Skanking past midnight
Japan is an unlikely haven for ska and every year I’m surprised by the quality and quantity of local ska bands that Fuji Rock throws up. Following in that tradition this year is More the Man. Produced and lead by Tatsuyuki Hiyamuta, a former founding member of the Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra, the band’s lineage is not in doubt and they fully live up to it as they launch into their raucous set.
In no time at all, the initial brass ensemble sound gives way to rowdy soloing as Tatsuyuki expertly whips the crowd up. But it’s tonight’s guest Motoharu who steals the show. With a mesh shirt, wildly coloured hair and bulging eyes he stands out against the sombre black of the rest of the band. His solos are also wild, saxophone screaming and shrieking as he leans into the crowd. The next wildest member is the trombonist, who revs the crowd up and at one point tripping over on stage in his flailing enthusiasm. He still manages to play while down, which is cheered by the crowd.
It’s a well-paced set, with some slower numbers interweaved to leave energy for the homestretch at the end. This allows the quieter members of the band time to shine, with both guitar and trumpet taking soulful solos. Masahi’s bass lines are solid enough to build a house on and the two other brass members are content to mainly support Motoharu’s craziness. The final songs return fully to the frenetic pace of the start, with skanking melody and rhythm roaring out over the dancing crowd.
The set ends with this last blaze of energy despite being well past midnight. More the Man’s muscular brand of ska made a strong mark and given the history of the members involved, they should definitely be a band to watch out for in the near future. If you want to check them out, be sure to head to the Orange Cafe at 2:30pm today. Take your boots and get ready for some sloshing and skanking in the mud.