A festival is supposed to feel grand, it is supposed to be all spectacle and grandeur. It should come across the way a circus coming to town must have felt in bygone eras- a separate time and ethereal place that only comes around about once a year. No act at this year’s Fuji Rock scratches that itch quite the way Tokyo’s Charan Po Rantan does.
Made up of sisters Koharu (accordion) and Momo (vocals) and their coterie of wildly talented backing musicians, this band knows how to make a show an experience. Their music is firmly rooted in klezmer accordion tradition mixed with modern pop, but it seamlessly branches out into other predictable and unpredictable genres. Chanson, polka, big band, who knows what might be thrown into the mix. Just so long as there is space for accordion.
And speaking of the instrument, Koharu plays it in a way must be seen to be believed. She discovered the accordion at age seven, and really cut her teeth as a busker with a city-sanctioned Heaven Artist street performer license. This earn-your-keep way of performing certainly informs her style, namely her ability to play virtuosically while also knowing how to be a pure entertainer.
While Koharu provides the musical backbone of the band, as a singer her sister Momo contributes the lion’s share of the heart. Despite her relatively young age (26), she projects a stage presence that would put a vaudeville veteran to shame. Her voice manages to run the gamut of emotion, tripping lightly from the comical to the heartfelt with effortless self-assurance. The wardrobe she wears feels like it itself is another core member, all whimsical colors and fantastical shapes. The sisters’ fashion is dreamed up by their costume designer mother, and it is the colorful icing on the cake for an already iridescent band.
The group is no newcomer to Fuji Rock, having notable appearances under their belt, and their creative growth never seems to cease. Their performances always manage to entertain in a way many self-serious bands never can. Even this year’s release ‘Doron do Rondo’ shows the band continuing to evolve.
If you are looking for a unique show which will stand out among your many Fuji Rock memories, look no further than Charan Po Rantan’s set at Gypsy Avalon on Friday.
Find out more about the band here