R E V I E W
Shonen Knife, Nivara Lounge
4 October 2017
by Ian Duggan
Have I ever been to a happier feeling gig? I think not!
Japanese pop-punk band Shonen Knife played Hamilton’s Nivara Lounge on Wednesday night, and the venue was near capacity. The band were there to have fun, and so were the crowd. Although everyone was happy, no one seemed happier than recently added drummer Risa Kawano; she was incredible to watch, both for the style and quality of her drumming, but also for her infectious perma-smile. My face would have ached after such a performance. Despite the wall-to-wall crowd, everyone was happy. People danced, and despite the numbers in attendance everyone had their own personal space.
As expected from Shonen Knife, there were plenty of songs about food. 1998 single ‘Banana Chips’ was played very early on, and was followed later by the likes of ‘Sushi Bar Song’, ‘All You can Eat’ and ‘Ramen Rock’. “Are you feeling hungry yet?” they asked. Some of these songs sound something of a novelty, but others were more serious with their punk-driven chord progressions; I tended to prefer it when they played the latter. A good number of songs were also mixed in from the new album, ‘Adventure’.
On this tour Shonen Knife included both Yamano sisters, Naoko and Atsuko, two of the bands original 1982 members. With their moves commonly synched, and with their silver sequined glam-like costumes, it was difficult to not see them sometimes as a kind of mix between The Ramones and The Osmonds. For the encore the band came out wearing white Shonen Knife t-shirts, and started out with their excellent cover of the Monkees ‘Daydream Believer’. Overall, a fantastic set from start to finish.
Support band on the night was the recently reformed Hamilton band ‘5 Girls’. Active in the mid-1990s, their previously more punk sound has mellowed with age to now having more of a country edge. It was the first time I had the opportunity to see them since their reformation, and I look forward to getting more acquainted with their new direction.
At the conclusion of the night, many people bought vinyl, t-shirts and other paraphernalia. Many took the opportunity to meet the band, get their vinyl signed and have photos taken with them. This just extended the happy vibe beyond the gig itself. With fantastic music, and seemingly without even a hint of there being a dickhead element to the crowd, this was hands down one of the best gigs I have ever been to.