« Japanese Version

Räfven: Into The Woods And Off To The Palace

07 / 30
at 1:14 pm


I caught Räfven’s opening night set at the Red Marquee on Thursday and stomped my eyebrows off along with a couple hundred other people, and that was their first of 8 or 9 performances for the weekend. I believe this boardwalk show was number 7.

The crowd was rather decently packed into every nook and cranny and rock and shrubbery, and remained admirably calm while the band tuned up for 15 minutes past their scheduled start. What, are you going to try to tell a gypsy what time it is?

The sound wasn’t quite loud enough to really get the set blistering like I’d seen Thursday night, but the fault really could have been mine. No one else seemed to mind too much, Hey! Hey! Hey!’ing just as spiritedly as they had at previous shows. I was working, though, and had not yet drunk as much as the ten Englishmen and women plopped smack in the middle of the dirt section.

IMG_0921The charm of the boardwalk stage is it’s sheer ridiculousness, of course, with no rhyme or reason to the placement of platforms and rocks and trees. ‘Embrace the chaos’ I believe is the message, a true gypsy slogan if ever there was one. The folk down front were doing just that, but part of me thinks these guys off to the right had just as good an idea, taking advantage of the ample abundance the forest provides.

As other writers have noted, Räfven have been the toast of the Fest. They have had the best selling CD at the official swag shop. I also caught their closer, late Sunday night at the Palace Of Wonder, and this one was much the scorching sort of thing you’d like to see (it was either number 8 or 9). It was also kind of touching, because Räfven, who at the time of this writing do not even have a Wikipedia page in either English or Swedish, were clearly moved by their reception over the weekend.

The Palace exploded with stomping and moshing at every oompah above a certain minimum tempo. I got myself into several sweat-soaked hyperactive circle dances (I may have even inadvertantly started one), kicking my feet up into the middle whenever an opportunity presented itself. A Japanese crowd is great for this kind of music, because they will go absolutely insane with no self-concsiousness, but keep their attitude communal and joyous, never setting out to cause actual harm as they bop around into each other. Maybe it’s because the guys don’t mind dancing with each other. Heck, they give each other massages in Junior High school.

As an 8-year veteran of Japan, I feel a certain pride when this sort of uninhibitted communal spirit (also can be similarly evidenced in karaoke) goes on such perfect display to a group of first-time gaijin. In our own countries, a group of strangers together likes this will often be too wary of each other and image-conscious to really cut loose. “Räfven loves Japan”, they tell us. Well, Japan definitely loves you, Räfven.


reported by kern




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