That’s not red-eye. Fujiya & Miyagi means “Satanic eye” in Japanese.
Fujiya & Miyagi (and Matt) at the Mercury Lounge
Date: Tuesday, March 20
Opener: New Violators
Guest blathering by Rob Harvilla
The woman ahead of me in line to get into this thing is carefully applying lipstick by using the metallic backside of her iPod as a mirror. Jesus, that is perfect. The perfect single image to describe our generation. Unbelievable. If I see that in the trailer to Zach Braff’s next film I’m gonna be pissed.
Incidentally, Zach Braff’s next film is entitled Norwegian Vegan and prominently pimps our intrepid openers, the New Violators, who sound like War-era U2 if you replaced all the mullets with synthesizers and all that blathering about social justice with . . . I have no idea what Mr. Frontman Guy is singing about. (Though I would guess “shoes.”) I am instead mesmerized by both his basso not-so-profundo pipes and his critically acclaimed Bat Shirt, which my esteemed colleague Zach Baron swears by but I maintain looks ridiculous, reminding me as it does of that time in college when I groggily spent 45 seconds trying to pull on my corduroy jacket before I realized it was a pair of pants.
I saw this band at SXSW for 45 seconds, whereupon my two companions angrily took a profound dislike to them and demanded we leave immediately. A profound dislike. Profound. I would rather not elaborate. Here at the Mercury, the crowd is significantly more receptive. In between songs that replicate overwrought ’80s new wave with disturbing accuracy, Mr. Frontman Guy looks extremely pleased with himself and sweats perfectly symmetrical circles in the Bat Shirt while the synth player—rocking a three-tier setup and most assuredly not fucking around—says “All right!” a lot. As a whole this band is both fashion-conscious and cheerily likable, a rare combination indeed.
In the same way charming means old to the point of decrepit in real-estate-speak, feel free in rock criticism to read hypnotic as monotonous. Thus the tightrope Fujiya & Miyagi (and Matt) walk. The Brit trio flips on the drum machine and adds blocky keyboard, choppy guitar, and funky-within-British-reason bass as Miyagi coos breathy sweet nothings, more nothing than sweet, the whole shebang more Kraft than Kraftwerk. When they feel like rocking out they turn up the drum machine. Hot Chip are our obvious analogs here, but those guys are a bit broader and poppier; Transparent Things, F&M(&M)’s latest, has some temporarily dazzling autobahn moments but generally won’t break your legs, snap off your head, push you down into the ground, etc.
Live, the dudes play it pretty close to the soccer warm-up, albeit with a few beatboxing interludes and intermittent attempts to project “sexy” and “menacing” that are pretty ill-advised. If they get too flamboyant the robo-cool spell is broken; conversely, the minimalist krautrock instrumentals are a total snooze. Too many more of those suckers and I will officially rename this band Can’t.
I’m about out of dumb, derisive puns and the Transparent Things title track has been on repeat for 45 minutes. Nothing at the Mercury clicked particularly, though a few moments mingled Steve Reich minimalism with LCD Soundsystem hedonism, and quasi-single “Collarbone” momentarily stirred both crowd and band. But safely ensconced at home, suddenly “Transparent Things” clicks big time, the lockstep bass/drum machine, the purring keyboards, the cooing vocals—“I look through transparent things/And I feel okay” blithely repeated, a vapid mantra about vapidity, bright red lips in an iPod glow. Legitimately hypnotic, just the once.
Blog(editor)ger’s Note: Guest blatherer filed at 3:23 am! Now give that guy a round of applause.
Steve Lewis (Fujiya)
New Violators’s Mr. Keyboard Guy.
Goddamn, Mr. Frontman Guy from the New Violators looks like a douchebag.