Before my first trip to Osaka in June 2010, I didn't really know too much about the city. What I did know, for example, was that it was located a short trip away from much of the old (historical) Japan areas like Kyoto and Nara. I knew that it is the third largest city in Japan. Most importantly, I knew that it was the home of super group Shonen Knife.
Who is Shonen Knife? They're a Ramon's-influenced, pop-punk band made up of three ladies from Osaka. They've been around since 1981 and I first saw them in West Hollywood (Los Angeles) in 1992. What makes them so good is that they're normal-looking "girls" from Japan who rock out punk-rock style. The story goes that they started out making music before they could even play their instruments and that they would take time off from their office jobs to tour. Since their grass-roots beginnings, they've gone on to put out over a dozen albums, open shows for Nirvana, and tour all over the world.
On Saturday, I was in the Amerikamura area of Osaka when I got a flier with a picture of the band on it. It was announcing a FREE (!!!) Shonen Knife show (!!!) that started in about 15 minutes (!!!) at a small record store (!!!).
What??? Shonen Knife??? At a record store??? In Osaka??? Had I died and gone to heaven??? No. It turns out that they were doing a record-release party at the store. The show ended up lasting about 30 minutes and they played about 6 songs or so. Here's one photo of the show:
Did I mention that they supposedly make their own clothes? They're a cute bunch. After the performance, they did a meet-and-greet. I was lucky enough to get this photo with the band (yes-it looks like I'm behind a cardboard cut out but I was really there):
This is a video I shot with my (not-so-steady) digi-camera of "On Top Of The World", which just happens to be one of my favorites. (The fourth girl, second from the left, is the original bassist who now lives in Los Angeles but was in Osaka so she stood in for a couple of songs.) Try to be unhappy after you listen to this:
Now that you've seen them and love them too, you need to visit their website and then buy some of their music on Amazon (or iTunes, which I couldn't figure out how to link to). If you're interested in seeing them live, they're starting a U.S. and Canada tour in about a week to support their new release. Go see them. They rock!