|Yamano sings "Rock N Roll High School"|
The pop-punk trio from Osaka, Japan opened their set Saturday with "Konnichiwa," from 1998's Happy Hour, immediately turning The Bottle into a grimy, sweaty basement party. Blunt drumming tussled with Ritsuko Taneda's rippling bass lines, instantly rubberizing knees and necks. The bassist jammed in sync with founding singer/guitarist Naoko Yamano, going for what looked like a kind of ZZ Top-meets-Devo thing. Serrated distortion shimmered through the bop of "Rock Society," the first of several songs played that justify the plethora of Ramones-comparisons associated with Shonen Knife. Built for fist-pumping, the tune is of the positive and playful punk that tends to be forgotten when talking about "real music." Yes, it can be difficult to take a band who earnestly plays songs like "I am a Cat" seriously, but any listener with their nose so upturned that they can't enjoy simple things like great melodies, stupid, giddy lyrics and a great beat is a fool who I didn't need to run into at the show anyway. The aforementioned kitty-themed song was sung by drummer Emi Morimoto, whose pixie voice pleasantly swayed over polished guitar flourishes.
|Shonen Knife rips through "Twist Barbie"|
For their encore the trio tossed out any need to play "guess the influence," returning to perform the bulk of their new record, Osaka Ramones, which, you guessed it, is a Ramones cover album. The crowd ate it up, melting into one of the friendliest pits I've ever seen (Riot Festers, this is how it's done). Having never seen the Ramones, getting the opportunity to slam to "Beat on the Brat" and "The KKK Took My Baby Away" was a treat, and I couldn't have been more pleased with the show's conclusion. That said, it did point out to me just how lazy the excessive comparisons are. Yeah, Shonen Knife learned a lot from Joey and the boys, but their sound is a mesh of that a whole lot more. They certainly do those pop-punk songs with a kind of ditzy perfection, but if that's all I had heard on Saturday I would've felt a little cheated. Instead I was left debating a trip to Indianapolis to see the band again in two nights. That is how I'll describe Shonen Knife from now on, not as "chick Ramones from Osaka," but as "a group so good I almost went to fucking Indianapolis."
Check out more show reviews:
Mister Heavenly at Subterranean
Supreme Cuts, Memoryhouse, Balam Acab at the Empty Bottle
tUnE-yArDs at Lincoln Hall
Wooden Shjips at the Empty Bottle
Electric 6 at Double Door