[RH Photos] Melt-Banana Returns to Chicago

Photos by Geoff Henao

On Tuesday, July 14th, Japanese noise-core band Melt-Banana returned to Chicago’s Empty Bottle for the first time in 15 years. Touring across the country with them is stoner metal band, and genre-defying Hot Nerds opened the show.

For months since the show was announced, my expectations were extremely high. 2015 marks the 10-year anniversary since my first Melt-Banana show at the Abbey Pub on May 5th, 2005. And considering Melt-Banana only comes to America every other year (their last show at the Double Door back in October 2013), I was ready for my bi-annual ritual. The Empty Bottle is also my favorite venue in the city, thanks to its dive bar aesthetic and acoustics that especially benefit loud, punk rock-esque bands like Melt-Banana.

Prior to the show, I had never hear nor heard of Hot Nerds. Their eccentric style of hardcore vocals (modified through a vocoder), mixed with noise-core-influenced sampling played through a keyboard and mixer, and backed by metal drums accentuated with a double kick pedal. They were reminiscent of a young Melt-Banana and got the crowd hyped and energized.

Unfortunately, all of the energy coursing throughout the venue was lost as Torche came on to play. My prior knowledge of the band came from Ruby Hornet’s own Travis Marmon’s praise of the band’s style of slow-burning stoner metal. However, the drastically low tempo and lack of high energy severely lowered the audience’s excitement. At one point, I had begun falling asleep… standing up and directly next to one of the stage’s main monitors.

Nearing midnight, Melt-Banana took to the stage, backed by an enormous wall of speakers intended to replicate the duo’s loud volume of noise when they originally toured as a band. However, as singer Yako and guitarist Agata grow increasingly comfortable playing as a duo (with Yako controlling a drum machine and samples with a device), so too do their shows share similarities to years past. However, their live performances have changed to reflect their adapted style of power-pop/noise-core, shedding the more extreme hardcore elements that represented their earlier years. Despite some technical difficulties with one of Agata’s guitar cables and a crowd that, surprisingly, wasn’t as excited for the band that I’ve seen in years past. Nevertheless, the crowd eventually warmed up to them as their set drew to a close.

Check out my photos from the show below!

Geoff Henao

Geoff Henao is a writer/kinda photographer affiliated with the Chicago collective LOD. His interests include film, punk rock, cute girls, graphic novels, video games, and the Chicago Bulls. He's funny sometimes.

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