Melt-Banana - Last Exit Live - 11/12/13

Categories: Last Night

Melt Banana (Yako and Ichirou live)
Photos by Aaron Thompson
Yasuko Onuki ("Yako") and Ichirou Agata of Melt-Banana
By Aaron Thompson For 20 years, Japan's Melt-Banana has been one of those overseas acts that is nearly impossible to accurately label. With a scant discography, given their tenure, but an influential footprint on everything from grindcore and power violence to math rock, noise, and even space rock, Melt-Banana's secret to success is never more apparent than when seeing them in concert.

That secret: Pretty much doing whatever the fuck they want.

But for a diverse crowd of nearly 200, the audio anarchists Melt-Banana may be the perfect band. From singer Yasuko Onuki's almost fairy-like majesty over the crowd at Last Exit Live, they certainly know it.

Posing in photos with fans demanding a moment of her majesty, Onuki's overt friendliness transformed into a sheer domineering, yet oddly-cute force upon stage. Combined with the tyrannical guitar styling of Ichirou Agata, Melt-Banana spent around 50 minutes decimating the crowd with everything from almost J-pop-styled crescendos to an exceptionally short flurry of early tracks showing their cred that they can still shred power violence like they used to back in the early '90s.

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If anything, the theme of influential bands permeated even through the openers for Melt-Banana. Local old school punks The Father Figures opened the evening with a delightful yet seemingly out-of-place punky set eminiscent of early second wave punk.

Of note, guitarist and former JFA bassist Michael Cornelius' seeming fusion of early Dead Kennedys-style guitars mixed with hints of prog rock guitar noodling were a major standout for the locals.

Second, San Diego grindcore freaks Retox abused the crowd with a blitzkrieg-paced yet glacially received set of pure grindy powerviolence. But even his grindcore-y David Byrne-like fortitude and electricity as a frontman -- not to mention the on-stage danger of auto-erotic asphyxiation as Justin Pearson hung his microphone cable around his neck for nearly the whole set -- the audience reaction was eerily subdued in the face of Retox's sheer sonic Armageddon.

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But the tidal wave of lethargy receded the minute Melt Banana took stage.

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Last Exit Live

717 S. Central Ave., Phoenix, AZ

Category: Music

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