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The Kids Are All Right

18 April 2005
Monday, 12:59 AM

The weather of late indicates that Spring is finally making a gesture of commitment to Philadelphia, and with it, my annual resolve is reborn to get the hell out of the house and find things to be excited about. I’ve been both busy and lazy these last couple of months (a paradoxical combination at which I excel), which, along with the temperature, has caused me to miss the first half of this year’s Philadelphia Film Festival, countless rock shows, and other local cultural miscellany. I have, as usual, carefully pored over newspapers and web sites and meticulously catalogued dozens of local events of interest in iCal, most of which would ultimately be ignored. But on Saturday night, my momentum lurched forward violently with the help of whatever it is that’s in the water they drink over in Japan.

Melt-Banana, not coincidentally, is a band from Japan, where they have honed a very distinctive noise rock aesthetic that is as informed by the abrasive racket of their countrymen (Ruins, Boredoms) as it is by the blinding speed of thrash punk bands like D.R.I. I had seen Melt-Banana before, and have since remembered the show very fondly, but I was still unprepared for how incredible it was going to be the second time, probably because I forgot that a great show isn’t always just about the band.

Don’t misunderstand me; the performance was mind-bending. Yasuko’s marvelously shrill vocals challenged the strength of the building’s windows. Agata bounced around in a minefield of effects pedals, forcing a barrage of turbulent, unnatural sounds from his guitar. The rhythm section was an amphetamine-laced metronome. And it was all executed at a dangerous volume with unassuming enthusiasm, energy, and effortless precision.

The band’s spectacle would have been enough all by itself, but, as luck would have it, there was more. The venue, for example, was a warehouse space adjunct to the Vox Populi Gallery in Chinatown, offering all the intimacy and DIY charm of a basement punk show while accommodating five times the audience. And the audience, already riled up from the preceding An Albatross, went absolutely apeshit for Melt-Banana. I was among them. In a subculture that so highly prizes irony, seeing kids and would-be adults dancing or otherwise flailing about to live music with genuine fervor is a beautiful thing.

Welcome back, Spring. We’ve got some catching up to do.

Filed under: Music, Philadelphia

Comments Closed (8)

1. Ian says…  |  18 April 2005 / 8:28 AM

A guy at work was at the Ottobar show Friday night. He brought back the new album. Sounds like they've progressed. It's still not soft, hippie music though.

2. Paul Carpenter says…  |  19 April 2005 / 4:50 AM

I'm sure I was told that Philadelphia was one of those permantly sunny places. It's been spring for a while here in Blightly but the wonders of the education system have been ensuring that no-one of schooling ages enjoys it *grumbles*

3. sutter says…  |  19 April 2005 / 9:58 AM

it's about time you stupid season. stop draggin your feet and give us the 3 days before the swealtering heat. (that was not meant to rhyme)

4. jordan says…  |  20 April 2005 / 6:35 PM

You Philadelphians are lucky... you've got numerous great concert-places (namely, Theater of Living Arts), and you've got some great local bands - mewithoutYou, anybody? I freakin' LOVE them... in a completely heterosexual way.

5. Rob Weychert says…  |  20 April 2005 / 6:52 PM

Hey Jordan, I’m not so into MeWithoutYou (not that they really bother me), but I’ll definitely agree with you about the TLA, which is a great venue, and the sound there is always fantastic. Too bad they’re booked by Clear Channel.

6. jordan says…  |  20 April 2005 / 10:13 PM

I'm not sure when you heard them last, but their newest album (Catch for Us the Foxes) is a lot more... mature? I don't know what the term is. At any rate, it's less 'rough', but their lyrics still follow the same style. Not trying to push anything on you, of course...

7. Daniel says…  |  12 May 2005 / 10:22 PM

"In a subculture that so highly prizes irony, seeing kids and would-be adults dancing or otherwise flailing about to live music with genuine fervor is a beautiful thing."

Irony is cool; but, as you reference, it's unfortunate that it's superceded, in some cases, the simple delight of letting go, unabashedly.

By the way, I hate you. This site is among the very

best written
best planned
best designed
most obviously thoughtful

sites I think I've ever seen. Between this place, and Khoi Vinh's joint, I am humbled utterly. Damn you.

8. Rob Weychert says…  |  13 May 2005 / 12:40 AM

Wow, Daniel, I don’t think I have ever been so pleased to be damned. Thanks!

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