Fujiya & Miyagi Funk Up the Place

Taking a mere 18 minutes to start after opening act Project Penny & Project Jan finished, Brighton's Fujiya & Miyagi graced the stage Monday night at the Rhythm Room to an expectant crowd that most likely wasn't expecting the show they witnessed. 

The band jumped right into "Sore Thumb," off its most recent album, Lightbulbs, a decidedly perfect opener for their light, funky, and insanely danceable set. The band relied on a drum machine for the song (a drumset sat empty), which is no big deal considering they are an electronic/indie music band. Reluctance to use the drums lasted all of one song, though, as Fujiya & Miyagi raised the stakes, unleashing live drums on the audience. It was easy for me to see from that point that the band would have the crowd in the palm of their polite, British hands.

Fujiya & Miyagi's set was heavy on material off Lightbulbs, but the band was sure to include some of the more popular songs from 2006's Transparent Things -- songs like "Collarbone" and "Ankle Injuries," the latter proving to be the band's anthem thanks oh-so-clever lyric "fujiya, miyagi, fujiya, miyagi." I'm pretty sure those in attendance knew who they were here to see, and their dancing was plenty indicative of that. Hanging out on to the left of the stage proved to be where all the happy dancers were, and I loved every minute of it. I love to the the 'Nix get down like it did on Monday night, and I am thankful that a British act like Fujiya & Miyagi were gracious enough to bless our little town with their presence.

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To say the band absolutely killed would be an understatement -- their music was bolstered by Lee Adams' precision-tuned drumming complimented with David "Miyagi" Best's demure, almost bored-sounding vocals. I love that the guy can sing the way he does -- he sounds like he has a million things better to do than singing on stage, but yet he just pulls you in with his reluctant vocal genius, and he'll be damned if you ever try to get away. Cruising through hits like "Knickerbocker," "Uh" and "Pussyfooting," Fujiya & Miyagi proved that they were a funky force to be reckoned with. Most everyone in the crowd was bobbing their heads along to the music, if not full out dancing. It's saying something when four average looking British lads can whip the crowd into a frenzy like that. Fujiya & Miyagi possess a magical power -- and short of labeling them warlocks, I will be happy to concede to the fact that they are smart, precise inducers of all things funky.

Critic's Notebook:

Last Night: Fujiya & Miyagi at The Rhythm Room

Better Than: Getting your dance on at some Old Town Scottsdale establishment that attracts a decidedly different crowd than The Rhythm Room

Personal Bias: Fujiya & Miyagi play perhaps my favorite genre of music, so seeing them absolutely nail it live was an enjoyable experience. I also love the fact that electronic acts love to project cool, random video on a screen behind them while they play, and Fujiya & Miyagi's video dice mosaic was quite a sight to behold.

Random Detail: You know your band is making the crowd groove when they get a group of fans start up an imaginary jump-rope.

Further Listening: "Knickerbocker" as well as "Collarbone" and "Sore Thumb" at the band's MySpace.

One More Thing: I knew that Fujiya & Miyagi recently collaborated on a song with openers Project Penny & Project Jan. I didn't know if I would hear the song last night, but I hoped I would. My prayers were answered when Project Penny & Project Jan joined Fujiya & Miyagi onstage for the last song of the night, "Pins & Needles."

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