Number Girl, Mercury

Friday Night

Number Girl

Mercury

It was an ice water kind of night, having been viciously kicked in the head by old friend Jim Beam the night before, no Southern gentleman he. Number Girl lead singer Mukai made his carefully-enunciated intentions clear from the get-go, however; "I love Austin. I love Austin. I love ... drunk." You have to love that kind of forthrightness. The studious-looking guitarslinger, dressed in khakis, glasses, and black button-down shirt, then led the Japanese fourpiece into several seconds' worth of noise-volley before launching into another clanky pop opus. Number Girl's set was a cluster of paradoxes: abrasive and melodic, discordant and lyrical, with a tight-fisted rhythm section and a drummer as busy as a hay baler. Their songs were a torrent of clean-but-jagged Fender guitar noise, loud and startling as a string of Black Cats going off a foot away from your head, calling to mind some unholy collision of the Foo Fighters, Season to Risk, and Guided by Voices, thrown into a Cuisinart set on "puree." Interestingly, the band recruited Flaming Lips producer Dave Fridmann on their latest studio effort, a logical choice considering their sonic assault. Co-fronting the band with a svelte female guitarist, the mild-looking singer would grope for words and haltingly introduce a song before screaming like a banshee, his guitar compatriot throwing in the occasional facile guitar squiggle on top of the mix. Though Number Girl doesn't fly completely off the weirdo meter like some Japanese acts of this year's conference, they still deliver a strange and interesting barrage of squawky, angular pop songs, a musical counterpart to a Mondrian painting. In between swigs of Budweiser, the singer awkwardly attempted to introduce a song called "Samurai" before giving up and conceding, "I don't know what I am saying." Judging from the crowd's reaction, it really didn't matter.

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