Why I should wear helmets to J-rock concerts (or: Melt-Banana concert review, Rochester, NY 11/6/07)


Right now, as I’m typing this concert review, one question is ringing through my mind as my ears ring their post-concert protests: how could I have possibly survived the awesomeness that is Melt-Banana?

The concert was epic enough to warrant that question. There was an energy level present in the crowd that I never thought was possible for my sleepy little hometown of Rochester, NY. The kinetic energy present in that small performance space section of the Bug Jar, a club-type venue small enough to give off that underground this-is-where-it-all-starts vibe, could have been enough to power downtown Rochester at least. 

The amount of space in the venue was large enough to allow a mosh pit, but small enough where, when graced with the presence of a J-rock band like Melt-Banana, it was impossible not to be in the mosh pit. I did my best to be on the periphery, shoving people back into the pit when they collided with me, and thankfully, through the natural shifting of the crowd, I eventually drifted towards the back of the space, avoiding the worst of it. I’m not scared so much for my own life in a mosh pit...well, maybe I am, but I’d also be scared for the lives of others. I’m quite big and powerful, let me tell you, and I could do some damage in a pit.

Anyways, enough about moshing. Fact of the matter is, noise rock group Melt-Banana (from Tokyo, Japan, as the lead singer reminded us a couple of songs into the set) came all the way to Rochester as part of their Bambi’s Revenge tour to promote their latest CD, Bambi’s Dilemma. Hit the jump to read more about this awesome concert in Rochester, NY.

As Zac Bentz tells me, Melt-Banana is mainly classified as noise rock, but are very precise noise rock – he likened Melt-Banana’s lead guitarist, Ichirou Agata, to Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave, only ten times faster. Lead vocalist Yasuko Anuki, better known as Yako, has a voice that can only be described as wild, going between actual singing, rhythmic shouting, and rapping at unpredictable intervals. Bassist Rika Mm’ (I have no idea how to pronounce the “Mm’” part) is unassuming, but still does her job with expert ability. As for the drummer of this concert, I sadly don’t know him, so if someone could fill me in on who the drummer for the Rochester concert was, that’d be great. There was also a giant plushy spider present named, um, Spider. He did not leave the show unscathed.

I got to hear much of Agata’s guitar virtuosity throughout the concert, as he slid his guitar through a cacophony of notes and dissonant chords that at once sounded both unmusical and melodic. Throughout the show, I’ve heard his guitar simulate a number of sound effects, from car alarms to sirens to frickin’ laser beams. It was during the short, less-than-a-minute songs that his ability really shined, packing as much power into his riffs as a human possibly could in the short time span of such songs. 

However, all throughout the show, he wore a surgical mask...why was he wearing that mask? Maybe he was afraid of breathing the Rochester air, but come on, man, the air here in Rochester isn’t that bad…once you get used to it. Frontwoman Yako had a magnetic presence on the stage, and was all business upon it, always wearing an expression of confidence and attitude. Her movements upon the stage mimicked the musical style of the band as a whole – spastic yet rhythmic, flailing like a lunatic yet controlled like a yoga master.

Being a newbie to the band (I only heard of Melt-Banana days before the concert), I knew not what to expect, and I came out of the concert with my ears melted as much as the name of the band implies, and hungry for more. Although I couldn’t tell you the names of the individual songs they played (except for the one they played that’s from Adult Swim, "Hair-Cat (Cause the Wolf Is a Cat!),”), I can definitely tell you they all kicked ass and I’ll be looking for them in my further explorations of the band. Had Melt-Banana been any more awesome, the Bug Jar probably would’ve exploded in a big fiery ball that would be visible from space. Here, to get a taste of what I experienced, check out these crappy pictures I took of the band from my friend’s camera phone. But if you want the full-on experience, go see them yourself. You can check out their tour schedule at Melt-Banana’s MySpace page, www.myspace.com/azap.

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