Song of the Day: Cibo Matto – Birthday Cake

There is something cool about Cibo Matto’s music beyond the kitsch of writing about food that the media seemed to be fixated over when their debut album Viva! La Woman came out in 1996. The songs were mostly about love set to the soundtrack of broken English and samples splashed with a spoonful of surrealism.

How else do you describe lyrics such as, “Let’s eat carrots together until…” in “Beef Jerky”? Or, “White pepper ice cream / It’s like a line drawing / It snipped my heart / White pepper ice cream,” in “White Pepper Ice Cream”.

They graduated on their second album Stereotype A with more disparate sounds that somehow felt cohesive at the same time: the bossa nova of “Moonchild”, funk of “Lint of Love”, hard rock of “Blue Train”, psychedelic rock of “Sunday Pt. 2”.

But “Birthday Cake” was a different. It was a blast of punk rage demanding to be heard. Something has to be said of the shouting screeching of Miho Hatori while saying, “You know my love is sweet.”

I first heard this song while watching a PBS show called “On the Road” or something like that. It sounded so different to Garbage, Hole, Nine Inch Nails and everything else that was going on, it just blew my mind. I would have liked to say I was addicted to them, but I didn’t buy their albums until I moved on to college.

It was one night at a nondescript party somewhere in Isla Vista. I saw Wifey, and for some reason at one moment he was the only person I knew there. This was at a time when we didn’t like each other and would rather have had a testicle removed by an ice cream scooper than deal with one another. He was listening to his discman, so I went up to him snidely and asked what he was listening to.

“Oh you wouldn’t know them,” he countered just as snidely.

“Oh yeah? Just tell me.”

“Fine. Cibo Matto.”

“Oh my god. Cibo Matto? I love them!!”

And I start doing the breakdown to the song “BBQ”.

That was the first time we really bonded and could tolerate one another. And we became the bestest of friends.

So it really was appropriate that I went to see Cibo Matto at the Hollywood Bowl with him on Sunday. They were part of a program put together by KCRW called “Big in Japan” headlined by Yellow Magic Orchestra and also featuring Buffalo Daughter, Towa Tei, kabuki and taiko drum performances. Take a minute and see what is wrong about the last sentence.

If you answered “none of them were actually big in Japan,” then you win.

But it was a good show. The traditional performances were nice. Buffalo Daughter was good. Towa Tei did a great job keep a continuity throughout the show.

And Cibo Matto. OH Cibo Matto. They started out with “Beef Jerky” and transitioned to “Sugar Water”. Like heaven. Then some “Spoon” and “Sci Fi Wasabi” which, I don’t care what anyone says is awful live. Then a new song that was groovin. Then the drum beats. “SHUT UP AND EAT!!!!! TOO BAD NO BON APPETIT!!! SHUT UP AND EAT!!! YOU KNOW MY LOVE IS SWEET!” And I was in heaven for three minutes.

The painfully short set ended with “Know Your Chicken”, but I can now say I finally saw Cibo Matto live.

Now the bad part of watching a show entitled “Big in Japan” at a place like the Hollywood Bowl is being around a bunch of people there for a “cultural experience.” These are the people that take things way too seriously and have no critical abilities in their own head, so if KCRW says it’s good then it must be good.

While Yellow Magic Orchestra were playing, Wifey and I were nonplussed and we expressed that to one another. We weren’t screaming at all. Just talking just a smidge over a whisper. But this raving cunt in front of us snapped at us! “Can you guy shut up please?”

Shock! It’s a fucking concert not a damned library!

So we just got up and left.

But I did get to see Cibo Matto live, and really wasn’t that all that mattered?