Cibo Matto - Crescent Ballroom - 2/21/14 (VIDEO)

Cibo Matto performs on Friday at Crescent Ballroom.
Cibo Matto performs on Friday at Crescent Ballroom.
Photos by Mike Durham

Cibo Matto Crescent Ballroom 2/21/14

It's been a minute since the NYC-based band, whose name means "crazy food" in Italian has graced a Valley stage. And by a minute, we mean close to 15 years. Last night, supporting their first release in about that same amount of time, Cibo Matto took over Crescent Ballroom to play some old favorites and bust out some new tunes from their recent full-length, Hotel Valentine -- aptly released on the annual day of all things ooey-gooey, February 14. Last night's lineup featured co-founders Yuka Honda and Mito Hatori, along with drummer Yuko Araki, who came on board in 2011, and bassist Jared Samuels. The latter two made their onstage appearance during the fourth song.

As a duo, they kicked it off with "Sugar Water," the hypnotic, mellow-but-persistent dance-y track that was one of the popular tracks from 1996's Viva! La Woman, their first offering that brought a slew of flies to their musical honey. The show's start seemed a little slow, not in a way that left you wondering what you were in store for but more like the band locking into both the environment and sound levels.

It definitely snapped into place shortly after and the energy built throughout the night. The crowd was definitely along for the ride -- the very full room was rapt till the final moment, joining in with some singing at every chance and definitely rolling with the fused-up trip hop grooves as they ranged from slow and sweet to trippy synth-y to hip-hop bounce, often a blend of all that and that ubiquitous bag of chips.

Yuka Honda and Miho Hatori in mid-air.
Yuka Honda and Miho Hatori in mid-air.

They followed the opener with another oldie, "Beef Jerky," and everyone went a little happy-crazy. Yuka started bouncing around in her area, surrounded by her keyboards and laptop for all those programmed enhancements while Mito and the crowd enjoyed uniting on the funny chorus of "Who cares? I don't care! A horse's ass is better than yours."

Another old one followed, "Le Pain Perdu," before they started to show off some of what Hotel Valentine is all about. "Check In" was the first new one, started off by Yuka and Mito before the other two members assumed their spots for the rest of the night.

Already flowing with an inherent dance beat, the song went to a new level when the live drums and bass kicked in -- adding a sharpness to the song's sweet notes. Yuko Araki is a fire-y drummer who looks like she's having a pretty damn good time. The bass added a wet snap and thickness to the whole sound and the whole scene got a little zestier.

Another highlight was "Moonchild." Mito's sweet and ethereal vocals were lulling and soft with power and soul. "MFN" from Hotel Valentine was another powerhouse -- subtly relentless and pretty before an undeniable aggression permeated when Hatori's rap kicked in.

Miho Hatori shooting lasers
Miho Hatori shooting lasers

After ending with "Tenth Floor Ghost Girl," they came out for some encores -- "Housekeeping" and the old super-favorite, "Birthday Cake" -- which was made even more celebratory when they brought the drummer a candlelit cake for her own birthday. That song was nothing but fun. They cranked up the volume, got crazy with the dancing and were pretty fucking exuberant with the sassy rap, leaving a lot of folks looking pretty satisfied.

Set List:

Sugar Water Beef Jerky Le Pain Perdu Check In Spoon Mfn Moonchild Sci-Fi Wasabi Tenth Floor Ghost Girl Empty Pool Deja Vu Working for Vacation Housekeeping (encore) Birthday Cake (encore)

Critics Notebook:

Last Night: Cibo Matto at Crescent Ballroom.

Personal bias: Like 'em, seen 'em before, was excited to see them again.

The Crowd: Lots of serious fans of various ages but the 35+ crowd definitely sent some representatives.Also quite a few people in my proximity who apparently came to just stand around and shout to the rest of their crew -- during the show.

Overheard in the Crowd: "I ate three bagels. THREE BAGELS. I was pretty sure I wasn't making it out tonight, then I had some shots and it's Cibo Matto, so here the fuck I am." Thanks for all you do, bagel dude.

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Crescent Ballroom

308 N. 2nd Ave.
Phoenix, AZ 85003


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