The dog-eared yet in vogue subterrane of the Biltmore Cabaret made an ideal setting for the nights art-damaged doubleheader as a few wispy clouds of fog coughed from the smoke machines. A quick scan of the eagerly assembled registered a pretty decent beard/no beard ratio, about a 50-50 split.
Local prolific punk experimenters Shearing Pinx initiated the night, drawing from a back catalogue that must encompass close to a jillion releases. Nic Hughes (vocals, guitar) barely had time to breathe leading his band (tonight a trio) between convulsive and crashing numbers, revisiting earlier works from Poison Hands and Weaponry with speed and punch to spare.
When Shearing Pinx left the stage it was obvious by the stunned crowd that they’d be a tough act to follow. In all fairness, Tokyo, Japan’s noisily defiant malcontents, Melt-Banana, was who we all came to see. The impatience and promise of the bustling throng was palpable.
After a six-year hiatus from studio responsibilities, Melt-Banana’s latest release, Fetch, demonstrates some of their finest and most frenzied material. When lead singer/starry-eyed scream queen Yako (Yasuko Onuki to her folks) hit the stage, ably backed by grindcore guitar demigod Ichirou Agata, it was instantly evident that all amps went to 11. And Yako, whose slender frame but abundant stage personage — landing somewhere between Tank Girl and erratic anime — owned the room with her charmingly addled Engrish (“Only three times! Three times we been to beautiful Vancouver!”) offset by her brash and cheeky banshee yowls. Incorrectly it almost seemed like you could knock Yako down with a feather, but when she breathed heavily into that microphone, her raucous treble made pleased prisoners of us all.
At one point, amidst the strobing lights and sonic onslaught, I thought I might be suffering a sudden coronary or stroke but it turned out one of my ear plugs had fallen out (I always carry an extra set for such an occurrence). Once recovered I was back in the fray, convulsing in grand mal fashion.
As expected, lightning-quick shredding from Agata — buttressed only by Yako’s samplers, sequencers and synths — charged like a freight train through emotional and emphatic shrieks and caterwauls. An ear-splitting set consisted greatly from Fetch, and standouts included “Zero” and “Red Data, Red Stage” as well as older, art-injured and decibel-destroying ditties like “Lost Parts Stinging Me So Cold” and “Spider Snipe” which made for a glorified piece of plummeting azure sky. After two encores and chants from the crowd of “Ten more songs! Ten more songs!”, the duo left the stage, making shell-shocked yet elated expatriates of us all.