Wednesday, June 17, 2009


Wednesday 17 June 2009

This morning I wake up at 5AM with a nasty headache but I feel too rough to actually get up and do anything about it.

When the alarm goes off and I eventually murmur things begin to look a bit better even if my whole body feels sticky.

In the hope of saving things I grab a can of Emerge and pray it does the trick. The cereal however unfortunately goes down badly and I begin to fear a vomit repeat.

In the end I pull myself together relatively smoothly and head out only two minutes late.

The drive to the car park is tough with fumes still in my system but the walk to the station is surprisingly breezing and ok, the fresh air serves me well as my feet begin to feel almost recovered from last Wednesday’s silliness even if they do still stink.

It is the usual suspects/faces on the platform this morning and happily when boarding I take my corner perch of the train in the hope of snagging some much required sleep.

To my horror just after leaving Colchester some guy that looks like a young ugly Spock sits next to me and pulls out a cheap looking Macbook. From here he proceeds to nudge me in my ribs and side for the remainder of the commute. I hope the cunt gets RSI and has to have his wrists amputated. Annoyingly on top of this the crappy train doesn’t pull into Liverpool Street until 8.16 this morning and as a result there are losses all around.

The tube ride to St Johns Wood is carefree and eventless. As I walk to work I find myself being bombarded by a heavy stream of pretty oriental ladies in what resembles a version of that scene in Being John Malkovich where everybody has his face. This truly is Shonen Knife day.

Today The Girl comes into work before 9AM and I almost faint from shock. Has she been replaced by aliens? Is this the first sign of invasion?

Moving on the day is full on. I am really under pressure to get the May accounts done. That said considering this is only the third day working on a five week month I have already made more than decent progress.

Soon however it is not long before The Girl and I are arguing the merits (or rather demerits) of referring to football with the term “footy.” I really fail in my arguments because she is female and just does not understand the culture of football and being male. It all is rooted back at school when the normal lads would get stuck into football and the wimps would get crucified. I started out the latter and ended the former. The only people to me it seems that use the term “footy” are those trying to like football when really they only get it at surface level (if that). Footy is a term used by pussies and when I dare even insinuate this reality to The Girl she goes off on some rant about me pretending to be hard because of my language. Ultimately I can’t argue as she does not understand.

The football league fixtures get announced today and Millwall will begin their season away at Southampton. Forgive me for not doing somersaults or cartwheels.

Eventually the day ends and with comes a sense of relief and close completion. Out of work I immediately hop aboard the slow train to Brixton where I need to suck it in and toughen up.

After waiting at Brixton tube station for about five minutes when Racton turns up I have already seen enough. As we walk through the noisiest streets in London we head towards the Sushi place (New Fujiyama) where we went for his birthday on the night of the bogus Gringo Records tenth anniversary show in Nottingham a couple of years ago. Here I tear into plum wine and a Bento box even despite not being very hungry.

When we head over to The Windmill the night is still young but annoyingly still a bus ride. London buses these fucking things annoy me so when the ride/journey is only a short one I am resoundingly thankful.

As we approach the venue via a street of houses that remind me of Clacton it is still early in the evening and we are some of the first people to arrive/turn up. We are the real fans.

Racton warns me about The Windmill, he reckons I will be shocked by the venue which is a statement that will only ever fill me with dread. And indeed when we get there we catch the sight of Shonen Knife doing some kind of photoshoot outside of some rubbish pub – this is The Windmill.

For Shonen Knife, a band that has played the largest venues supporting the most heroic of bands this cannot help but feel like a real comedown. Watching them stand to attention for the photos as part of these surroundings their uniform suddenly looks old and their shtick from a bygone era. Racton warned me about this feeling.

Inside the place is what venues used to be like. This is gritty and rock n roll. Racton appears to love it, I do not. The bar staff however are genuinely friendly and when a pint and a can of Red Bull costs less than a fiver I truly cannot complain.

SPUTNIKO! opens the evening with a scarily friendly set. She is a groomer’s dream acting all ditzy and green before unleashing a sharp set of J-Pop clashed with smart electronic set. She is a laptop baby. And that accent isn’t fooling anyone.

She opens her set with the “Google Song”, seemingly a song about Japanese girls putting the names of boys they like into Google because they are too shy to speak to them. It has a killer chorus and a killer hook and when coupled with the playful Japanese schoolgirl giggle it feels almost sordid.

SPUTNIKO! is a surprisingly funny proposition, on one hand it feels like a full on J-Pop tribute but then the reality of the chiptune hits home and the hooks loom large, heavy and Nintendo. The Nintendo link gets reiterated as she pulls out Wakki which is her pet instrument that she works with use of her armpit in order to emit a piercing robot sound. It is in actuality a knitted soft toy with a Wii controller housed inside it but as she takes so much glee in showing off her little wonder you can’t help but get carried away and along with her and it.

The set reaches mouth dropping proportions as this innocent little girl begins singing a horror story song about her monthly period, displaying genuinely angry tendencies at having to endure the blob. The song makes out her snatch to be a very nasty character and the demon strokes that croak the song are subtly deafening. To even up the score however she also teaches the audience a new word in “chinko” before unleashing “Chinko song” on everybody with the magic word being looped during the chorus. With each bounce she does the endearing little thing of adjusting her hair with every other beat. It’s the small things. Her set ends and beautifully misplaced in a beer soaked venue such as this she has made a fan out of me. She announces that her DVD album “Parakonpe 3000” will be for sale and I have to have one. Make her big, make it now.

The second act is THE SCREAMING TEA PARTY who are a ferocious and noisy outfit with a truly jagged guitar sound and juggernaut onslaught on the senses of the audience. The guitarist begins the set playing in a gasmask, it is an intimidating sight that only serves to add to their presence and intensity. THE SCREAMING TEA PARTY genuinely emit a crashing din that sounds truly harsh and original, several times improving on the form that the songs held on their record “Golden Blue.”

Singing on drums is the most beautiful sight in what appears to be a Japanese miniature version of Beth Ditto in the most illuminating of spectacles. This is a very solid performance for a band that surprisingly has not graced more word space in both print and/or on the internet. Towards the end of the set they do a heavy cover of “Material World” by Madonna and they nail the hook managing to not fall into the dangerous trap of sounding cheesy when covering a pop song. As they exit we worship them and their guitar sound.

By the time SHONEN KNIFE head to the stage The Windmill is packed and excited with a real/true buzz in the air. As their intro tape plays they plough through the audience wrestling with no one and take to the stage with a set of glooming smiles, something that feels unfamiliar with rock bands in this country. As they greet us all with salutations they immediately tear into “Konnichiwa” and the tone is set for an evening of more hooks than a rainbow abattoir.

For once it is fun to watch a band perform and actually smile as if this fun for them and not necessarily their job. Then again why else would they be playing in a venue such as this? Questions remain boundless.

With the addition of Ritsuko Taneda on bass SHONEN KNIFE feel revitalised. As she addresses the crowd it is with utmost charm via pigeon English that she informs us that it is her first time in England and she is very happy. She then proceeds to take up vocal duties on The Rutles classic “Goose Step Mama.” Likewise also indulging in vocal activities is tiny drummer Etsuko Nakanishi who plays like Animal from The Muppets while singing along to every word without the necessity of a microphone to incent her.

It is incredibly strange to think that this band is now 28 years old, in fact that is frightening. They are over seemingly promoting their new record the aptly named “Super Group” but frustratingly with poor label support, promotion and distribution is does not appear to be anywhere in the shops to be found which in itself is a true tragedy as Naoko deserves so much more better. Damn while working in Notting Hill I nearly suggested Stiff do their latest record. My bad.

The set is amazing. SHONEN KNIFE are a band that took the girl group model and mixed it with punk and Japanese charm to produce a neon glory, a vision and image genuinely unique and thrilling. They make boast to having “Pyramid Power” claiming that if you keep an object in a pyramid that it doesn’t rot. This theory certainly rings/holds true with this band. Heil rainbow!

The band climaxes with “Riding On The Rocket” (obviously) which remains a song so infectious that I find myself literally waving at the band when they hit the refrain “hello hello.” Ultimately SHONEN KNIFE prove better in so many more ways than we had dared for our expectations.

After their set SHONEN KNIFE man their own merchandise stall when really there should be minions performing the duty for them. Osaka must feel a long way away at this time.

At this point I pluck up the courage to approach SPUTNIKO! and purchase her album (DVD). She appears almost surprised that somebody wants to buy one of her DVDs and the sad reality that it is some sweaty tubby fan boy does not seem to matter as she happily welcomes a conversation that tonight I just am not up to. I smile, give her the money for the DVD and run away giggling like Homer Simpson.

Outside the venue on the streets of suburban Brixton things have an orange glow this evening. We are shattered and horse but somewhat high on life from the distinct exuberance of the set. This was a dream fifteen years in the making and it did not disappoint.

As Racton and I catch a bus down the road to Streatham I can be heard saying “I wonder what the poor people are doing.”

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