Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Review: Fujiya & Miyagi, 2/15 @ The Paradise

Who are Fujiya & Miyagi? As I looked around The Paradise Rock Club on February 15, I couldn’t place the bands demographic. Are they your typical hipster band from the UK, who just happened to get a break in the US? Judging from the amount of flannel wearing, thick framed 20 somethings they could be. Do they cater to the cultured, music elite where only those who are “in the know” are in the know? Judging from the amount of intellectual-looking, IPA drinking 26-year-olds they could be. As the band began playing, however, I discovered something truly amazing: Fujiya & Miyaji transcends all these stereotypes. Seeing them is truly a unique music experience.

Fujiya & Miyaji launched into their electric dance party with “Ankle Injuries,” off their 2006 album, Transparent Things. The song begins with singer/guitarist David Best whispering “Fujiya, Miyagi” 26 times over Matt Hainsby’s funky bass line. Before I made a conscious effort to dance I noticed that my head had already begun to bob to the beat. Best’s voice is one part dreamy, one part hypnotic. His classic “Oh, Oh”s, that sound almost like grunts, litter popular songs such as “Photocopier” and “In One Ear & Out the Other,” both from Transparent Things.

The ensemble, consisting of Best, Hainsby, Steve Lewsis (synths, beats and programming), and new member Lee Adams (drums), came together to deliver a low key yet dazzling performance. I often found myself intrigued by the experimental noises I heard emerging from the stage. Toward the end of “Kickerbocker,” off their most recent album, Lightbulbs, the band comes together to deliver an instrumental exploration that would get even the lay listener to shake it. Best and Lewis’s solo collaboration at the end of the song demonstrates Fujiya & Miyaji’s ability to make something out of nothing: they take traditional music and make it sound innovative.

Self-described as being influenced by 70’s German experimental bands and early-90’s electronic music, Fujiya & Miyaji have a ground-breaking sound that makes them stand out in a sea of UK bands trying to make it in the US. Adding Adams as a drummer definitely beefed up their sound, giving the band more of a dance-y feel. Case in point, the song “Collarbone” from Transparent Things sounds great on the studio album, but with the addition of Adams drumming the song sounds even better on stage. The unsung hero of the band (sorry for the pun), however, turns out to be Hainby, whose bass beats literally hold the band together. The bass lines unite the flow of the other instruments. The vibe between the band members makes it seem like the guys are having just as much fun playing as I am dancing.

With Fujiya & Miyagi, I never wanted the music to end. Their meager hour-long set made my heart ache a little when the show was over. However, I will admit that one reason that the set was so good was because they played only their best tracks. Though the band doesn’t need theatrics, I craved to continue being mesmerized by the videos of dice forming the band’s name and images of a losing Pacman game sharing the back wall with Adams. Fujiya & Miyagi has concocted a formula for success and their sound is compatible with all music tastes. I honestly believe that everyone can find at least one song they like and I look forward to the next time I get to boogie to their beats.

Check out their MySpace to see more tour dates or just to give them a listen.

-Lana Tkachenko

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