Shonen Knife | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Shonen Knife

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This all-girl Japanese trio has been playing goofy, cheery punk rock for more than 20 years, guilelessly subverting almost every convention of the prototypical angry-young-man genre. The lyrics are slight, light, and often incomprehensible, devoted to things the band likes instead of things they want to stomp on and smash: candy, fruit, and ice cream make frequent appearances, and "I Wanna Eat Chocobars" (from the 1986 album Pretty Little Baka Guy) is so straightforward I'm tempted to start digging around for double entendres ("I like chocobars / Any kind of chocobars / I eat chocobars / Every day two bars per day"). Matters of life and death get whacked with the cute stick too--in "Making Plans for Bison" they cheer, "He has a right to live though he's ill-shaped / He's on the way to extinction . . . Bear up bison never say die!" In some models of the universe, adorable girl bands are supposed to be incompetent, and Shonen Knife seem to be playing with that notion too. Though their chops are modest, their Tinkertoy sound is so clear and sparse that there's very little to screw up--and nothing to hide behind if they do. Their most recent album, Candy Rock, was a Japan-only release back in 2003--the current tour is for fun (duh) and to promote the Oglio Records reissue of four early discs, including 1983's Burning Farm, source of the immortal "Twist Barbie" and the confounding "Tortoise Brand Pot Cleaner's Theme." Visqueen and the Manhandlers open. Mon 2/28, 8 PM, Bottom Lounge, 3206 N. Wilton, 773-975-0505 or 800-594-8499, $10 in advance, $12 at the door, 18+. Shonen Knife will also appear at a live taping of the cable-access dance show Chic-a-Go-Go on Sunday, February 27; the taping runs from 3 to 6 PM at the CAN TV studios, 322 S. Green, and other scheduled lip-synchers include Cex and the Waco Brothers. It's free, and children are welcome.

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