15th October | SWX
Photos: Jessica Bartolini
With a band name that sounds like it was conjured up after a few Blue Planet episodes too many, Superorganism have been surrounded by an almost distracting mythos since they emerged last year. Threads concerned with speculation that singer Orono was in fact a hologram, and news that the band released a single before they’d all been in a room together, have helped create a sense of zeitgeist around them.
Such is their ability to produce addictive pop out the leftfield that Superorganism have quickly grown a broad fanbase. The is shown in the mix of ages in SWX tonight, which given that much of the band’s aesthetic seems cut-and-paste from an excessive YouTube binge was unexpected. Whilst not at fever pitch, there’s a palpable excitement throughout, the crowd congregated on the dancefloor in anticipation.
Walking into this open atmosphere, support Chai deliver a performance that sees the crowd modulate from bemusement through curiosity to genuine adoration. Hailing from Nagoya, Japan, their broad sound bounces between reference points, following an a capella cover of The Ting Tings ‘Great DJ’ with Late of the Pier-style dance-rock that is a mid-set high point for the band. More straight-up indie-rock tracks either side pale in comparison, but the band’s desire to engage the audience mean few leave the spot in which they’re standing. It’s rare to see bladders held with such patience for a support band.
Following on from this, Superorganism waste no time in setting out their stall, opening with statement of intent, ‘SPRORGNSM’. The come-on refrain “I want to be a superorganism” getting a sing-along from all areas of the room, all hands in the air. Where normally a band can understandably take a couple of songs to warm up, punches of scooped surf chords and assertive sub-bass take hold immediately.
As essential as their broad sonic palette, the visuals accompanying the band – best described as a trip through my old MSN conversations – turn their set into a combined onslaught. Rather than distracting, the care given to their stage show (one member is solely dedicated to producing visuals) creates an environment you can’t help but become engrossed in.
Featuring glitter warpaint, white orb egg shakers and vocalists with pre-rehearsed dance moves, many aspects of Superorganism’s show would normally come across as gimmicks, but don’t. Later in the set, ‘Prawn Song’, a track with a title which sounds like something off a mid-noughties twee-pop album, bares its teeth and sets out a cornerstone of the band’s attitude. Comfortable in their own quirks, they’re a unit of individuals, content as outsiders but whose combined talents have their own gravity.
Everyone inside is on board with them. Following a mid-set Q&A session, helmed by Orono, and the earworm that is ‘Everybody Wants To Be Famous’, the band pull what feels like half the audience onstage with them. Apart from the set feeling a little short (in fairness they only have one album) there’s little more the band could have done to win over the crowd. After having Big Jeff dancing alongside them, Superorganism can continue their tour having received Bristol’s unofficial hallmark of quality.