Palace of Wonder is known for eclectic acoustic dance music, and for Saturday night of Fuji Rock 2014, Afrobeat was the theme. Earlier on the Dutch group Jungle By Night had already performed its phenomenal blend of Afrobeat, jazz and psychedelic rock. [Edit: I later ran into Big Willie of Big Willie's Burlesque, who believes Jungle By Night is best classified as acid jazz.]

Jaribu Afrobeat Arkestra is a Tokyo-based band inspired by the music of Fela Kuti, hear bringing nearly a dozen players to the stage, including three horns, drums, percussion, bass, guitar, flutist, band leader and others, several of whom sang. The music was immaculate, the rhythms and licks studied perfectly. If you love Fela Kuti or the improbably re-released album Ghana Soundz (a compilation of 70s African funk inspired by James Brown and American funk), you would find it impossible not to share the joy of this Japanese Afrobeat band. It was no problem at all for them to get a couple hundred souls dancing feverishly at 3am. If there was anything to fault, it was that their rendition may have been too perfect. The musical philosophy seemed based on study, and there was not much in the way of call and response, or improv, or the back-and-forth “talking” between the parts that much African music is known for. But that is just a minor detail. It was 3am and everyone was far too busy dancing and too happy to care.


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