Photo by Keiko Hirakawa
ROVO is one of those Fuji Rock perennials, a uniquely Japanese “human-powered trance” band that’s one of the offshoots of the Boredoms. The group was put together 20 years ago by Boredoms guitarist Seiichi Yamamoto and electric violin player Yuji Katsui. The last time they were at Fuji Rock was just two years ago, when they teamed up with UK guitarist Steve Hillage and his ambient electronic group System 7. That show was very much a unique collaboration and only happening for a short run.
This time we got classic ROVO, in a bit of a daytime version, which is to say it was not the full on synthesizer and drum psychedelia of a nighttime show, but much more earthy and even in parts folksy. There was a lengthy harmonica solo, lots of sawing on the violin and plenty of hand drumming. ROVO is essentially a jam band, but one that tries to emulate electronic music with traditional rock or acoustic instruments. A live set is more like one long smooth ride than a progression of songs, and of course it built up at the end to a climax, with both kit drummers going full speed, and the keyboard loops, guitar and violin parts all coming to an emotional crescendo. It was well worth it.