An Essay on my impressions of the POLYSICS Concert in Chicago, IL

Hiro - Lead Singer of an awesome freakin band! Photo by Ryan.
Hiro - Lead Singer of an awesome freakin band! Photo by Ryan.

POLYSICS - Electric Surfin' Go Go


POLYSICS - Let's Daba Daba



POLYSICS - New Wave Jacket

Rocking out in Chicago!


I was expecting a great show. What I got was an F@#$ing awesome show! I went to the POLYSICS show at The Abbey Pub in my hometown of Chicago and I was blown away! I stumbled on the band POLYSICS one day out of boredom. I could remember that day. I was surfing You Tube and remembered this Japanese band, POLYSICS. I thought “What the heck might as well check them out”. I watched the video for their song “Pretty Good” since they offered a plethora of videos to watch. Really good was more like it. I was instantly zapped by the music! Their video was amazing. I watched all of their music videos that day, I was hooked. POLYSICS combine the fanatic frenzy of fast punk rock with the colorful noise of synthesizer music. It’s the best fusion I ever heard. They are considered New Wave because of their original sound. I’d like to say they are a mix of The Ramones (Punk music) and Daft Punk (Electronic music) which happen to be my two favorite all time bands! Now I got one more to add to my list and that’s POLYSICS! I will give my full impressions on the concert and hopefully make you see how awesome they are too!


Before the review, here is a little back info on the band. The band is heavily influenced by the American band DEVO (which are big fans of POLYSICS too). The band was formed in Tokyo, Japan. Hiroyuki Hayashi created the band after watching some live concert footage of Devo in 1997. The name POLYSICS actually is derived from the very first synthesizer Hiro actually owned, called the Korg Polysix. The band has seen many members in the 11 years they have been together. Today, it consists mostly of Hiro on lead guitar and vocals, Fumi on bass, Yano on drums, and Kayo on synthesizer. They have released many albums in their native land Japan and have released some albums stateside. Their signature “Technicolor Pogo Punk”, as they put it, music creates a vivid sound and dynamic performance. Their lyrics are sung in either English, Japanese or just plain gibberish (they call it Moon Language). Or sometimes even all at once! They wear signature orange boiler suits with the unmistakable “P” on the front of their suit. Also unique to them is the straight bar sunglasses that give them a futuristic look. They have done cover songs of Devo, The Ramones, B-52’s, Talking Heads, and Nirvana just to name a few! They work with MySpace Records to release albums here and even having the founder, Tom Anderson, as a huge fan!


I arrived at Abbey Pub at around seven thirty on a freezing Chicago night. I waited with my girlfriend Brenda to be let into the pub. As I stood chattering my teeth from the cold, I happen to have a chance sighting. It was the bassist Fumi going outside for a smoke. I have to tell the truth, I was awestruck by her. Brenda didn’t believe me that she was with the band. She finished and I watched her go back in. I’m going to admit this right now; I am a big POLYSICS fan. The videos they done are extremely ingenious and entertaining. They also have the music to back it up. My favorite songs are numerous, as are the genres they use in their music. They genres of music they use are punk, Electronic, Rock, Synth Pop, J (Japanese) Rock, and Noise Rock to name a couple off the top of my head. I think it would have been easier to list them under New Wave because it could encompass all those genres into one. I just like how their songs sound. It goes from the very fast and punk-y “New Wave Jacket” to the melodic and slow “Black Out Fall Out” and everything in between. I can name probably 50+ songs that I love to listen too. I can only name a couple of bands that I listen to on a regular basis or like a massive amount of their songs. I like how they use voice changers to sound robotic in their songs like the song “Hard Rock Thunder”. I love how Kayo, the synthesizer player, sings in her normal soft voice in one song and than change it up too a rough electronic voice in another song. I love the energy Hiro injects to his lyrics (whether they are in English, Japanese, or Moon Language; doesn’t matter) and into his stage antics and music videos. Each music video is unique on its own and has its own memorable scenes. There are so many reasons why I think they are so good, too many too list.


Enough with my little rant, time to get back to my story. I finally got in after waiting about an hour in the blistering cold. I was warming myself up when I happen to see Hiro selling POLYSICS merchandise. I was awe struck again…I couldn’t help it. I mustered up the courage to go near him and the table with the merchandise. They had shirts, pins, sweat bands, CDS, LPs, stickers, and posters. My eye quickly went to the t shirts and how cool they looked. I bought one for me and Brenda and later also one of their CDs, which was “Now is the Time!” I would have bought more but was a little low on cash. I told him that “I love your music” and shook his hand too. I felt like a nerd but oh well. After that little icebreaker, I asked him for a photograph. He was very compliant with me and other fans request of taking picture of or signing autographs, which I thought was really great. I took one with him and took one with Brenda and him in the picture. I once again thanked him and shook his hand. He thanked me each time, very nice man. After deciding to stop bugging him, by Brenda’s request, we made our way to the front of the stage.


There were two bands in front on POLYSICS. Two bands too many was what I thought at first. I was in for a pleasant surprise…more or less. The first band was from Brooklyn at they went by the moniker Black Gold. I could describe their sound as being that of Cold Play. If you ask my girlfriend, she would agree. Their music, as Cold Play does, would melt the pants off any girl. The second band was named Jaguar Love if I’m not mistaken. The first impression they gave me was Led Zeppelin. I’m going to have to be honest; I did not hear a single word the front man was singing. Someone yelled out “You suck” during one of their songs. I don’t want to agree with the gentleman choice words but he got a tongue lashing from the lead singer. Ill just say they weren’t my cup of tea. I enjoyed both bands in different levels but I could clearly remember saying to myself “Hold on! They should be finished after this song. Than its POLYSICS time!” It was over and I could hardly stop smiling.


The crowds during the first two bands were sparse. When the last band played and finished their last song, the people started to bunch up together. It got really compact that I was pushed almost all the way to the stage. I should thank them because it was a perfect spot to take some pictures and video of the event. The down size was that I could barely move. There was music playing each time a band was setting up. The song selection for when POLYSICS was setting was New Wave of course. One memory firmly placed in my head was when “Take on me” by a-ha played over the speakers. Hiro and Fumi sung some of the lyrics while they were backed up by the crowd doing a great job when the hook came, hitting the high notes of that song perfectly. It was great listening to them hit the notes right on the head. I never thought a band setting up and doing sound checks would be so fun. Hiro wasn’t in POLYSICS garb yet and was wearing a simple but cool Devo shirt; simple as just having the word Devo on his shirt. I was wearing a huge coat and was overheating from the crowd’s heat. So I asked the guy in front of me if he could do me the favor of putting my coat underneath a nook in the stage. He instantly recognized me from another event that I attended a couple of months ago. His name is Ryan. It was a nice encounter and I thanked him for granting my favor and for something else. He shared some pictures of the event we went to and I was glad to thank him in person, small world I guess. The band finished setting up and left the stage. A couple of minutes later, it all began.


It all started with a roadie, I’m guessing, coming out and announcing the band. He gets the crowd riled up and he turns on a silver iPod that was connected to the electric piano. Music blasts out as the crowd cheers for the start of the show. Hiro comes out, shaking his body in excitement to mimic the crowd’s joyous reaction of him coming out. The rest of the band, Fumi, Yano, and Kayo, comes out and gets situated to rock out. He got the crowd cheering with his onstage antics. It is kind of hard to explain what he does during live performances that make him so memorable. But ill try my best to try to explain his and the other band members little idiosyncrasies that give POLYSICS their oh so delicious flavor. One thing ill mention is his upbeat tone of voice. Hiro has the great habit of doing this with the most mundane thing. For example, when he walks out to put on his guitar and start the show. Normal front men usually walk and put on their gear. Hiro will actually have a skip in his step. He does this throughout the show and its just fun too see. The energy is much appreciated and fits the music that they play which is upbeat and rocking. It also makes for great pictures as I found out for myself. Another good example is how Kayo presents herself too. She, as I mentioned before, is the synthesizer player. Synthesizers give computer generated notes that sound almost robotic. She plays the part when she sings some lyrics and the synthesizer changes her voice to that of a robot. Not only does her voice play the part but so does her body. In videos and concert footage, she rarely deviates from her stiff posture and calculated movements. It gives her the quintessence of being an android, which is cool in my book. This gimmick mixed with Hiro’s high energy antics and guitar playing makes for an exceptional feast for the eyes.


The beginning notes too “Buggie Technica” blares out of the speakers. As the song name implies, it sounds like techno music but with guitars, really good song. I snapped some pictures. The interesting part of live concerts is you never know what’s going to happen. I forget that my experience with POLYSICS music is different from others. My expression for the music is that I will sing lyrics (lyrics I can decipher anyway) and that would be my maximum level of showing my excitement. That and maybe hoping around too the beat, I'm a very reserved person unfortunately. It never dawned on me other peoples reaction to their music but it was made painfully obvious that evening. The song, like most of their songs, was fast and hard. The crowd reacted with a pushing match from behind where I was standing. At certain points of the song, the crowd would push its way towards the stage and than recede to their original state, like the ebb tide of an ocean on a full moon. I thought it was an interesting reaction to the song. What I found kind of funny was that, from my vantage point, it seemed like it was being caused by one person. She seemed like she was the one doing all the wave action to the dismay of my girlfriend next too me that got the brunt of the force. Don’t quote me on this but I might be wrong. This is just what I noticed.


The band shot out songs like bullets from a barrel. They played so many of their songs. This is the list from the top of my head in no particular order: Buggie Technica, Moog is Love, Pretty Good, I My Me Mine, We ate the Machine, Kaja Kaja Goo, My Sharona, Rocket, Tei Tei Tei!, Baby Bias, DNA Junction, Coelakanth is Android, and Peach Pie on the Beach. There might have been an extra one or two but I can’t put my finger on it. You’re probably thinking how weird the names are but each song is great to listen to concert. Don’t believe me? Buy their CD, I dare you. If not, take my word on it. If you liked my description of them in earlier paragraph than you’ll like them. They played each song in rapid succession with one or two water breaks. The energy never dissipated from either the band or the crowd, I enjoyed every minute of it!


During the concert, it took a fair amount of pictures and some video of certain songs. The video turned out pretty bad because of my location near the speakers which made the sound on the play back distorted. My camera angles were shaky because of the happy crowd jumping up and down, knocking me around in the process. I didn’t mind though, it was all in good fun. The pictures, on the other hand, turned out fantastic. Far more better than I could ever hope for or imagine. I specifically bought a new 7 mega pixel camera so I can take vibrant shots of them while they played onstage. I bought a new 1 giga byte memory card and battery for a full charge. It was a pretty expensive combo but I was super happy on how the pictures came out. Hiro has the wonderful habit of twisting his face and body to the high energy music. This of course makes for some interesting and dynamic shots. I captured, for the most part, the essence of POLYSICS in picture form in all its still glory. I documented about 80 percent of the concert in either picture or video form. I would have gotten more but my camera battery died out from the extensive use. Next time ill just have to buy an extra spare battery and perhaps more memory to capture more.


The crowd involvement was just as entertaining as the band was. I even saw a mini mosh pit to the left of me. I joined the mass of people by singing the lyrics to their songs. On certain songs, I was impressed by mine and their near perfect mimic of their Japanese lyrics. We probably didn’t know what they meant but it was still great to listen too or sing back. Never hurts to try to find out the meaning to the lyrics either. Sometimes I would hear the crowd drown out the voices of the band, which was pretty cool in my book. Even times when Hiro would motion us to sing some of the song we would hit it right on the head. That, to me, was another impressive thing that happen. I also noticed during the chorus of “I my me mine” that the whole room erupted. Everyone collectively hoped around during that part of the song, as I did. When in Rome, do as the Roman’s do. Sometimes the crowd would get a little too physical. I noticed at some points during the concert that the very front row would get smashed on the stage border. Other times it would be an elbow to the back or slap of the hand to the rear. That type of intimacy is better left to someone you know or love but what can you do at is my logic. People will get excited and get out of control; it’s a fact of life.


The best part of the concert was of course POLYSICS. Their stage presence is overwhelming, to me anyway. Fumi, the bassist, is just as energetic as Hiro but a little more lax. She has a fast fingers to keep up with the songs fast pace, which I find mind blowing. Such a petite and innocent girl can make such a booming and great sound. During the song “We ate the Machine”, this fact I’ve just stated was proven with great impact. The song is kind of on the heavy metal side. She sang the song with a thunderous roar. She even head banged her way at a certain point of the song; making a hurricane with her hair. Awesome! Kayo, on synthesizer, adds to the bands image. As mentioned before, she don’s the persona of an android. She will have little to no movement during a song. The only real movement during any song is her mouth. If you stumbled into a POLYSICS concert, you’d be surprised by her voice; most of the time, a synthetic and loud robotic voice booms out when she sings. This can take someone by surprise. She deviates every now and than to punch up the performance. During the chorus of “Peach Pie on the Beach”, for instance, she broke out a pair of golden pom poms for the song. She even had a dance the consisted of hoping on one leg with the other one swirling behind her in midair. Very cute! Yano, the drummer, is on the reserve side like Kayo. In interviews while playing, he is a very quite man. He just lets his drum playing speak for it self. His drumming is so fast it’s amazing. I will always associate his playing style with the style of The Ramones drummers. The speed and consistency is right with how they played. This is a compliment because I love The Ramones too. The amount of stamina you have to have to play at that speed is truly awe aspiring.


Too describe Hiro’s zany demeanor, he needs his own paragraph. Hiro first impressed me with his guitar skills in songs and videos. He mastered my affection when I saw him in concert. This guy's skills are out of this world. During one song, he played a couple of notes with his teeth! He even tried playing the guitar with the microphone stand, I mean wow! He took his guitar and strung some tunes using the micstand stand as he would his fingers. I think it was a gag but he played some notes on it which was so cool. He played while he was on his knees and walked around for a bit too. Another cool thing he did was he went to the edge of the crowd and played super close and, I think, let people touch him and his ax. On the song “Baby Bias”, he would do jumping jacks as Kayo sang. On the song “Tei Tei Tei!” he got the crowd involved by grunting out a chorus as he lifted and pumped his guitar in the air, leading the charge himself. I joined in and I almost choked from hoarseness after I grunted the hardest I could. He plays and breaks character by doing something out of the ordinary which is funny and great at the same time. For example, he’ll be throwing kicks in the air or head banging to a song and than he’ll stop playing and wave to the crowd or something playful in that nature. It’s so cool that he can mix it up like that and it’s a nice treat when the concert is happening. I love when he shakes his head back and forth. His long hair swaying back and forth makes for great pictures. Me and Brenda, like others, got sprayed his sweat which is always cool at a rocking concert. The last thing ill mention because I could go on and on is what happen when the last song played. He played the last song with his butt too the crowd. He did this to the far left of me and I watched as the crowd patted him on the butt as he played. I though this was wild and I felt the right side was a little left out. Luckily for me, he came over to us and started to moon us too. I couldn’t resist. I made my way towards the stage as other people patted him on the butt and laid a playful smack on his rear. He rolled on the ground a little making a face from the beating his bum took, it was freaking great! So let’s recap. I shook his hand, got his sweat on me, and smacked his butt! I couldn’t ask for a better time with one of my favorite idol and band.


They finished playing a dragged out finish to their last song. They thanked us for coming and all that good stuff. Finally they left the stage. I put away my camera so I could have my hands ready. I knew what was coming next. The room explodes with cheers, applause, and whistles as they left the stage. The crowd is still pumped after the 13 plus songs. I joined in on the celebration when I heard the first person start the chant. POL-Y-SICS, POL-Y-SICS, POL-Y-SICS. That went on for a very short time before they came back on. They seemed happy that we wanted an encore. I bet they must have been really exhausted by this time. Hiro’s boiler suit was completely drenched in sweat by this time. Halfway through the concert he had to remove his glasses because the beads of sweat. He yelled out the next song they were going to play, “New Wave Jacket.” I flipped out. I think this is one of their fastest and awesome sounding songs they ever made. Apparently everyone else agreed with the next song choice because they blew up too. Hiro’s excitement still hadn’t died by that time. He was so into it that when the first part of the song started, he started humping his guitar. I kid you not! After that great song finished he quickly announced the next one, “Electric Surfin’ Go Go”. This song is one of my favorites as is the music video, which is like capturing an acid trip on film. It sounded better live when the sound is firing at you full force. We rocked out until they finished the last note. This time it was finally over.


I wanted to wait a little for maybe an autograph or another picture with them. We couldn’t because they needed everyone to leave because it was closing time. It was around 1 o clock in the morning so it was ok. I heard later from Ryan that he held out a little and actually saw them start to pack up. He got an autograph which was pretty good. I will definitely get their autograph next time. I see myself going to every show they have here in Chicago for as many times they can do it. I was really impressed on how they sounded in real life and by how unique their sound is overall. That night was such a great night for me. I hope I was able to capture how cool they are but I think I did them some justice. To see them and to try to write about them is completely different things. I urge people reading this to give them a shot because you’ll hear something different and good. That’s my opinion anyway. I hope they come back to Chicago soon. I was happy to write this and hope you enjoyed, even if it was somewhat. I leave you with this last message and it comes from the heart.





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Comments 1 comment

Colleen 7 years ago

cool - I saw them 3 years ago - having gone to see a local band that I heard on college radio. Hiro gave me a high five

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