Best of the Fest: Matt
Another year gone already....
5) Txarango @ Palace of Wonder (7/24). Check the review here.
Hailing from the Catalan region of Spain, these guys overcame the language barrier to send the Palace of Wonder crazy on the first night of the festival. Based around a mix of funky punk and delving into reggae as well as traditional Catalan songs, their energy was infectious and sent the crowd into a dancing, moshing frenzy. The genuine joy and appreciation of the band was wholly reciprocated by the crowd and I wouldn’t be surprised to see these guys become the next Rafven of Fuji Rock, being invited back again and again.
4) Foo Fighters @ Green Stage (7/24). Check the review here.
I’ll admit when I first saw the name on the bill, I was a bit disappointed. Some of the ‘rock’ headliners last year didn’t impress so I was slightly worried it would be a repeat. However, I was blown away by their show. Dave Grohl’s charisma and easy interaction with the crowd was the highlight, with his explanation of why he was seated on his throne with a broken leg and his half-chuckling appreciation of how quiet Fuji Rock could be. The songs were played with passion and power, with many fan favourites and mine making it in. These guys do one hell of a live show.
3) umber session tribe@ Rookie A Go-Go (7/26). Check the review here.
Every year, a Rookie a Go-Go band manages to find itself onto my list and this just proves the quality of the stage’s lineup. Umber session tribe proved the best rookie for me this year, with a stellar ensemble powering out funk, jazz and even some hip-hop. Their individual brilliance on instruments is only matched by their strong chemistry together. MC KTwigz stole the show, with a swaggering, hyper stage presence and a ridiculously good flow of clever English wordplay. Keep an eye out for these guys in the next few years.
2) Hiromi Uehara@ Green Stage (7/25). Check the review here.
Jazz can be an intimidating genre to get into for casual listeners. While there’s so much history and complex theory behind it, it still remains an evolving genre that refuses to stand still. Hiromi seems to understand this and strikes a balance between accessibility and complexity in her approach to the genre. She also recognise the importance of performance for the genre, her body and face moving with the music. Add to this her ability to conjure a blizzard of piano notes and the evident understanding with her other members of the trio, it was a showcase of jazz. Just as importantly, it was one that could be appreciated by newcomers and veterans alike.
1) Toe @ White Stage (7/26). Check the review here.
The instrumental band goes from spare beautiful, acoustic passages to shredding, metal breakdowns in the course of a song and the journey there each time is breathtaking. With the two guitars effortlessly weaving and interlocking melody and harmony, the bass is free to provide accents to their river of melody. But the highlight of the band is their drummer Takashi, who gave perhaps one of the best live drumming performances I’ve ever seen. Endlessly inventive and acrobatic behind the drums, his unending fills and rhythm power each song on. The best song of the set was ‘Goodbye’ which saw the instruments run riot in a burst of colour, joy and movement.
Dishonourable Mention: Todd Rungren @ White Stage (7/25) Read the review here.
The laziest set I’ve ever seen at Fuji Rock, with a farcical ending. I’ve sent my application into Smash next year to do a similar set, please look forward to my two cute dancers, fake DJ, 67 year old dance moves and not much else. Rant review warning.
Honourable/Dishonourable Mention: Bombori @ Rookie A Go-Go (7/25) Read the review here.
At Fuji Rock, no one goes overtime. No one does encores, not even if you are Dave Grohl or Noel Gallagher. Everything runs on time. Except if you’re Bombori. In something that’s likely to become a legend of the festival, rookie band Bombori refused to leave the stage for 15 minutes. Even as their stage speaker and then amp power was cut, they continued on until just their two drummers were pounding defiantly away. It was a pretty good set of experimental music anyway but it will be remembered more for the ending than anything else. Don’t expect to see them back ever at Fuji Rock again….
Text by Matthew Evans, Photo by Taio Konishi
Posted on 2015.7.31 16:09