Project Description

SHONEN KNIFE

@ The Basement Canberra

Thursday 28 September 2017

(Live Review)

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SHONEN KNIFE

SHONEN KNIFE. Photo – Kerrie Geier

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A show celebrating the 36 year career of Japanese pop punk act Shonen Knife was always going to be an interesting experience. The accompaniment of hyper-theatrical femme-punks Glitoris and two piece experimental Indonesian metal act Senyawa meant complete unpredictability.

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SHONEN KNIFE

SHONEN KNIFE. Photo – Kerrie Geier

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Describing Senyawa as experimental is like describing the Grand Canyon as a pothole. They not only defy genre, they defy structure, concept and even the idea of what can be an instrument. Senyawa consists of vocalist Rully Shabara and instrumentalist Wukir Suryadi. For much of the set Suryadi wields a massive wooden cylindrical multi-stringed instrument that looks positively medieval and which, apparently, he made with his own hands. Shabara’s vocals range from rumbling growl, to wail to shriek to spoken word. It is delivered in a language I don’t recognise and which I’m not even sure is the same from one track to the next. The effect is powerful, at times menacing and completely cosmic. Being in the audience while Senyawa do what they do is a challenge, and it sets the tone for this night of unconventional performance.

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SHONEN KNIFE

SHONEN KNIFE. Photo – Kerrie Geier

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Glitoris is a four piece act that wears its politics on its sleeve. In fact it seems like the band is constituted solely for the purpose of conveying a political message. They are part punk act, part cabaret and at times the matching outfits and the synchronised movements threaten to bury the act in pantomime. The saving grace, however, is the songs. The songs are great. They’re tough, but melodic. They’re angry but still fun. They’re fast and they’re fucking loud. There is a point with politico-punk and the likes of Propagandhi and Jello Biafra et al where the politics eclipses the musical experience. This band was at a very real risk of that, but the pure energy generated by Glitoris’ performance won out. By the end of their set the crowd was on a high.

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Shonen Knife

Shonen Knife, Oxford Art Factory, Darlinghurst, Sydney, Australia. Photo: Alec Smart

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When Shonen Knife get on stage the room is buzzing. The trio appear, their outfits looking like a cross between something from Star Trek and something from Ace Frehley’s wardrobe. There is a tendency to want to focus on the cutesie aspects of a group like Shonen Knife; the accents, the outfits, the lyrical content- it’s like a stereotype of the novelty of Japanese pop culture. Doing so is a mistake. There is a reason the band were so influential upon acts like Sonic Youth and Nirvana. Their style is revolutionary. They come with an approach that conforms to none of the expectations punk traditionally dictates. Their sound references the best elements of pop punk acts like The Buzzcocks and mixes it in with 60 girl groups like The Shirelles or the Shangri-Las. They play hard and the riffs are as dirty as anything in rock n roll, but they embrace a kind of girlish coyness that makes them completely unique. Most punk acts with any substance shy away from such things for fear of damaging their credibility; for Shonen Knife it is what gives them credibility. There is a fierceness and a fearlessness in being so proudly and vulnerably contradictory that most bands could learn from. More than anything else, the thing about Shonen Knife is the likeability of the music. Its impossibly joyful; another fuck you to the punk orthodoxy.

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Shonen Knife

Shonen Knife, Oxford Art Factory, Darlinghurst, Sydney, Australia. Photo: Alec Smart

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The Basement audience reflected the diversity of the acts and the ideas they brought to the stage. Its proof that bands like these, bands that transverse genre and style and ethnicity and nationality, bring a room together in ways nothing else can.

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Check out Kerrie Geier’s gallery of Shonen Knife’s show in Adelaide – HERE

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Check out Alec Smart’s gallery of Shonen Knife’s show in Sydney – HERE

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AMNPLIFY – DB

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My nickname is “The Amnplifier”. Why? Because around here my focus is on being a conduit for providing greater outcomes that people come here for. My day to day “work” is living in the moment, and I love helping others concentrate on finding their connection to themselves through their experiences.

Why start a music environment? The truth is I love music, I love writing, and I love life. I work with musicians every day, and I feel certain that I will be until they put me in the ground. I have been managing people in businesses of some sort for over thirty five years so along the way I have developed some “wisdom” from my regular and constant “observations”.

Amnplify your experience. That is what we want you to do here, and if you want to let me know why you do, or don’t, shoot me a message on Facebook.

Hope you enjoy yourself here and find something that hits you somewhere.