Melt-Banana Live at the Rock Ní Roll Hotel
with Abiku, Sugar Dunes, and Desert of Maine
So as you may know, I went to see Melt Banana last Friday downtown. Iím finally getting around to writing this up now.
Itís nights like this that make me realize how much Iím actually going to miss living near D.C. Itís quite the haven for experimental and noise rock. The city is the political center of the country, and as a result the majority of the people there are relatively conservative and feel a need to act professional. However, this general feel has also spawned a bit of an opposite reaction amongst people that go against this conventional attitude. As a result, the city is a breeding ground for experimental music and crazy **** like Melt Banana and the three local bands that opened for them. And while concerts can be really hit and miss (a lot of times, like Dinosaur Jr, hardly anyone moves), when they hit, they ****ing rock. Thatís pretty much what happened this night.
I went with my friend Sarah, and we got there about 10 minutes after the start time, Abiku was just coming out on stage. I listened to their recordings and wasnít really all that impressed, but they are a band that simply canít translate the ferocity and insanity of their live concert to recordings. The band consists of two members, Josh on guitar and Jane on one of those keyboards worn on a strap like a guitar. They are a bit weird; when we walked in they were wearing black robes with glitter completely covering their faces. Iíve met Jane before so I knew what was underneath the robes, but it was interesting to see peopleís reactions when they realized the voice doling out vicious yelps and brutal screams was a girl who probably weighs about 90 pounds while the six and a half foot tall giant rarely sang a word. As for the music, theyíre kind of like a good version of Brokencyde (sp?), creating a strange concoction of heavy electronic music, noise, and post punk. It was a great intro to scare away all the annoying college kids from the bar upstairs. They played for about a half hour, then I introduced Sarah to Jane and we went outside and smoked a cigarette. Up next was Sugar Dunes, a experimental noise rock band that sounds a lot like post rock at times. They at times sing with almost staccato vocals and relatively standard alternative riffs before breaking down to shouts and whatever sort of loud bizarre sounds they can get out of the instruments. Much like Melt Banana, the drummer held the rhythm together the whole time. At one point, the singer and guitar player came off the stage and jumped into the middle of the crowd while playing, which was pretty cool. Desert of Maine used a lot of steel guitar, so we hung outside for most of them time while they were playing. It sounded interesting when they freaked out, but for the most part didnítí appeal to me.
Now for the part of the evening anyone might read this for. Melt-Banana finally came onstage around 11:15 with Phantasmagoria playing, lights strapped to their heads, shaking them around at the crowd which was neat. Stu mentioned when he saw them they didnít really click, but there was none of that here. Maybe for 2 or 3 minutes of the entire concert they were a bit off, but the rest of the set they kicked ass. Everyone in the club was cheering, but ready for the band to jump into a song, and it was definitely the tensest moments of any concert Iíve seen. They went from that into Shield From Your Eyes, a Beast in the Well on Your Hand. The night truly kicked off the second the bass came in. The ensuing chaos was probably no different than what would have happened if an explosion went off in the club. Every single person in the relatively small venue, definitely no more than 100 people, went ****ing nuts. The ensuing hour and 45 minutes was absolute chaos at its best, just what youíd expect Melt-Banana live. Normally Iím not big into moshing, but Iím not sure how you could keep yourself from jumping in with this sort of music. The nice thing about seeing a show at a smaller venue is that you can get right up to the front and stand maybe 2 feet away from the band, which is where I spent the concert when I wasnít in the mosh pit (which was probably about half of the crowd). When they played If it is the Deep Sea, I Can See You There I sang along; Yasuko got down on the stage right in front of me and sang right to me, which was ****ing awesome. They mixed in a few of their more experimental calmer songs and a few songs as Melt-Banana Lite, which was basically just a necessity to catch your breath seeing how it must have been 100 degrees (F, for you foreigners :p). What amazed me about that was, true to form, Ichirou had has surgical mask on the entire time; I was wondering if he was going to pass out at some point. At the end of the show, not a single person stepped back or left; we were determined to get our encore. They came back on and played several songs, including their kick ass cover of Monkey Man, and despite the fact that I think nearly everyone was about ready to drop dead from a combination of dehydration and exhaustion, the crowd was just as lively as at the beginning of the concert.
They wrapped up around 1, and the concert was over. We hung around for a few minutes, and I donít think anyone didnít have a giant **** eating grin on their face. Sarah and I drove home (our evening lasted a bit longer
) and that pretty much summed up what was, without a doubt, the greatest night of my life. In conclusion, if Melt-Banana comes to a town near you, the only excuse you have for not seeing them is being in a coma.