Fujiya & Miyagi at Cargo

9th April 2009 – 10.21 am

It is a night of overturned expectations for me. I was thinking it would be a simple matter of turning up to the venue, waltzing inside with my ticket and watching an electronic band perform some groovy tracks for an hour. My expectations didn't last as far as getting in to the venue, as even though I turn up over an hour after the doors open I am greeted by a fair-sized queue that hardly seems to be moving. Checking at the front, it is the line for ticket-holders, so I join at the back.

It is another half-an-hour before I am in, with Cargo making the process of accepting the ticket and stamping my hand far more complicated than other venues. But I make it inside and it is a relief to see that Cargo isn't a venue that has welded a metal barrier with a three-foot gap between the audience and the stage, instead keeping the experience intimate and personal.

The next expectation to be shattered is the appearance of the band. I was aware that they are neither a duo nor Japanese, but their recordings sound to be heavily electronically processed, relying on synths and drum machines, so it was quite a surprise to see only one synth player. The other members of the band play lead and bass guitars, and the drummer joins them after the opening song. Thinking I would get a few nerds bobbing behind a stack of keyboards and samplers, occasionally prodding buttons and twiddling knobs, I am happily amazed to see a traditional four-piece line up on stage.

It is a good thing that the band make a good impression on stage, as the wait for them to come on stage was rather long. After the wait to get in to the venue, the lights being dimmed for what seemed like an age and even a lapsed countdown that had been projected on to a screen I got so tired of waiting that I became hostile to the band's appearance, not even caring enough to applaud their eventual arrival. But as soon as the guitars and synth start playing Sore Thumb, taken from their current Lightbulbs album, and the breathy lead vocals begin I can't help but bounce a little, getting drawn in to the groove.

With the second song being the amazingly catchy Ankle Injuries from first album Transparent Things, its repeated opening lines of 'Fuyija & Miyagi' being soothingly hypnotic, all my frustrations dissolve and are forgotten, replaced by an effervescence at the sounds and sights of Fujiya & Miyagi, plucking, strumming and occasionally thrashing at guitars.

With dice art—a variation of ASCII art, but created with six-sided dice—projected on to the screen behind the stage there are electric visuals to accompany the music. The dice art is impressive. There are blocky images in an 8-bit graphical style of dancers, as well as complex and remarkably detailed representations of the band singing and playing. At one point, a game of Pac-Man faithfully created with this dice art is projected, complete with the ghosts and power pills.

With my cares blown away I am easily carried in to the bliss of the music. Old songs such as the excellent Photocopier are mixed with the newer Pussyfooting and Knickerbocker, and I get a huge kick out of hearing personal favourite Cassettesingle. Some bands sound better live and some better recorded, but Fujiya & Miyagi have managed to transcend this to create two different and equally exciting experiences. Their recordings sound processed and electronic, which works really well for the genre, but live their presence and reliance on instruments produces a vibrant and expansive sound suitable for engaging performances.

The band leave the stage eventually, but as a roadie comes on to tune the guitars it is obvious they are coming back. When they do they blast through a few more magnetising songs with such vigour that a mosh pit forms, something I thought I would never have seen when Electronica Krautrock is being played. But the mosh pit is definitely not out of place tonight. Fujiya & Miyagi are more than their recordings, they are a band that must be seen live to be appreciated fully. The evening is an incredible fusion of music and visuals, leaving me gasping to repeat the experience.

  1. 2 Responses to “Fujiya & Miyagi at Cargo”

  2. That is cool. I have passed up a show or two of theirs, here in my town. Now i wish i would have gone and seen them! Oh well. Nice to hear about someone going out and enjoying shows, im lucky here in Portland, Oregon, to get to see bunches.

    By CK Terson on Dec 4, 2010

  3. Portland, OR, is a nexus for good music, I'm jealous! White Hinterland, Blitzen Trapper, Menomena, and many others I'm probably forgetting, the city has an incredible amount of local musical talent.

    By pjharvey on Dec 4, 2010

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