Aug 2, 2010

Fuji Rock Festival 2010: Fanfare Of Joy

Hikashu did an hour set at Orange Court on July 30. It was a dense, special and highly energized performance. They nailed down the audience quite literally. As of weather, there were some worries; the forecast told it would rain around the noon. Fortunately, occasionally got clouded, there was no raining during their stage.

It was different from the beginning. As always, the band started by improvising. The difference was its length and style. Unlike thoughtful and lengthy improvisation of their regular opening, it was fairly short, about a minute and half, and its sound was so aggressive. At that moment, it was clear that the band had the intention to take an unusual approach and try to utilize the oppotunity to the fullest. While the rest of the band were careful and subdued playing, Sato Masaharu battered the sharp, thundering shots and Makigami Koichi hit a series of high note on his cornet. It sounded like a fanfare.

After a swift decrescendo, Mita Freeman abruptly started cutting his guitar at high volume. It was the opening codes of "Alternative Sun". The band quickly reacted and the audience acclaimed. It was an appropriate choice; not only the song bears a strong driving feel but also it is the opening track of their 2nd album called "Natsu," which means, summer.

The next tune was "Ikirukoto." As always, it worked as a vehicle of collective improvisation inbetween and the audience exposed to the intermissive performance of unrelenting imagination. In "Nyuunen," Mita, the other frontman of the group, was moving around in the west wing of the stage; he kicked, jumped and made a face to the audience while taking a guitar solo. The piano-bass-drums interplay in the interludes of "Digital Frankenstein" was acute and sharpening as ever.

"Carp and Gaspaccio," the number I wanted to hear the most in the festival, was rightfully picked. An open-air stage under the hot sun of summer makes the perfect situation for the latin song in middle tempo. Mita did a series of aggressive actions again during a guitar solo. In latter part of the song, Shimizu Kazuto executed a comping with latinized syncopation, and upon it Makigami played the brisk notes with his cornet. It was so beautiful to listen to the mariachi sound in the mountain plateau.

From the latest album, "Nikoseron" was chosen and it was considerably extended. The funk number has been featured a drum solo since last May, and this time it incorporated soli of drums, bass clarinet and bass guitar, in that order. In the middle of the bass solo, Shimizu on bass clarinet and Makigami on cornet started to play a simple phrase in unison as obbligato, and while Shimizu was away from electric piano, Sato sang the main melody (and its variations) of the composition in falsetto while keeping the complicated rhythm. The transition was so smooth that it was beyond all recognition how much it was prepared or improvised from scratch.

Then the biggest surprise of the day came. After "Nikoseron" was finished, the members gathered around the drum riser and discussed something for a while. Presumably a point of agreement was reached and Makigami announced "the next song we play called "Yokisenu Ketsugo" ("The Unexpected Unification")." It was a song from the "Uwasa No Junrui" ("The Human Being") album, released in 1981, and probably it was for the first time that the current formation of the band play that tune. Of course there was no marimba but, except for that, the arrangement they have played retained almost the same elements as the original. The band played it fast, Mita screamed and Sato took a drum solo; it was utterly impressive.

The time had come for that signiture song. Sakaide Masami took a step forward, suddenly strummed his bass with heavily distorted sound for a minute, then stopped and asked "Do you know this thing?" And he backed to take a solo, this time it was the manic bass line of "Pike". After a chorus, the band ignited with the whole thing. The fast number was truly a killer, the ever crowd pleaser and this time was no exception.

The last tune was "Puyo Puyo." Sakaide launched that persisting line and it filled the area. Makigami handed the microphone and roamed around while singing. Next to him, Mita continuously portrayed the lyrics; he played a sicken, a preacher and an amorphous creature, et al. Later Makigami laughed, cried and screamed while the band making a crescendo, and at its end, he fell down to the floor.

Although it had to be a sort of digested form due to the time constraint, the band showed their essentials. They improvised, showed a sense of humor and tried to communicate with the audience. Makigami took a mouth harp solo and executed throat singing. At the quieter moments, Mita occasionally rubbed a pink plastic bag to the microphone and practiced a musique concrète of his own. The rhythm section was tight and flexible as usual.

It was a success; Hikashu proved themselves again they could treat superbly with a bigger stage. Hopefully there will be a chance to see the band at the similar situation again in near future.

The Japan Times has a short comment for the performance
That's 'pataphysics for you

The official website of Fuji Rock Festival carries some photos
Fuji Rock Express

Related Entry:
Fuji Rock Festival 2010

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