LIVE REPORTGREEN STAGE7/27 SAT
The PA blasts gothic choir music, which then morphs into a strange mix of Buddhist temple music and dubstep. As the musicians file on stage, the crowd of hundreds (perhaps thousands) are already loving them. Thumbing tribal rhythms, and guttural vocals get the whole crowd pumping their fists. For a second, it comes across like matsuri (Japanese festival) music mixed with punk and metal. The lead singer lays a solid claim to centre stage, decked out all in black; like Johnny Cash with a haircut to match.
This is fiercely pounding music meant for huge festival stages, like the one Dohatsuten (怒髪天) occupy this morning. Their lead singer screams “arigatou gozaimashita”(“thank you very much”) and the crowd roars its appreciation at the end of the first song.The drummer, however, is already pounding out his next tribal rhythm; for the following number. The anthemic choruses predate My Chemical Romance, but have a similar cinematic and heart-wrenching flavor. Almost all of the audience members reach a pointing hand in the air during these choruses; in order to show their worship of these rock gods.
The bleach-blonde topped bassist works the stage as if it were a stadium, and he is a veteran; smiling broadly the whole time. Without more than a second’s pause, the drummer once again counts in the next song, and the crowd of hundreds are swaying from side to side, punctuating the lyrics with fist pumps. The lead singer leads the crowd like Che Guevara guiding thousands into the overthrow of a government. And, the audience stays with him every step of the way. On the big screens to each side of the stage, you can see Japanese audience members pumping their fists with proud smiles, like this is their band. The lead singer gives it to the audience in a way (U2’s) Bono only wishes he could, regardless of how many records either band has sold.
Each member of Dohatsuten stands firmly in their element, owning their station like few bands in existence. Twenty minutes in, its members finally takes a breather to tune up, wipe sweat off their faces, and thank the crowd for following them for thirty five years. The guitarist also jokes about the likelihood of people tweeting that they are here today when they really aren’t. He says, “Don’t tweet back that they are liars!”, to peals of laughter from the audience.
Half an hour into their set, Dohatsuten cut into a southern-California pop-punk beat reminiscent of so many anime soundtracks, and the crowd rocks out with them enthusiastically; as if it is an old favorite; throwing pointing fists into the air at the end of every chorus phrase. The crowd has been growing throughout this band’s performance, creeping up the hills up to the borderline of the encroaching forests. Dohatsuten’s bassist bounces repeated like Flea (of Red Hot Chili Pepper fame) whereas the lead singer gestures calmly and coolly like a mix of Johnny Cash and Dave Gahan of Depeche Mode.
The next song is a bit of a reggae-punk number and, during its chorus, the whole audience waves their hands in the air, in unison. This is a band for the people, like workers’ music; in the tradition of Joe Strummer, or Hot Water Music. Forty minutes into their set, as their latest song ends, the lead singer says, “It’s hot, isn’t it?” He then jokingly apologizes for being put on a bill with such famous international artists as the Chemical Brothers. The audience laughs heartily. There is a bit of Yazawa Eikichi in the lead singer; looking like he could be tight with gangsters, while still being an entirely lovable character. He has the air of someone you know would never let you down, and would always be great to hang out with.
Forty-five minutes into their set, the band break into a driving Blue Hearts-ish song that starts with a “Wah-oh” chorus, and the audience loses all self-control. The stage-side screens show footage of men in their thirties with towels around their shoulders pumping a fist in the air, and singing along with looks of pure gratitude on their faces. Once again, as the chorus comes around, all fists in the crowd pump the air. The chorus contains the lyrics, “Don’t die for someone else’s pleasure. Live for love!”. The stage-side screens display the bassist’s cheeks glowing with sheer happiness and gratitude. As the song comes to an end, the drummer goes into a fiercely driving beat, and the lead singer screams, “Thank you! Fuji Rock 2019 was the best, wasn’t it?”
As the crowd roars its approval, Dohatsuten’s lead singer makes a quick request, “If that is so, please let me see your hands!”. Then, suddenly, the pit in front of the stage bursts into a sea of fingers, and a rain hard starts to fall. As the song drives into full thrust, it becomes apparent that the chorus is all about different things being “the best”. As a result, in the closing vamp, the lead singer leads the audience in something of a call and response game about everything that is “the best”. Their fans adoringly cooperate by shouting out “the best” to each and every one of his queries. Once the song pulls to a close, the lead singer thanks the audience, and wishes them an enjoyable day, as the band bows and walks off to thunderous applause.