SHONEN KNIFE (OzAsia Festival) Nexus Arts Friday 29 September 2017
Review by Geoff Jenke
Shonen Knife is a 3-piece Japanese punk pop band formed by sisters Naoko (guitar and vocals) and Atsuko Yamano (bass and vocals) way back in 1981. They are joined by new drummer Risa Kawano. Influences include the 1960’s girl groups, The Ramones and The Beach Boys.
The Nexus Arts venue was packed for the performance and the crowd gave an arousing greeting to the band as they literally bounced out on stage and launched straight into Pop Tune. Like their hero’s The Ramones, (they even have a tune called Ramones Forever on their new album) there is little banter between songs, so in quick succession we got Banana Chips, Jump into The New World and Rock and Roll T Shirt. In between songs we got a succession of “devil horn” fists raised aloft. During songs we got a succession of synchronised hair toss’s, “Status Quo” guitar movements and playing the guitars back to back. In fact, all the classic rock moves were covered during the evening.
There seemed to be a theme about food in the songs as Sushi Bar Song, Wasabi, All You Can Eat and BBQ Party, complete with the crowd bouncing along to the chorus “Pig Out Pig Out Pig Out”, were rolled out.
New drummer even got to sing lead vocal on Green Tangerine, with a huge grin on her face during the song. The whole band were obviously having as much fun playing for the audience as the audience were having watching the band.
The songs were short, fast and catchy. You weren’t going to get any songs about world problems here tonight. It was the music that mattered.
Closing the set with Cobra Verses Mongoose gave the band a chance to show off their heavy metal skills, giving even Black Sabbath a run for their money in the metal stakes. Drummer Risa was standing for most of the song hitting the drums as hard as I have seen anyone hit drums.
Encore was a surprising cover of The Monkees tune, Daydream Believer. It was fast, furious frantic and fabulous and had the crowd bouncing harder than ever.
Shonen Knife throw many genres of rock into the blender, garage, punk, 60’s, metal and pop and make it their own simplistic music. It is good enough for Shonen Knife and by the crowd reaction, howling for more, more than good enough for them.
Support band, Satan’s Cheerleaders used the occasion to launch their new album, Music of The Last Ninja. The band is a progressive instrumental band who have been peddling a unique, schizophrenic musical offering since 2005.
They played with video clips from the old video game (think 1980’s) The Last Ninja being played out on the screen behind them.
The band featuring guitar, drums, bass and saxophone started well enough but without vocals the music became “more the same” as it went on. However, there is no faulting the musicianship as it played its pop/rock with jazz tinged tunes.