Though it’s often known as “the land of song,” Wales doesn’t occupy a very prominent spot on the musical radar for anyone who’s unaware that Tom Jones is its greatest musical export. And that’s most of us. But if there’s one thing you should know about the United Kingdom’s forgotten country, it’s that Wales produces bands that flat-out rock. Well, at least one band – a fact that Super Furry Animals will stand testament to with their sublime array of high-energy, everything-pop on Sunday night at Detroit’s Magic Stick.
Boasting a catalog of eight universally acclaimed albums, the Super Furries have brought a kaleidoscopic repertoire made of psychedelia, techno, baroque, punk and whatever else kind of pop that can be produced by guitars, drums and keyboards with them to North America. Their most recent effort, Hey Venus! falls right into the same time-tested yet dynamic mold. The intense, thumping dance rhythms and perfect slices of retro-pop built on “Be My Baby” drum beats and soaring Brian Wilson choruses were born ready for the road and jump-start the Super Furries. Not that they ever slowed down.
Across the pond, Super Furry Animals have been considered a must-see live act since their 1996 debut, Fuzzy Logic, brought them wide-scale exposure and cemented them as top-40 mainstays. In 2000, readers of NME – a British music magazine – acknowledged the band’s on-stage prowess by voting them Best Live Band in the magazine’s annual awards. That same year, they were commissioned by Paul McCartney to assist in the creation of his Liverpool Sound Collage, an album that would garner them a Grammy nod for best alternative album. They’ve also been tagged with a Mercury Music Prize nomination and have even maintained commercial appeal when they’ve recorded in their native language, Welsh, heard on 2000’s Mwng. That album managed a #11 showing on the U.K. charts.
For this tour, the Super Furries have added a new twist to their ever-potent concert offering, allowing fans to participate in song selection. Instead of screaming obnoxiously from the floor, concert goers can have their song requests heard – and listened to – by voting on the band’s website. Each date has its own poll with over 30 songs to choose from, and the band monitors the results and constructs its set lists accordingly.
Sunday’s show will be opened by Times New Viking and the Jeffrey Lewis Band. The former, from Columbus, Ohio, serves up catchy indie-pop melodies drenched in ear-splitting lo-fi guitars. Lewis, a New York City comic book artist, comes with a garage-y folk band whose songs bring more than a passing hint of early Velvet Underground classics like “Run Run Run” and “The Black Angel’s Death Song.”
But, since they’re sharing a bill with Super Furry Animals, the chances of either opener stealing the show is decidedly slim. Even if the Super Furries don’t shoehorn their strobe light, fog machine setup into the Magic Stick’s petite stage, their musical assault will be sufficiently captivating. So much so that it won’t matter if you can’t decipher the lyrics through their ridiculous Welsh accents.
Super Furry Animals
At the Magic Stick
Sunday at 8 p.m.