Oxford Brookes University
5th March 2006
Some bands have a gimmick which dominates their marketing and carries their career. Smoosh don’t need one – but, for the moment at least, they might not be able to avoid it. Seattle sisters Asya (13, keyboard and vocals) and Chloe (12 today, drums) recorded debut album She Like Electric two years ago (!), but their quirkiness, precociousness and lack of self-consciousness aren’t intimidating at all. Their piano pop is like Ben Folds without the melancholy, and they seem to not feel constricted by verse-chorus pop conventions. Remember their name.
Smoosh are bound to develop and mature their sound, which is something The Go! Team have done in the last few years, evolving from their beginnings as one man – Ian Parton – in a Hove flat with a four-track recorder and sampler. Unlike similarly sample-happy Fatboy Slim and The Avalanches, however, there were always live instruments played over the top – hence the need for the six-piece band we see tonight.
Frontwoman, singer, rapper, MC and enthusiastic cheerleader Ninja acknowledges to the crowd that the Mercury-nominated album Thunder, Lightning, Strike isn’t heavy on lyrics, so she teaches us some. Ninja’s vocals often add dynamism to the riffs and loops, but sometimes her dancing adds more to the party than her rapping. She’s good for the live experience, though; there’s less rapport between the band and the audience in the few tracks she doesn’t do much in, like Junior Kickstart. Get It Together and Ladyflash, however, are a triumph, as are new tracks like Do It Right.
As kitsch and crazy as the B52’s and Japanese bands like Plus-Tech Squeeze Box, The Go! Team come across as a superficially shambolic but subtly complex and layered school orchestra thrashing up funk, hip-hop, indie, symphonic 70s TV themes and anything else they can find. Above all, however, they’re different and fun.