Reviewed by Audra Schroeder, Fri., Nov. 13, 2009
Shonen Knife/Melt-BananaWaterloo Park, Nov. 7
Japanese trio Shonen Knife has been retuning American rock & roll like the Beatles and Ramones for close to three decades now, going from something of an underground cult act to, well, a band that sounds like the Ramones. You pretty much know what you're getting with SK now; the cult has become novelty. Dressed like go-go dancer Power Rangers Saturday afternoon, they put that theory into practice, as "Super Group," the peppy opening title track of their new LP, could have been any of the other three-chord, two-minute pop songs they played. Still, kudos to founding singer/guitarist Naoko Yamano for keeping it weird as she nears 50. On the other side of the park was Melt-Banana, a band that's managed to keep its cult intact since forming in the early 1990s. The quartet has no new material to speak of, but it was no matter live: the band's genre-erasing punk/thrash/electro pinball machine of noise just needed one quarter and didn't let up for 30 minutes. You could argue that Melt-Banana's songs all sound the same too, but under Yasuko Onuki's wood-chipper spray of vocals, there's an alternate take on traditional punk and metal, and live they were on.