This is going to be bar none, the most un-metal show I’ve ever written about. I shall now vainly attempt to justify it by mentioning that Shonen Knife are fans of Motörhead and have done a song with the warthog Lemmy. Now I have cause to continue.
Opening the show were local rockers, The Moan, who claim to be from space.
From what I can gather, they are a rather new band, and having 75 FB likes as well as no music online, I’m surprised they secured a spot opening for Shonen Knife of all bands. They’re a two-piece that could be likened to Garage meets Hard Rock band The White Stripes, but I hate them so I won’t. Instead, I’ll go ahead and compare them to The Pretenders, a largely British Proto-Punk band fronted by an American lass named Chrissie Hynde, sans the “fuck off” attitude. It was hit-or-miss for me personally, and the stage presence reflected an individual who wished to be anywhere but on a stage, though since they are a fledgling act and certainly not bad at what they do, they can’t really sour their reputation unless they start covering “Doorbell”.
Keeping in the two-piece streak were White Mystery, a red-headed brother-sister tag-team that should have been around long ago so they could have ended up on the Jet Set Radio Future soundtrack alongside BIS’ “Statement Of Intent” and Guitar Vader’s “Baby-T”
With a mixture of British Invasion-era fuzz, some psychedelic leanings, and an all-American pop sensibility, there was no shortage of catchy songs, so good show by the ginger roots. I definitely would see them again, though I may only get that chance if they come around supporting a similarly old school band like Royal Headache.
Shonen Knife is one of those bands that if you hear them and have a heart, you’ll be fighting to keep a stupid grin from creeping onto your face. Being from Japan, a land that has engineered every export to appeal to the part of our frail American minds that has an insatiable craving for adorable things, and fully embracing the tendency to put cute cartoons and a lackadaisical attitude that would tell you America isn’t currently slaughtering people abroad and oppressing minds at home, Shonen Knife is what one listens to when they just want to be happy. No matter how old, what subculture you hail from, or your gender, you’re not going to resist.
Shonen Knife borrow equally from the poppy surf rock of the Beach Boys, stripped-down Punk in the shape of The Ramones, a distinctive J-Pop feel, and yet there’s a certain low-fidelity atmosphere around it that prevents it from being too squeaky-clean. With a career spanning over 30 years, and being able to boast that Kurt Cobain was a huge fan, one can say with certainty that they’ve led a hell of a career. Live, they’re surprisingly loud, and seeing as the last time I saw a band that made that much noise was New York’s own Sludge/Doom titans Tombs. The only difference being that Tombs was probably not intended to be that loud.
It is a shocking sight when people break out into moshing during Shonen Knife. It was among the last things I expected, being a show headlined by one of the most bubblegum bands I actually enjoy. Alas, once they played a cover of The Ramones’ “Rock & Roll High School”, it was a mess of pogoing, silly dancing, and playful shoving. Ah, to be young. The setlist included four songs from their newest release, Pop Tune, which, as the title suggests, is turning out to be their most straightforward and poppy (go figure) to date.
This coming from a band who wrote a song about a giant kitty where the chorus is repeating “Big, big. Big, cat!”. I suppose the future for Shonen Knife means less songs about household appliances, animals, sexy bitches, and food, and a bit more about having fun. Well, they were already about having fun, but one can expect the material focus shall dwindle a bit. Shonen Knife is the only band I’ve ever seen that seemed to quite literally enjoy every second they spent onstage, and I’m sure the audience felt the same way. I sure did.
They’ve been around for a long time, and have written many songs, but they’ve never quite mastered the English language. All part of the plan to be cute, I wager. They’re invading our minds, and making us love them, so that when they wage full-scale war on them, we’ll be helplessly drawn to the googly-eyed monstrosities and loud colors that we’ve grown addicted to as a society. Until the day comes where Pokémon is weaponized to its fullest extent (not counting the Porygon seizure inducing test trials), I’ll hope Shonen Knife writes a song about potatoes.