Review: Polysics Heats Up the Firebird With Dancing, Keyboards, Calisthenics, Exclamation Points
Polysics or die!!!
"It's fucking cold outside!" screamed Polysics singer/guitarist Hiroyuki Hayashi. The 150-plus-strong crowd at the Firebird cheered, as he squealed an even more vehement response: "But we're going to burn the fucking house down!!!" Figuratively, of course, the Japanese group certainly delivered on that promise -- and then some -- with a grin-inducing, high-energy set, perhaps buoyed by the banner hanging behind it: "Polysics or die!!!"
Drawing from a vast back catalog and also its new album, Absolute Polysics, the synthpunk act pummeled keyboards and rhythms into submission with the precision of a breakdancing surgeon. The band sported matching orange jumpsuits and boxy sunglasses, which contributed to its "Devo gulping Pixy Stix" vibe. However, the retreats into robotics -- like the vocoder and measured movements -- had enough playful gestures (the presence of cheerleader pom-poms, inflated balloons, headbanging) to keep humanity at the forefront.
Above all, the Polysics live experience was fun. Hayashi lead the enthusiastic crowd in several rigorous sets of jumping jacks during one tune, and encouraged show-choir-worthy sunrise/jazz hands during another. Reference points include feeling trapped inside a game of Dance Dance Revolution; being in a room full of anime fans freaking out over J-Pop; Super Mario Brothers 2's soundtrack; fizzy keyboard-punk tunes from Scotland's Bis or fellow Japanese cute-core act Puffy Amiyumi. The core audience pogo'd, jitterbugged, spazzed out and generally shed inhibitions, moved by space-age bleeps, digital destruction and glorious, manic, start-stop discord.
Oh, and did we mention the sweet recorder solo during the band's siren-garnished "hit," "I My Me Mine"? Awesome. Winter blahs? Banished. Thanks, Polysics!