.
Rhythm and …
The long-running four piece from Hokkaido Dohatsu play what they call Rism & Enka (Read: “Rhythm” & Enka), which comes out sounding like heavily Japanese, gravely voiced ska-punk. Looking and sounding like they could be the houseband for the Rockabilly Boys of Yoyogi park and breaking out the well-worn “No music no life” attitude, Dohatsu do a good job of playfully mocking the salaryman/office lady life so many Tokyo residents dream of escaping with their tune “Don’t Mind” – thank go they didn’t call it “Shoganai (nothing can be done)” instead.
Akihiro Namba, who has bought wholesale into the whole nu-rave style … five years later. The former Hi-Standard bassist (who played then with “Crazy” Ken Yokoyama), now works under the moniker Ultrabrain and says he created “neo-punk” with the release of his first album of the same name. Would you argue against that?
Sonhouse: Another Fuji Rock curiosity for the Field of Heaven following the Flower Travellin’ Band (Great tune and weird vintage ‘60s Hibiya Park scene right next to the Imperial Palace), who reunited to play the festival in 2008. Fukuoka’s own “Electric Rockin’ Boogie Band” Sonhouse, including Masoto of Sheena & The Rockets, have reformed behind Robert Palmer-channeling lead singer Toshiyuki “Kiku” Shibayama for a series of shows this summer to celebrate their 35th anniversary. They only lasted three years during their first incarnation, but claim to have established Fukuoka as the go-to place for Japanese blues bands, thus representing the birth of modern Japanese rock. The organizers of the festival have cleared the schedule of any other acts playing during this 19:30-20:00 slot, so you know where their allegiances lie – go take a gander at Shibayama’s classic on-stage rawk antics. Can’t find nothing to show you, but here’s an excessive ‘80s hair-rock Shibayama cover.
That’s not dub
Fuji Rock has usually had a nice range of Jamaican-style ska and reggae bands filling out its roster. This year that’s not so true, though the names of some acts could have you thinking otherwise:
Jamaica (formerly Poney Poney) out of Paris play crisp guitar/keyboard rock. Tuneful, catchy and produced by Xavier of Justice, it’s got nothing to do with reggae, dub or ska. But it could be a lot of high-energy fun live at the Red Marquee noon on Saturday to start of the festival.
If you are missing the Shibuya Sound, check out the deceptively named Riddim Saunter – they started as a ska band, but no reggae to see here ma’am — who filter The Pogues’ stomping positive energy through Cornelius’ cut-up style (“Sweet & Still”) or take the dreamy insistence of the Cocteau Twins back to the disco years (“Bad is”). Or another way to put it: They toured Japan with the Go! Team.
Vato Negro (Hispanic slang for black dude) is the side project of Mars Volta bassist Juan Alderete. More straightforward than Mars Volta’s heavy chaos, Vato Negro layout driving instrumental tracks reminiscent of the best of Death in Vegas. Prepare for the Green Stage to be flattened by the onslaught. Not very dub.
What’s dub? Mad Professor playing the Planet Groove set at the Red Marquee at midnight on Friday. So you’ve got that going for you.
When the going gets tough, the tough get karazee
Magma – “nu jazz”; A lost progressive band from France in the ‘70s with an apocalyptic view of the world and language of its own devising reappears in the woods of Naeba after years in the Wilderness. Need we say more? To quote Allmusic.com, “Led by classically trained drummer Christian Vander, the Paris-based Magma have been, in their way, perhaps the ultimate progressive rock group; while other artists have achieved greater commercial success and critical acclaim, Magma have typified the many ambitions and excesses of the genre that won them as many detractors as fans.”
And don’t forget Zappa plays Zappa, with Dweezil. Frank Zappa’s music always bordered on performance art — with Jazz from Hell, Brown shoes to don’t make it (“Well she’s a dirty young mind, corrupted, corroded; she’s only sixteen but I hear she gets loaded”), and Sheik Yerbouti — so it should be a fine pairing with Magma and Dirty Projectors on the Orange Court Friday night.