Fujiya & Miyagi, Evan Voytas, TV Girls
Better than... listening to Fujiya & Miyagi through headphones.
There were moments where it felt incredibly awkward to stare at Fujiya & Miyagi, the British four-piece, as they played at The Echo last night. Frontman David Best would back away from the mic and continue to play guitar. Sometimes he would jerk his upper body back and forth in moves that were so natural that it seemed as though he was completely unaware of the crowd in front of him.
This wasn't limited to Best, though; the others in the band looked to be equally entranced. When those moments hit -- and they did repeatedly -- watching the band felt like spying on some incredible moment where four people were lost in music. I shouldn't be watching this, I thought, but I couldn't tear my eyes away from the stage.
Sonically, Fujiya & Miyagi is more in line with the big groups of the late 1980s and 1990s -- bands like Spacemen 3, Stereolab and My Bloody Valentine -- than their contemporaries. There's a noisy intimacy in their music that's apparent both on record and in the concert setting. It's evident in the way Best delivers lyrics; it feels like he's telling you a secret. The the warm, psychedelic outbursts make you want to close your eyes and sway as if you're dancing by yourself.
With four full-lengths under their collective belt, Fujiya & Miyagi were not short on hits Wednesday night. Songs from their latest album, Ventriloquizzing, went over well with the crowd, but the blockbusters came from older releases, peppering the middle of the set. The band wisely followed the infectious track "Knickerbocker," from Lightbulbs, with fan favorite "Collarbone." The latter was the only time I could really hear the crowd singing along with Best, particularly during the "knee bone is connected to the thigh bone" proclamation. Some lines stick with you for life.
One thing I've learned from going to a lot of shows with out-of-town headliners is that, typically, the bulk of the crowd doesn't show up until right before the main attraction is ready to hit the stage. That wasn't the case last night.
Wednesday night's crowd showed up early, which was great for the opening acts. TV Girl, from San Diego, warmed up the crowd with a solid pop-rock set. Evan Voytas followed with a full band. For Voytas, it was clear that the songwriting is there, but too many really important elements of those songs (namely the vocals) were buried in the mix.
Personal Bias: I bought myself a copy of Ventriloquizzing on vinyl at the merch booth, so, yeah, I like the band.
The crowd: Enthusiastic, with some obviously hardcore Fujiya & Miyagi fans up towards the front.
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Random Notebook Dump: This doesn't happen often, but I was standing so close to the stage that I thought I might take a bass to the face.
Set list below.