Life as a Hologram: Superorganism Take Over the Wonder

Vortex Music Magazine

After a stellar debut and a sold-out Doug Fir set in March, the excitement surrounding Superorganism’s Portland return was high when the band’s latest tour kicked off at the Wonder Ballroom on August 30.

Opening nights of tours are always surrounded with mystery and anticipation. Everything from the production to the setlist is a surprise until the lights go down. Many in attendance, especially those posted in the front row and armed with glitter, glowsticks and multicolored clothing, knew just what to expect from Superorganism. But for those who didn’t, the hallucinatory spectacle unleashed on stage was a colorful surprise.

After a crowd-pleasing opening set from Jacksonville artist Yuno, the stage was set for Superorganism’s arrival. As the lights went down, a projector whirred up, lighting the stage with a video introduction. A man appeared onscreen.

There was no show, the man told the crowd. Superorganism were not there. Everything that followed was a hallucination.

As the musical trip began, the band members made their way onto the stage, carrying orbs of light. Lead singer Orono Noguchi, dressed in black sweats and a sweatshirt, glitter on her face, was the last on stage. She moseyed out to the mic at the front, eating a box of Apple Jacks. With all of the band in place, the music began, breaking out into title track “Sprorgnsm” as strobes lit up the room.

The opening number alone was strange enough, and the announcement that the night was no more than a hallucinatory projection seemed to be holding up. But despite the strangeness of the evening, Superorganism delivered exactly what was promised— a brilliant stage production, quirky pop soundscapes and a colorful sparkling dance party.

As the show continued, the band gave their music the visuals it deserved. Members danced around while holding the lit-up orbs, rainbow colors and strange imagery projected onto three screens behind them, and Noguchi led them all with her signature laid-back, deadpan delivery, adding the perfect contrast to the rest of the energetic weirdness on stage.

Following more tracks off the band's debut album, the surprises of opening night began to make themselves known. For the first time in the history of Superorganism, the band left the stage, leaving Noguchi alone to the crowd with a guitar and a laptop.

As the laptop booted up, Noguchi took some time to host a quick Q&A with the crowd. One particular crowd member a few rows back earned her attention, and took the time to ask what was on everybody’s mind.

“How’s life being a hologram?” he asked.

Noguchi looked a bit surprised, and turned to a crew member helping set up the mic and laptop. “Did you know I was a hologram?” she asked. He nodded. At this point the holographic hallucination that was Superorganism became self-aware, and the next part of Noguchi’s solo set began.

“I’m going to play a cover of a song,” she told the crowd, as she Googled the chords to Miley Cyrus’ “Party in the USA.” Without a prepared cover, Noguchi simply read the lyrics and chords off the internet, playing guitar and adding her deadpan vocals to the Cyrus classic. The crowd sang along to every word in a moment that felt more like some friends hanging out and messing around rather than a concert. However, that’s exactly what Superorganism strives for. It’s never what you’d expect.

Following the Q&A and spontaneous cover, the rest of the band returned to the stage. At the end of the evening, Superorganism had treated the Portland crowd to every song of their discography, including “Relax,” which they played live for the very first time that night.

Superorganism’s music has its strangeness to it, and the live show that goes along with it is the perfect complement. For those who were prepared for the mind-expanding spectacle, the psychedelic dance party that took over the Wonder Ballroom last Thursday night was everything they expected. And for those who came in without the slightest idea of what the troop had in store, there’s no question they left with a craving for more.

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