Fujiya & Miyagi Live @ Neumos
January 27, 2012
By Adam Drew
It takes a lot to get me out of the house on the weekend, but there are a handful of shows worth the time, money, bus ride, sleep deprivation, and possible hangover. Fujiya & Miyagi are one of those shows.
I wish more people had seen local opening act Glitterbang, because their driving electronic beats and danceable melodies deserved a writhing crowd of happy humans. While there wasn’t any actual glitter on the duo’s clothing, props, or gear (SAD FACE), the music was like dancing with a space unicorn made of dark magic rainbows.
Next up was Yuni in Taxco, the talented dodecahedron of the Seattle music scene. Their sound is strangely balanced with a gorgeous
array of influences: indie, surf, rock, pop, soul, African, Latin, Caribbean, experimental, psychedelic, and more. They managed to be laid-back and worldly while remaining fairly intense. Now I long for summer days on a Mexican beach in 1962.
Last, not least: Fujiya & Miyagi!
I wasn’t as enamored with their 2011 release Ventriloquizzing as their previous albums; it had the same flavor, it just didn’t connect as often. I’m glad I gave the live show a chance, tough. Like their previous tour, Fujiya & Miyagi delivered a head-bobbing, white guy groove fest that did not disappoint.
Mixed with songs from Lightbulbs (“Knickerbocker,” “Uh”), Transparent Things (“Photocopier,” “Cassettesingle”), Electro Karaoke in the Negative Style (“Electro Karaoke”), and the current album, Ventriloquizzing, the Neumo’s show was a good sample of the band’s 12-year history.
Backing the whispery Krautrock chantings of singer David Best and the catchy, metronomic beats of Steve Lewis, was Matt Hainsby (bass guitar, backing vocals) and Lee Adams (drums). They worked effortlessly together, starting the show with an understated beat that drove through “Minestrone” and continued on until “Knickerbocker,” which kicked the second half of the show into a higher gear.
Ventrilloquizzing left me feeling a bit too light and minimal, but their live show is bigger, fuller. They don’t so much rock as simmer to a
rolling boil and stay there… and stay there and stay there. By the time they got to “Yoyo,” any sign of reserved head-bobbing had turned quickly into dancing. The encore pairing of “Electro Karaoke” and current single “16 Shades of Black and Blue” was also a crowd-pleaser.
The ongoing visuals behind the band were entertaining, too , including everything from stock footage and Technicolor static to storytelling, puppets, and yo-yo tricks. While the band and audience interaction was limited, there remained a solid connection between the two.
Fujiya & Miyagi’s influences include everything from Neu! to Aphex Twin, but there aren’t a lot of bands to compare them to directly.
That’s why they’re worth leaving the house for on a Friday night.