Local Wire

Melt Banana @ Hollywood Alley

Robert "Fun Bobby" Birmingham was a fixture behind the bar at Hollywood Alley for over a decade — a talkative, friendly dude with a serious musical yen for the bonkers rock music of Japanese rockers Melt Banana. He's been booking the band for over 16 years — at places like Hollywood Alley and in Portland, where he now resides. "They are my favorite band to host, just because their live shows are like nobody else's," Birmingham says. "I can try to explain [to people have never seen them], but they're just too much." Birmingham hosts a special performance by the art punks on his traditional Thanksgiving Eve show at Hollywood Alley, excited to reconnect with friends and induct new converts to the church of Melt Banana. Birmingham has had plenty of experiences with the group, recalling one time that he booked the band with a couple of scantily clad go-go dancers. "Ichirou Agata [guitarist] asked me, 'Fun Bobby, will I be able to play guitar?' I said, 'I hope so,' then I realized he meant he would be distracted," Birmingham laughs. Here's hoping that this homecoming gig for Birmingham will provide new stories for his Melt Banana super-fan file.

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Jason P. Woodbury is a music and pop-culture writer based in Phoenix. He is a regular contributor to the music blog Aquarium Drunkard and co-host of the Transmissions podcast.