The Bowery Ballroom, New York City, NY • October 19, 2000
I didn’t quite know what to expect when I ventured out to see Spoozys. Oh, I’d heard their awesome record, Astral Astronauts, and had already fallen for their “Devo meets Man or Astroman? in the new millennium” sound, I only had an advance copy of the CD, with no bio, artwork – really, no anything to help me classify the band other than the music. I knew I liked it, but I wondered what it was going to be like live.
When Spoozys came out on stage, they were outfitted in astronauts’ space suits, with domed helmets that were easily as large as the Residents’ eyeballs, leaving the bandmembers’ identities equally indiscernible. Slowly they lumbered onto the stage, moving as if they weren’t used to the gravity, as if they were walking on the moon. Taking their places at their instruments, they launched into their first song, and I was immediately entranced. Those costumes had to be hot, yet these… spacepeople (I still couldn’t even tell if they were men, women, or what!) were jumping around like maniacs, totally rocking out. And they sounded even better than their record!
The song ended, and in unison, the Spoozys lifted their helmets to reveal… four Japanese kids, three boys and a girl! Or at least they looked Japanese – as the frontman soon announced, they’re actually aliens! “That is why we don’t speak English very well – but we speak Japanese,” he quipped. The crowd was immediately won over – despite the language barrier that could make it difficult to understand the between-song patter, the Spoozys had winning stage presence and were absolutely charming. While the frontman stuck to guitar, vocals, and energy, and the girl on the keys was all cool and detached, the guy who got my attention the most was the maniac at stage left, whose purpose seemed to be to play the odd non-traditional instrument (most notably, theramin!) and run and jump around the stage, inciting mischief.
To make a long story short, they sounded great, and their energy was nothing short of infectious. I soon forgot that I’d only had two hours sleep before flying to New York that morning, that I’d been walking all over the city all day, the hellacious time in the club’s foyer, the other show I wanted to get to, and even where I was! I was transported to the Spoozys’ planet, and I never wanted to leave, I only wanted to dance and cheer. For hours after the show, all I could say was “Spoozys! Spoooozys!” That was the best way to convey the excitement and energy of this amazing band – nothing else really drove home the point. Even in the course of this review, I don’t think I’m doing them justice. Suffice to say that when those four kids quit playing, put their helmets back on, and spacewalked off the stage, I wanted more, more, more. I sat with mouth open, wondering how anything else I’d planned to see in this busy week would top the spectacle I’d seen. Truly, nothing did top the Spoozys (though a few things came close enough to call it a statistical tie), they were easily one of the highlights of the conference – nay, the year! ◼