Shinobi Ninja At The Viper Room, Sunday November 12th 2017
Shinobi Ninja are a colorful bunch, the NYC band can electrify the room with a high-energy show for a good 40 minutes, with barely a moment to take their breath. There are a lot on stage too, six of them, including two guitarists and two singers, a bassist, a turntable master/DJ, a drummer, and as soon as they start, you feel transported in the middle of a twister of sounds.
I remember interviewing them about 6 years ago, after a memorable performance at the Roxy, and if Iman has reviewed many of their shows in New York, the Ninjas have been quite rare on the West coast. They corrected this on Sunday night, as the band from Brooklyn ruled the Viper Room till the late hours, and the most surprising thing about their high energy performance, is that I was not even able to tell what genre they were after 40 minutes of show. If Dave Doobie Aaron/Duke Sims and Baby G. led the infectious dance and crazy tempo as very efficient and confident M.C.s, their songs variously mixed hip hop, rap, reggae, punk rock and even (and mostly) heavy metal.
Rap metal? But it was much more complex than this, Shinobi Ninja have twisted the genres a bit like Fishbone did it before, ignoring the rules or playing with them. The result is sometimes puzzling but always fun and the visuals are as chaotic as their constant hurricane of sounds blending and mixing with each other… Baby G, who sings and shouts with a commanding voice, shakes her braids, screams at the top of her lungs with a overflowing passion all over the songs, while Dave Aaron is often doing the same thing (minus the braids) at the same time. Meanwhile twins Maniac Mike on guitar and Terminator Dave on drums, DJ Axis Powers on Turntables and Alien Lex on bass destroy the place with demonic guitar riffs straight from Black Sabbath (Baby G was wearing a ‘Listen to Ozzy’ shirt), followed by a reggae-ish melody intercepted by a series of hip hop delivered lines. The result is as eclectic and chaotic as you can imagine, more like a mini festival, layered to the maximum and destined to make you loose your mind if you ever decide to try following their messy game. You may like it, or hate it – if you are into boring straightforward pop music – but you can’t stop watching as the spectacle is as infectious as a punk circus ready to explode at your face at any minute. People in the room were incessantly invited to participate to the show and the small venue got on fire, especially during their series of impressively synchronized jumps.
The band has released a few albums over the years and their latest in date, ‘Bless Up’, just released this year, did provide a lot of cuts for the setlist of the night (‘Bang Bang’, ‘Subcon’, ‘Funday’, ‘Brooklyn Craze’). Seeing them live looks like a very organic process, as if their multi-dimensional music was becoming alive in front of our eyes,.. they truly create a monster, a creature that takes another shape and another direction at each song, a monster which has as many layers as Dave Doobie Aaron had shirts on – he removed them one by one during the show until he was bare chested, and he continued his punk rock show equally fueled by the ferocious partner in crime Baby G.
Shinobi Ninja is a punk-rock-metal-hip-hop band but they could simply be called a pop band because they got very popular among the late-night crowd at the Viper Room! At the end, they are pretty unique and their ‘rock hood’ brings the Beastie Boys with KC and The Sunshine Band in mind at the same time, without forgetting this extra layer of metal riffs by Maniac Mike. And the best part of this? Their insatiable love for music is indissociable from their infectious enthusiasm for performance.
More pictures here.