The young couple beside me were excited, and they were only watching the soundcheck.
The little "bonus" show by post-rock jazz improv masters Special Others received cheers from the crowd, and really, they were just mucking about.
When they returned shortly in Japanese farmer hats, the four-piece set out to prove why they are so popular with young Japanese people. From the outset their musicianship was obvious. Keyboardist Yuma Serizawa was the more or less conducting the other performers, but with little more than an occasional head nod or raised hand. It was clear that the connection between these players, performing together since 1995, is one that runs deep.
While the Field of Heaven is always a groovy place to be, there seemed to be an especially warm vibe in the crowd, who danced non-stop as the music moved with its gentle groove. In fact there were times, early in the set, when it seemed Special Others were almost too polite, like Tortoise trying to play for their grandparents. Then it became clear, a few songs later, that it wasn't polite, it was simply jammy in a very non-wanky way. They weren't showing off, they were just keeping the groove in motion. Still, they managed to move songs into new directions on a dime without losing anyone's attention. They were feeling the audience as much as they were feeling one another.
As the lights sparkled on the trees and clouds above, the band continued, bassist Yuya Mitayoshi switched from electric to stand-up bass, and both Serizawa and drummer Ryota Miyahara address the audience with huge smiles, referring to Fuji - where they have played before - as always a "golden time." Their genuine warmth was reflected in the faces that were staring back up at them appreciatively, and the bodies that swayed non-stop throughout the show. There was palpable joy in the Field of Heaven.
photos by Yusuke Kitamura
Reported by James Tennant (2008.07.26 / 13:38)