Live Last Night: Fujiya and Miyagi

A British band with a Japanese name and a German beat, Fujiya and Miyagi is well-outfitted with absurdity. Yet the quartet's sense of humor is hard to locate. Thursday night at the 9:30 club, singer-guitarist David Best and his cohorts maintained a deadpan air as they delivered silly lyrics and goofy sounds.

(Read the rest of the review after the jump.)

Atop the tick-tock "motorik" derived from such 1970s German outfits as Neu! and Can, Fujiya and Miyagi constructed stark electro-rock songs with scant yet deeply odd lyrics: "Vanilla, strawberry/knickerbocker glory," intoned Best as "Knickerbocker's" pulse accelerated behind him -- and that was before he got to the part about Hans Christian Andersen.

Keyboardist Steve Lewis interjected tinny riffs that could have been sampled from cellphone rings, and both he and Best were sometimes heard to chant "sock it to me."

While Fujiya and Miyagi's Teutonic predecessors sometimes indulged their mechanistic cadences for a half hour, most of the British group's songs run about three minutes. Playing 15 precise numbers in little more than a hour, F&M rarely sustained its music's mesmerizing patterns long enough to mesmerize.

That's characteristic of this likable but mildly befuddling foursome: It's a groove band that never lets the groove get the upper hand.

School of Seven Bells, the New York trio that opened the show, assembled midtempo soundscapes from twinned female vocals, pre-programmed synthbeats and thickly layered rhythm guitar. While this meld of Stereolab, Cocteau Twins and My Bloody Valentine was agreeable, it never escaped the shadow of its influences.


By J. Freedom du Lac |  February 20, 2009; 3:10 PM ET Live Last Night
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