Sammy the Seal

It was really, really, really fun

In experience, vinyl on Saturday, 5 March, 2011 at 21:48

(If this review seems late, it’s because I went to bed after 5AM, and woke up over twelve hours later, uninterrupted. Well, at least with distance I can put more perspective on the show, and sound more coherent.)

Yup, that’s what I said to Yuki last night after the show. (I admit I’m being a bit familiar, Yuki Chikudate is the lead vocalist and, with guitarist James Hanna, the core of Asobi Seksu. So there.) I had my set list, and was just dawdling (because I didn’t drive in and had time to kill before catching the 2AM bus home, and to say thank you) and upset I didn’t get to say hi to Yuki when she briefly came onstage to retrieve her leather jacket, when I noticed her sitting on the wall above the merch table, hands planted on the ledge, legs dangling casually. Someone was talking to her, but it would have been incredibly weak to not go up. I apologized for my lack of eloquence, said thank you, touched my heart, and told her I had lots of fun, and she was very gracious, then fulfilled my dorky request to sign my set list even though I didn’t buy anything (but I have all their music!). She was quite personable, an observation I will explain in detail later.

Anyway, how about the actual performance? 🙂 No disrespect, but I’m not going to say much about openers The Fascination Movement, since I have so much else to say about Asobi. Actually, they were actually quite good. Normally it’s hard for me to dance or at least groove to music I’m not familiar with and/or don’t like (one of many reasons I don’t go clubbing), but I was quite into it from their first song, going from on a stool to near the stage. I’m no scholar,  so I can only describe it how I know, as 70s/80s synth pop/rock. It may or may not have been because one other opener canceled for personal reasons, but they played for 45-50 minutes, which is strange for an opener (Asobi was only on for about an hour themselves!), and usually trying for an audience there to see the headliner, but my interest only slightly waned near the end. They certainly held their own.

I’ll try not to gush too much, biased as I am, but I will say that the show was everything I hoped it would be. Chop Suey is a pretty small venue, with a low stage, so I was just a few measly feet from Yuki. And I was in front, in my opinion because hipster-looking people don’t get too involved or impassioned about stuff. Going in, I had a couple of songs in mind I hoped they would play, but wasn’t too hung up on it. By the end, I didn’t care. Example: I’m not too crazy about the songs “In the Sky” and “Pink Cloud Tracing Paper” and yet I ate them up. That’s actually my secret desire for any show, that the band will take a song I’m impartial to, and get me excited, which is what they did with those two last night. I said the other day how Fluorescence opener “Coming Up” was my least favorite track, but as a show-opener, I changed my tune. It’s impossible to pick a stand-out song from the set, they were that consistent. You’d think it would be “Thursday” or “New Years”, but anything would have been great, I really believe that. If forced to choose, I’d say “Leave the Drummer Out There” was the song most re-framed in my eyes, which is not surprising, as 6+ minute songs are harder to get into. Despite the “dream” and “shoegaze” tags you’ll hear bandied about, this was most definitely a rock show. When Yuki wasn’t singing, you could usually find her throwing her hair about like a headbanger, while James, in his Deerhoof shirt, was given to moments of thrash-y guitar heroism. There was no balladry, little downtempo– the show as a whole was a very energetic affair. And yet, Yuki’s voice held its own, and soared, even. I’d always thought it too delicate for a noisy live show, yet, save for the “she’s the only one…” line in the chorus of “Sighs”, she was in full force, never dropping her register, an adjustment performers often make when translating from recorded to live. The band may not have been talky, save for the requisite “thank you”, or occasional song title announcement or plug of the new album, but you could tell they enjoyed it. Indeed, the band was very workmanlike. They plowed through fourteen full songs in about an hour. I personally am used to a little humorous stage banter, but honestly, I didn’t need it, and in my opinion, it’s just not who they are. It could easily be taken for snobbery, but then again, that’s people seeking gratification, and being unsympathetic, I think. (When I’m quiet at work, people think there’s something wrong. I explain that I’m human and I have ups and downs. I am truly positive and passionate at my core, but it’s impossible to be always be perky and entertaining, unless you have problems. That’s not what human beings are.) So, when I had a real interaction, with Yuki at least, guess what? She was a normal person, completely pleasant and gracious, no pretenses that I could sense. At that moment, you could not tell that she was a musician and had just gotten off stage. James and Yuki seems like two normal people who set out to make music and enjoy doing it. They only negative I can possibly say about the show is, as usual, an audience issue. Usually people who just stand there, one usually finds away from the stage, but this time people near the stage weren’t doing much. And for a Friday night, the crowd was decent but could have been bigger.

Which brings me to my hopefully-doesn’t-sound-like-a-rant, which I hope I can keep relatively short. First off, I am not one for idol worship, or putting anyone on a pedestal– we’re all human beings, after all. I enjoy Asobi Seksu greatly but I will not say  how “important” or “life-changing” they are, nor will I guarantee anything. Personally, such expectations come off as insecure and ultimately silly. You validate yourself validate from within, not without. I say that, because in the indie scene, like any scene, many people often validate themselves– and others– based on musical taste, among other things. It can be as insular as any other niche. As much as a snob and as opinionated as I can be, most people know I am the first to say that they’re just my little thoughts, no matter how strongly I voice them. Hopefully you’re secure enough to withstand me. I love what I love, and you love what you love, and really, that’s what I’m interested in, what excites people and gets them geeky and un-self-aware. However, it disappoints me that, in the indie world, a band like this doesn’t seem as popular. The few people I know who listen to indie music don’t know them, if they’ve even heard of them. I hate to stereotype, but it’s like you really do have to be skinny, scruffy, t-shirted white boys to get any respect. I will admit, if I see a photo of a band and that’s what they look like, it handicaps any desire to explore their music. Maybe that’s my multi-ethnicity talking, I don’t know. They aren’t going to change the world, even the indie world, and, as I mentioned before, that doesn’t seem to be their intent or personality, but they are good at what they do, and I appreciate them for what they add to my experience as a person in this little world.

Anyway, no slight to James at all, but it’s impossible to talk about this band without talking about Miss Yuki. After seeing her perform, to put it bluntly, Yuki fucking rocks. And I’m not just talking about her leather jacket, and no, I don’t have an Asian fetish. (In fact, unlike many American men, it’s nearer the bottom of my list, as far as inane, superficial preferences go. In my opinion, I’d think a fair amount of guys are, at least initially, into Asobi because of her. It’s not a knock, it’s the truth. Many white American guys have an Asian fetish, and well, I live in the Pacific Northwest, so yeah.) One thing I enjoy is that she plays against that type, sort of. You know, small, cute, meek, submissive. When she came out onto the stage, she did look it– incredibly adorable, petite Japanese-American girl, and I will admit, when she came out, I did get a fetish. Good lord, she was beautiful. Terribly lovely. And yet, when not belting out tunes in that airy soprano of hers, she was headbanging or freaking out on her keyboard. Definitely not meek or submissive 🙂 In fact, I’ve read about and seen photos of Yuki tearing up a drum kit, which was the only band-related disappointment of the show: we never got to see that 😦

“This feeling just might carry on for days”– let me assure you, Yuki, it will carry on for days, thanks to you all. (Hopefully, “this feeling” does not refer to the rocking out-induced whiplash, which hopefully subsides after tonight. Not that I’m complaining. Bodily pain just means I had an excessively good time 🙂 )

P.S. I’m aware it’s an instantaneous reaction, but last night I started mulling over the possibility of seeing them in either BC or Portland. Well, waking up at 530PM nixed the former idea, but to be honest, I still haven’t ruled out Sunday night in Portland, even though it’s a worknight. We’ll see. Frankly, I’d like to give them more of my money. The ticket was only $12 or $14! You all deserve more. From me, at least. Hey, maybe they’ll play “Sing Tomorrow’s Praise”, and more importantly, maybe Yuki will play drums 🙂

  1. […] for the headliners, well, I’ve probably said enough. I thought people would arrive in time for them, but not really, sadly. At least four of us were […]

  2. […] the oppressive enthusiasm, but have I ever mentioned how fucking much I love Yuki Chikudate? (No, didn’t think so.) Well, I couldn’t resist posting this any longer. When I bought […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: