Devendra Banhart - Summer Sonic

Thanks to Devendra and his band, who performed at Japan’s 2006 Summer Sonic festival as Bathhouse of the Wind. Andy [Cabic], Luckey [Remington], Noah [Georgeson], Eliza [Douglas] and Otto [Hauser] gave one of the best performances I’ve ever seen, as the sun went down over the Beach Stage, against a beautiful backdrop of waves rolling in from the Pacific on the warm summer night of August 12 along the perimeter of Tokyo’s Chiba Marine Stadium.

The band performed Devendra’s set as well as a couple of beautiful songs from fellow band members Andy Cabic of Vetiver, (the title track from Vetiver’s new album, To Find Me Gone), and Noah Georgeson (a wonderful track from his upcoming release this fall). The band also did a Caetano Veloso cover which welcomed nightfall and lit up the night.

The group even took a short break calling upon a random audience member, John, to sing one of his original tunes, which turned out better than anyone had a right to expect, including John himself. Toward the end of his tune (in english and japanese), Noah and Devendra rejoined him on stage to back him up on drums as the crowd went crazy with love and support.

With a typically packed Japanese press schedule and about 15 minutes to dress before the performance, everybody was gracious enough to don one or two of the items I’d brought with me from San Francisco, with Devendra choosing a single item:

This showgirl necklace, which he wore over bare skin:

When he took the stage, the crowd let out what I’d like to think of as an extra squeal of excitement when he appeared under the lights–sparkling, I’d like to think, and highlighting that much more his transcendent personage.

After the show, the band’s very cool tour manager Zane Landreth (pictured left, behind Devendra) fought to include myself and friends in the rest of the band’s evening, which included stowing us onto their bus and hurrying us past security to their dressing room, from which we all snuck backstage to catch the last of the Flaming Lips’ set.

It was Eliza’s idea to get into the pit, between the stage and the crowd of twenty thousand Japanese, amid the imperturbable security guards standing watch, and begin throwing stray, person-sized orange and blue balloons back into the crowd as the Lips performed Yoshimi and Do You Realize. During all this, air cannons shot bails of confetti into the crowd which fell over everything like snow and twenty Santa Clauses and Easter Bunnies danced onstage.

A night worth remembering if ever there was one, and one I’ll never forget. So, once again, Andy, Otto, Noah, Eliza, Luckey, Devendra, Zane, Sean, Mieko, Kojo, Neli and Tokyo: Arregato Gozaimas!

More Summer Sonic photos here.