Shoegaze legends Slowdive reunited back in May for an extensive reunion tour. We caught them back at FYF Fest back in August, and their stunning set was one of the highlights of the weekend. As if their first U.S. tour in 20 years wasn’t already special enough, they recruited Asobi Seksu to open for them. Why is that so special? Well, Asobi Seksu disbanded but agreed to get back together for one night. In their own words, “Guys, yes Asobi is still ‘broken up’ but you get back together (for one show) when Slowdive comes knocking!!!” Keep reading to find out what we learned from this one-off reunion show.
1. Royale is best known as a nightclub, but on this night everyone’s shoes were gazing, not dancing. (Pun intended.)
Royale’s expansive, open floor was used for standing and shuffling in awe instead of dancing to trendy DJs. Hey, for some of us, that’s how we let loose.
2. Boston in October = cold to this Los Angeles dweller, but also to Bostonians.
Only one person arrived early to wait before the doors were scheduled to open. Other early birds decided it was too cold and gave up to wait “in the cahh.” Having flown from Los Angeles, I didn’t have a winter wardrobe handy, nor was there time to dig something out of storage. My absence of a jacket was noted by Asobi Seksu, security and other fans. Apparently a short-sleeved shirt on an October night in Boston is incomprehensible.
3. Slowdive has had a huge influence on Asobi Seksu, but the two acts’ live performances couldn’t be more different.
With careful listening at home, one can pick out the dreamy vocals and reverb-soaked guitars shared by both bands, and lesser acts just rehash the past and owe their sound entirely to someone like Slowdive or My Bloody Valentine. Although Slowdive’s influence on Asobi Seksu is something that cannot be denied, the latter’s performance was nearly polar opposite. Onstage, Slowdive crafted exquisite, ambient soundscape in subdued, concentrated fashion. Asobi Seksu, on the other hand, went for a full sonic assault. Singer Yuki Chikudate belted out ’60s girl group melodies and James Hanna unleashed swirls of guitar feedback while a punk rock percussive side pummeled the crowd.
This show was a special one because it was Asobi Seksu’s first time playing since June 2012, with no shows scheduled after since they’re technically broken up. (Full disclosure: this was my eighth time seeing them.) But the band was truly thrilled to be there, and it showed through an especially energetic set. The excitement was infectious. During the end of a deafening storm of noise on set closer “Red Sea,” Chikudate left the microphone and keys to hammer out the finale from behind the drum kit. Later in the evening, she could be spotted in the back of the crowd rocking out to Slowdive, smiling and grooving with the look of total content I only exhibit during the most transcendent live shows.
Asobi Seksu setlist:
Meh No Mae
Nefi + Girly
I’m Happy But You Don’t Like Me
Me & Mary
Photos by Frank Mojica