Saturday morning opened in much the same way Friday morning did: cloudy and breezy, occasionally windy, in fact. By the time Tempalay began their 11:30 a.m. set at the Red Marquee a huge crowd had set up camp in and around the shed, making it rather difficult to find even a good standing spot from which to watch the group, though, in truth, what you ended up watching was the band in silhouette against a screen of clever and often disturbing videos. The music was anything but disturbing, though maybe it was meant to be.
Tempalay’s raucous R&B has a jerry-rigged quality that makes you wonder if the song they’re playing is going to fall apart at any moment. The mind-frying “Sonic Wave” is cued to nursery rhyme couplets that bleed over into rap, while the purposely sloppy guitar lines challenge the assumption that this is some kind of earnest jam. At one point, in fact, things did fall apart and the band had to take a break to deal with an unexplained technical issue, thus giving them an opportunity to joke with the audience about the administration of Fuji Rock and their own very small part in making it a wonderful festival — or something like that. (They emerged from the Rookie A Go Go Stage in 2015)
Which is to say, Tempalay works to subvert logic. vocalist-guitarist Ryoto Ohara’s playful falsetto is the only really emotional tool in their sonic armory, most of which is aimed squarely at the funny bone. In interviews the band says they want to make the audience at least a little uncomfortable, and I’m not sure they succeeded on Saturday morning. Nobody left during the set, and after it was over, smiles were all you saw.