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Back for the first time

shang.jpgIt's surprising to learn that Shang Shang Typhoon has never played the Fuji Rock Festival before. Their catchy blend of Okinawan-Asian pop, pre-70s kayokyoku, and bluesy American rock has been charming non-sitting audiences for more than 15 years, but their heyday was during the early 90s pan-Asian boom and Fuji didn't launch until 1997. Still, they looked right at home at the Field of Heaven Friday night, where they headlined in front of an audience that probably wasn't old enough to appreciate what they did in their heyday, so there's always a silver lining.

Led by the pristine harmonies and vocal playfulness of Eimi Shirazaki and Sachiko Nishikawa, the seven-piece band has plenty of personality, not to mention wit. Shirazaki, dressed in an elaborate Asian-styled gown, easily got the audience to chant along in a chorus of "baka baka," and set them to dancing with her wild and woolly rendition of "Atarimae Da." ("It goes without saying...") The highlight, however, may have been her Japanese take on Janis Joplin's "Cry Baby," which she altered to fit a tale about unrequited love with a sumo wrestler and her ultimate mistake "of joining a rock band." And then there was that JAL song. They just don't make jingles the way they used to.