While the early morning mist and clouds prevented those who were ambitious enough to wake up at the crack of dawn from being able to see the sunrise, by the time most folks were rolling out of their sleeping bags, the sky was blue the mercury was rising. Asagiri Jam’s second day would show just how much fun the festival can be when Mother Nature plays along.
Those who were out and about early enough were able to sample some free milk and kick off their Sunday with some group calisthenics. It was also the perfect time to try one’s hand at plate spinning, kendama, top spinning and other diversions which were open to children and grown-ups alike. You didn’t even have to be a child to take a spin on the trampoline! It was also a good chance to explore the environs, with the often overlooked Carnival Star area serving up some good food and some good DJs.
The morning stayed relaxed and vibesy with artists like Sakura Fujisawa and never young beach offering up sets that were perfectly mood-setting without being overly demanding on one’s attention. However, those who were looking for something a little more unique and engaging were able to find it at the Moonlight Stage at Thai reggae funksters Ga-Pi’s set. Mixing solid reggae with Japanese vocals and the truly unique addition of Thai influenced and distinctly non-traditional guitars for the genre provided an experience that was both immensely familiar and wonderfully unique.
The day really came together in the early afternoon with Snail Mail’s moody and nostalgic set. Nineteen year old singer Lindsey Jordan’s musical vehicle showed that youth doesn’t mean immaturity. Her sound was very reminiscent of early 90’s artists like Mazzy Star and Liz Phair, with a through-line of ennui that would have demanded a flannel shirt if the weather wasn’t getting so hot. She released her debut LP this year, and it looks like there are big things on the horizon for her and her band.
Perennial festival maestros Clammbon started to turn up the energy later in the afternoon at the Rainbow Stage. The group dazzled the growing crowd with their undeniable musical and artistic skills, flitting from genre to genre between and even within songs during their relatively and woefully short set. The effortlessness with which the three piece was able to fill the stage and engage the crowd proves that Clammbon is a band that would never phone in a set, and watching them perform makes one feel like they are graced with the chance to watch true veterans who still infectiously love what they do.
Unfortunately it is a cosmic law that all things must pass, Asagiri Jam being no exception. The whole shebang was brought to a close by one of the day’s most anticipated acts, John Butler Trio. This Australian group has been steadily extending their reach around the globe over the last twenty years, and their festival closing set evidenced the fact that they have a lot of support in Japan. Their jazzy granola vibe was fun and engaging. It was at the same time danceable and contemplative, musically inventive but not esoteric. The set was, in a way, the perfect summation of the reasons why Asagiri Jam is so successful at what it does. With Mt. Fuji steadily retreating into the night and back into a nest of clouds, John Butler’s set left a feeling of immediate nostalgia and quiet, fulfilled happiness and contentment. We managed to make it through the rain, and for the whole of Sunday we were treated to beautiful weather all under the powerful visage of the mountain. And we all enjoyed it together. But beautiful things are often fleeting and Asagiri Jam ended not with a bang, but with a quietness that left one feeling satiated and graced with a brief but calmly powerful experience.
Writer: Jonathan Cooper