words & photos by Dominick Mastrangelo
No pedals, no wall of sound, no wash of blinding lights. All the hallmarks of an Asobi Seksu live performance were cast off during the New York band's sold-out, acoustic performance at Le Poisson Rouge on Friday night (1/29). "So, much fun, " said Yuki Chikudate. "But we like noise. We're not giving up our pedals yet."
For a bit over an hour, however, Yuki led her band through beautiful and at times haunting versions of songs that appear on last year's acoustic release, Rewolf. Most of the songs were taken from the bands most recent records Hush and Citrus. The evening also took on a bit of a storytellers vibe with Chikudate introducing many of the songs with anecdotes as well as some good-natured teasing of guitarist James Hanna's mustache. "Meh No Mae" was lush with pretty plinking of xylophone and "Gliss" was helped along by toy piano.
The most striking thing on the night was how clear and powerful Chikudate's voice is. Just another instrument during their full-on rock shows, yet when not battling reverb and distortion at every turn, her voice becomes the center-piece of every song as it did on "Blind Little Rain" with just Chikudate at the grand piano.
Songs that did not appear on Rewolf also found their way into the set. "We didn't get to record this but I'm glad we got to rearrange it for the tour," said Chikudate, as she introduced "Goodbye", one of the "louder" numbers of the evening. And for the encore - a cover of Donovan's "Celeste".
Todd Goldstein and his band, Arms, opened with a beautiful but all-too-brief set. The former Harlem Shakes guitarist has turned his attention completely to his solo project since the Shakes broke up this past summer. Goldstein no longer cuts a lonely figure as Arms, surrounding himself with a drummer and additional vocalist. This brought a richer sound to songs like "Shitty Little Disco" and "Tiger Tamer" off his excellent 2008 release, Kids Aflame. And set closer "Ana M" was gorgeous with its stirring outro of ahh's complementing the languid pacing. Goldstein admitted they'd tried to play the song at more traditional rock venues but the "kids" in attendance never paid much attention. "But you're all adults," he told the audience, "and you're sitting down."
More pictures from the show, with Asobi's setlist, below...