Cibo Matto at the Turf Club, 3/4/14
Photo by Erik Hess
Cibo Matto and Buffalo Daughter
Turf Club, St. Paul
Tuesday, March 4, 2014
It may have been an especially cold night in St. Paul, but a '90s revival was full steam. Surprisingly full on a chilly Tuesday, the Turf Club played host to darlings of the era Cibo Matto. While their music never really went mainstream, the duo has gained a large and loyal cult following through the years -- all of whom were present for the highly anticipated sold-out show.
Having literally just arrived after a 12-hour flight, Japan's Buffalo Daughter began their stint as openers for the final week of the tour and miraculously delivered a refreshing and satisfying opening set. Brandishing their futuristic melange of progressive synth-rock and minimalist electronic sound, the band sprung forth with a heavy kraut-rock style.
Photos by Erik Hess
Submerged in keyboardist Yumiko Ohno and guitarist SuGar Yoshinoga's constant arpeggios, Buffalo Daughter took the eager crowd for a ride through a varied sampling of their 20-year catalog. Encompassing droning repetition with funkified keyboard, Ohno led the band with her faint vocals and a warm sound against the welcoming rhythms.
"Do you know the TV show Domo?" asked Yoshinogo after a particularily long psychedelic workout. "We made theme songs for our favorite cartoon, Domo. We will play it and show you on the screen!"
While the audience turned towards the wall, the band revved up the song as a screen lit up with the popular and cute little razor-toothed creature playing in a park, swimming and playing baseball with a team of cats. Inspiring grins and pogo-ing from the audience the band would eventually return to an extended piece that felt more like a soundtrack to a science fiction film. High-frequency Moog patches, dynamic guitar lines and thunderous bass drum provided the perfect palette for additional sound effects from a turntable from Buffalo Daughter's third founding member, Moog Yamamoto. It was the perfect primer for the rest of the evening and encouraging to see the now-legendary band still in motion with even grander, illuminating sound experiments.
The audience pushed forward with anticipation and the heat went up as lead singer Miho Hatori and Yuka Honda of Cibo Matto politely took over the evening's musical proceedings.
Photo by Erik Hess
With a brief, "Hey, What's up?" and Honda's push of a button the two were greeted with a roar from the crowd as the instantly recognizable, "Sugar Water" set things in motion. The solid groove not only allowed for Hatori to get comfortable and warm up her voice but gave the audience an feeling of immediacy from the signature song.
Not fooling around, Cibo Matto kept the dance party moving as bubbling keyboards and sharp hip-hop dance rhythms of "Beef Jerky" continued a string from the band's '96 debut, Viva! La Woman. Deliciously nostalgic, fans old and new couldn't resist, cheerfully singing along with Hatori, "Who cares? I don't care? A horse's ass is better than yours!"
"When was the last time we were here?" asked Hatori a bit sheepishly. "We promise we will come back again much sooner next time. Like in a few months, maybe. How's that?"
As if the 15 years since their last visit to the Twin Cities hadn't passed, Cibo Matto continued on with perhaps their best dance track, "Spoon" off Stereo*Type-A from '99. Elevated mid-song by a drummer and bass player who joined the two, the rhythm section helped amplify the fever and good energy in the room with a continuous funky groove.
The acid-jazz vibe from Cibo Matto morphed into dub with a new track, "Check In" from the brand new Valentine Hotel only to return to Stereo*Type-A for a couple more. The lovely "Moonchild" gave space for a wonderful dollop of Hatori's high-pitched, yet soulful voice with each chorus.
Returning to new material, Cibo Matto may have lost a bit of momentum with the lesser-known songs that often veered into greater heights with spacier sounds and electronic effects on one another's voice. But the delightful new music and critically arranged concept of the songs was appreciated and peaked with the band's latest single, "MFN."
Photos by Erik Hess
"That's our Mother Fucking Nature," Hatori explained the song in her Tretorn shoes, shades that never left her face, and a thugged-out workshirt. Continuing on with a couple more from Hotel Valentine she'd ultimately didn't look so tough as she'd complain, "So, it's really fucking cold here, huh? We are definitely going to come back in the summertime. We can't have this."
Returning for the dubby "Housekeeping," the two pulled out all the stops for the song that started it all for Cibo Matto, "Birthday Cake." For the somewhat aggressive take of the song, the entire room was bouncing about, singing the ridiculous lyrics and cementing silly smiles all the way back to the front door of the club. It was the perfect exclamation point from the timeless duo who've demonstrated they've hit the ground running upon returning to the stage all these years later.
Critic's Bias: Huge fan since day one.
The Crowd: A mixture of old and new fans. For every "I remember seeing them..." I heard there was a "I've been waiting forever to see them!"
Overheard in the Crowd: "They forgot 'Know Your Chicken', I want to know my chicken!!"
Random Notebook Dump: I always thought Cibo Matto represented a technological and cultural future in music that seems to have come full circle with their reunion. As music has grown more compact, it's easy to forget there was a time that a duo with little more than some keyboards, a sampler and an astute presence was a rare, unique thing.
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