Monday, October 26, 2009

Shonen Knife

What the hell is Shonen Knife, you might be wondering, that is if you happened to glance at the title of this post. Well, Shonen Knife is an all-girl, Japanese pop punk band that we went to say a few evenings ago in an abandoned warehouse on the Lower East Side of Manhattan at the launch of what will prove to be their triumphant U.S. tour. The three very small women who make up Shonen Knife create a very big sound and attract an eclectic and loyal gathering of fans. Their audience that night included old people like us, and our friend Stephen Brookfield, who got us the tickets, and is himself the leader of a punk surf band, as well as a large cohort of teenaged appreciators. Many of these younger fans enjoy standing near the stage under the glare of the harsh strobe lighting, jumping, gyrating and jostling each other (known as "moshing"). The members of Shonen Knife appear to be young, though the lead singer and guitarist - Naoko Yamano - has been doing this since 1981, when the group was first formed, and is now joined by two younger collaborators - Ritsuko Taneda - the bass player, and the hard driving Etsuko Nakanishi, their explosive drummer.

We enjoyed ourselves, though we arrived late enough only to hear about a half dozen numbers, which, for our first time, was enough. At the end, we were surprised to see a number of the older admirers, including Stephen Brookfield, pull plugs from their ears, which seemed like cheating, though if you go to enough of these concerts, you probably do need to protect yourself over the long haul against excessive noise. I had received an email from Stephen suggesting that we pick up ear plugs from a local drug store before arriving at the concert, but I thought he was joking. Only when the music ended and all these old guys (and they do mostly tend to be guys) pulled out their plugs did I realize that he had been completely serious.

At any rate, you might want to check out Shonen Knife. Until you have heard their rendition of "Deer Biscuits" or "Na Na Na," you really haven't lived.

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