Beards, Blazers & Glasses: How Fujiya & Miyagi Helped Mitigitate My Pre-Election Anxiety

Larry David articulated the maddening, finger-nail gnawing, pre-election neuroses far better than I can, so no need to reiterate. This final descent towards election day has been excruciating for us all, to the point where it’s nearly impossible to talk about anything else. Hell, on Friday night one of my friends ended up heckling some McCain supporters who had the temerity to suggest that Obama “supports terrorists,” while using the term, “Iraqians.”

So forgive me if I openly wonder if writing this review isn’t an exercise in banality. Let’s talk grand scheme here: me and Fujiya & Miyagi don’t matter at all right now (if we ever did). In a few dozen hours, the globe’s destiny will be sculpted severely by the whims of the Pennsylvania suburbs (give or take the cult of a few Ohio plumbers.) Factor in anxiety over the ever-worsening recession, the savage scalping incurred by American journalism this week, and the death of renowned oral historian, Studs Terkel, and any mind, sober or stoned wouldn’t be blamed for opting to hibernate until the 5th –or the next eight years, depending on Tuesday’s outcome.

So consider it a triumph that for an hour and fifteen minutes on Thursday night at the Troubadour, Fujiya and Miyagi accomplished the near impossible: convincing a mass of worry-wracked souls to ditch these anxieties for a cathartic dance party. This, of course, excludes the Hipster Runoff types willing to dance for wooden nickels at a drop of Sparks and the drop of an 808.*

Capes: Superhero Necessity or Hipster Accessory? You Be the Judge

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It was a fairly impressive—particularly, considering on paper, few bands seem more ephemeral than a group of British guys ironically assuming a Japanese band name to make neo-Kraut Rock. Nor does it help matters that lead singer David Best delivers irony-addled lyrics with a sotto voce whisper so perverse that only a lunatic would allow him within 74 feet of their children.

Yet Fujiya and Miyagi succeed because of their uncanny ability to tap into the wiry Motorik groove of their chief Teutonic influences: Kraftwerk, Can and Neu! Matt Hainsby uncorks pig-pen filthy bass lines; Lee Adams, the band’s drummer (and a recent line-up addition) strikes an ignition that conjures 100 mile an hour visions and wide-open space. The band understand the power of repetition, with rhythms rippling in round, golden rings of noise, sound both precise and loose—jam band music for Germans, robots, or German Robots named Fritz.

The set-list was evenly split between the band’s breakthrough, 2006’s wonderful Transparent Things, and the recently released, Lightbulbs, a more spotty and uneven affair. To the group’s credit, even the most lackluster new cuts gained a vibrancy and energy performed live. If the band faltered at all, it was on those rare moments when they veered away from their rhythm section to offer dull ballads.

Overall, it was a damn fine performance, an oasis of levity during the last leg of this odyssey. In the meantime, there’s approximately 50 hours left and there are electoral maps to pore over and Cable News anchors to castigate. Good day, y’all.

*A pox on the house of the flailing cape-clad, costumed jackass dancing up at a storm. I mean, honestly dude, it wasn't even Halloween. And you didn't look like Indiana Jones, you looked like Frank Costanza’s attorney on Seinfeld.

Download:

MP3: Fujiya & Miyagi-"Knickerbocker"

MP3: Fujiya & Miyagi-"Collarbone"

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