A sure sign of a decent gig is walking away thinking it’d be pretty cool to be part of the band and No Cars have this enchanting power in spades.
From their cutsey J-Pop playfulness to their righteous awareness for all things positive (guitarist Haruna has a ‘I Heart Global Warming’ sticker on her Strat, with a line struck through the centre of the organ [they are called NO Cars], and you get the impression the band don’t curse or litter either), they’re hard not to like.
Lending a hand tonight, in the absence of drummer Kyoko, is Bo Ningen’s Mon-chan who’s never looked so giddy behind the kit before. Presumably he too is mildly obsessed with chocolate biscuits, has an acutely comical theatrical bent and enjoys singing songs about tuna. And if not, he’s does a fine job of pretending otherwise to fit in with this charismatic lots.
Funny, electric and original from the off, even the line-check is turned into a three minute blast of vivacious energy; the set peppered with joyous songs and humorous asides. Opening the gig with a mime involving a tape recorder, masks and some sellotape (as well as food No Cars are also strangely drawn to stationery) it’s a good indicator of what’s to come.
Each song has its own illustration propped up on a music stand, which Haruna and bassist Sachi whip off in time for the next shouty bit of excited, bare-boned, clattering noise. It’s potentially a pretentious detail and yet strangely endearing in their hands, the Ku Klux Klan drawing memorable for all the right reasons. A song involving chocolate follows a ditty dedicated to Oreo biscuits that finally leads to a punk trip about tinned fish, which the band apparently eat a lot of. Haruna and Sachi expertly seduce both the crowd and their instruments while Mon-chan sticks to the script of simple beats as jolly as the guitars in front of him. And just when you start to think that the Grade 1 playing has run its course, Haruna proves to be quite the master of the oboe. All of these twists and turns are all refreshingly, endearingly bonkers.
By Ian Roebuck
Originally published in issue 16 (vol 3) of Loud And Quiet. April 2010