Superorganism – The Haunt – 9th March 2018

Photo by Jamie MacMillan

Even in a venue such as The Haunt where each week seems to bring a new superstar artist in the making, anticipation for Superorganism’s show was high. On a day where they had not only played a Brightonsfinest session but also a packed intimate acoustic set at Resident, it was absolutely the hot ticket in town. Their debut album has created a huge buzz for this eight-piece band drawn from around the world but now living together in East London. Tonight was one of those life-affirming moments when the hype was not only justified, but the start of something very special indeed was glimpsed.

Amongst an all-ages crowd, there was barely any wiggle room at the front even before the French duo Pi Ja Ma took to the stage for an exceptionally fun support slot. Putting on a quirky and entertaining slice of indie-pop, it was as if we were all drawn into Pauline de Tarragon and Axel Concato’s world rather than the other way round. ‘Radio Girl’ had a lightness of touch once associated with Saint Etienne, while much of their other material had their roots a little further back with an addictive mix of Toni Basil ‘Mickey’ beats and classic pop-rock guitar solos. Doubling down knowingly on our stereotypical view of the French throughout the show, they finished with a tongue-in-cheek version of Serge Gainsbourg’s ‘Je T’Aime’. It was great fun and definitely a slot that left the audience wanting more, as the whoops and cheers that could be heard when they returned to the stage to retrieve their instruments several minutes later were testament to.

That was nothing compared to the sound generated when Superorganism arrived on stage, however, raincoat hoods covering their eyes and ringing handbells before launching into album opener ‘It’s All Good’. Just as with The Flaming Lips, it was a multi-coloured, psychedelic orgasm for the eyes and ears with the same sense of carefree joy emanating from the stage. With lead singer Orono Noguchi taking the mic, wearing a pair of 3D glasses and looking barely old enough to be allowed in the venue, it rang in the start of one of the parties of the year. With B, Ruby and Soul (all the band use pseudonyms) on backing vocals, Emily and Harry tucked behind a screen on guitar and synths and the near-invisible Tucan tucked away on drums, they were pushing the boundaries of stage space to the absolute limits – indeed, this show could and should perhaps have been staged at a larger venue due to the ridiculous demand. Seeing them in a space where they actually have room to move more freely will only heighten the impact.

When demos of the band first surfaced, rumours began to swirl that it was Damon Albarn under yet another guise, and it is easy to see why. There’s a clear connection between the gonzo ‘Nobody Cares’ and the early days of Gorillaz or some of Blur’s more eclectic material. However, those rumours have been put firmly to bed these days, and it’s clear that instead we have a very special collective on our hands. ‘Reflections On The Screen’ became more like a thumping house or trance track live, the band slumping over like unused puppets post-track, highlighting their belief that theatricality is just as key as everything else. The music itself was, at times, literally out of this world. ‘The Prawn Song’ was a piece of squelchy insanity, Orono imploring one section of the crowd to, “Go loud, go very loud…you very British men!” Following that with ‘Sprorgnsm’, there was not one set of feet not dancing wildly.

During ‘Everyone Wants To Be Famous’, Orono clambered precariously onto the amps asking, “Can you even see me at the back?” while the rest of the band descended into giggles (and some nervous faces). It was a show that felt like it could surely only have lasted for five minutes before it ended, such was the energy and sheer quality. Looking around at awestruck young faces in the audience, it sprang to mind that, for many, this will be the first ever live music experience (what a special first show to take in). Following the encore performance of ‘Something For Your M.I.N.D.’, during which Orono dipped into the crowd to borrow someone’s phone to pose for selfies with the band, someone behind me asked their friend in disbelief, “Was that a dream?”. No, it was much better than that – this was something you never have to wake up from.

Jamie MacMillan

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