|Photo by Erik Hess|
with Gay Witch Abortion and Brain Tentacles
Triple Rock Social Club, Minneapolis
Wednesday, October 23, 2013
Japan's Melt-Banana, stripped away to core members Yasuko Onuki and Ichirou Agata, ripped through a blistering set at the Triple Rock. It was the perfect kind of small venue for their brand of blaring intensity.
The night began with a set from local harbingers of doom Gay Witch Abortion. The duo combined searing guitar distortions with huge, frantic drums for a sort of garage rock thrown in a blender. These guys are always a delight to see and they proved a good fit alongside the noise-rock stylings of the headliners. Immediately into playing the first song, Shawn Walker's floor tom fell over but he powered through and adjusted his playing as though nothing had happened. By the time they brought the tempo down for the brontosaurus-wail guitar drone portion of the set, some were perplexed while others stared on in awe. When the subtle drum clicks became giant thumps and the band exploded forward at full force again, they proved a worthy adversary to Melt-Banana's loud propulsions, and then were done.
|Photos by Erik Hess|
Brain Tentacles followed, with baritone saxophone in tow. The heavy free-jazz that made up the first few songs didn't work as well as the drawn-out drones of the middle section of their set, which found the sax player fiddling with his continually echoing pedals and screaming nonsense just below his looped low notes. I have a strong bias against the sax so I came into the set expecting a heavy version of the Contortions, but was pleasantly surprised by the more doom-oriented aspects of their style. This was apparently their first show (ever?) so I cut them some slack.
When Melt-Banana began to set up their gear, it was clear this was going to be a different arrangement than the last few times they came through. No drummer or bass player was present, just Ichirou Agata (with signature surgical mask, naturally) on guitar and Yasuko Onuki on vocals and pre-recorded sounds. Onuki held a MIDI controller in the most dramatic way possible, pushing buttons to cue drums or basslines like she was shooting fireballs from her palms.
|Photos by Erik Hess|
I was impressed with how dynamic the stripped-down stage show was, which rested more heavily on Agata's manic guitar flails to provide the live element than previous incarnations. His spastic control combines grindcore, slide, psych, noise, and good old fashioned hardcore punk into an impossible-to-pare-down package. Onuki's shriek-singing is fantastically shrill, adding an almost panicked immediacy to every track.