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Asobi Seksu, Bowery Ballroom, New York City, April 2

Posted by on Apr 20, 2009 in Asian American, Music | 0 comments

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Crocodiles, not bad, but definitely an off-night!

This was Asobi Seksu‘s big homecoming gig, the last in a long international tour.  Somehow, though, something was missing.  I dunno, it just felt kinda joyless, if I may say so, though the music sounded great and Asobi Seksu (a duo of singer and keyboard player Yuki Chikudate and guitarist and vocalist James Hanna), rounded out with a touring bassist and drummer, were tight.  Or maybe it was just me who felt empty at the end of the night.

First opening band was Crocodiles, two guys, one who sings and the other who plays guitars and handles the drum/bass/keyboard programming.  It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t so great, either.  They sounded a bit like The Jesus and Mary Chain live — great songs played shittily.  In fact, I think both guys were sick.  The singer was spitting like an old man in Chinatown while the guitarist’s nose visibly leaked at regular intervals.

At one point, the guitar cut out completely, but the pre-programmed drums/bass/keyboards — and the singer — completed the song no problem.

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Tyvek, I’m not into you guys.

Up next were Tyvek, from Michigan.  Female bass player and a drummer playing a stand-up kit, what’s not to like?  A lot.  This six piece looked like an intramural softball team that was thrown together with people who didn’t get picked by anybody else.  How did they sound?  It was like bad pop played at Minor Threat speed.  Their songs were frantic and about a minute long each.  And, boy, did they have a lot of songs.  I think they did like 30 of them!

img_0141 Asobi Seksu, yes!

Before Asobi Seksu came on, the roadies rolled out huge sheets of white paper, either to go with the theme of the cover of their new album, Hush, or to cover up the phlegm that Crocodiles left on stage.

They came galloping out with “Sing Tomorrow’s Praise,” off of Hush, an odd choice for an opener, in my opinion.  Then “New Years” from Citrus (a favorite album of mine) crashed in.  “It’s good to be home!” Yuki exclaimed.  “It’s been a long time!”

The venue was pretty packed at this point.  If it wasn’t sold out, it was pretty darned close.  Whole lotta Asians there, very cool, and an incredibly diverse crowd overall.  The songs seemed evenly split between Citrus and Hush.

After “Strawberries,” someone yelled out, “Yuki, I love you.”  She answered, “I love you, too.”  It just seemed too perfunctory an exchange and that was when I started to worry.

My unease continued throughout the night.  I wasn’t sure what was bothering me.  The Hush songs meshed well with the Citrus songs, even though I’ve read that on the latest album they were trying to get away from the noisy guitar pop (Hanna himself was “sick” of playing guitar) that characterized their earlier work.

Before introducing the closing song of the regular set, Yuki noted that many of the bands’ family members were in the audience but her own parents were in L.A.  “Don’t hate me,” she added.  Then Asobi Seksu launched into “In the Sky,” which then built into a My Bloody Valentine-worthy maelstrom.  Yuki then took off her necklace, hanged it on her microphone and stepped behind the drum kit and slammed it like a madwoman.  John Zorn would have been proud.

The feedback continued as the band walked off and then came back to slip into “Strings.”  Last song of the night: the single “Me and Mary.”

Then it was over.  Over over.  Only one encore.  My unease spread from my stomach up into my slumping shoulders.  Only one encore and no “Nefi and Girly“?  But that’s one of my favorite songs and definitely a signature song of Asobi Seksu!  So much so that it’s on the Live From Soho and Spaceland Presents live EPs.

I think Lemmy said it best in his rambling (in every sense of the word) autobiography, White Line Fever.  Basically, he’s done with “Ace of Spades,” but it wouldn’t be a Motorhead show if he didn’t play it.  And when he goes to see Chuck Berry, he’d better play “Roll Over Beethoven.”

Even if a band is just sick to death of a song or style, they should still play their touchstone pieces.  Asobi Seksu, I will buy (and have bought) all your albums and EPs and all your new music.  But when I go see you play live, I want me some “Nefi and Girly”!

I have the sense that many in the crowd felt the same way.

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