Click the photo to watch an audio slideshow of Miho Hatori's set.
Photos By Michael Alan Goldberg 
Miho Hatori, with Los Abandoned and Johanna


Last Night: Miho Hatori, Los Abandoned, and Johanna Kunin at the Crocodile Cafe

Watch an audio slideshow of the former Cibo Matto frontwoman's set.


Click the photo to watch an audio slideshow of Miho Hatori's set.
Photos By Michael Alan Goldberg 
Miho Hatori, with Los Abandoned and Johanna Kunin
Date:  February 16, 2007
Venue:  Crocodile Cafe 
Singer and multi-instrumentalist Miho Hatori, who for much of the '90s co-fronted New York City's cheeky, samplafunkalicious Cibo Matto along with Yuka Honda, titled her recent debut solo album Ecdysis after the process by which insects and crustaceans shed their "skin."  Friday night's odd, engrossing performance at the Crocodile Cafe proved that the 36-year-old, Tokyo-born Hatori has cast off most -- but not quite all -- of her past Grand Royal-affiliated 'tude and tunes for a more lush, sophisticated, globally minded musical approach that's still captivating and fun as hell.

Resplendent and alluring in white, Hatori exuded confidence, wit, and a quirky charm reminiscent of Bjork as she ambled through most of Ecdysis's 11 tracks, as well as a couple of new songs. Manning a laptop and MIDI controller, Hatori tweaked blippy, pretty melodies as her three-piece backing band delved into bossa nova, samba, choro, even zydeco rhythms and textures. Never as hailed as it should have been during the Cibo Matto days, Hatori's voice was strong and nuanced (and a little Bjork-ish, too) for numbers that were torchy and seductive.  Largely eschewing typical stage banter, Hatori introduced each song with mini-monologues that explained her lyrical motivations and waxed philosophical on information overload, moving cities, and the difference between robots and cyborgs; she also expressed some love for the Space Needle (which makes her "very happy") and Ichiro (she was baseball-savvy enough to note that "he's great, but the Mariners are not very good.").  And she saved her meatiest grooves for the end of the set:  Alternately strapping on a guitar and a large drum to meld with her bandmates' filthy basslines and truly sick keyboard freakouts, she got the mostly packed room -- which stayed with Hatori in both body and spirit despite the 90-minute set ending at around 1:40 a.m. -- moving as one.

Los Angeles quartet Los Abandoned warmed up the crowd with a high-energy half-hour of spiky pop-punk with a decidedly Latin flavor. Singing in both English and Spanish -- and switching between guitar, keyboards, cowbell, and ukelele -- whirling dervish frontwoman Lady P came off like a combination of Liz Phair and Kathleen Hanna (more the latter's Le Tigre incarnation than Bikini Kill).

Both she and singer-guitarist Don Verde were joyful sweatbuckets, but the effort was well worth it as the post-song cheers increased dramatically throughout the set by the clearly won-over crowd. Seattle singer-songwriter Johanna Kunin didn't appear to break a sweat as she sat in front of her Fender Rhodes piano, backed by a violinist/singer, stand-up bassist, and drummer, performing songs from her latest album, Clouds Electric -- her sanguine, jazzy set was equally as winning, though.

At times, the tone and timbre of her voice was akin to Heather Duby's, circa Post to Wire, and Kunin's stage presence and delivery will only encourage more Tori Amos comparisons. But the receptive audience didn't seem to mind any of that one bit.

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