Almost two years after an awkward performance in a huge empty room opening for Peter Bjorn and John, I caught Fujiya & Miyagi as the main act in the 250-person venue attached to the 2000-person main room that consumed their last show’s potential. The venue shift was pure upgrade; some bands just do better in small venues. For Fujiya & Miyagi, the whispered, repetitive lyrics that drive the band’s crescendos need a room stuffed full with people to ferment into their familiar melodies. As a band, they still come off as an odd musical juxtaposition among Krautrock, 90s techno and electro-dance rock, but on this tour their inner-bandness has reached full fruition.
Minneapolis’ 7th Street Entry's packed crowd was polarized between docile-hipster plaid types and ass-shaking striped shirt with scarf types. Throughout, the crowd seemed torn over whether to dance to the loop-laced singles or stare past the band like one is supposed to look at a magic eye. F&M’s funkiest songs came off softer and less danceable than on the album. Either because of the stiffness of the crowd or the brevity of their songs, people never really got into the dance-like-no-one-is-watching groove I had hoped to see. With the exception of a rollicking performance of “Knickerbocker,” in which the band soaked the crowd with whispered hip-hop chants (how else to describe the unique vocal styles of David Best?), the band constructed all the ingredients for epic danceline builds but deflated the energy by quickly passing into the next song. You could sense some residual self-awareness like their previous show, but more so you could see the musical growth of the group, now a quartet after the addition of Lee Adams this year on drums. At this rate, whatever the band is going to be up to next is definitely worth watching out for.
I caught up with David Best, aka whisper-voiced Miyagi, shortly after their Minneapolis show kicked off their Lightbulbs tour.
SPLICE TODAY: You
came through Minneapolis this week playing a smaller but more crowded venue
than last time you were here, what did you guys make of the difference?
DAVID BEST: As it was the first one of the tour I was worried we'd be a bit rusty but I was pleased with how it went. The crowd was really good. We played that venue before as well as the big room. When we supported Peter Bjorn & John it was great but it was still their crowd. Sometimes it’s easier to play to bigger crowds, as it feels less personal. I get a bit self-conscious sometimes, especially when we haven't played a show in a while.
ST: Do you guys have a philosophy about playing live? Do the shows vary a lot?
DB: We try and play songs that are more energetic rather than “Lightbulbs” or “Cylinders” for example. We want each show to be good and are quite hard on ourselves if we think it wasn't as good as it could've been. I’m really aware that people have paid money to see us and I want them to feel like it was worth it. We've got some songs we change about sometimes and some songs are more open to being a little bit different each time we play them too.
ST: British food has a pretty sour reputation with us Yanks and we have to wonder, is there any food you guys miss from back home?
DB: I miss Marmite, and your chocolate tastes like shit. I also hate ordering food in America. You get asked about a thousand questions when you just want a sandwich. It’s like they want your life story. As we Brits tend to be softly spoken, we have to repeat ourselves so I always try and get someone else to order for me, but it never works.
ST: You guys played a varied mix of old and new songs this week whereas a lot of bands cram their tours with only the stuff off their new album. It reinforced the continuity between “Transparent Things” and “Lightbulbs,” even though “Lightbulbs” felt more dynamic in style: I'm thinking of “Goosebumps” and “Lightbulbs” in particular as slower songs. What direction are you guys headed for your next album?
DB: Somewhere different, I hope. We want the next one to be a lot fuller sounding, with more going on. I'm quite excited with the things we have come up with so far. I think it might surprise people who think they know what we are all about.