This Friday, February 29th @ Safari Sam’s with 400 Blows & Donita Sparks
Unlike Brazilian Girls and the Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Ninja Academy are actual ninja. Skulking in half-shadows, their various masked members stand as still as stone before unleashing a furious assault of ass-kicking, textured hard rock. Ninja Academy stuns, surprises, and makes deadly love to your eardrums with a bevy of technical mastery, bizarre musical weapons, honor, and grace.
A duo on bass and drum-kit, Indo Ninja and Outdo Ninja respectively, start off the show, playing music with a clean, Slint-like vibe of long and beautiful song scapes that occasionally burst into aggressive slaughter. We caught their last show at Malibu Inn last fall, shortly before the clan disappeared back into the shadows for a few months, no doubt hanging from eaves and strengthening their iron bodies for a bloody return.
That time has now arrived with their first live show of 2008 this Friday at Safari Sam’s, where they’ll be playing with the renowned 400 Blows and Donita Sparks of L7 fame. Thrill to Indo Ninja’s dexterous command of his bass, while Outdo Ninja hypnotizes you. Outdo is one of the most engaging, badass drummers I’ve ever seen perform, it is hard to take your eyes off of his hard-pounding, with lush flurries of hammering. These ninjas skills know no match!
A few surprises leapt from the ether on the night we last saw the Academy, including the lovely Gongis Khan, who knelt silently, almost ornamentally, in time throwing off this passive disguise to batter her Taiko drum (a big-ass Japanese drum) with the same ferocity and precision as member Outdo shows while bashing his modern kit. Their shows are a treat for the ears and eyes, with theater and mystery thrown into the mix. About halfway through, another statue unfroze in the darkness and an elusive guitar whiz named Shogun began his six-string rampage. This axeman, who resembles Mortal Kombat’s Rayden, went buck in his tabi boots, massacring a set of pedals and effects that might leave Lee Renaldo jealous. A shrieking singer on the flank, Ninjamamalickum, bolstered the musically martial expertise with Ono-ish squeals, deliriously bringing the height of Ninja Academy’s gorgeous intensity to celestial spheres.
Ninja Academy’s players are incredibly skilled, their tunes simultaneously punk, dub, complex, and gorgeous, plus their shows are moody fun. They are hard-rockingly one of the best live bands I’ve seen in a small club in L.A. Check them out this Friday at Safari Sam’s. (Photos by Rich Abagon)