Asobi Seksu, Brando highlight Halloween shows Check out Hammer's list of must-see holiday weekend shows. From dressed-up to dressed-down, there's something for everyone this Halloween. New York’s Asobi Seksu will play two shows in Indy on Sunday. Asobi Seksu
A white-hot New York City band, a movie premiere and local musicians masquerading as their favorite bands headline this weekend’s Halloween shows.
In that rare example when Indianapolis lands an NYC band at the peak of its hype, Asobi Seksu will headline a show at Radio Radio on Sunday night, Oct. 31.
They’ve earned all the ink and buzz for their lush-but-noisy pop sound, which has drawn comparisons to Sonic Youth and My Bloody Valentine. Making them unique is the Japanese lyrics, rhythms and sensibilities permeating their style, courtesy of single-named frontwoman Yuki.
For Manhattan-based Asobi Seksu, things are going pretty well. They’ve become one of the most talked and written about groups in the five boroughs. They’ve got press from The New York Times, Nylon Magazine, and dozens of zines. Even legendary BBC disc jockey John Peel is spinning them.
On their acclaimed debut album, Yuki takes the listener through joyful pop tunes (“I’m Happy But You Don’t Like Me”) and an intense, almost frantic version of psychedelica (“Walk on the Moon”).
While it’s easy to name the band’s obvious influences (Cocteau Twins, Cibo Matto and, especially, Lush), what sets Asobi Seksu apart is the joy and J-pop verve they bring to their music.
For bass player Glenn Waldman, who’s spent the better part of two years playing larger and larger venues as the band’s reputation rose, the idea of a three-week national tour is a new concept.
“This is our first foray into the country,” he said. “We want to play shows wherever we can. You can play New York once a month for as long as you want and who knows what’s going to happen. But now, we want to play as many shows as we can.”
Waldman said that Asobi Seksu (which means “playful sex” in Japanese) is especially excited about playing Indy on Halloween night.
“I’ve always really liked Halloween and I especially like the idea of celebrating it somewhere none of us have ever been before,” he said. “Halloween has always been a good excuse to party. It’s a night where everything is open. That release is good for everyone, now and then.”
Bowling over people with the live show is the band’s goal for Sunday night, he said. “What’s important to us is putting on a show where people hopefully hear something they’ve never heard before. We try to step it up in the live show and express lots of energy. There’s a lot of tension and excitement in the noise we try to bring to the pop format.”
Although the New York City scene is hyper-competitive and obviously larger than Indy’s, Waldman said there’s probably more similarities than you’d think between the two.
“It’s magnified, sure, but I bet it’s the same thing,” he said. “There are a million venues and I’ve probably played 1/100th of them. There are a lot of different groups of musicians within New York, which can be really beneficial. We’re involved with a lot of different bands right now who are all just trying to stick together and work our way up into some sort of standing around here.
“But what’s interesting about New York is there are some strange, interesting venues, like a big boat out on the Hudson River on the Westside that puts on shows. It can make any show you play in New York an adventure and you never really know who’s gonna be there.”
Some of the press’ gushing over the band has gotten to be a bit much, especially when legendary names like Sonic Youth and My Bloody Valentine are tossed about.
“It’s an honor to be compared to those bands, but I don’t think any of us have ever picked up our instruments thinking we were gonna sound like either one of them,” Waldman said.
Although some of the band’s best songs are sung in Japanese, Waldman doesn’t see it as an obstacle to widespread support of the band.
“Yuki was born in Japan and it’s obviously an important part of her life and an important part of our music,” he said. “We’re not taking lessons in Japanese, although we have picked up a few words here and there. I think it really gives a lot of good things to the band, as opposed to just having a bunch of white guys from New York.”
He praised his enigmatic bandmate for her hard work and determination. “She’s a great person, very sincere, very serious about our music. She works very hard. But the best part about her is her sense of humor. She gets along well with everyone and people are drawn to her. It’s a lot of pressure and she’s handled it well.”
Besides, having a female in the tour van keeps the men “human and sane” on the road, he said.
In addition to their Sunday night show at Radio Radio, Asobi Seksu will play an all-ages set at 4 p.m. at Indy CD & Vinyl in Broad Ripple. Lunar Event will open the Radio Radio show, which is sponsored by WICR-FM’s The Free Zone.
Brando’s new movie Brando
On the previous night, Saturday, Radio Radio will again play host to an adventurous art-rock show, this one featuring Hoosier indie-rock icon Brando, which will be screening its new movie and playing its soundtrack.
Brando frontman Derek Richey explained. “We’ve been thinking about putting a movie together for Brando albums for a long time. For too long people have been saying, ‘These songs sound like they ought to be on a movie.’ So Kenny and I put our heads together and we clipped together a lot of old stock horror footage and commercial footage from the ’50s and ’60s, and live and otherwise band footage, and put together a pretty haunting little movie.”
The band will appear in costume playing the soundtrack to the film. While the songs are still a little rough, Richey insists that they’re not demos.
“When I say demos, that just means they weren’t recorded in a classic studio setting,” Richey said. “That process starts this November. But these songs are perfectly full and fat. There is hardly much lo-fi about them.”
As opposed to the straight-ahead indie-pop sound of 943 Recluse, Brando’s latest studio CD, Richey said the new songs are “More dreamy, I think, and sometimes, more rocking. I hope we can do them justice.”
Starting in November, the group — which is exhausted after a spring and summer full of live shows — will go into what Richey called “hibernation” to rehearse and record the new material.
Whatever happens, Richey made the following guarantee to listeners: “Not a sound will go by without my happiness meter registering 10.”
Assume the costume Halloween Masquerade
All-ages Halloween show
Bubba’s Bowling Club
Also a celebration of the ghostly holiday, the fourth annual Halloween Masquerade at Birdy’s will begin at 8 p.m. Friday. As in the past, some of the best local bands will assume the costume and play the songs of their own favorite acts.
This year’s lineup features Mantis as ZZ-Top, Painting Jaime as the Toadies, the Hypnotic Velvet Propellers as Ween, Karen and the Beast as Janis Joplin and Big Brother, Transient Frank as Spinal Tap, Metal Guru as T-Rex and Wick and Friends as Cheap Trick.
The audience is also invited to dress in costume. Prizes will be awarded.
Over at Bubba’s Bowling Club, 935 S. College, an all-ages, family-friendly Halloween show will occur on Saturday. Artists scheduled to play include Noiseman 433, Jethro Easyfields and Pharmakon. The event will be hosted by owner Cathy Morris, dressed as Elvira, and Dan Niswander, dressed as himself.