Shonen Knife + Kolars @ Summerhall, Edinburgh 1st May 2018
The multipurpose arts venue Summerhall has recently become the happening place to go for gigs in Edinburgh, a city generally noted for seriously underperforming on the live music front - especially in comparison to its West Coast rival, Glasgow. Even the beer selection stands a cut or two above most venues; in lieu of the pissy Red Stripe we get a selection of Barney’s Beers courtesy of the on-site microbrewery. Last night, a diverse crowd turned up to see the iconic Japanese Ramones-influenced pop-punk band Shonen Knife. Active since 1981, their notable fans over the years have included members of bands Nirvana and Sonic Youth.
Their support in the city last night came courtesy of Kolars, a band composed of LA husband-and-wife musician team Rob Kolar and Lauren Brown. The former is on guitar and vocal duties, the latter on percussion - with a twist that she actually tap-dances on one of the drums. For a two-person act, it was certainly a memorably visual show with the duo donning sparkly garb and Rob sporting a huge Elvis-style quiff. Their sound has been described as “Glamabilly”, which sounds about right: reference points ranging from Elvis (obviously) to David Bowie are evident in their style. Ok, so their musical amalgamation is a little close to Arcade Fire at times but, nonetheless, it’s a fine sound.
There was plenty of enthusiasm from the crowd, and deservedly so. They are about as far as you can get from the usual meh-level bands that pass for supporting acts these days.
Watch a Kolars video:
Watch a Shonen Knife video:
Shonen Knife are an infectious sugar rush of a band. In this, their 1,238th show, they appear to have lost none of that sense of cheery pop-punk enthusiasm that won them such a cult following in the West all those years ago. Such favourites as Jump into the New World, Pop Tune and I am a Cat were spun off in high-energy fashion by this colour-coded costumed trio.
Their set of simple-but-effective songs flew by unpretentiously without a care in the world. Sure, they’ve never been the most innovative band in the world, yet their whole happy-go-lucky attitude still feels like such a breath of fresh air in a world of self-consciously miserable tortured artists.
Here’s to the 2,476th show.