LIVE REPORTGREEN STAGE8/21 SAT
Positive Mental Attitude
Before the show started, a black banner with white writing hung over the stage reading, “KEMURI: Positive Mental Attitude”; perhaps as a tribute to American hardcore legends Bad Brains.
Hundreds of fans, observing social distancing, filled the black metal cage in front of the huge Green Stage. And, perhaps thousands more enjoyed the show standing, sitting, and laying back on the green slopes which led to the stage. An MC spoke about the recycling stations peppered throughout the grounds, and then told the crowd that we are here in nature and – as a result – we should respect it. He then said, “Here they come, for their RETURN to Fuji Rock, with their Positive Mental Attitude (PMA)…KE…MU…RI!
To the strains of NOFX’s “All Outta Angst,” the band took the stage, smiling broadly at their fans. Their lead singer – decked out in a plain white t-shirt and black and white checkered shorts – led a furious charge of ska-infused punk. The seven-piece band – including three horn players – had their fans in the black cage skanking their hearts out during the verses, and then raising their arms in punctuated joyous celebration during the first chorus. For people who support “positive mental attitudes” the past two years of restraint must have been arduous indeed. By the time the first guitar solo hit, nary a fist sat down at waist level. All hands struck at the air in joyous celebration. And, when the first song came to an end, everyone in attendance applauded heartily.
As soon as the slow intro of the second song ended – and the tune snapped into a furious overdrive – thousands of people pogoed in place, with both hands in the air. They also gesticulated above their heads at the end of every sentence. Their bassist, in his purple t-shirt and pink sunglasses glowed from ear to ear as he pogoed along with his thousands of fans in the crowd. Their drummer, in a black T, and black backwards baseball cap, gave Chad Smith a run for his money; hammering each verse and chorus home with the force of a Norse god.
Before their third song began, KERMURI’s lead singer took a leg-stretching stance on stage – reminding one of SNFU’s late great vocalist Ken Chinn (Chi Pig) – and then wrapped the mic cable around his left hand to deliver his vocals with both hands in prayer, but with the force of Bad Religion’s Greg Graffin. As he introduced the following song, almost more hardcore than ska punk – allegedly called “New Generation” – he proved his mettle as a superior vocalist by delivering rapid-fire syllables with perfect enunciation and power, as his guitarist, drummer and bassist provided superb gang vocals. Throughout it all, the crowd delivered their love by tirelessly throwing fists in the air.
Seventeen minutes into their set, the lead singer of this band called out, “Thank you very much, we are KEMURI! And, WELCOME to the Fuji Rock festival 2021! I think…we should play the next song,” to which the audience exploded in laughter, accompanied by happy applause. He then went on to explain that the next song (which appeared on an album they released in 2020) was about how, in life, there are many difficulties, but if we all hold hands, we can make it through together. The verses came through like the fiercest hardcore that one could ever imagine, before mellowing a bit and adding horns for the prechourses, and then diving back into ferociously speedy hardcore for the first half of the chorus. The energy of the crowd, as well, seemed to increase accordingly; as the lead singer convinced most in attendance to clap energetically over their heads during a quick breakdown.
Twenty-five minutes into KERMURI’s set, the crowd clapped over their heads on their own, as a guitar intro chopped a rapid tasty ska punk rhythm. The intro over, the band once again launched into frenetically-paced hardcore peppered with ska horns, and the entire area in front of the stage erupted into a happy sea of bouncing smiling faces. Fans young and old also continued to skank energetically to the ska-fueled choruses. Matching their energy, KEMURI’s lead singer pointed a single finger at the sky, while delivering lyrics steeped in positivity.
Half an hour into their set, the lead singer smiled at the audience in between songs, and said, “Live music is good, isn’t it?” and “Fuji Rock is good, isn’t it?”. The audience applauded in agreement after each question. Throughout the show, he seemed calm and composed like the leader of a revolution; smiling at his crowd of fans, pointing to himself, and then pointing at them, and gesticulating in ways that seemed to say, “we can overcome any obstacles together”.
Forty minutes into their set, in between two songs, the lead singer took a swig of water and reminded everyone to stay hydrated. He also said, “If you have any troubles in the following year, think of how much fun you had today, or think of the smiling face of a friend, and then we’ll meet again next year! Solidarity!” And, within the four seconds of a count in, the band were off and running again, with a tune of the same name, and lyrics that espoused supporting one another through the tough times in our lives. Even this far into their set, KEMURI’s energy never let up; with the horn players running from the drum riser to the front of the stage to deliver gang vocals in a fierce punk style, and then running all the way back to their stations in time for their horn cues.
With fifteen minutes left in their set, KERMURI’s lead singer teased the audience, by asking them, “Can you still sing from your soul?”. He asked them over and over again, and each time they applauded more appreciatively. He then introduced a driving number called “Positive Mental Attitude,” which had all fists in the air every time the gang vocals came around. With ten minutes left in their set, before introducing the last song, KEMURI’s lead singer confessed that they had a band meeting before deciding to play at Fuji Rock this year, and some members thought that they shouldn’t; while others thought they should. This produced understanding laughter and applause from the bulk of their fans in attendance. He then stated that all members of the band passed their PCR tests, and decided they should do it, to bring their positive mental attitude to the people. As he then broke into tears, the crowd started clapping in the manner of a standing ovation. And then, the band tore into their last song; a ferociously fast ska-punk number that the audience did their best to dance to, despite the heat, and probable exhaustion.
When the music stopped, KEMURI’s lead singer humbly said, “Thank you, we are KEMURI,” and then the band walked off stage. The last to leave was their drummer, who assumed center stage, placed his hands as if in a shinto prayer of thanks, and mouthed some words of gratitude before leaving the stage as well.
[Photo: 10 All photo]