Like Rina Sawayama crashing a Harley on speed, SASAMI has set a gold standard for wholesale showmanship on her latest tour supporting her newest album of nu metal-inspired paeans. The former classical composer-turned-indie-icon took the stage at Music Hall of Williamsburg on Friday. Her backing band were the first to emerge, three long-haired men who looked like distant relatives of Slayer, all three of them donning royal blue hooded cloaks.
SASAMI was quick to follow suit, looking like a medieval vigilante princess in a frilly white bodice and corset along with fishnets and a leather harness. Her entrance was met with an eruption of cheers from the demographically diverse crowd of indie kids and queer BIPOC pop and metal fans. One male audience member threw out a suggestive comment about her looks, which was quickly shut down by a corral of boos from surrounding concert-goers. “KILL HIM!” SASAMI jokingly sneered in response, making it abundantly clear that she’s not afraid to mobilize her following to annihilate anyone who threatens to exploit her or her fans.
After attentively tuning her Gibson Explorer, she opened her set with “The Greatest,” a slow and towering cut that immediately set the mood for a liberating two hours of SASAMI ripping and roaring through a searing lineup of hair-raising tracks off her expansively cathartic sophomore album Squeeze, which included a violent thrash cover of Daniel Johnston’s “Sorry Entertainer.” Squeeze was written to express the beauty and violence of the human condition through fuzzy walls of metal rage, with assistance from Megadeth’s drummer Dirk Verbeuren.
Throughout her raucous set, SASAMI commanded the stage with outrageous antics that teetered on the edge of self-destruction. This included bellowing and coughing through blood-curdling screams, sticking the amp cord in her mouth and gyrating as if she’d electrocuted herself, violently ramming herself into her bandmates, mounting the drum-kit to jump on her guitarist’s back, and engaging in elaborate choreography that evoked the motions of a shaman calling to the spirits in a protective ritual.
The energy in the room was radiantly positive as SASAMI clawed her way through each song, her dedicated followers relishing every second they had in her presence. In the middle of her set she beckoned her opening act Zulu, a powerviolence metal band from L.A., to join her onstage, who joyfully grooved on the sidelines for the rest of the show.
Near the end of SASAMI’s set she got close to the verge of tears, expressing her immense gratitude for the sense of community she’s found at her shows. This was topped off with a heartfelt shoutout to her queer fans who feel understood and valued through the anger and deliverance expressed in her music. There is nothing subtle about SASAMI, and this live performance only solidified her promising output.
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