Shonen Knife and Teenwolf – Artworks on Waiheke: March 6, 2024

Exuberance. Joyous energy. Pounding rhythms. Smiles from the stage connecting with smiles in the crowd, That’s Shonen Knife, unleashed in the cosy space of Artworks Theatre on Waiheke. A dose of deliciously good tunes in a world too beset with angst and gloom.

But first its Teen Wolf..

Teen Wolf

Back together after 15 years and away from their K’ Road haunts, Teen Wolf are Brad TeenwolfFafejta (Creme Jean) Vincent Lum (Vincent H.L.) and Chelsea Nikkel (Princess Chelsea). With crashing percussive rhythms they immediately connect with the crowd.

Fafeita breaks a string in Marry Me, their first song, swaps to bass and asks Jonathan Bree in the audience be Mr fix-it. Returns seamlessly to a full-bodied performance, stomping around the stage, playing bass, howling out lyrics. Meantime Nikkel’s offering the occasional yell, all fingers at work on the keys, cascades of sound filling out every moment. All the while, Lum’s drumming’s offers precision backfilling.

There’s an intensity and connectedness in a strong three-piece band and this one still has the glue binding it together. In a shirt befitting Jimmy Buffet, Fafeita offers a high-octane performance swapping between guitar and bass. Nikkel’s smile speaks to the sheer enjoyment of being back in this band and on her home turf on Waiheke. “We all lived in West Auckland back then. But this is what music’s about- hanging out with your friends. We all have our own projects now”.

TeenwolfThey roam across various styles. In Werewolf, Fafeita sings of going down to the water and slowly repeats ‘lets, let’s let’s’ till it folds into one final scream. A punk Van Morrison possessed and on steroids. Nikkel kneels to the floor, playing the keys as if her hands were reaching to a top shelf almost out of reach. The intensity is joyful.

The last song has no words. Could be a TV theme. A hint of the Allman Brothers perhaps. I’m neither on K Rd nor Waiheke but Macon Georgia from a moment.

What an opening act. A friend turns to me saying “that was a completely unexpected sonic encounter”.

Shonen Knife

The headliners are quickly out. Power trio #2 for tonight. Bright attire. Long hair flying. Synchronous arm movements swirl from sisters Naoko and Atsuko Yamano up front on Shonen Knifeguitar and bass. It’s like some pop-punk aerobics class they’ve been cooking up since 1981 all the way from Osaka. At the back Risa Kawano on drums is more hair and smiles.

Second song into the set is Banana Chips. Really? Is this a parody of the genre? No, just happy songs that rejoice in celebrating the ordinary pleasures of life it seems. No big themes here or the snarl of the punk genre they nod to. Shorty, snappy songs. A food-loving, girls-just-wanna-have-fun version of Beach Boys’ pop meeting the racket and rhythm of the Ramones. Sounds as delicious as the food they sing about. A good times reinvention of punk banishing the snarl. Just what we need for these times.


Songs like Sweet Candy Power ooze with syrup. We’re kids in a candy store. No matter we only pick up on occasional lyrics. It’s the spectacle of it all. Risa on drums, thrashing her way to ecstasy grinning behind a curtain of hair. A whirling dervish who manages to sing while whipping up a storm with her sticks.

Nothing profound. Its unself-conscious wide-eyed joyousness. When else have we heard songs as full of childlike simplicity yet delivered with benign ferocity?

Cycling is Fun. Now here’s a number for the policy revisionists in Parliament. Nice Day. Shonen Knife are on our side tonight.

Its all a tonic for these times. Has there been a happier band to occupy this stage? With this marvellous intensity, no wonder its soon encore time and they are back in tour T-shirts with two more shots of pogo-producing pop. The delights continue till the last song: a cover of The Carpenters Top of the World.

We leave at that altitude, buoyed by this warm incredulously energetic group. See them elsewhere if you can. You’ll be happier for it.,

Robin Kearns

Click on any image to view a photo gallery by Brenna Jo Gotje:

Shonen Knife:


Teenwolf Setlist:

Marry Me

Papa L

Bloxx War

King of Beast



Ice Reign


80s TV

Shonen Knife Setlist:


Banana Chips

Twist Barbie

Pop Tune

Concrete Animals

Ramen Rock

Cycling is fun


Mujinto Rock

Nice Day

Afternoon Tea

Bad luck song

Sweet Candy Power


Jump into the New World

Buttercup (I’m a super girl)

Antonio Baka Guy

Rading on the Rocket


Sushi Bar Song

Top of the World (Carpenters cover)