It’s one thing to be unaware of an amazing live act for far too long; it’s another for them to be from your own backyard and to be totally clueless about them until they’re opening for an established band at Bowery Ballroom. But such is the truth of my discovery of Brooklyn’s Superhuman Happiness, and I’m happy to say I’m glad I made my way to them eventually, even if I arrived late to the party.
Like the band they were opening for, Superhuman Happiness utilize a large crew of players that includes multiple percussionists and brass flourishes (founder Stuart Bogie also does time as saxophonist for Antibalas). Superhuman Happiness specialize in an upbeat, tribal style of dance music that calls to mind acts like !!!, with a penchant for the type of catchy polyrhythms that could as easily be at home on a DFA release (especially the set opener, “See Me On My Way”). The band’s vocal approach trends mellower than those acts, and less self-referential; Superhuman Happiness, as the name may imply, are an unironically happy band, and being in their crowd, it’s hard not to feel a lightness in your step yourself. They encourage the crowd to open a number of songs with clapping (check out “Our Favorite Part”, below), amping up the sense of celebration.
I’m told that this set was a bit less on the improvisational side for a Superhuman Happiness gig, given the limited set time, but the band nevertheless took plenty of liberties with song structure, as on the extended meditation during “Hounds”. But with a musical pedigree among the bandmembers as diverse as Foals, TV on the Radio, Phenomenal Handclap Band, the Roots, Passion Pit, Antibalas and Holly Miranda, to name a few, these guys prove that they aren’t just a bunch of music majors noodling it out – they’ve got plenty of chops in more straight-ahead styles as well.
Right now, you can catch Superhuman Happiness at less expensive (as they commented from stage) venues around the city like Union Pool and Pianos; sure, they’ll also dominate Brooklyn Bowl one day (their sound is almost tailor-made for that venue), but why wait?
I recorded this set with a combination of Schoeps MK22 “open cardioid” mics and MK41 supercardiod mics for a recording of excellent focus and balance. Enjoy!
Stream “Our Favorite Part”
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Recorded and produced by acidjack
Schoeps MK41 (balcony, DIN, slightly LOC)>KCY>littlebox + Schoeps MK22>tinybox >> Edirol R-44 [Oade Concert Mod]>2x24bit/48kHz WAV>Audacity (mixdown, balance, tracking, set fades, amplify and balance)>FLAC ( level 8)
01 See Me On My Way
02 Half Step Grind
03 Again Again Again (Half Step Grind Pt. 2)
05 Needles and Pins
06 Second Heart
07 Our Favorite Part
08 I Hear You Calling