Pipe dreams

7 years ago by in Around the world

Every year, Smash throws a few wild cards into the Fuji Rock line-up: bands from countries or genres that barely register on the average gig-goer’s radar. Last year we got Rafven and Altan Urag. This year it’s a nine-strong pan pipe ensemble from the Solomon Islands. Narasirato Pan Pipers hail from a village without any electricity, so they’re a good fit for the determinedly back-to-basics boardwalk stage. The group draw an impressive crowd, who initially seem unsure whether they’re just watching a novelty act but soon get won over. The instruments are old-school, but the frontline’s headset mikes and dance moves are more Earth, Wind & Fire. Full marks for knowing how to work an audience ("Are you still with me?" the frontman shouts at various points), and gamely trying a cover of "Ue o Muite Arukou." The music is utterly infectious, blending traditional songs with hints of reggae and Andean drinking songs. Wait, do they have drinking songs in the Andes?

-J.H.

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