Great American Music Hall audience becomes part of Superorganism at San Francisco show

Superorganism's lead vocalist Orono Noguchi
Doug Smith/Staff

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Caped with their faces hidden in hoods, the members of Superorganism made their entrance at Great American Music Hall in San Francisco on April 16. Opening with the song “SPRORGNSM” and with the chanting of the lyrics, “I want to be a superorganism,” the band invited the audience to be a member of the band for the night — a trend of audience interaction and participation that would continue throughout the show.

Superorganism is made up of eight members who are based in multiple countries. Many of the members met at online music forums and continued to utilize the internet when composing songs. Organizing themselves around the lead singer, Orono Noguchi, the band members ensured that she took center stage. Even so, every member was still allowed the creative space to shine and radiate from their position onstage. This separation as well as cohesiveness in their performance made certain that the group’s large size would never overwhelm the audience.

Noguchi, standing at what appeared to be 4 feet tall, came onstage eating SunChips, sunglasses on. After the audience interaction in the first song, Noguchi treated it as an extension of the band. She would pull candy from one of the many pockets of her cargo pants and throw it out in bursts, comically winding up to toss the pieces farther into the crowd to ensure that everyone had the chance to get candy.

The music was just as immersive as Noguchi, the rest of the band playing along with her antics — from the chomping of apples by backup vocalist Earl Ho, aka Soul, to the synchronized dancing of the other backup vocalists. Particularly strong was the performance of “The Prawn Song,” making a compelling case for life as a prawn, aided by stellar visuals that displayed the world of the prawn. And in “Nai’s March,” the band made the audience feel oddly nostalgic toward Tokyo.

At a certain point in the set, Noguchi recognized an audience member from a previous show in San Francisco. The member, who at the time of the previous show had just moved to San Francisco from Japan, had vocalized at this earlier date her concerns about making friends, all of which Noguchi remembered. This incident displays a central theme with Superorganism: In listening to its music and going to its concerts, listeners and audience members become absorbed in the group, truly making up a superorganism.

To top off this charismatic performance, partway through the song “Night Time,” an electro song that relies heavily on the chirping of crickets, Noguchi actually forgot the lyrics. She told the crowd, “It’s all right ‘cause the chorus is coming up” before jumping into the chorus.

Toward the end of the show, Noguchi stepped down from being the lead singer and instead became a backup guitarist for the premiere of an untitled unreleased song, during which the backup singer B took center stage. The song itself was more pop than most of Superorganism’s music. The audience members, while at first suspicious of the song, had by the second go of the chorus accepted it as theirs and were singing along.

Superorganism wound down with the song “Everybody Wants to Be Famous,” leaving the stage to an uproarious audience. The crowd screamed for them to come back, all wanting to hear the band’s biggest hit. And Superorganism obliged, coming back to play “Something For Your M.I.N.D.” When the song ended and Superorganism walked offstage for the final time, there was still a sense of connection between both audience members and the band. The audience left knowing that it was part of Superorganism and that their faces would be remembered.

Contact Zoë Cramer at [email protected].