Superorganism is a well-oiled machine (assuming in this metaphor that machines are coalitions of incredibly theatrical, talented and artistic people and “well-oiled” refers to their well-put-togetherness and not to the amount of oil on them). The quirky octet displayed their musicianship with a multi-faceted and highly entertaining show at the Majestic on May 1.
The intimate venue of the night provided extensive opportunities for intense eye contact and awkward audience participation for the opener, Simpson, who took full advantage of the proximity and vulnerability of audience members. In between her cheese-fest of Wisconsin jokes, the singer from California called out individual crowd members in uncomfortable attempts to get everyone to dance and have a good time.
This over-enthusiastic camp-counselor shtick and some self-deprecating jokes hinted that Simpson wasn’t actually very confident in her music, feeling the need to force a relationship with the crowd instead of trusting it to happen naturally. While her music was enjoyable, her persona and comfort on stage are going to need to develop some more before Simpson “makes it.”
When it finally came time for the main event, Superorganism did not disappoint. They made a grand entrance featuring sparkly capes and projections, starting off with their self-titled (sans some vowels) song, “Sprorgnsm.”
The group’s style felt very retro. Their clothes, side-step dancing and overall energy were reminiscent of ‘70s flower children, even though their entire back story, style of music and most elements of their production are quite modern.
The musicians of Superorganism joined forces in a pointedly contemporary way, online. They produced their first song without having all met each other in person. Impressively, this song, “Something for your M.I.N.D.,” whose existence is largely thanks to Facebook, is one of the group’s biggest hits.
Superorganism has a distinct style of music which combines electronic elements and sound effects with an indie pop vocal style. Watching the group produce some of the sound effects in person was a fun element of their live performance and showed just how much production went into their more involved songs.
Their use of props, unconventional instrument and artistic projections all added to the group’s fun aura. While it was evident that this group takes itself seriously, considering that every element of the show felt thoroughly thought-out and original, I liked that they didn’t take themselves too seriously. I got the sense that they were a group of people having fun with music, unconcerned with following norms or fitting the status quo.
The lead singer, Orono Noguchi, has an adorably deadpan sense of humor and an admittedly pretty regular singing voice. Her dry personality was forefront in their most popular “Everybody Wants To Be Famous” music video and in my opinion, a huge draw of the video. Her stoic expression paired with the iconic Buddy Holly sunglasses make her a mysterious and engrossing subject of interest. And while she’s no Beyonce vocally, her dispassionate style of singing is a perfect counterpart to all the bells and whistles of Superorganism.
Noguchi was a fascinating live performer as well. I’ve never seen someone so blank and inexpressive have such a strong stage presence. She had almost a magical energy and magnetic draw to her.
Swaying behind her were back-up singers, B, Ruby and Soul. Their faces contrasted Noguchi’s by being expressive throughout the show, and their synchronized disco-inspired dance moves felt very wholesome and added to the retro energy of the show.
The group was able to perform most of the ten songs on their debut self-titled album from 2018. “The Prawn Song” was one of the most memorable and worthwhile songs to hear live. This carefree song, sung from the perspective of one of the ocean’s smallest and simplest creatures was a ray of positive energy and a joy to dance to.
Other than their album, Superorganism has released several covers, embedding songs such as “Havana” by Camila Cabello and “Congratulations” by Post Malone with all of their wonderful peculiarities. At the Majestic show, the group also performed their original song “Hello Me & You,” which was featured in “The LEGO Movie 2.” This song featured B on lead vocals, and her soft indie voice was incredibly easy on the ears.
The musicians ended the show with a double whammy of hits, finishing strong with “Everybody Wants to be Famous,” and then coming back for an encore performance of “Something for your M.I.N.D.” It wasn’t a super long show, but it felt just right. They had built momentum all night long until the climactic “Everybody Wants To Be Famous” which had everyone moving and singing. The encore performance was far from obligatory, but audience members truly craved one more song to wind down the night.
The eccentric group of international musicians that is Superorganism put on a lively show for Madison. They were not only funny, original and adorable but also thoroughly rehearsed and thoughtful about every detail of the show. It was a fun, artistic, silly, modern, retro, adjective-defying, completely entertaining night.
Emma Hellmer is the theatre columnist for the Daily Cardinal. To read more of her work, click here.