Review: Superorganism Celebrates World Wide Pop with Lincoln Hall and at Least Five Local Dads

Superorganism came all the way from London to Chicago to perform at Lincoln Hall on Friday, October 7 as their eighth of 28 shows across the United States and Canada. Their headlining tour celebrates the band’s second album World Wide Pop, released July 15 this year. Their first self-titled album was released in 2018 and includes several hits, the most recognizable being “Something For Your M.I.N.D” which has been featured on Hulu, Netflix, and countless TikTok videos. This art/indie/electro/synth/psychedelic pop band’s members have dwindled since their first album release from eight to five members which include Orono Noguchi on lead vocals and acoustic guitar, Dr. Tucan Taylor Michaels on electronic beats and mixing, B on vocals and dancing, Soul on keys, synth and dancing, and Harry on guitar.

The core members of Superorganism were originally a New Zealand group who moved to London, named The Eversons. When Orono Noguchi found their music on YouTube, she was living in Maine as an exchange student who posted her vocal covers of songs on SoundCloud in her free time. Orono attended one of their shows in the states and connected with them online, sparking a friendship. The band eventually decided to change direction with their sound and contacted Orono to ask if she wanted to write lyrics and record vocals for a new song. She recorded herself on Garage Band in her dorm room; the futuristic indie pop sound mixed with her dead-pan voice and witty lyrics worked well together, and the rest is Superorganism history.

By scientific definition, a superorganism is a group of organisms of the same species acting in synergy. Superorganism certainly lives up to their name; the members work together to create a unique visual and auditory experience in both their live shows and music videos. Some of the visual aspects of their show are projected hand-drawn animations by commissioned artists or even by members of the band, A.I generated video loops, and video loops of landscapes with severe perspective distortion. The overarching theme is psychedelic ridiculousness with a twinge of nostalgia paired with mega-catchy pop songs.

At Lincoln Hall around 10pm the nearly sold-out show had everyone standing shoulder-to-shoulder all the way to the back of the room. The air was thick with anticipation for Superorganism to take the stage, it was also thick with machine haze and weed smoke. Much later in the set, this combination of air pollutants induced a severe sneezing fit that nearly rendered me unable to drive home. Their set started off with the ‘ding-dong’ sound of a doorbell, followed by a 50’s infomercial-style intro melody of “superrrrorrgaannniisssmmm” that played over the speakers just before the band walked out on stage. They opened with “The Prawn Song” which set the mood for anyone unfamiliar with the strangeness of Superorganism’s lyrics.

Included below is the last verse of the song

"Recently being discovered that these prawns

Have a highly sophisticated social system

Similar to that of bees or ants

Prawn, prawn

Different individuals are specialized for particular tasks

This superorganism is impressive no matter how you look at it"

Besides the massive projection behind them on stage, the visual aspect of their show includes a roughly 24-inch monitor sitting on top of a hard case in the middle of the stage playing videos throughout the show that only the first couple rows of the audience could see. The first few songs were accompanied by a video of Orono sitting with someone in a field doing, what looked like, an interview in fold-out camping chairs. In case someone wasn’t entertained by the 50 other things to look at on the stage, Soul and B kept the audience entranced with their sometimes choreographed and mirrored dancing flanking Orono on either side as the most eccentric back-up dancers I’ve ever seen.  

By the third song, Orono thanked the Lincoln Hall front of house staff and politely asked if they would cut the fog or haze machine, saying that she had been holding back a cough for several minutes. She addressed the audience as she would address a friend; the deep and monotone voice a striking contrast to her very young looking, innocent features, and introduced the song “Everything Falls Apart”. Orono told the crowd that “this song is for the girlies” and that she was going to pick someone from the audience to sing directly to – making sure to mention that it would be very awkward and gay. She opted for the girl standing directly in front of her, whom we soon found out was accompanied by her father. Orono asked, “is this dude next to you being creepy or is he your dad?” referring to the proximity between the two, to which they replied that he was her dad and that they both love Superorganism and listen to them avidly on their own time. This interaction prompted Orono to ask the next question, “How many dads are here tonight?” to which a handful of cheers erupted. The next song “Everybody Wants to be Famous” was then dedicated to all the dads in the audience and the band all agreed that they have a soft spot for fathers, especially ones who take their kids to concerts.  

Toward the end of their set, Orono divided the audience into a wall-of-death formation, which came together surprisingly easy despite how packed the floor was. She warned the audience that a surprise was coming, and that she would let us all know what to do when the time was right. About halfway through the song, she instructed anyone that wanted to, to walk the empty space they had created to simulate a fashion runway. The best part had to be the dads showing off their concert ‘fits. Due to the sneezing fit mentioned earlier, I was unable to watch their full set and had to head out with 2 songs to go. I left upset that I cut the night short, but also with a new sense of clarity that felt psychedelic in nature, possibly due to the intoxicants hanging in the air at Lincoln Hall, or from the visual and musical journey Superorganism had taken me on.

All photos by Shaela Johnston

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Shaela Johnston

Shaela is a West-Coast born freelance photographer and writer, relatively new to Chicago as of 2021. Specializing in live music photography, Shaela can be found attending concerts several times a week when she isn't traveling or working on her Bachelor's degree. In her free time she listens to metal, hardcore, hip-hop, and likes to chill at home with her hairless cat named Soup and wife Courtney.