Seksu Surprise

Driving from a late Thai dinner in Brookline to dessert in Cambridge, my out-of-town friend and I passed Great Scott en route via Harvard Ave. "That's where my friend Mitch is going to be tonight," I said, pointing to the venue. "His friends are headlining the show." Checking to see what was vibrating in my Scion's console, Mitch was returning my phone call from five hours ago. Long story short, he wasn't there to see the band - he was in the band.

Asobi Seksu is a name that I've been hearing about constantly for the last two months. Though I'd heard of them during their formative years while living on Long Island, I first caught the hype-storm when SPIN online declared them "Band Of the Day." Ever since, their name has been popping up everywhere in the blogosphere. The little information that was gathered included the words droney, cute, danceable, haunting, unique, and gimmicky. This mixture of good and bad left me intrigued, but not enough to seek out their latest album, Citrus.

You can imagine the shock of finding out that an old, close friend from back home was the drummer of a band whose popularity was growing by the minute. Starting around 12:30am, the rectangular cave of Great Scott was filled for the entirety of their set. Seeing a band play live without haven't heard any of their recordings can be like seeing seeing a film without any knowledge of the book on which it is based. You can still experience the modified presentation, but may not understand its original context. Singer Yuki proved to be quite a frontwoman. Sometimes playing the keyboard with her right hand, shaking the tambourine with her left, and singing with eyes closed into the mic, she converged the high-pitched wails of Kate Bush and the raw vulnerability of Karen O, creating some sort of Holly Go-Heavily with the delay and reverb effects of a drumstick being used as a violin bow on the bass guitar.

The drumming and synths went to all four corners of Planet Rhythm, and the audience responded with everything from the indie rock side-to-side swagger and the shoegaze sway. Their last song, "The Red Sea," hit somewhere around the ten minute mark, and was more like a collection of movements that touched on different patterns of noise that somehow managed to come off as melodic mish-mash. Asobi Seksu - an informal translation of "playful sex" in Japanese - is the kind of band, it seems, that have little to do with expectations and meeting them. The five members on stage are all individually lost in the music on stage, as if their songs, as a whole, are some sort of beautiful accident.

Asobi Seksu - "The Red Sea (live on KEXP)"


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