Shonen Knife means Boy Knife. The band said in a 1993 interview with MTV, while on tour with Nivana, that it saw itself as cute like a boy and keen like a knife. The three Japanese punk rockers walked onto the stage wearing matching denim and white bell bottoms and complementary dresses with giant smiles, proudly holding up the band’s merch scarves as if they were flags. Naoko Yamano and Ritsuko Taneda sported sparkly guitars and basses. One of Naoko’s even had gold stars on its frets. Cute? Most definitely. As for what makes the knife keen? Naoko and Ritsuko were constantly thrashing their heads, causing their hair to whip about in an erratic and hypnotizing manner, as the audience got carried away with Emi Morimoto’s heavy punk beats.
The band showed its appreciation for the audience in thick Japanese accents: “We are very happy so many of you come to see us.” Before asking, “Have you ever seen the animal capybara?” the audience screamed and applauded in approval. “We love this animal because it has a big round body—It’s like a giant mouse!” The band played “Capybara” as people began yet another mosh pit. A few songs later, Ritsuko and Naoko introduced “Devil House” by saying, “We know Halloween is over, but we want to play a song for you about something scary!”
After the set was over, the audience chanted “Shonen Knife,” anticipating an encore. It took a while for the band to come out again, so people began to chant “Hey! Ho! Let’s Go!” instead, which fit perfectly. The band returned after a quick costume change, wearing leather jackets and tight jeans, becoming its alter ego, Ramones cover band Osaka Ramones. Osaka Ramones dived straight into “Hey Ho, Let’s Go” and played a half-set worth of Ramones covers, leading to the largest mosh pit of the night. Almost every audience member was included and as the encore pushed forward, more of the crowd was drawn in.
All photos by Annie Lesser.