Posts Tagged ‘valentines

31
Oct
11

Shonen Knife – Japan’s Punk Queens on Tour!

While checking out the local club scene about upcoming acts online  this past Tuesday I noticed that the legendary Japanese rock trio Shonen Knife was coming to HiFi Central’s stomping ground of Albany, NY.  The venue is Valentine’s which is a shoe-box of a club normally associated with local hardcore and rock acts that I often choose to overlook on a  regular basis; however though, at times they have had some national acts roll through worth checking out.  The last band that  I wished I had known about was the California rock group Dada; one of the best nationally unknown rock bands to come out the 1990’s.  It would have truly been pretty incredible to see them that close and personal, bummer I missed it.

So, after missing that show I’ve checked the listing from time to time just to see who may be randomly doing a one-night stand.  Well, clearly the waiting and random checking of their site has been well worth the effort since Shonen Knife will be dropping by on Sunday, November 20th (18+ show).  Shonen Knife has been around since 1981; the only remaining member making Shonen Knife still Shonen Knife  is lead singer and guitarist Naoko Yamano.  The remaining founding members Atsuko Yamano (Naoko’s sister) and Michie Nakatani left the band to pursue other interests, but the replacements for these members have held their own over the course of the last decade never losing the true Shonen Knife sound.

Over the course of the past 20 years the band has released 19 albums and toured with the likes of  Sonic Youth, Fugazi, Mudhoney, and perhaps the coolest bragging right, Nirvana.  The band has appeared on the BBC with famed rock radio host John Peel,  performed on Late Night with Conan O’Brien and has been featured on MTV’s 12o Minutes.  The band was a featured act on 1994’s Lollapalooza tour as well.  So, even though they have not reached the heights of fame since their decade long run in the 1990’s, they still have a loyal following and are anything but a goofy band hanging on to remnants of fame.

HiFi is heading to this show with great anticipation; I would not be surprised if it might be the last chance for you to see them in the US for some while.  This tour is supporting a Ramones tribute album entitled “Osaka Ramones” released this past July, so I’m sure that it should be a fun and unique show!  Get your tickets soon since it will be sold out, especially since Valentine’s only holds about 50 patrons; and be sure sure to bring your earplugs!

HiFi will provide a full review of this show, so check back.

You can check more out about the Valentines show by clicking here.

You can check out some samples of Shonen Knife’s “Osaka Ramones” by clicking here.

05
Mar
10

Nixon’s Spirit – 3/4/10 @ Valentine’s (Albany, NY)

Well, I’m not one to normally review local gigs but I felt that tonight a band was worthy of one; or at least to a degree. Rarely do I venture out on a week night these days to head to a local dive to watch local talent, often the local talent is well, untalented to be quite honest. However, having played in a band for several years while living in Boston I do appreciate the dreamers on stage putting forth as much effort as they can to possibly be “the next big thing” ; and most will eventually realize that it’s near impossible.

Sadly, in Albany the capital city of New York State, there is only one remaining real place for indie bands and the occasional punk band to play and that would be Valentine’s. Valentine’s has been around since I was in high school in the 80’s; interestingly enough they have remained while others have come and gone. It’s a cozy dive, with very little room to have a real show (perhaps 60 patrons max if they are lucky) and the sound quality is so-so; basically if you don’t have ear plugs you are asking for ringing ears for hours afterwards. The door guy was friendly and the bar maid nice enough, although she seemed far more entranced to finishing her copy of “Twilight” rather than actually smoozing with those of us at the bar.

The band that I went to see is named Nixon’s Spirit, a self proclaimed punk rock band that was offering new music that night for us to hear. Upon entering the bar it was your typical Thursday night gig in the winter, dreadfully empty.  Man did it bring back painful memories of when I use to gig out in Boston and my band would get a third spot in the line up on a tuesday night during a snowstorm.  The result was often a painful turnout and a bar owner (TT The Bears Place specifically) giving me the evil eye and asking the question, “I thought you guys said you could draw people?”; ugh!  To add insult to injury we would never get paid and often find a $50 parking ticket on the U-Haul van we rented that night.

Suprisingly the clubs in Albany are far more understanding and polite; Nixon’s Spirit was supposed to go on at 9:00 but I was informed that the singer would not arrive until 9:30. I was in amazement that the bar was cool about it. In Boston if you are expected to go on at 9:00 it mean’s 9:00 and you have exactly a 45 minute set, no flexibility whatsoever.  So, if you’re singer doesn’t show up…tough shit, play since the clocks ticking! I was shocked that everyone was so layed back about this gig starting later. Granted, you have to keep in mind that at the time there were literally only 5 people in the bar at the time; clearly  noone was getting rowdy for the headliner to go on any time soon.

Nixon’s Spirit did eventually go on and the first few songs were mediocre at best; the singer seemed off and the band still in the mode of warming up. The band became much tighter by the third song (but I could not tell you what the name of the first three were)  yet the lead singer was far more focused on drinking his beer than interacting with those of us in attendance. This was a facet I found odd, for much of the time the singer seemed to want to have his back to the audience and sing his song’s to his band; much of the first part of the gig seemed like we were mererly spectators at a rehearsal space.  Perhaps that’s being punk rock, right?

It was my understanding after talking to the bass player (Chris Cappadozy) that this gig was merely a last minute thing that they were using simply to test new material and see what worked and what did not. I have to admit that as the evening wore on the band got tighter and the song’s became more appealing to listen to; especially songs like 58,000 and 8 and X-Rated Man.  These songs had a very catchy punk rock rhythm and clearly the crowd dug what they were hearing.  The band ended the night with a song called Substance Abuse and it was ok, but not great. 

Nixon’s Spirit has potential, I really do think that if the refined their sound and picked particular songs from their catalog to play at live shows they would gain fans rather quickly.  If you are in the Albany area and have a chance to catch these guys playing, take a chance and check them out.

You can learn more about Nixon’s Spirit by clicking here




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