I had been hearing positive hype about the contemporary post-punk sound of The Futureheads for a little while now, so when their world tour stopped at The EARL on a Monday night, i dragged Tracers to the show.
The first act, however, utterly blew me away. At one point as i sat there, jaw agape and foot tapping away, Tracers looked at me and said, "This is exactly your type of music, isn't it?" Indeed, it is. Asobi Seksu are a four piece band that combine loud, fuzzy, shoegazery guitars, strong bass riffing, powerful drumming, and keyboards and female vocals from a shortish japanese girl. What's not to like?
They opened the set with a stunning version of I'm Happy
But You Don't Like Me (which is available for download off
of their website,
so i was familiar with it going in). This song was so powerful
it almost literally bowled me over. When the guitarist stomped
on his overdrive pedal and the song tore into its furious chorus,
i was so excited i almost fell off of my barstool!
Asobi Seksu played for about 35 minutes, but it was 35 minutes
well spent. Some songs were in Japanese, some were in English.
Some featured vocals by Yuki Chikudate, while others featured
the voice of guitarist James Hanna. Some of the songs were slower
and more dramatic, while others were loud and fuzzy and rocked
hard. All of them were enjoyable. Tracers was right -- that
is exactly the type of thing i like to listen to, and i think
that Asobi Seksu did a remarkable job of it live. Highly recommended
Unfortunately, i cannot say the same thing about middle band Deerhunter. This
was a standard four piece rock act in which everyone had a ton
of pedals, and the vocalist also had a small sampler. They started
their set with a drawn out, Spiritualized-esque groove that
then descended into the realm of noisy, Spaceman 3 damaged song.
I was kind of getting into it, especially by the third tune,
but, just at that point, the vocalist started complaining about
the feedback, and began unplugging things. Eventually he stopped
playing altogether and just sang. Apparently, all of that feedback
was unintentional. A darned shame too, because without a layer
of noise his vocals stood out too much, and he isn't that great
of a singer to begin with. They tore through a few painful numbers
like that, and then the singer grabbed his guitar and just rolled
with the feedback for a pleasant final song featuring a Flying
Saucer Attack-styled drone.
Overall, well, i wouldn't say they were bad. But i feel like i have no idea what i was supposed to hear. I really didn't like the stuff without the feedback, and even the feedback was often too loud, sounding like they were going to blow out the monitors at The EARL. So i am skeptical about this band.
The Futureheads fully redeemed the night though. They are a four piece of clean cut, well dressed lads (they all wore suits), and they are apparently from some part of England that only nominally speaks the same language as we Americans. That is, they tried to banter with the crowd between songs, but none of us in the crowd could understand them through their accent. According to their roadie, they are from so far north in England that they are practically Scottish, so perhaps that explains it. Anyway, they seemed quite friendly, and appeared to be having a good time.
Their music is a heavy retro-British rock, reminiscent of The Jam, or any of the poppier post-punk bands of the early 80s. It was catchy and fun, and the crowd really got into them. What impressed me so much was that all four band members sang, and they actually harmonized remarkably well. You don't see that so much these days, but The Futureheads really pulled it off well.
They played a fun 45 minute set, including a hilarious yet competent cover of Kate Bush's The Hounds of Love. They even came back and did an encore of some song featuring the chorus "It's a piece of crap!" Overall, The Futureheads were a very competent rock and with good songs and energetic playing, who put on a very fun set. I would recommend them to anyone.
This night was kind of a mixed bag. The middle act was something of a downer, but then again pretty much anybody who played after Asobi Seksu will pale in comparison, at least in my book. The night did end very well, and i suppose that seeing two really good bands more than counteracts the one spotty middle act. A good night, in those terms.