Superorganism Brings their Psychedelic Pop to Union Transfer

I floated into the venue to find a roomful of glitter-faced people, shimmering in the soft glow of the wooden chandeliers. Feeling friendlier than usual, I engaged in stream-of-consciousness conversations that added to the buzz of random thoughts that fill the space between sets, while a projection of a purple globe spun on the backdrop of the stage, alternately growing and shrinking every few minutes.

Superorganism has never heard a sound they didn’t want to make into music. The octet’s eponymous 2017 debut is a hypnotic patchwork of chimes, birdsong, bells, and other samples stitched together by a synthesizer and some light percussion. In their most popular track, “Something for Your M.I.N.D.” the plunking electric guitar stays constant while foreign vocals and laughter drift from the speakers in a dreamy sonic hallucination.

When the lights darkened, the background screen distorted into a fuzz while a booming voice announced that the trippy visuals to follow were an artistic projection of the speaker’s mind. Under the cover of darkness, the bandmates slowly emerged, taking their places before a flash of light revealed their neon costumes and makeup as the took off into the opening track, “SPRORGNSM.”

Moving on into “Night Time” and “It’s All Good,” the band progressed through their short setlist, balancing their more psychedelic sounds with lead singer Orono Noguchi’s signature deadpan, matter-of-fact vocal style. But as much as this band plays with the ears, their visual performance was equally as captivating.

Apart from Noguchi, other members of the band were dressed in bright-colored raincoats, standing out against a projected backdrop of visuals and twisting transparent streamers that mimicked the appearance of real rain. They would each have seemingly minor roles at a time, playing only one note on a small instrument on certain occasions. But in reality, these brief cameos of unconventional instruments are more vital to Superorganism’s sound than a perfect bassline – they are what give this band its creativity and fusion across so many genres.

They played through the rest of their nine-song set, interrupting it once with what the setlist referred to as “Orono’s Time,” in which Noguchi spoke to the crowd about whatever was on her mind for about five minutes. This time, it was to say hi to some family friends in the crowd and share her childhood love of Weezer and an old hope to one day form a band called “Weezer Girls.” They ended with the poppy “Everybody Wants to Be Famous,” – a song with cash-register-like sounds that always remind me of M.I.A.’s “Paper Planes.”

But even the smaller crowd demanded an encore from these young masters of psychedelic pop, so the band re-emerged to play “Relax,” and finally “Something for Your M.I.N.D.” For the latter, they invited fans to join them on stage (to the security guards’ visible fear), and bounced around to the hook of the song’s chorus in what felt like an unending loop of pure and unrestrained musical joy.

Photo courtesy of Jordan Hughes.

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