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Oh! Eye! Oh!


During OOIOO's set at the Orange Court, an short, interesting conversation sprung up about whether the band's cosmic core, if you will, Yoshimi P-We, was the inspiration for the "Yoshimi" of the Flaming Lips' album Yoshimi Versus the Pink Robots. Like all trivia question answers, the real answer was on the internet, and to sum up it reads: Not Really. Flaming Lips maestro Wayne Coyne writes that Yoshimi is a "fictional character," and right after that acknowledges respect and friendship for Yoshimi P-we since playing with her in 1994 at Lolapalooza. FRExpress colleague Donald noted that the death of a Japanese woman friend of the band's also happened around this time and inspired a song, which was written both out of sadness and consolation for the woman's sisters. Anyway, Coyne says it better, and it's all in his post at the link.

Either way, Yoshimi P-we is, as Coyne writes, "a musician of extraordinary talent and uniqueness," who, I will add, has been in more than a couple bands nobody has any idea how to peg a genre to, the best known of which are the Boredoms and this now established project, OOIOO (pronounced oh-eye-oh). And after the noise and avant-rock and experimental everything, she's coming not quite full circle, or maybe it's better to call it more of a spiral, but what this means is the music is recognizable as music again and challenging in different ways on the third OOIOO album, Taiga (Japanese for big river), which was just released at the beginning of July.

The stage line-up was five women with Yoshimi front and center with a glittery green guitar, and after the a-little-too-boppy opening night set by Shonen Knife (Just curious, do they think they are the Rondelles or something?), it was refreshing to see women just being a band. The new member was on an extra drum kit, making for two, i.e. extra rhythm punch. And it was churning war-drum stuff, nonstop and underpinning everything. But even the freakout yelling and squealing and caterwauling was rhythmic and under a wierd sense of control - that's how they opened, a capella scream-chanting to heavy drums, and it was great, powerful stuff.

It went on from there, and the great thing about OOIOO though is that they sound pretty much like everything, always a rock band of course, but sometimes also like the Kronos Quartet doing North African fusion jazz but only vaguely so, sometimes like an avant-noise band playing funk, sometimes like minimal glitchy indie pop - it's all there. Sometimes I think their music is like computer music without computers, the max of what effects pedals, weird timbres and a great sensibility for percussive musicianship can generate. I started out bopping to it near the front, and ended the set kicking back on the grass towards the rear of the Orange Court. Either way, it was a total trip.

- by Dave