Friday, July 6, 2007

fujiya & miyagi, south street seaport, 7/6/07

as even the most casual reader of this site (or resident of new york city) will know, the number one thing that makes new york habitable over the summer (list of grievances begins with the stifling humidity and tourists with a fourth grade reading level) is its inestimably awesome collection of free live music. the list of artists runs the gamut from battles and dan deacon (and similarly new/unheard names) to old standards like joan armatrading. but, as awesome as all this free live music is (and it's pretty awesome), it's not my favorite thing about new york in the summertime. my favorite thing is being able to bike to and from these shows, as i did tonight for the fujiya & miyagi/black moth super rainbow show at south street seaport. biking, even on the specially designated bike path on the hudson river, has become the most dangerous activity in new york, having claimed the lives of at least 18 people last year, so now i always wear a helmet and miss the feeling of wind in my hair, but i still love it. the knowledge that i get to ride home at the end of the night, no matter whether the show was good or bad, is always a great feeling, and keeps me in a good mood, even when a bunch of prepubescent chain smokers burn me with their cigarettes and hoist each other onto their shoulders during the concert (not that i'm bitter or anything). anyway, enough of my drivel. here's the dirt on fujiya & miyagi and black moth super rainbow.

black moth super rainbow. i was automatically prejudiced against this band because of their absurdly unnecessarily stupid name, and the fact that pitchfork likes them. and, to be honest, i think my preordained shoulder chip was justified. here's a photo of the band:

i kid you not. i got off my bike, waded through the crowd, and realized that it seemed the band was missing. either that, or that bass player had some strange shit coming through his amp. well, shiver me timbers, but the whole band was sitting on the stage. what were they doing? i have no idea. why couldn't they get tables? who knows. i'm okay with the fact that i missed the first half of their set, and, while the last song wasn't too bad, rivertoriver's claim that they sound like an early pink floyd is way off the mark. the sound was heavily layered, with occasional vocals coming through, though i couldn't see anyone singing (to be fair, i couldn't see three-quarters of the band). with standard crescendos and climaxes, glitchy electronic swells and sinks, and the occasional too-loud sounds (that were also the best part of their set), black moth super rainbow is definitely NOT worth spending money on, in any context. what kind of band can't stay vertical for their set? further proof of their sedentary laziness ->

dude couldn't even stand up for half an hour.

fujiya & miyagi, on the other hand, delivered everything that was expected of them. i'm not a huge lover of electronic music, but their songs (both the studio and live versions) have the thoughtfulness and precision that makes the genre (occasionally) listenable. i'd played transparent things through once or twice, in preparation for the show, and, as far as i could tell, their live set was virtually indistinguishable from the studio. just to clarify, that's not a bad thing. the measured rhythms and whispered onomatopoeias got the crowd to sway, but not to dance outright, which wouldn't have suited the music anyway. their stage presence was calm and professional, with only "thank yous" being spoken - i liked their reticence. i was also impressed with the abundance of "real" instruments in a electronic band - the only programmed sounds were that of the drum machine. and with the exception of the encore, the 6 minute instrumental "cassettesingle," where all three members rocked out and imbued the song with a rawness unheard on the album, the band's physical presence spoke to the simultaneous activity and stillness of their work, the duality of the songs that can make a crowd of new yorkers dance and make me want to go to sleep as i write this post. the gentle repetition of the vocals and melody soothes and calms, while the bass and drums keep up the beat and inspire booty-shaking (albeit subdued). my favorite part of the show were the multiple times that frontman david best (alias miyagi) sputtered, clicked, or made sounds that wouldn't be out of place at a rahzel show into the mic, best heard on tracks like "collarbone," posted below. now that i re-listen to transparent things, it is obvious that the studio and live tracks are not identical...for one thing, the live versions were significantly longer, though just as meticulously rehearsed, so that not one iota of the performance seemed improvised or unexpected. also, in the live version of "collarbone,"
fujiya & miyagi whisper-sung "the foot bone is connected to the anklebone" etc. in the middle of the song, which i was disappointed to find out is not on the album. all in all, i was soothed by fujiya & miyagi - i wouldn't have paid to see them, nor for the album, but as a free show, it was really good. the whole time i couldn't stop thinking about how much it reminded me of massive attack - another band that i can't really justify spending money on, but whom i enjoy nonetheless. i hope you like the photos.

black moth super rainbow - "forever heavy" if you need to, buy dandelion gum here.
fukiya & miyagi - "collarbone" purchase transparent things here.

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