Fujiya & Miyagi deliver a dance party to Paradise

A review of Fujiya & Miyagi at the Paradise Rock Club on February 15, 2009

, Staff Writer

Fujiya & Miyagi are not, in fact, a pair, but rather a quartet, and they are British, not Japanese. The quartet brought their krautrock stylings to the Paradise this past Sunday, entertaining a large and excited crowd that was raring to go ahead and celebrate the long weekend.

Fujiya & Miyagi’s set focused mainly on the band’s newest release, Lightbulbs, a danceable and fun, if not a bit emotionally devoid, release. It still made for good live music, though, kind of in the way !!! are pretty consistently fun to listen to. Their previous release, 2006’s Transparent Things, was also well-represented.

“Sore Thumb” was early highlight with its disco-esque groove and really hip bass-line. David (Miyagi) Best’s hip and airy vocals fluttered on top of guitar syncopation and synthesized blips and beeps from Steve (Fujiya) Lewis. The beats put together by Fujiya & Miyagi are just too catchy to not dance to, and the crowd was immediately filled with people moving around to the music. From the outset it was clear that the band’s performance would be high in momentum and not let up, and this would prove to be the case.

“Knickerbocker” was another great tune, a relentlessly-driven song while Best coolly let vocals fall out of his mouth, exhaling and groaning into the microphone like he was just too badass to care too much about how his singing sounded, constantly returning to the refrain of “vanilla, strawberry, knickerbocker glory”. “Collarbone” was similar with a really great bass-line and vocals that added a lot more to the song rhythmically than they did lyrically.

Fujiya & Miyagi’s set had the benefit of being incredibly well-mixed, acoustically. They were perfectly in control of all sound being emitted from the speakers situated on either end of the stage. Lee Adam’s drumming was for the most part innocuous, doing well to add a main beat underneath all that was going on, but not taking too much in terms of solos or complicated fills. Lewis’ synth work was the most interesting thing to hear in the mix of songs, adding a whole lot to the overall pacing and aesthetic of the songs without doing so too overtly. He would quietly slip layers of keyboard into the songs, layering on top of what was already a great mix of instruments and adding that much more to it. The songs were generally short enough to keep things interesting, clocking in at around three minutes apiece.

Bassist Matt Hainsby really shined through the performance of “Uh”, his bass line being really funky and the backbone on which the rest of the tune was constructed. Hainsby avoided looking too much like a bassist for the most part (you know, standing still with a smirk on his face, bobbing his head forward and backward), and instead kept himself moving pretty well. It helped that his shoes were pretty cool-looking.

Sespite not being an incredible reaffirmation of our ethereal love of music, Fujiya & Miyagi delivered exactly what was wanted of them: a great night of dancing to songs that are some of the coolest we’ve heard in a while. It’s hard not to like a band like Fujiya & Miyagi, especially when seeing them live. Who isn’t into apathetic electro-funk-krautrock? The performance was lots of fun, but is unlikely to go down as one of the great live experiences in much of a capacity. That’s not a knock on the group at all. Sometimes it’s perfect to just listen to something whose intention is little else than to get your booty moving. And to that end, Fujiya & Miyagi succeeded with flying colors.

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