Asobi Seksu at The Bishop 2/15
By: Alex Bulli
The day began as all good Wednesday’s do – with a Latin book in hand and a bagel in my stomach. However, while my body travelled from place to place studying cultures not so different from our own, my mind was riding on a wave of flashbacks to Asobi Seksu’s set on the Polyvinyl stage at Pygmalion last fall. As the day wore on and the band played a killer in-studio with WIUX’s Ben Ullrich, the show going population of Bloomington came alive with anticipation of the evenings performance.
Within moments of entering the Bishop it became apparent that the night was a success, and after stopping to say hello to a few friendly faces in the packed booths of the Bishops more adult side, I caught the last two songs of local group Stagnant Pools opening set. The two piece’s fuzzy post punk tones echoed throughout the venue, filling the space with a cavernous blend of reverb-drenched guitars and strategically implemented drumming. Comparisons could be made citing influences across the dream pop spectrum, but I believe that my field notes consisting entirely of the phrase “really chill” are the only true way to describe the group. Stagnant Pools made the most sound with the least (visible) effort I have ever witnessed – I’d definitely like to see a full set sometime soon.
Shortly after Stagnant Pools finished came locals Chandelier Ballroom with their rather unique brand of indie pop. Although drawing on twice the manpower as Stagnant Pools, the group created a slightly “smaller” and more contained overall sound of instruments maneuvering within a predetermined space rather than winding through the gamut of their sonic potential. With drum beats and guitar lines that are best articulated as a mash up of old disco singles and Vampire Weekend b-sides, one might think that Chandelier Ballroom would conjure up instant dance parties wherever they play. However, the mood from where I stood seemed to consist more of disinterest than dance fever, and the band’s set came and went without leaving too much of an impression.
Almost as soon as Chandelier Ballroom stepped off stage and patrons had time to refill their glasses, Asobi Seksu was ready to go – and the room came alive to their louder-than-life sundrenched dreamscapes. From the first few notes, to screams out of the Bishop’s sound-system, to the groups encore performance of “Red Sea,” Asobi Seksu brought energy levels back up with a well-executed and theatrically orchestrated set. As walls of sound crashed over the crowd, I couldn’t help but remember why I enjoyed the group so much the first time I saw them – they’re just fun. Somewhere in the mix of nostalgic guitar tones, poppy vocal melodies, and driving drum beats exists a little slice of fuzzpop heaven that Asobi Seksu have been able to tap in to more than many of their contemporaries, and like all great bands this ability shows through in live performance in ways which are impossible to preserve in the recording process. When the evening came to a close I (as always) cursed myself for not bringing enough cash for an album, and vowed to see the band again as soon as possible.
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