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Melt Banana @ The Cactus Club

Oct. 25, 2007

2640 days ago
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November 01, 2007

A noise band has to be particularly fantastic in order to be any good at all. If they're terrible, it's all feedback and sounds like the musical equivalent of fingernails scratching a chalkboard. Melt Banana, however, is one of the truly great noise bands. With Rika Mm's meaty bass lines, Ichirou Agata's searing guitar riffs, Yasuko Onuki's powerhouse vocals and the almost tribal percussion—their drummer changes frequently, so it's difficult to tell who they have playing drums on this tour—Melt Banana is an unstoppable force. They pull something extremely primal from the collective unconscious, and they run with it.

"Thank you! We are Melt Banana, from Tokyo, Japan!" Onuki shouted from the stage. The crowd at the Cactus Club stood rapt, watching the woman in Army fatigues and a shirt that looked much like a straitjacket. When she sang, she channeled demons from somewhere deep, but when she spoke, she sounded sweet and genuinely glad to be on stage. "Thank you, Milwaukee! This is a cover song by Blondie," she exclaimed before the band broke into an eardrum-shattering, pulse-racing rendition of "Heart Of Glass."

Over the course of the set and their two encores, they played material ranging from blistering 30-second songs (with titles like "Mickey") to five-minute anthems. I doubt anyone in the club that night actually knew what Melt Banana was singing about, but the words didn't really matter. What mattered was the feeling behind it. With their screams and shrieks and walls of sound, they burned away everything but the purest sensations of rage, passion and urgency, and at the end of the show the audience was left exhausted, sweaty and wanting more.

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