Rock bands play Fresno as part of joint US tour

Logan Downing / The Collegian
Photo by Logan Downing / The Collegian Bassist Mike Watt formed the band Il Songo Del Marinaio in 2009 with guitarist Stefano Pilo and drummer Andrea Belfi. Watt and band mates played at a less energetic level than their opening act with less rhythmic sections.

Photo by Logan Downing / The Collegian
Bassist Mike Watt formed the band Il Songo Del Marinaio in 2009 with guitarist Stefano Pilo and drummer Andrea Belfi. Watt and band mates played at a less energetic level than their opening act with less rhythmic sections.

Prolific punk rocker Mike Watt played to an intimate crowd Monday night with his new group Il Songo del Marinaio, at Strummer’s in the Tower District. Opening the night was the Japanese math rock outfit LITE.

LITE, which is considered one of the top instrumental bands in Japan, is a frantic, technically impressive four some from Tokyo. They play upbeat, melodic math rock, a genre known for offbeat time signatures, technical finesse and angular guitar riffs. This wasn’t their first time touring the U.S., but it was their first time in Fresno.

Guitarists Nobuyuki Takeda and Kozo Kusumoto, complemented each other well, with Takeda often taking the lead, while Kusumoto added layers and sometimes keys to the melody. Bassist Jun Izawa is a wild, sporactic bass player, often carrying the main riff and melody throughout the majority of the songs.

Drummer Akinori Yamamoto supports Izawa, an almost Neil Peart caliber of musicianship. His minimalist style kept all of the flailing riffs intact, otherwise they would quickly fall into the category of simply being a “jam band.”

“I’ve been waiting to see them for years, and there is something especially gratifying about seeing a band from another country who rarely comes around here,” said Mike Gibson, a longtime fan of LITE who attended the show.

Similar bands make it to the U.S., but either overlook cities like Fresno, or exclusively play on the East Coast. Prolific Japanese post-rock group Toe came to the U.S. for the first time last year and played only several spots around New York City.

While LITE kept the crowd upbeat and bodies moving, Il Songo Del Marinaio took the feeling of the night into a different direction. Musically more demanding, the three piece comprising bassist Mike Watt, guitarist Stefano Pilia and drummer Andrea Belfi, play off-kilter, dissonant instrumental post rock.

Akin to acts such as Sonic Youth, Slint or even Tom Waits, Il Songo Del Marinaio is a lot to take in and might not stick with you on your first listen. While not as flashy or exuberant as their opening act LITE, there were still a lot of musical intricacies. Everything has this very distinct downbeat feel, with sparse guitar melodies and rhythmic sections.

As the band played, the crowd took to their seats, in order to soak in the complexity of Il Songo Del Marinaio.

Mike Watt, who is often considered a pioneer in alternative/punk music, started post-punk legends The Minutemen, Firehose and has played in countless other acts including Iggy Pop and The Stooges. In 2008, he received a lifetime achievement award from Bass Player Magazine.

Il Sogno Del Marinaio with LITE upcoming tour dates:

Venue: Doug Fir Lounge
Location: Portland, Oregon
Date: Thursday, Sept. 18

Venue: Capital Theater
Location: Olympia, Washington
Date: Friday, Sept. 19

Venue: The Tractor Tavern
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: Saturday, Sept. 20

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