Gig Review: Otoboke Beaver

Posted: by The Editor

Otoboke Beaver (おとぼけビ~バ~) hails from Kyoto, Japan. Their music is fast, rabid, and organized chaos. Their latest album, Super Champon, released in 2022, and if Otoboke Beaver is not visiting your city, I highly recommend watching their debut on KEXP. After a sold-out night at LPR, I checked out night two to see what the energy was like, and it did not disappoint. As Dave Grohl is quoted on their website, “It’ll blow your mind, dude. It’s the most fucking intense shit you’ve ever seen.”

This show is essentially New York Fashion Week. The crowd is full of teddy bear backpacks, spiked chokers, and skirts over jeans. The bi-lighting reflects the disco ball at LPR as the opener claims the stage with what is easiest the sickest band name in all of band-name history: Ratas En Zelo—“Rats in Heat” in Spanish. Ratas En Zelo is a Latina accordion Oi! punk band from NYC. That sentence alone should make you stream their music immediately. I sip my Corona, envy the rat ears on stage, and realize the thing missing from my life is an accordion punk band. The accordion replaces the guitar, and while I don’t know anyone else who plays accordion punk, I couldn’t recommend a better place to start than Ratas En Zelo. I’ll quote the lead singer, who encouraged the audience with a hype ferocity and fantastic stage presence, to ignore the “punk police” who claim the accordion doesn’t belong in punk music. These women were kickin’ and shimmyin’ and I’ve never wanted to be somebody’s friend so badly.

Otoboke Beaver’s stage entrance was full of big grins and genuine excitement to be playing in NYC. It would almost be wholesome if I wasn’t expecting to be absolutely demolished by their electric performance. Otoboke Beaver is like sticking a fork into an outlet. The chemistry on stage was palpable, and the crowd almost worshiped them. The band consists of Accorinrin (vocals/guitar), Yoyoyoshie (guitar/vocals), Hirochan (bass/vocals), and Kahokiss (drums/vocals). Their vocals and instruments are laser tight. It’s rare to see a band perform that sounds exactly like they do on their record or filmed performances, and Otoboke Beaver did not disappoint. The audience didn’t want to be anywhere else. A mix of ages, primarily younger, the audience was taking photos, filming (one with an old school camcorder), dancing, and singing every word—primarily in Kyoto slang. 

Otoboke Beaver performed hits like “Love Is Short,” “Pardon,” and “I Am Not Maternal” (complete with dance moves adjacent to shoving a child back inside the body). Kaho blast beat the drums in tandem with quick bass lines, as Yoyo shredded gnarly guitar riffs. While Acco sang into the crowd, knee bent on the rail, it’s like she’s looking directly into the camera without blinking. Not every band does this, but Otoboke Beaver doesn’t have anything to prove. In my mind, after performances with the likes of Coachella and KEXP and their return to touring post-pandemic, they’ve secured their place in the punk scene. I watched Acco sing into a person’s face in the front row and it looked like the kid saw God. Not even kidding, shit was nuts. The rail bent onto the stage after that, and the bouncer had to come tell the crowd to chill out. 

Otoboke Beaver is fun, concerned about safety, and here to have a good time. As the girls came out for their encore, Yoyo ran on stage and immediately jumped onto eager hands to crowd surf—a staple for her. The music and lyrics of Otoboke Beaver feel like whiplash. Their music makes me feel like a wrath-machine that can also be encouraged to parade my colorful eyeshadow and 1960s mini dress. These women don’t fit into a box. 

Growing up in the midwest just outside of Detroit, I had many friends in hardcore and punk bands. I seldom recall women playing on stage in this scene. Otoboke Beaver is the band I wish I had when I was younger, just dipping my toes into punk and riot grrrl music. They are colorful and vibrant, literally—their style is apparent. The drummer is an absolute unit, and the barefoot bassist had such cool-girl vibes, playing intricate bass lines with ease. The band shifted between big smiles and dance moves, to deep, scary-intense stares. I was mesmerized. It was awesome. They have a few tickets left for the remainder of their tour, but if Otoboke Beaver is in a city near you, I promise you won’t want to miss it.

Ratas En Zelo

Otoboke Beaver

Ryleigh Wann | @wannderfullll

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