Let’s face it–math rock isn’t for everyone. With its complex riffs and complicated rhythmic structures, casual music listeners would easily get thrown off, making the genre incredibly niched to a specific group of enthusiasts who crave for weirder sounds driven by feel and dominated by distorted guitars and frenzied drums.

LITE–comprising Nobuyuki Takeda (guitar), Kozo Kusumoto (guitar/synthesizer), Jun Izawa (bass), and Akinori Yamamoto (drums)–had a big night ahead of them, following the wake of their contemporaries toe in schooling Manila with the wonders of math rock. Except for them, it’s their first time in the Philippines, and they’re only running on two hours of sleep. And unlike toe, they had an opening act to pump adrenaline into their crowd before all eyes fell on them. Terno Recordings act AOUI, a four-piece “dance-trumental” band filled the club as they breezed through their set, introducing two new tracks (temporarily) titled “Thirteen” and “Octopot.”

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Terno Recordings act AOUI opening the night for LITE on March 26 at 19East.

The venue emptied almost immediately when AOUI closed their set, giving LITE the time and space they needed to prepare the stage. But they wasted no time setting up, starting with “Ef” off their sophomore record Phantasia, drawing the audience back inside the venue. It was the perfect opening; looping riffs overlapped each other without overstimulating the senses to give the audience a taste of what to expect. If they were completely spent, it didn’t show at all, as the band blew up with their spastic movements, banging their heads to “Balloon” and “Image Game.”

“It’s hot outside,” Takeda said, wiping sweat from his brow. The weather has indeed been sweltering hot, even for the locals, as the first days of summer trickled in. Someone in the crowd didn’t hold back, quickly shouting, “Welcome to hell!”

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Jun Izawa (bass) and Kozo Kusumoto (guitar/synth) of LITE.

LITE continued their electrifying lesson, proving that math rock cannot be simplified. It’s ridiculously aggressive with parts you could easily dance or groove to, all while changing scales six times on a single track and never sticking to one key. The hyperactive nature of the genre shined bright on “Bond” (off their 2012 release Past, Present, Future) with quick pull-offs, constantly playing with counterparts. Their voltaic sound could be described as a computer computing data, beeping out codes as it processes things a normal human brain cannot fathom.

Through the crowd’s persistent cries for “Ghost Dance,” LITE closed with “100 Million Rainbows,” later revealing to members of AOUI that the Phantasia track just didn’t fit well on their set list. On paper, 11 songs may appear too short for a band with a catalog of five studio albums and six EP releases, but the time they spent onstage left fans mesmerized. It was a mathematical night for everyone. And it even sparked the beginning of a new friendship between AOUI and LITE, as the two instrumental acts bade each other farewell with a promise to play together again, possibly in Japan.

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LITE and AOUI after their 19East show on March 26.

Set List

“Ef”
“Balloon”
“Image Game”
“Else”
“Warp”
“Echolocation”
“D”
“Bond”
“Pirates and Parakeets”
“Infinite Mirror”
“100 Million Rainbows”

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