Melt Banana – Pretty Grim – Birmingham – live review

Thisistmrw & Supersonic present

Melt Banana – Pretty Grim

Hare and Hounds, Birmingham

28th October 2019

Melt Banana, the Japanese noisy duo have been brought back to Birmingham by Thisistmrw and Supersonic. It’s a cold, damp Monday evening. Fighting Boredom are by no means alone in deciding that this gig is essential viewing. The Hare and Hounds is packed. Read what we thought of the gig below.

‘Which record is the best one to buy?’ I ask Yako, the vocalist and sound manipulator for Melt Banana as she stands behind the merch table. She hesitates, runs her finger across the three on the table and taps Fetch which I then purchase. I’m playing it right now. It’s a good choice. Sitting next to Yako is Agata, face mask in place, Melt Banana are here and Fighting Boredom can’t wait.

The room is pretty much full. This is a show jointly put on by promoters Thisistomorrow and the people behind the excellent Supersonic Festival and , the last time they played here in Birmingham was the Supersonic Kids Gig as Yako reminds us later. 

First band are Pretty Grim, three young women who are either pretty nervous or very relaxed, it’s hard to say which, there is a lot of laughter and chat between the songs. there’s a buzz, guitar notes with a pretty vocal and then it all goes post hardcore thrash a go go via a lurching loose groove into a slooow draawn out section with a quiet spoken vocal. That’s just the first song, seriously, then the long haired one on the left sings thank you, they laugh, joke and they’re off again, the photographer states that they are very bouncy. They play a punk song that circles and thrashes with an old school feel which switches to a lurching  off kilter beauty of a song, the vocals sung and screamed. 

‘What’s the next one?’ Well there’s the slow burning heavy bassy one, the faster psych out bluesy one and the post punk rumble attack inspired by ambulances driving past. The apparent ‘Nu Metal song Liquid Brain’ with stumbling bass and drums. Then the jazzy one with the vocals going back and forth. ‘It feels like we’ve payed the set real fast’ They finish with a song from their old band whose name I miss which is fractured broken metal with a screaming vocal. Their set ends in a thunder of bass and drums and they finish smiling. They tell us they have no online presence and that they may decide to do another gig, I hope they do. 

The room is packed as Melt Banana come on. They start with a huge noise, feedback whine, drone and electronic swooshes and bass rumbles. This is what you call a wall of noise. Yaki reaches up, presses a button on her remote control and the beats start, thunderous and hard as nails, the guitar thrashes and the glorious noise just gets louder and more intense. The vocal is strong and high as Yaki sings over the mass of sound. A barking dog joins the sound and the guitars punkily break as the vocal turns harsher, this is music to punch to as the mosh pit at the front are showing us. The play a low down almost Country tinged thrash, then a strobe kicks in and I’m gone. This is fantastic.

The music is overpowering and mad, the drum patterns are set onto overdrive and the guitar is distorted to hell while the vocal isn’t messed with at all, it’s the focus of the whole set and she never ever stops moving. There is no quarter given, the beats get even more intense and it leaves you breathless. The guitar never stops either.

This is where hardcore, grindcore and punk has ended up, two Japanese lunatic musicians making the noise that could rule your life if you let it. There’s a brutal mosh pit at the front now and the photographer barely gets out unscathed. The set gets better and better. It’s too fast and too intense to write about at this point, I have to just let it flow into me. 

They play some ‘short songs’ off their singles collection, they are like Napalm Death with synth madness added. It’s more glorious, focused unstoppable noise. The backing sounds, beats and layers all appear ot come from Yako’s controller which she wields like a weapon, conducting and channeling the noise with her movements too. You keep expecting her voice to give out as it’s given such a brutal work over through the set, but it never falters once. I’m pretty sure that anyone else attempting to deliver this wouldn’t make the end of about three songs.
I’ve seen hardcore bands and I’ve seen thrash bands and I’ve seen pure noise performances, but they don’t come close to this. Post hardcore punk metal Japanese Mayhem. 
They go into a psychedelic sprawl which just gets absorbed in more beats and they go again.
The encore will be ‘Two more songs’ Yako says as Agata plays a strangely familiar guitar tune over and over. Then you realise that they are launching into a cover of Neat Neat Neat by The Damned and it’s so frantic that she barely manages the chorus, the Damned out done by a Japanese noise duo. I didn’t think anything would top the cover of Monkey Man from last time we saw them but this is perfect. They finish with Candy Gun, and as the noise, beats and guitar slam to a stop they bow and that’s it. The best band Fighting Boredom have seen this year so far.
Melt Banana

Pretty Grim

Melt Banana’s website is, they are on Facebook and Tweet as @melt_banana.

Pretty Grim have no web presence that I could find.

All words by Adrian Bloxham, all pictures by Martin ward.


Adrian Bloxham

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *