For the first time in far too long, I went out last night to a club to hear a couple of rock bands. Parenthood plus a demanding job really gets in rock&roll’s way (Lauren had an early Friday and begged off). The evening really made me happy and if one of the tour’s last three dates is in your town, I’d recommend taking them in. With bad photos and video even.

Shonen Knife have appeared here before; if you don’t know about them, you might want to step aside and get the background. This is the first 5★♫ performance that I’ve reported on.

Recording the Event · At big stadium shows, they don’t want you taking electronics in. This was at Richard’s on Richards, a pretty ordinary club with a nice layout that lets quite a few people get very close to the music.

And it seemed like everybody had a camera of some sort, ranging from cellphones to big honking SLRs and HD camcorders. I’ll have to take something good along to the next club date and make like a hardened rock photog.

I did have the little Canon in my pocket. The pictures aren’t actually very good, but to my eye they capture the flavor of the event. Here are Shonen Knife:

Shonen Knife on stage in Vancouver

There were three or four bands on the bill but I didn’t go till ten-ish and only heard the last openers.

Rock Youth · That would be The Juliet Dagger (don’t follow that link at work with your speakers on). The name apparently describes an ad-hoc collection of musicians in support of one Erin Roberts. The version last night was Erin and three males: guitar/guitar/bass/drums. They were fast and really tight and lively and their tunes were good, and they had classic fast pure graceful rock&roll stage moves. Erin’s got a good voice and tons of charisma, the other guitarists were super-competent, and the drummer had a massive back-beat.

They were young enough to be my daughter and sons. And I realized that if any of them had been, I’d have been proud of them. I was happy, so happy, every minute they played. Realized that two years of dealing with a tough pregnancy and a sleep-challenged baby had cost me some connection to the music that’s closest to my heart. I hope, I really hope, that I can go on loving Rock&Roll until the day I die. I’m incomplete without it.

After their set, they were selling CDs off a table in a corner, so I went and bought one (Hi-Ya!, it doesn’t seem to have a Web home) and congratulated Ms. Roberts in person.

Here’s a chunk of horrible video, with worse sound, a bit of both bands. I’m not sure whether to be horrified at the quality or amazed that a little consumer-grade fits-in-the-pocket gadget can actually do this in such a way that I can post it to the world the next day.

1:23, 32M. Seriously horrible sound; poor little camera.

Shonen Knife · We had two of the three founding members on stage; it was cool that Naoko and Atsuko are sisters, standing side by side and kicking out the jams. Here are the good parts: Their songs are great. Their playing is occasionally a little wooden, but it gets out of the music’s way and they show no strain in dealing with those super-fast tempos. New drummer Etsuko is a ball of fire. Naoko’s guitar tone is lovely, and she and Atsuko sang beautifully. They have a sense of showmanship. They played Jelly Bean and Twist Barbie and Singapore (that was the highlight of the night for me). There’s a new song, Anime Phenomenon, that’s really good.

Here are the bad parts: Naoko’s guitar breaks, once you get past that lovely tone, are weak. The set was too short, leaving lots of hits un-played, including Burning Farm (!?!?!). Their outfits were appalling bad-Seventies kitsch.

Then there’s the cognitive dissonance. Yeah, I know Naoko and Atsuko are forty-something, but they still present the bright-young-Japanese-girl image, smiling incessantly. Then those Seventies tunics-and-pants. Doesn’t really go with the professed Ramones influence (they even did a song called Ramones Forever).

It made me think more than anything of David Byrne’s high-velocity innocence. And I suspect it’s not an act, that’s the way they really are. It’s just weird, that’s all.

But for sure they show the music the respect it deserves.

Naoko Yamano

Naoko Yamano

I’d go see ’em again in a flash. And I really absolutely for sure will go see some rock&roll on a regular basis, or my soul will start to wither.


Comment feed for ongoing:Comments feed

From: Mike Klassen (Dec 15 2007, at 09:23)

I also have a pocket Canon that I use for video shooting (SD700), and really wish that the mic had some kind of automatic gain control or damper that would pull the levels back for loud audio. I shot several songs at the Pointed Sticks concert earlier this year (also at Richard's on Richards) and the video was great. The audio was far too distorted.

YouTube, btw, is full of concert footage from stadiums taken on these cameras, and they all have the same problem. Bad sound.

Maybe camera manufacturers can take this challenge up for the next generation devices? Instead of adding another megapixel, give us better audio recording?


From: Walter Underwood (Dec 15 2007, at 11:05)

I am *so* envious. Shonen Knife is marvelous. They filter western rock through some lyric-removal filter and return it to us as Black Sabbath with lyrics about roller coasters. Wow.

"Konnichiwa" (from "Happy Hour") is the best concert opener evar and is becoming the standard for getting my middle school son revved up for an 8 AM soccer game.

My personal favorite is still "Twist Barbie", with the ironic punk take on western beauty. The Japanese "naritai na!" interjection means (roughly)

"want to become (that)" -- "Blonde hair, blue eyes, tight body, long legs, ... naritai na!".


From: John Cowan (Dec 15 2007, at 11:29)

Your kind of music isn't mine, but I miss live music terribly. Unfortunately, I can't stay awake in concerts any more. Something about darkened rooms, I think, and having to sit quiet after the usual stress of getting in and getting seated (and re-seated, almost always), just zonks me out.


From: Cath (Dec 17 2007, at 08:20)

"Live music is better"!


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December 14, 2007
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