After listening to Japan's Polysics for a couple of years now we were excited to finally be seeing them in the flesh - then again as the band seem to think they are robots perhaps that isn't the best description. But this is one band that's hard to describe. Bubblegum warfare has been used before and that kind of fits because we weren't expecting how much Polysics would rock live. They provide a great mix of pop and punk, Devo influences worn proudly on their sleeves, but with a frankly insane electronica and rock guitar fusion that makes the show kind of like Disco with guitar solos.
Visually of course things couldn't be better, bright red jumpsuits, oversized Thunderbirds style badges and insignia, and of course the trademark robot shades that refuse to budge no matter how hard the headbanging or what position guitarist Hayashi finds himself in. He shares the vocal duties with kayo on synth (and recorder!) and Fumi on bass while Yano focuses all his attention on pulverising the drum kit. Three songs in and with the crowd already in the palm of his hand Hayashi gives us his best "Hello geezers!" in a cockney Japanese accent that isn't so much broken English as crippled and disfigured, but that just adds to the charm.
With Yano in a world of his own with his kit and Kayo locked in robotic moves in the background it's down to Fumi and Hayashi to look after those of us at the front of the sold out crowd (and the Metro is tiny!). Fumi is the polite one, smiling for photographs and passing her water to the kids who look half dead while Hayashi is convinced he's onstage at Budokan, pulling solos, pogoing like mad and, much to the single security guy's dismay, jumping into the heart of the crowd to abuse his fretboard up close and personal. Polysics were definitely the most fun you could have without actually being sucked into a manga movie.
Which beggers the question as to who chose the support band. The Projects looked bored and sounded dull for their 20 minute set that seemed to go on for hours. Depressing naval gazing of the worst kind and with instruments held so limply that you felt sorry that they'd never been played properly. Imagine the sound of a lettuce being taken out of the fridge and run through an amplifier. The highlight of their set was when the forlorn vocalist managed to count up to eight a few times in the same song. Always a bad sign when the bass player is wearing a knitted tank-top. They'll probably be huge this time next year.
But we wanted to end the week on a high note and as we were saddened a few days earlier to hear about the death of the bass player of Guitar Wolf (another Londonist favourite from Japan - go track down their crazy zombie movie, Wild Zero), the Polysics gig came at just the right time. Hell, we gave up on Doctor Who to see them and we were not disappointed. It's already been a good year for gigs here at Londonist HQ, but after the fun we had at Le Tigre a few weeks ago we were expecting things to take a bit of a nose dive. It's a good job you can always rely on deranged Mark Mothersbaugh / Kajagoogoo fans to take it up a notch.
More photos here.