Event Reviews
Melt-Banana

Melt-Banana

with Tomato Flower, babybaby_explores

Meow Wolf, Convergence Station • Denver, Colorado • May 27, 2024

Melt-Banana is one of those bands that, when they come to town, you just go. They’re incredible. In the States from Tokyo, Japan, for a 27-date tour supporting their upcoming studio album, 3+5, the veteran punk duo brings two bands with a definite Meow Wolf vibe to Denver, where their super high-energy show has a bunch of everyone — old punks, young people wearing sneakers, literal kids (fuck, yeah!), and so many moshers — smiling from ear to ear, not staying still at all.

Melt-Banana at Meow Wolf, Denver
Jake Seman
Melt-Banana at Meow Wolf, Denver

• •

Tomato Flower starts the evening off with a comparatively mellow set of stretchy, wavy, breathy, jazzy, noisy pop. The band is Mike Alfieri (drums), Ruby Mars (vocals, guitar), Jamison Murphy (guitar, vocals), and Austyn Wohlers (guitar, keyboards, vocals) from Baltimore, Maryland, and they blend so well into Meow Wolf’s Convergence Station ambiance, it is sometimes hard to see there are four on stage. Unbeknownst to us at this point, Wohlers foreshadows the by-now familiar “cover song” part of many a Melt-Banana show in a DEVO t-shirt.

Tomato Flower
Jake Seman
Tomato Flower

The Baltimore band is touring their third album and first LP, No.

• •

babybaby_explores from Providence, Rhode Island, takes the energy level up four notches. The band with a much longer real name is three BFFs, as they say: Lids B-Day (effected vocals, sampler), Sam M-H (guitar), and Ramona Cano-Daly (bass, beats). They are powerful and electronic and funky and groovy as hell, and the sounds these three twist and mess around on stage are pretty phenomenal. I can’t tell you which song includes my favorite funny but also in-your-face line of the evening, but even if I mishear it, yeah, it’s my favorite. “Why don’t you poop in a gumball / and chew, chew, chew?

Baby; Baby: Explores the Reasons Why that Gum is Still on the Sidewalk
Jake Seman
Baby; Baby: Explores the Reasons Why that Gum is Still on the Sidewalk

This band makes the house bounce — they dance and move how they want and we love it. babybaby_explores has their Hair EP available from Bandcamp.

• •

Melt-Banana’s set is under way one half-second before Yako’s eyes meet the audience, with the first body dart, sharp and straight, right to the pit. Half the audience steps back a little bit, making room, guiding spiraling dancers with our hands, bouncing like hell on the edges.

Melt-Banana
Jake Seman
Melt-Banana

The band is fucking full on, Ichiro Agata killing it on guitar, Yasuko Onuki power-singing — in English, if you weren’t sure — for the entire hour plus. Near the middle of the set, Yako chooses a cover song, DEVO’s unmistakable “Uncontrollable Urge,” winding up the crowd churning within and without the mosh pit like a bunch of really happy good fucking friends. At one point in the evening, a dancer falls down and is picked up by either friends or strangers and whisked out to the hall while we all make room. Just as nice as Melt-Banana’s 2004 tour, but so safe this time, too.

Melt-Banana
Jake Seman
Melt-Banana

Agata is a shotgun, a constant drive, as Yako waves a device, controlling percussion and the crowd from her hand, a rainbow arc to mimic the shapes of the songs popping out of her mouth, the mad conductor of this transcendent symphony.

Melt-Banana
Jake Seman
Melt-Banana

The 3+5 US Tour continues through June 22, then picks up in the UK in August. Do yourself a favor and catch a show. Melt-Banana’s 8th studio LP, 3+5, comes out August 23, 2024, on A-ZAP.

Tomato Flowerbabybaby_exploresMelt-Banana


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