Shonen Knife at the 7th St. Entry, 11/11/11
When a band embarks on it's 30th Anniversary Tour--assuming the band makes it long--it's often nothing but a money grab, an excuse to double ticket prices and knock the t-shirt prices up another 10 dollars. Sure, they may play a bit longer and trot out all their fan favorites for a nice dog and pony show, but ultimately tours of this nature often ring hollow and leave the fans feeling a bit cheated. At the 7th Street Entry on Friday night, Shonen Knife put on their own version of a 30th anniversary show, and it was what all shows like this should be: the band having fun and essentially doing whatever they want over the course of an hour or so, including donning leather jackets and playing an encore as the female, Japanese version of the Ramones.
Shonen Knife began in Osaka, Japan in 1981, but were never as popular as they could have been, or really should have been. The music, heavily influenced by '60s girl groups, punk, and the Beach Boys, is insanely catchy and they sing about the simplest of things: food, animals, and rock and roll itself. The fans they do have are rabid. Throughout the show, chatter could be heard throughout the crowd to the effect of "I will just die if they don't play [song title]" and most of those songs got played. "Rock Society" from 2005's Genki Shock!, one of their absolute best songs, made it's way out early in the set along with "Capybara" from 2010's Free Time.
From there it was a set filled with candy-coated animals. There is something about Shonen Knife's sugar-punk that makes you want to literally consume sugar in vast amounts as the show progresses. In a way, it was confusing that Pixy Stix and kittens weren't raining from the ceiling--which, given the material, would have been far less weird than it sounds. They paid tribute to a band that has as much affection for them as they return to them with "Redd Kross" and at some point (the songs were short and honestly they all kind of sound the same, which somehow wasn't bothersome in the least, it just made it difficult to keep track of what was what) they turned in a version of the improbably formidable "I Am a Cat" from 1992's Let's Knife, which was the highlight of the set.
Photos by Steve Cohen
After roughly 45 fun-filled minutes of what was the audio equivalent of eating a serving bowl full of Lucky Charms marshmallows with a ladle, Shonen Knife disappeared backstage for a few minutes and amid chants from the crowd of "One more song!" They reappeared in leather jackets á la the Ramones and played a short set as Osaka Ramones, the long-standing cover band they also operate as. They played a fairly quick set--which also served as an encore--and ran most through the Ramones standards: "Blitzkrieg Bop," "Beat on the Brat," "I Wanna Be Sedated," et al and ended the show with "The KKK Took My Baby Away." They unfurled banners reading "Shonen Knife" in Japanese, thanked the crowd profusely, as they had throughout the set, and then left the crowd to its own devices as to where the next sugar fix might be found.
Critic's Bias: I'm always slightly leery of "Anniversary Tour"-type shows, but this one was about as fun as they get.
Photos by Steve Cohen
The Crowd: Full of semi-creepy guys (one yelled "Lose the sweater!" at the female lead singer of openers Heavy Cream) and girls who seemed like they might have Powerpuff Girls tattoos.
Overheard In The Crowd: A guy near me let out a Ric Flair-style "Woooo!" no less than a dozen times during Shonen Knife's set.
Random Notebook Dump: Watching three exceedingly polite Japanese women sing "The KKK Took My Baby Away" is the weirdest thing I've seen all year.