LIVE REPORTWHITE STAGE7/28 SAT
Fuji Rock always has a band from Spain that you can count on for a good time and this year that honour fell to Esne Beltza, a ska-rock outfit hailing from the Basque country. Given the number of bands picked from Spain that come to the festival each year, it should really not be a huge ask for folks to know where that is geographically or to take note of the political mood therein, but not a few people remarked that they had no idea where the Basque country was. Given that hole in the collective knowledge, it might be worth noting that the political elements of Esne Beltza’s set went over everyone’s head. No matter though, because what people are here to see is music and music is what they got, and should that music enlighten a few people on the way, then the work is done.
Opening up the White Stage on a Saturday morning was a task Esne Beltza took in their stride, pleasing the crowd with a set full of songs running the gamut between ska, punk and even a bit of klezmer amongst some scratching from their DJ. The early afternoon crowd was eating it up: crouching down when told to, jumping around the rest of the time – the energy was infectious. The band’s ska-punk ditties encouraged everyone to jig about, with thumping party numbers thrown in amongst cumbia-infused dance tunes. Towards the end of the set the band hopped into the crowd and played from there, echoing their performance last night at the Crystal Palace. The intimacy may have been lost in this case, but the intensity was not and the band’s energy vibrated through the White Stage crowd as they played, proving once again that the only way to open a White Stage Saturday is with some European fire.
It always feel like a platitude to say that bands are doing something different, but with Esne Beltza it feels as though they have sincerely melded their various influences together into a cohesive whole. We may not see this band again at Fuji Rock but they assured themselves a place in the audience’s memory.