Let’s Knife at the Silver Dollar

September 28, 2014 at 2:02 pm (Uncategorized) (, , )

It’s been many years since I’ve been to the Silver Dollar on Spadina Avenue just north of College, but the bar was pretty much as I remember it. Sure, the stage was on the side now, but the edgy ambiance of the place hadn’t changed at all; I think the last band I saw there was Pussy Galore, and we got in a fight on the streetcar on the way home, but I digress. And it’s been many years since I saw Shonen Knife. The band was touring in support of its new album Overdrive, so why not?

First up were Toronto locals The B. B. Guns.  Any band that features fiddle and tambourine in addition to the usual rockist influences  is worth a second look, but the B.B. Guns did more than that. They created a swirling psych-punk that reminded me of the Pandoras or maybe the Bangles in their Paisley underground origins. Definitely worth checking out their self-titled EP. Man, am I getting old or did they play really loud?

And there was no respite from the sonic assault with Mexican Slang. The three-piece describe themselves as “saccharine and vicious” (you can hear pretty much everything on their bandcamp page ), and it’s not untrue. The vocals were a little too deep in the mix, but the searing guitar and driving rhythm more than made up for it. Two for two!

Habibi means “my beloved” in Arabic. The band are based in Brooklyn, although several of them embers are originally from Detroit. Like the B.B. Guns there is a psychedelic edge to Habibi’s sound, but blended with a love of sixties girl-groups and a Middle-eastern influence. Great sound and a little quieter too (or the hearing damage has set in).

Last up were Shonen Knife. Now in their thirtieth year and down to one original member (singer-guitarist Naoko Yamano), the band showed no sign of slowing down. Opening song “Banana Chips” dated back to  1998’s Happy Hour, and quickly followed by a sampling of material throughout their career including “Riding on the Rocket,” “”Bear Up Bison,” and ” Flying Jelly Attack”   The songs from the new record were not so immediate as the hits, but we still bounced along happily. All three members took lead vocals at one point or another although Naoko took the lion’s share, ending each song “Arigato!”.

After what seemed like five minutes but in reality was an hour-long set, the band returned for a one-song encore “Tortoise Brand Pot Cleaner.”

Shonen Knife are a lot like a box of smarties. Listening to their songs, it’s impossible to have just one; before you know it the whole box is gone. While it’s a little sad, you still have that warm feeling inside. And with Shonen Knife, you can listen to the record again!

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