For the London date of Melt Banana’s ‘2 do what 2 fetch’ tour, the experienced noise, punk, pop, avant-garde, everything-but-the-kitchen-sink and kitchensinkcore two-piece headed to intimate venue HEAVEN in support of their new album Fetch. Supported by London based post-everything soundscape machine Teeth of the Sea, it seemed that this night wasn’t going to be your average headbanging experience.
Teeth of the Sea – [4/5]
I must admit, I was unfamiliar with Teeth of the Sea when I arrived at the venue and so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. It became brutally obvious to me that even if I had known them, I would still be none the wiser. In support of their fantastic 2013 album Master, what entailed was a non-stop sonic assault of creativity. The entirely instrumental set (sans minor distorted vocals) breathed and conversed with itself to the degree that even this small support show felt like a full textured set.
Songs morphed into each other in a near hypnotic fashion, with the constant pulse of their sonic canvas reaching from moody tone-setters to cyberpunk raves. Highlights included the punchy ‘Reaper’ and the sweeping tour of ‘Responder’, both attesting to the quality of their new album. The entire set seemed like a mixture of several great soundtracks to films that were never made, and the expansive work of Juno Reactor placed within a ten-minute opus. For a show that could have easily fallen into pretentiousness, it was a true indicator of their quality that their soundscapes were at once engaging and interesting. They also get bonus points for successfully using a trumpet.
Teeth of the Sea’s Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Teeth-Of-The-Sea/115594505139423
Melt Banana – [4.5/5]
Melt Banana are, and always have been, a band that are almost peerless in the music they create. A band that has had endorsement from John Peel and Mike Patton, they have always held a particular niche all to their own. In support of their 2013 album Fetch, an album that this reviewer would place in contention for album of that year, they come without long-standing member Rika Hamamoto and without a live drummer; instead including a drum machine and backing tracks. This new stripped down version of Melt Banana leaves them with their core creative components: singer Yasuko Onuki and guitarist Ichirou Agata.
From the moment they set foot on stage until the moment they left, the crowd were treated to an uncompromising, breakneck pace; a pace that the crowd responded to in kind. The majority of the setlist, as a testament to the album’s quality, was composed of tracks from Fetch, with ‘Candy Gun’, ‘Infection Defective’ and ‘Lie Lied Lies’ distinguishing themselves as highlights in a very strong collection of songs. It isn’t often you can recommend a live performance for being poppy, punky, grindcorey and noisecorey in the same two minutes. Songs soared through a wall of noise with Onuki often seeming like an instrument unto herself, cutting through a sea of distortion with her high-pitched yelps that have become synonymous with her style. This pop wall of noise is however an elaborate ruse, and under closer inspection the sheer complexity and intelligence that belies the songs is plain to hear; but never overstated. A further highlight came with a tribute to the more extreme end of Melt Banana’s catalogue, where a set of eight of their shorter songs were played in quick succession with bursts of noise acting like a string of bombs gently waltzing into the crowd before exploding into sheer aural intensity.
Credit must go of course to the stage presence of Onuki and Agata who after twenty years of playing know how to exude charisma in a way that not only orchestrates the frenzied crowd, but also laces the entire show with a distinct humbleness. A random death scream from a crowd member warrants Onuki’s response of “Yes. Rawr”, in an intonation that dripped with a playful glee. The aforementioned short song segment included Onuki opening and closing each song with an unfazed and unchanging “Thank you. Next song” whilst sheer debauchery occurred before her. The entire set was pervaded by Onuki’s Kate Bush-grade swooping which seemed hilariously juxtaposed with the violent mosh pit below. However, the most humble moment of all came after their fantastic encore including a crowd rousing ‘Candy Gun’ and a (what should have been) show-closing rendition of ‘What a Wonderful World’ (Louis Armstrong with blast beats). For a band who must have programmed a large amount of their songs and who tour extensively, it was truly surprising that they responded to the normal show cry of “One last song,” with just that; one last song. The fact that this unexpected second encore was not present through the rest of the tour proved to be one of the most humbling and feel-good moments of their set. This was a band who wanted to be there as much as the crowd.
That really was the raison d’être of the gig in a nutshell. Even with the lack of a drummer and bassist (for most bands, a death sentence); Melt Banana still managed to at once excite with poppy tunes and destroy with sheer aural intensity. The entire gig seemed like a sugary treat to be savoured, and one to send you out the door with a beaming smile. Their performance proves that these two are so special and unique that even alone; there has never been a better time to see Melt Banana.
Melt Banana’s Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Melt-Banana/192954987398661