Last Night

Six Reasons Why Melt-Banana Blew Our Minds (Not Our Eardrums) at the Troubadour

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Thu, Dec 17, 2009 at 3:54 PM

Check out Shannon Cottrell's photo gallery for more scenes from the show.

The first time I saw Melt-Banana, the Japanese noise rock band blew my mind. It was at Silverlake Lounge and their amps were so big that they barely fit on the stage. The sound was so intense that leaning against the wall felt like sitting in a massage chair. Last night, Shannon Cottrell and I headed to the Troubadour for the final date of the band's six-week tour and, once again, my mind was blown. Here's why:

click to enlarge SHANNON COTTRELL
  • Shannon Cottrell

1. Intense sound that won't kill your ears

The Troubadour has always been my favorite place to see a band, mostly on account of its sound. Last night was no different. Noise is never just noise, it's a beautiful and complex thing and bands like Melt-Banana need a crisp soundsystem, otherwise the nuances are lost. Last night, even while wearing earplugs (highly recommended), the little details in Melt-Banana's music shimmered through the volume.

2. Melt-Banana Lite

Have you heard Melt-Banana Lite? It's basically the band without guitars and bass. Last night, the first twenty minutes of the set were focused on this recent project. Performing as a trio during this portion of the set, the band played in almost complete darkness. Yasuko Onuki (aka Yako) and Ichirou Agata (known to fans simply as Agata) wore tiny lights on their heads. It was almost ethereal, but still the crowd moshed.

click to enlarge SHANNON COTTRELL
  • Shannon Cottrell

3. Amazing fans

Melt-Banana fans aren't at a show simply to say they were there. They mosh, cheer and emerge from the concert like a sweaty mess. They stand in line for ages to pick up something from the merch booth and wait around the stage for autographs. They are passionate and we like that.

click to enlarge SHANNON COTTRELL
  • Shannon Cottrell

4. Cool merch

A touring band's merch booth is its lifeblood and Melt-Banana seems to go out of their way to keep it stocked with cool stuff. There were CDs stemming from nearly every phase of a career that spans two decades, t-shirts in a plethora of fun designs and colors, tote bags and even ski hats. I picked up the latter along with the band's latest single, released as a 3" CD.

5. Pokemon?

You know what it's like when you're standing to the side of the stage and you can only hear about one-quarter of the on stage banter? You know how that one-quarter that you hear is always something so odd that you swear you're imagining things? Last night, all we heard Yako say was "Pokemon" and "cover." As it so happens, fans have been reporting across the country that Melt-Banana has been covering a Pokemon theme song this tour. Or, it could have been "Monkey Man," which Melt-Banana does cover occasionally. I'm not really sure anymore.

click to enlarge SHANNON COTTRELL
  • Shannon Cottrell

6. Cool people

The best thing about shows isn't necessarily the music, but the interaction between the band and the audience. While Melt-Banana certainly had a good rapport with the crowd last night, it was their post-show actions that left the biggest impression. While breaking down their gear, the band members all stopped to sign CDs, pose for photos and chat with fans. Lots of fans. We even ran into Agatoa near the club entrance, where he greeted people.

click to enlarge CARO
  • Caro

Speaking of hanging out with the band, Polaroid blogger Caro took some cool shots of Yako and Agata backstage. Check out more at Hi Hi Caro!

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