March 13, 2011
I'm greatly fascinated by Dreampop/Shoegaze bands.You know, the typical reverb-drowned vocals, and ear-shattering distortion running through the guitars.
I'm fairly certain the best indication of a good shoegaze concert has to be when you're complete deaf by the end of the night. This was my expectation for Asobi Seksu. That wish wasn't exactly met, but it got pretty close. I'll take that.
Yuki Chikudate, the lead singer of Asobi Seksu can be quite deceiving, she's a fairly small lady; it's a little amusing watching her stand next to bass player, Billy Pavone - the height differential is quite substantial. In that little package, however, is a whole lot of energy and a commanding voice. Unlike the typical, whispery vocals common amongst most Dreampop bands, Yuki seems to defy that stereotype; her voice instead, was everpresent throughout their entire set, booming as loudly as she could over the loud guitars, and ever so poignant drums.
The band kicked off their set with "Coming Up", the opening track of their latest record, Fluorescence. The crowd seeemed a little caught off guard, we can suppose it's only fair, the record was released barely a month ago. Without much hesistation or stage chatter, they launched right into the next track, "Trails", which conveniently is the second song on the aforementioned new record, almost as if they were too lazy to come up with a diverse setlist. Things however, did pick up when she introduced the band to the crowd (finally), and introduced the next song, a crowd favorite, "Strawberries". Now, this was the Asobi we've all come to know and love. The enthusiasm within the crowd was almost instant; heads bopping back and forth, kids slyly mouthing the lyrics to the song. It was infectious.
The bassist-triggered lights were also a nice addition to their stage presence, adding intensity to moments that definitely needed them. There were a few odd moments though; at a few points during the night, Yuki gave the typical hand clap signal and waited for the crowd to respond, but that didn't quite happen; this was either due to complete ignorance on the part of the crowd, or perhaps they were all just enthralled by the music, that her clapping signals were considered irrelevant, either way, it was quite awkward to watch.
They seemed to blaze through the next 8 songs, "ending" their set with "Pink Light", the final track on their latest release (notice a re-occuring theme here). Now here's when things got a little more awkward; the cliché "encore break", when a band leaves the stage, only to come back for 2 or 3 songs at the beckoning of their adoring fans. That's generally how it works, and it's a tradition I've come to dislike. This wasn't the case at this show however, there were no chants, the crowd seemed pleased enough to leave, yet the room was still dark, and there was still the very distracting noise of the distorted guitar blaring from the speakers, a clear indication of an eventual encore. After a minute of nothingness, the band launched back on stage for a two song encore, including a cover of The Jesus and Mary Chain's "Never Understand". The customary "thank yous" and acknowledgement of the opening bands commenced, which itself was a little odd because she forgot the name of the first band, Mini Mansions.
The show was quite enjoyable, not necessarily memorable, but it's what you'd expect from a modern-age shoegaze band. If you were hoping for a My Bloody Valentine kind of show, you're a few years behind on that.
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Last Night: Asobi Seksu, Braids & Mini Mansions at The Rhythm Room
The Crowd: A surprising amount of older hipsters.
Random Notebook Dump: It wasn't loud enough, I was shocked and a little dissapointed that I didn't walk out with a ringing noise in my ear.