A few years ago my brother said – as we do to each other – “Listen to this.” What he made me listen to was a song by NYC shoegazers Asobi Seksu. It was good, and I’ve picked up a few of their tracks here and there. When I saw that they were playing the tiny Institute of Contemporary Arts for less than a tenner I thought, Count me in. I’m just back from that show.
The support act was called Sennen, four lads with guitars and drums. They are, according to the NME, “Norwich’s finest noise-mongers.” (I’ll let you decide how much praise that is.) Their first and last songs were very cool, with rhythmic, droning tunes that built a feeling of intensity. Their middle songs were dull, though: same-y ringing guitars with a little too much pop harmony muddling things up (or not enough, if they’d wanted to go the other way with their sound).
Asobi Seksu were better. The band laid down some solid indie guitar rock, and the rhythm section is particularly good. Yuki Chikudate, the petite frontwoman, plays keyboards and sings, and her completely un-rock soprano voice chnges the mix into a sort of dreamy powerpop. At one point she was singing, playing keyboard with her left hand, and playing a mini glockenspiel with her right. I couldn’t help but be impressed.
The band didn’t engage with the audience much at the start. Chikudate’s vocals sometimes got buried in the guitar layers. Some of the songs also started to feel a bit undifferentiated in the middle. At that point I was thinking it would just be an OK show.
But they kicked up the excitement a bit towards the end with more song dynamics and Chikudate pounding out a kick-ass drum solo at the end of “Red Sea”. They avoided overstaying their welcome by wrapping up the show in just over an hour, finishing with “I’m Happy But You Don’t Like Me”.
Photo from A Hermida via Creative Commons license