The Shonen Knife show started inauspiciously.
Shimokitazawa’s Club Que, shoved into a building’s basement like a bastard redheaded step-child, was small enough, and packed enough, to force me to make mental notes of where the (two) exits were.
It didn’t help that the place was jammed with people, crammed in much like the Yamanote is during the morning commute. Except the Yammy gets infused with fresh air every two minutes when it stops. Que was, for all intents and purposes, hermetically sealed. If there was an earthquake or fire, we’d be cooked.
Putting those cheery thoughts aside, the lights went down and the first band came up. I don’t remember their name.
I don’t want to remember their name.
They were loud and largely unlistenable, and up and down within the first half-hour. Maybe they were having a bad night, who knows?
The second band was a tight little three-member outfit called Detroit 7. They started off their set with the audio clip of Cheech Marin giving his front-door barker speech in “From Dusk ‘Til Dawn.” (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, it’s the most interesting part of the movie, aside from Salma Hayek as a stripper playing with a white boa constrictor.)
I don’t remember much of the lyrical content, although it was in English. Their songs might even’ve been catchy, if the sound system wasn’t crap. And I know they had a drummer, since I could hear him, but there was so much artificial fog he was invisible.
Nevermind all that, though. They played a fast set that got the house moving, mostly by songs featuring distinctive music by the drummer, guitarist and bassist. In the world of local rock, this was no mean feat. It didn’t hurt them that the lead singer/guitarist oozed charisma.
Everybody was nice and geared up for Shonen Knife, and they didn’t disappoint. Not in the slightest.
I’m not overly familiar with SK. But as I headed up to the pit, the love for their music shone off their faces. They were on, choosing old standards of theirs that the crowd knew and newer tunes that people couldn’t mouth the lyrics to, yet, but still had them thrashing about.
Stage-divers, crowd-surfers, and a rockin’ pit where I was surprisingly one of the biggest guys there made it a great night.
SK is kind of like They Might Be Giants, in that they bring a sense of humor and whimsy to what can sometimes be a dreary scene. Rising stars take note: Taking your music seriously is good; taking yourself seriously is not.
The three housewives from Osaka, who’ve been playing for nearly 20 years – I think – finished up their 90 minute set with an encore featuring hilariously cheesy choreography and canned music, as they sang “Chinese Disco” and the crowd alternatively cheered them on and joined in.
To no surprise, when the ladies came back out for their encore, people started bowing – not Japanese-style, from the waist, but Egyptian style, with arms raised. All hail the Queens, indeed.