Melt-Banana, 400 Blows, Club Congress, Nov. 22

If noisecore and life-size cat suits are your thing, you were in for a treat on Tuesday, Nov. 22, at Club Congress.

Tokyo-based Melt-Banana made a triumphant return to town, making up for a show missed due to visa issues a couple of years back. Nearing the end of their 2011 North American tour, Melt-Banana and opening act 400 Blows provided a night of blistering hardcore and supersonic noise.

A power-punk trio from Los Angeles, 400 Blows kicked off the night with a solid set of short, fast atomic blasts. While lead singer Skot Alexander yelped and gesticulated like a wounded bobcat, guitar-player Scott Martin and drummer Kevin Fitzgerald attacked the crowd with ferocious, zigzag rhythms and some of the most precise drumming I've ever heard. Make no mistake: Fitzgerald is a beast, and his drumming would make both Chuck Biscuits and Ginger Baker proud. Several times, Alexander apologized profusely for a 400 Blows show that was cut short last month at the now-defunct Red Room due to "being in a bad mood and being a jerk." They more than made up for it.

Melt-Banana took the stage a half-hour later to much adulation. Frontwoman Yasuko Onuki, who had been walking around the bar in a furry, full-size cat suit, shrieked and shouted—and it was all systems go from that point. Guitar-whiz Ichirou Agata, with his trademark surgeon's mask, unleashed a fury of chords, sirens and what might have been a dentist's drill through his many pedals. Tiny bassist Rika Hamamoto (I'm certain her amp is bigger than she is) and their touring drummer locked together and pummeled the audience with deep, resounding swells of ferocity. And this was all in the first minute!

The highlight was the eight-short-songs blast, which Onuki announced halfway through the set. She informed the audience that each song would last no longer than 30 seconds. It seemed to be over almost as soon as it started, but bodies in the audience were bouncing off each other at full speed. Onuki issued a very sweet "thank you" after each song.

Melt-Banana ended their hour-long set with a manic cover of a "What a Wonderful World," leaving the crowd sonically blasted and bathed in sweat.

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