LIVE REPORTWHITE STAGE7/29 FRI
A satisfying attack on the senses...
If there was anyone in the crowd unfamiliar with JPEGMAFIA’s one-of-a-kind musical approach, there was little warning to the storm that was brewing when he strolled casually on stage 15-minutes into the appointed start time.
“My name is JPEGMAFIA and I’m here to do some good s%#t for y’all” he spoke softly into the mic. Moments later, walls of thundering bass ricocheted off the surrounding trees and the energy rarely let up even when he was left gasping for breath between each raw, glitchy track. Dressed in Kagawa prefecture Toyota mechanic coveralls, JPEGMAFIA (otherwise known as Barrington DeVaughn Hendricks) bounded around the stage using every inch of its surface and gave it his all, screaming and smiling through every minute of his Friday afternoon time on the White Stage.
“If you have no hair, if you are bald – Make some motherf&%*ing noise” he spoke flatly, springing into motion when the opening bars of his song BALD echoed across the grounds.
Doing much of the heavy lifting on the production side as well, his popping and clicking disjointed beats suddenly turn on a dime to usher in softer snippets of R&B. It’s these rich experimental sound textures that keep listeners on guard, never sure of what to expect next.
Equal parts vicious junkyard dog and smirking jokester, Hendricks often jumped down into the crowd with dozens of smartphones up in his face to amp everyone up while hollering each deft verse over the top of his clattering, glitchy backing tracks. Other moments he showed his humorous side, bringing out a translator and whispering in his ear, urging him to introduce a short sarcastic, autotune-heavy cover of Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe”.
With dark clouds billowing overhead and the threat of rain moving in, he launched into PUFF DADDY, signified by its 8-bit bleeps and bloops spliced with body rattling bass. “Open up the pit”, he said. While Japanese audiences (especially in these times with numerous Fuji Rock safety precautions) didn’t exactly know how to respond to this command, they soon made up for it by chanting a JPEG-trademark (“F&$K YOU, PEGGY!”) back at him, which made him smile.
After burning mid-set through what might be two of his catchiest tracks back-to-back, TRUST! and OG!, he once again pranked the audience with “a preview of a new song with rapper Slowthai” but quickly cut the track off less than 20-seconds in. Towards the end of the set, his track FREE THE FRAIL gave the audience one final highlight before he later thanked them graciously and vanished off the stage, still gasping for air.
In a Fuji Rock lineup noticeably thin on raw rap acts compared to those of more recent years, JPEGMAFIA delivered what was no-doubt the most hard-edged and entertaining hip-hop performance on a main stage in 2022.
[Photo: 10 All photo]