You’ve got to love a Japanese all girl punk band that write songs about the virtues of Green Tea chiffon cake. Shonen Knife don’t write angry songs, they write songs about their daily lives which are full of ramen, tennis and trips to the zoo.
There isn’t a radio station in Melbourne that would play their unique brand of punk music but that didn’t seem to matter at Ding Dong lounge last night. There’s a queue of people out the door waiting to see them. An audience as diverse as the subject matter of the band’s songs – punks, old people, teenagers, women, men, Brits, Aussies, Japanese.
The band arrive on stage to a loud cheer. They have matching electric blue dresses and some co- ordinated rock moves.
‘I really like Australian wine’ Emi (drums) says while Naoko (guitar/ vocals) is struggling with a faulty guitar lead. The crowd cheer loudly. My friend Nick calls out ‘write a song about it’. It’s not an unreasonable suggestion. The back catalogue already includes songs about banana chips and Deer biscuits.
They play for about 80 minutes. Occasionally Emi and Ritsuko (bass) relieve Naoko of the singing duties. Ritsuko belts out ‘Ramen Rock’ from the bands new album ‘Overdrive’ and it goes down a treat. I can honestly say it’s the only time I’ve wanted to headbang and eat Ramen noodles at the same time.
The best moment of the night comes, though, when the three Japanese rockers return for an encore and Naoko asks which song the crowd would like to hear. Never have a more diverse bunch of words been called out. “Jackalope”, “hot chocolate”, “public baths”. It’s a checklist of things from Naoko’s daily life over the past 33 years. She has written songs about anything and everything.
Naoko started Shonen Knife in 1981. She’s never been as hardcore as some of her Punk music peers but she’s certainly outlived many of them. (She does admit to once OD’ing on strawberry cream puffs). She is an inspiration for any artist to be dedicated. She has presented an honest and true version of herself through her songs and that’s why her small, dedicated group of fans in Melbourne will always support a Shonen Knife Tour down here.
Shonen Knife are playing a set at the Espy on Australia Day, 26th Jan 2015, as part of The Triple J Hottest 100 Party. They are onstage at 11pm. Entry is free.