Posted on 2013/07/27 21:34
  • Live Report
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Mark Ernestus presents Jeri-Jeri offered its Orange Court audience a helpful reminder that drums are much, much more than the tan skins that are stretched across their surface. They truly are the entire instrument, and the skinniest drummer of them all (there were four in total) demonstrated this to an impressive effect regularly through their unfortunately damp performance, striking the sides as well as the bits of wood jutting out of the top with deft touches most locals are probably more likely to associate with taiko.

But now I hear you thinking, how do you really know he was the skinniest drummer under the traditional Senegalese getup he was wearing? After all, those outfits are perfect accessories for hiding even the slightest gain in weight. Well, I’m glad you asked and the answer is actually quite simple: he stripped down to virtually nothing at all. In a madcap series of maneuvers, he removed a seemingly infinite number of items of clothing, stopping only to break into a ferocious dance every now and again before asking us with his eyes if we’d like him to remove some more.

While on the subject of fashion, the vocalist’s dress probably holds the title of the most colorful at this year’s fest, although this is written in full knowledge that Bjork has yet to take the stage. Three hours and counting…

And the music? Well, where to begin. Mixing three traditional Senegalese drum kits with a regular drum kit is always gonna raise a few eyebrows at Fuji Rock, let alone the decibel levels. The sound was intense even with a proper set of earplugs stuffed into my ears. In fact, at one point I wasn’t even sure I was still wearing them.

All-consuming and explosive are perhaps the first words that immediately spring to mind when trying to summarize their performance in a few words. And the crowd got right in behind them, cheering raucously whenever one of them ended a particularly wrist-jarring solo that combined simple finger touches with the sharp slap of a traditional drumstick.

Although the weather gods decided to be a little unkind to Mark Ernestus and his crew, the Orange Court was certainly blessed to hear the drumming on display. With Fuji Rock a little light on heavy dub/roots acts this year, this performance was enough to send shivers along the spine of bass lovers everywhere. Just check out Julen Esteban-Pretel’s amazing photos if you doubt me in any way…