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Words – Tracey Moyle (@Music Maven Events)

Pop Quiz: can you name a punk band who has been recording for over 4 decades?…….. Who have released 22 albums?……. With an all-female line-up?……. From Osaka Japan?

If you guessed Shonen Knife, then you win the Spicy Vege Curry.

With a plethora of influences from early punk rockers Ramones and The Buzzcocks, to the harmonies of the Beatles and Beach Boys to classic hard rockers Black Sabbath, Judas Priest and Motörhead, Shonen Knife has used this smorgasbord of musical inspirations as a superpower, creating music as unique as the band themselves.

No strangers to Australian music venues, the band have an army of faithful Aussie fans and the Brisbane contingency was out in full force Thursday night at Felons Barrel Hall ready for a night of high energy and classic Japanese pop-driven punk.

Shonen Knife are touring their 22nd studio album, ‘One Best Place’ with current lineup founding members Naoko Yamano Atsuko Yamano and most recent addition drummer Risa Kawano. Their songs are fun, and light and wash over a crowd like a tsunami of happy feels.

When you realise that the upcoming line-up on tonight’s bill, collectively holds over a century of music knowledge, experience and talent, you quickly awaken to the fact that you are about to experience something beyond your regular Thursday night gig.

The crowd was brimming with familiar faces. People I often see out at local gigs in the valley and local band members out to pay homage to great music.

Casually taking the stage first up was the new project from one-third of Brisbane favourites Regurgitator –  Ben Ely and the Mungo Fungo Band.
They opened their set with the psych rock track Severed Memories, from their debut album ‘Zargon Oscillator Prose’ released late last year. The band were dressed to impress with double denim (vests and shorts) on the thematic fashion front. They played through their set showcasing their album with tracks like Old Vibrations, living up to its title, bringing up my own ‘old vibrations’ taking my heart and soul back to the 80’s classic album ‘Born Sandy Devotional’ by The ‘legendary’ Triffids.

Playing through their set they gave us the tracks James Bong, a psychedelic ‘60s surfer rock influenced instrumental, the slow stoner groove of the very relevant Crazy Time washing across the crowd, with the band taking the crowd on a sonic ‘trip’ with the hypnotic guitar-driven rock track Mungo Fungo.

Ben Ely and his Mungo Fungo band are well-polished. Unlike the usual greener opening acts, although still quite ‘new’ as a band, you felt like the trio had been playing together for decades, giving full praise to these seasoned artists continually pushing their boundaries and horizons with something new. They ended their time with a new track Skull Candle, leaving the crowd soaking in the stellar set.

There was a happy buzz through the crowd. Doing some people-watching around the room, there were lots of “Hi”’s and hugs giving more of a party vibe than a gig.

Self-proclaimed bubble gum pop, garage punk call it what you like, Brisbane/Meanjin locals The Gylcereens are pure old-school punk energy. Without even knowing much about the band you could tell there were years of music industry experience on the stage.

Opening up with 2023 belter, Jane Street with short sharp bursts of fuzz rock belting out, the band have truly captured the originating core of garage rock. They followed the fashion theme of the night with matching black and white striped shirts, giving the band an old-school ’80s feel; the music, however, spanning many decades of influences of rock, punk and alternative evident in their sound and on stage semblance.

They played through old and new tracks spaning across their two albums including Satellite, the high energy surf rock-esque Rewind and the crowd pleasing Poison Ivy.  Their songs fall somewhere between 60’s surfer punk, with riot grrrl attitude and The Runaways’ rock energy.

Get It Off  lifted the crowd with a hectic surf punk burst injected with psych-rock guitar riffs. Neon City Lights is a crowd favourite, with classic garage rock influences reminiscent of the days of Joan Jett and the Blackhearts. 

The Glycereens finished their set undoubtedly with a brand-new following from the punters in the crowd seeing them for the first time.

With the bands doubling as their roadies the pause in between gave fans time to socialise and grab a beverage. The social energy of the crowd made the gaps between sets flow by quickly. It wasn’t long before Japanese punk rock veterans Shonen Knife came onto the stage with the applause and cheers from the crowd, as much an ovation as a welcome.

With 22 albums to their name, it would be a setlist that could be hard to choose. So many crowd favourites, hard to please everyone.  But the most suitable set opener was Konichiwa. “Konnichiwa, konnichiwa, welcome to our show. Konnichiwa, konnichiwa, let’s have a good time tonight.”  Yes, we are ready to rock, Japanese bubblegum-punk style.

With vocalist/guitarist Naoko Yamano addressing the fans, she expressed their happiness to be back in Brisbane after four and a half years.

Decades ahead of the world ‘Barbie Movie’ frenzy, the girls took us into Twist Barbie from their 1983 release ‘Burning Farm’. This brought out a cheer and had everyone moving and twisting in their claimed dance spots.

Pop Tune brought out a bouncing joyousness the crowd potentially haven’t felt at a gig since the last time they saw this band. Taking the fans into Cycling is Fun produced an excited cheer from punters. The band’s pop sensibilities shine through in a big way. Their upbeat ‘life is fun’ energy is highly contagious bringing a smile to faces through the venue.

They introduced their newest and youngest member, drummer Riso. The founding Yamano sisters are an inspiration proving that age is no excuse for – well anything really. Younger sister Atsuko celebrating her birthday with her Brisbane fans this night. The crowd breaks into ‘Happy Birthday’. You take a lot away from watching someone with so much youthful joy and energy just turning 60. When you do what you love, in Atsuko’s case music, it surely balances the mind, body and soul.

They took us into  Munjito Rock, the opening track from the new album.

The band’s love of food is no secret and features heavily in their songs. Their distinctive Japanese rock track Wasabi reminds everyone that the uplifting spirits of this band is supported strongly by their musicianship.

They spoke about their new album ‘Our Best Place’ taking us into new tracks, the high energy of Munjito Rock, strong Ramones influences the band is renowned for, beaming out. Nice Day showcases their versatility, still referring to their love of cuisine lyrically – “afternoon being snack time”.  This segues into, the almost Wiggles-like, Afternoon Tea sung by drumma Risa. This steady beat revs up with more foodie inspirations sprinkled with Mexican flavours with the upbeat Vamos Taquitos from the latest album. The chorus had the crowd bouncing around looking for room to move in the spacious venue.

The tracks rolled on. Naoko confirms to us all how much they love ‘delicious food’ and how much they love writing songs about ‘delicious food’ with Sweet Candy Power possibly exposing the secret behind their superpower. Jump into the New World from 2017’s ‘Ready! Set!! Go!!!’, another crowd favourite.

A few more songs and the band said goodbye, until the obligatory encore of course. Back with Lazy Bones and ending with a mass sing-a-long with the hugely popular cover of Top Of The World from the ‘If I Were a Carpenter’ Carpenters tribute album.

The night left everyone feeling like there were no stressors in their life. It was a brief pause to appreciate accomplished musicians, both locally and internationally.  It gave us all a sense of joy that we need to find more in this ever-changing crazy world. Maybe Shonen Knife should become a regular addition to our music-listening life to keep that bounce in our step.

Tour Dates

FRI 23 FEB – Canberra/Ngunnawal Land, BASEMENT
plus special guests
Tickets at

SAT 24 FEB – Sydney/Gadigal Land, CROWBAR
plus special guests
Tickets at

SUN 25 FEB – Hobart/Muwinina, MONA FOMA
plus special guests
Tickets at

WED 28 FEB – Melbourne/Naarm, CORNER
plus special guests
Tickets at

THUR 29 FEB – Adelaide/Kaurna, THE GOV
plus special guests
Tickets at

FRI 1 MAR – Margaret River/Wadandi Boodja, THE RIVER
plus special guests
Tickets at

SAT 2 MAR – Perth/Whadjuk Noongar, MILK BAR
plus special guests
Tickets at

Thanks to Consume/Valve

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