Live review: Fuck Buttons at Le Poisson Rouge

Fuck Buttons tested the very foundations of Le Poisson Rouge on Friday night with the most beautiful cacophony to which one could be brutalized. Make no mistake, this was an assault of the senses and the sold-out crowd lapped it up like some mass hysteria case of Stockholm Syndrome.

This was a CMJ showcase, but in reality, the show was booked way back in July, a whole month before the initial CMJ lineup was published. There was a noticeable buzz about the show during the week, and we rightfully featured them first in our CMJ artists to watch buildup. I’ve been a fan of Fuck Buttons since their debut album, Street Horrrsing, was released in 2008, but managed to miss them a few times over the years back in England. One time in particular grates on me, as they played a tiny club called The Cellar in Oxford, a stones-throw from where I worked. Anyway, I’m digressing…

Lichens

I made it in time to see Lichen’s set at 8pm, who were a great counterpoint to Fuck Buttons’ distorted brand of electronica. Lichens, aka Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe gave us a blissfully chilled out and methodically constructed ambience via his modular synth and vocal loops. Occasionally sipping a cup of tea, he looked the part of an entranced Jedi at one with his craft. Whilst not as in your face as the headliners, Lichens was no less intense, and I happily parted with my cash after the show to pick up his album, Fazo IV: La Kvalito de Speguloj, which he had available.

Fuck Buttons

Fuck Buttons took to the stage exactly on schedule at 9:00 pm and wasted no time by launching into Brainfreeze, the lead track from latest masterpiece, Slow Focus. The pounding percussion and noise buildup is as powerful as anything you will experience. When our robot overlords take control in the future, they will march to this.

Next up came Surf Solar, which caused a huge cheer from the room and serves as a reminder that the band are also a better dance act than pretty much any dance artist! Colours Move (a personal favourite) followed and was the solitary track of the night from their debut album before another piece from Tarot Sport was dished out in the shape of Olympians. The evening was rounded off with a trio of tracks from Slow Focus: SentientsThe Red Wing and album closer Hidden XS. The material on Slow Focus shows a natural evolution in their discography, from the brutal noise on their debut and the more beat-driven Tarot Sport, the new songs are a confident marriage of those two qualities in which they excel.

I have previously lamented about the lack of enthusiasm for encores in New York, but there were enough in the crowd who swallowed their pride to call for more (seriously, the rest of you, get over yourselves!) All hope looked lost as the house lights came on and a collective groan echoed the room, but the lights came back down (which apparently was not a setup) and the duo returned.

Favourite NY show yet. We weren’t going to come out for an encore but the audience made us. THEY MADE US!

— Andrew Hung (@ndrewhung) October 19, 2013

There are no histrionics during their performance, no need for grand gesticulations in an attempt to pump up the crowd; the music speaks for itself. The duo have a wonderful chemistry on stage but it is subtle and enthralling to watch. Next time they’re in town you must attend.

From a selfish point of view, the show finished at the merciful time of 10:20pm. During the week I had been getting home from other CMJ events at 3:30am on Tuesday, 1:00am on Wednesday and 1:30am on Thursday (alongside working a regular job). Starting to feel a little fatigued leading up to the show, Fuck Buttons felt like my own personal defibrillator kit: there’s no better stimulant than seeing Andrew Hung and Benjamin John Power perform.

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