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[MPMF] Shonen Knife @ CAC

Filed in Cincinnati, Live Reviews and midpoint music festival 6 comments

Midpoint is one of the most unique music festivals in the country because of its ability to book music legends. This year alone, the festival brought Tom Tom Club, Van Dyke Parks and Japanese pop-punk band Shonen Knife. Hundreds of fans turned out to the Contemporary Arts Center on Thursday to catch the female trio from Osaka, who have been around for close to 30 years.

The quirky three-piece came onstage dressed in matching outfits – each of its members were dressed in black leggings adorned with oversized, candy-pink buttons, glittery pink tops and sparkly guitars. Still, despite their cutesy appearances, this band can play. The band takes obvious cues from punk bands like The Ramones (they’ve even been known to perform as a Ramones tribute band under the name The Osaka Ramones), but also from girl groups, garage rock bands and 60s pop.

The most interesting part of the band might be the inspiration for the band’s songs. Though their set swung between rowdy, fast and aggressive to bubblegum pop-punk, one thing remained consistent – Shonen Knife’s songs were so damn cute. Half their songs are about their love of food (“BBQ Party”, “Strawberry Cream Puffs”, “Banana Chips”) and the other half are just positive, fun songs about whatever – Capybara, and magic glasses, to name a few.

Besides the band’s overwhelming adorableness contrasted against their DIY sound, there was one other thing that stood out to me. I noticed a solid chunk of the audience were middle-aged white men. Take that however you want, but as an Asian-American female, I gotta admit there’s something slightly awkward about being surrounded by guys your dad’s age going insane for an all-Asian girl group. I was quick to blame the fan boy obsession with Asian girls, but my friend noted the band has been around for 30 years, so their initial fan base would probably be in their 40s and 50s by now.

Regardless of the demographics of the crowd, it was obvious everyone was digging the show. As someone unfamiliar to Shonen Knife’s music, the band won me over with their poppy garage rock and crazy energy. The Osaka band drew one of the biggest crowds at Midpoint for good reason.

Shonen Knife is playing a few more U.S. dates in support of their 17th album Free Time. Check out all the dates below, and feel free to check out Each Note Secure’s interview with the band.

-Caitlin Behle @cutelin

9.28.10 Brooklyn, NY @ Knitting Factory
09.30.10 Montreal, QB @ Cabaret du Mile End
10.01.10 Toronto, ON @ Horseshoe Tavern
10.02.10 Buffalo, NY @ Mohawk Place


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Posted by Joe Long   @   28 September 2010 6 comments


Sep 28, 2010
1:24 pm
#1 Ben :

very nice review, Caitlin! I wish I would have known of them prior to their performance.

Sep 28, 2010
5:30 pm
#2 euro60 :

I would’ve liked to see Shonen Knife and Van Dyke Parks, neither of whom I have ever seen before. But unfortunately it is close to impossible for me to go to a show at 10:30 or 11 pm on a week day, with work looming in the morning. It’s not a criticism of the hestival, just a recognition of the realities for me (and my age).

Caitlin, if the band has been around close to 30 years, the girls must be about 50 now, assuming these are still the original members? From seeing the pictures here, they look about 20 years younger than that. What’s up with that?

Sep 28, 2010
9:51 pm

@euro60: it’s actually not their original lineup. since ’81, they’ve switched members a handful of times. the lead singer is the only original member.

and to answer your question…we don’t grow old, man. i think if i’m doing the math right, i’ll look 25 until i’m about 70. and then i’ll suddenly look 150.

Sep 29, 2010
5:00 pm
#4 euro60 :

@caitlin: thanks for clarifying that.

After i posted my original comments, I just had to satisfy my curiousity, and according to Wikipedia (and hence it MUST be true, right?), the current members of the band are 49, 48, and 46, respectively. Holy cow! That’s basically my age. It’s just not fair!

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