March 26, 2006

SXSW Report #16: Afrirampo @ the Victory Grill

On Thursday afternoon, I saw Afrirampo play their first-ever set in Texas at the outside stage of the Victory Grill, another Vice Kills Texas venue. A friend of mine recommended them to me, but I didn’t exactly rush to check them out. His taste in music is pretty obscure; I have often joked that he only listens to "limited-edition CDRs of Japanese people farting into distorted microphones." A cursory glance at Afrirampo only increased my suspicion. Two pretty Asian women wearing face paint and skimpy red outfits while playing experimental noise? It sounded like one of my friend's wet dreams gone wrong.

After I actually listened to their 2005 album Kore Ga Mayaku Da, though, I changed my tune. Their set at the Victory Grill was even more impressive. Guitarist Oni began each song by playing quiet, simple riffs and making onomatopoeic noises with her mouth. Drummer Pikacyu followed her lead with loose yet steady rhythms. Together, they gradually upped the tempo and the volume, until the music reached a climax of shrill screams and head-banger riffs. Both ladies played in a way that betrayed their impressive technical skills, but never came across as flashy. I got the feeling that they could morph into the female version of Hella at any moment, but wisely chose not to.

Between songs, Pikacyu gave a brief speech that managed to be both corny and profound:

“We are happy to be in Austin with so many people who love music…but don’t forget to listen to the music that is all around you. Listen to the birds chirping in the trees. That is the REAL rock…not the people with guitars and drums.”

She and her comrade went right back to screaming and shredding after that speech.

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