Review: Superorganism – Limelight, Belfast

Superorganism is a quirky collective of eight that puts as much weight on character as they do music, and you may have caught them on the 6 Music Recommends Stage during The Biggest Weekend at the Titanic Quarter. The crowd here was diverse, with a heavy dose of hipster and sprinklings of older folks that it was nice to see come together. With only one short album under their belt I was wondering how they’d swing a gig, especially after overhearing people in the crowd say “prepare for the best 45 minutes you’ve ever seen”.

Support came from Japanese punk-pop 4-piece Chai, an insanely cheery band with a heartfelt and positive message that everyone is cute through the concept of “neo-kawaii”. The turn-out was far better than I expected, but it’s not every day you get a band like this playing Belfast. They were incredibly groovy, full of energy, and a bit jammy with their music; donned in matching Chai outfits and giving poppy Japanese hand-gestures. It was definitely a culture shock for some (I saw one guy in Adidas with his mouth agape and worried furrowed brows), but people were getting into it with some at the front hazardously shaking their limbs. I have never seen this much crowd participation for support before and the band themselves were pretty great but an acquired taste, with the infectious ‘N.E.O’ being a stand-out.

Static rumblings over a massive screen segued into Robert Strange, Superorganism’s visual artist, explaining that the screen would be displaying his subconscious while shapes in glitter cloaks floated onto stage, one carrying three glowing moons, all faceless. They stood until lead vocalist Orono Noguchi entered wearing a shiny green cape to crowd cheer.

The band de-robed and launched into ‘SPRORGNSM’, instant fun. From the start there was dancin’, groovin’, and class lights, and this never really let up (so long as there was music). Towards the end of the track Orono got everyone to wave their arms back and forth, and it weirdly was like one massive creature lead by the singer.

The band had three distinct background singers/ dancers, the flapper-like B, technicolour 60’s Ruby, and the pyrex banana-clad pop superstar Soul. These guys radiated good vibes and pricelessly contrasted with Orono’s high cynicism. We got the pumpy ‘Night Time’ next, with the background dancers taking a glowing moon each shaking them to the rhythm. The chorus “uh-oh in the night time” took a genuine twist as the venue lost electricity for a second towards the end but for the next track it was all good.

‘It’s All Good’ came next and the band were still playing great, until sound cut out again and this time for a good while. We briefly got a few seconds into ‘Nobody Cares’ before it died and needed proper resuscitation… Luckily Orono is actually hilarious and great at interacting with the crowd. She took a dare to do a handstand and delivered a cartwheel, leant her green cape to someone in the front row, and had a guy called Carl lay down a beatbox beat while her and the crowd revived a dead-meme and covered ‘All Star but the Rig’s F***ed Up So We Sing It Together’. In a way, it’s times like these that really make a gig stand out and feel like it’s more than just performing songs, it really humanises the music. The rig was eventually fixed and I was honestly left wondering if it was staged, Orono handled it so well.

‘Nobody Cares’ was delivered and it made me realise that there’s more instrumentation in these songs than you’d think. What I thought was a drum machine was actually Dr. Tucan Taylor Michaels on a full-kit, then Harry laid down a lot on the guitar, and Emily on the synth doing just lots and lots of magic.

‘Reflections on the Screen’ and‘The Prawn Song’ later came and the crowd was asked to imagine themselves as a prawn and swim, but swim-participation (as cute as the idea was) didn’t quite grab the crowd like ‘SPRORGNSM’ did earlier in the night.

The main set closed with ‘Everybody Wants to Be Famous’ and ‘Relax’. For the final track we were all goaded to dance, which was weird because ‘Relax’ is relaxed and we were pretty active so far. Orono also got us to crouch and leap into a dance, calling out ones in the back to get down, it was a fun touch.

As soon as the band left the stage -instantly- the crowd chanted “one more tune” and the band quickly returned and finished their set with their breakout track ‘Something for Your M.I.N.D.’. It was a super chill way of ending the night and it was hard not to sing along to the “M, I, M, I, M, I, N, D” in the post-chorus.

It was a short enough gig, just about an hour, but it was great and so different to a meat-and-bones concert. We nearly got the whole album with just ‘Nai’s March’ missing and even with with the technical difficulties, the band put on a great and visually interesting show. Each member had wonderful character, the music was funky, and Orono was fantastic as a frontman.