Five thoughts: Melt-Banana and Torche (July 26, Backstage Bar & Billiards)

Yasuko Onuki of Melt Banana
Photo: Bill Hughes

1. Backstage Bar & Billiards isn’t packed like the old Bunkhouse was in 2011, but there’s a decent crowd for Sunday night’s show. Many of these folks are here for the opener, Florida metal band Torche. I’m first drawn to the guitarist’s Mick Jagger shirt (worn on his 72nd birthday), then I’m pulled in by the band’s sludgy waves, hooky guitar riffs and washed-out noise-rock.

2. Melt-Banana singer Yasuko Onuki is at a table in the back selling merch before her band’s set, while guitarist Ichirou Agata wanders through the crowd wearing a surgical mask over his nose and mouth. Allergic to smoke, or Vegas?

3. Before Melt-Banana takes the stage, I step outside Triple B, where a bombastic street preacher is shouting at passersby to stop drinking alcohol and having sex. He should’ve seen Torche.

4. During soundcheck, Agata stands at the control board and triggers drum beats remotely from a handheld drum pad that resembles a Game Boy. Melt-Banana doesn’t have an official drummer, and the band’s also down a bassist tonight.

5. The pit is especially weird—I swear I saw a guy get dry-humped. Onstage, Agata’s fretwork carves a path for Onuki’s wily, high-pitched vocals like a sharp precision tool, especially on the recognizable “Candy Gun,” from 2013’s Fetch. And we got two covers: “Monkey Man” by The Specials and Devo’s “Uncontrollable Urge.” Was it as memorable as the set four years ago? Probably not; it’s tough to match that mess as a two-piece. But my ears were ringing just the same long after I’d left.

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Leslie Ventura is a staff writer at Las Vegas Weekly and Industry Weekly. She’s picked the brains of rock stars ...

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