By Dave Pehling

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — A band whose literally incendiary live show has earned them a reputation as one of the can’t miss acts of the surf-punk underground, masked instrumental outfit Daikaiju returns to San Francisco Wednesday when it tops a three-band bill at the Knockout.

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Founded in Huntsville, Alabama, in 1999, the group took its name from the Japanese word for “large strange beast” (a reference to the Japanese monster movies like Godzilla and Gamera that the band’s music was inspired by).  Keeping their identities hidden by using pseudonyms and performing with kabuki masks obscuring their faces, the members of the band quickly developed a loyal following in the Southeast with their kinetic live show and knotty, complex style of surf instrumentals.

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The group would release several EPs and tour Europe extensively before finally issuing its self-titled proper debut in 2005 that earned Daikaiju rave reviews and comparisons to similarly conceptual Alabama-based ’90s sci-fi surf rockers Man or Astroman? (some have even wondered if former members of that band were involved in the masked group). While not the most prolific recording ensemble — it would be another five years before they would release a follow-up effort, Phase 2 in 2010 — the group traveled relentlessly, playing to audiences throughout the Far East and across the U.S.

Onstage, the band has made a reputation for the explosive, high-energy stage performances that often climax with the members moving the party out into the streets outside of venues and igniting their instruments with lighter fluid. Earlier this year, the group issued a new digital single for the song “Deluxe Electric Ninja Mistress.” For this return visit to San Francisco, the quartet of guitarists Secret-Man and Rock-Man, bassist Pulse-Man and drummer Blast-Man will be joined at this Depth Charge Presents show at the Knockout in the Mission by dramatic surf-inspired SF band Morrissey’s C–k and Morricone-meets-Dick-Dale San Francisco-based surf outfit Hangtown with rare garage and surf 45 spun by DJs Denepa Panky and El Wero between bands.

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Wednesday, Sept. 11, 9 p.m. $10
The Knockout