Ok, year 2010 and the beginning of this 2011 have not been that prolific for Monkeyrockworld. Without getting into too many details, I just would like to say that having to deal with an Asian university flamboyant requirements and trying to jet start a freelance writing career, without counting house and “da wifey” administration, is not the ideal situation to sit down and write. I also didn’t travel that much, in the first place, although yes, I do have many reports about Sri Lanka and my return to China still to pen down. Anyways, what I care to write now is about something I got back in. I did not think this would happen, but eventually, it did: I’m back into the music scene again. It seems I cannot get rid of this passion of mine; for it is too strong to be neglected… so let it be. I did not think also that an apparently sleepy place like Penang could hide so much underground talent… I knew Malaysia was full of hardcore, metal and punk, but all those kids seemed like hidden under rocks until three weeks ago more or less, when I shot a few emails here and there resulting in fast ties with the cream of the crop of East Asian punk, some metal and hardcore scenes.
This also resulted in a quick and crucial acquaintance with the guys in WEOT SKAM, Penang’s longest running thrashcore band. And here I am after a few words over some iced lemon tea and roti canai, being the lead shredder in the band: yesterday I played my first ever show in Asia, and first show in almost 4 years. This is quite an event that has to be documented with a show review. I decided that, as long as I will be involved in this kind of music in Asia, I will dedicate ample space to it on Monkeyrockworld. For two reasons: MonkeyROCKworld… but so far, there has not been a lot of ROCK, excluding many great, beautiful ancient stones I visited in the greater Asian region. And second, because to my knowledge, there is NO WEBSITE written by a white guy in Asia documenting its endeavors in the exciting, booming alternative music scene. So, as a motivation booster and a plan for personal research and desire to bring great news to the music world, here I come to fill a void… Asian bands, if you are reading this thanks to the power of the SEO science, please get in touch.
SCUM FUCT LABOUR, May 1st 2011 @ Soundmaker, Penang – Gig Review
Featuring: Deng Deng etc. (KL), WEOT SKAM (Penang), Hui Si Di Dai (Penang), Nonserviam (Penang), Angkara (Kulim)
First of all, let me tell you, Penang has a rock venue called Soundmaker, situated on the first floor of a quite anonymous building along Pengkalan Weld, Jetty area. Keep the Jetty to your left, walk for about 400 meters and look on your right on the opposite side of the road: when you see the poster of a black bomb on a yellow background, oh yes, that is where you gotta climb up. This place is amazing and remembers me of a more professional squat, in the sense that the atmosphere is totally DIY/underground, but the show room is big, and the stage pretty professional, with PA and everything.
First on stage were 等等etc. or better Deng Deng Etc. from KL, Soundscape recording artists. Three strait-chinese guys who, despite a not so good turnout, delivered one hell of a gig. Churning out a blend of different influences from their amps, they came out as a prehistorically aggressive version of “Bleach” era Nirvana, spazzed out by total grindcore outbursts of screaming rage, and sophisticated jazzy parts. Deng Deng etc. really surprised me because they definitely had a sound of their own, and it was a shame they had to open, especially being the out of town band.
Second, yours truly and WEOT SKAM hit the stage. It’s not a good habit to rave about your own band, so I’d just cut it short saying that according to Kit Yeng who does not understand anything about hardcore punk yet, we were perfect because the crowd had a hell of a good time. Greatest moments: me playing guitar using the top of some kids’ heads, and the drummer losing the beat and start jumping all over the drum set. It just felt good to be able to release some hate on stage after 4 years, and I felt like I popped some cherry at the end of it. Wow. Next month we’ll be supporting Earache’s own Wormrot so I guess things are profiling high for the band.
Hui Si Di Dai took the stage as the third band: this is Cheong’s band, the guy behind the whole Soundmaker thing. This band is a powerful experimental rock combo, with tight drumming, and jazzy guitar parts… the two songs they played tonight were graced by the stage presence of another tattooed Chinese singer, extra drums the real singer was strumming like crazy, and good vibes. They probably got off stage way too early, but definitely left the crowd wanting for more.
Next there was probably someone else but I’m sorry, I had to go downstairs to eat something and have a drink. The thing is, in this Malaysian shows the bands play for a very short time, sometimes less than 20 minutes. If this feature keeps the variety high and the suck-balls level low, it is definitely easy to miss a band. So when I got back in, Nonserviam were playing. They feature WEOT SKAM’s bassist Leon on vocals and are a Chinese death metal band deeply rooted into the Scandinavian sound. You could see and hear how they sport In Flames t-shirts and riffs… Leon is a great front man, tall and really comfortable in dominating the stage and the front rows of rabid kids grasping his arms and legs at each of his massive growls. Without being too extreme, Nonserviam are a classy death metal band able to blend melodic and powerful riffs with a more lethal execution of crunching fast tempos. I may say tough, the only criticism I can appoint is that besides Leon, the other band members get too busy with their instruments, and forget they are actually facing a crowd. I’m sure these young chaps will improve this aspect overtime. Their musicianship, on the other hand, is great and able to deliver some great songs which can be instant classics. Definitely, one of the best bands of the night. Check out their official video:
Last were Angkara from Kulim, a small township at the edge of the forest of Kedah state. Man, if they were not Malays and I closed my eyes, here it is Mob47 performing in front of me!! Total classic crust/d-beat as it can be played by a bunch of Finnish thugs. They had the looks, with those spiked jackets all plastered with patches of bands such as Krighshot, Tragedy, Mob47, Wolfbrigade and so on, and they had the crusty skills and speed, but I must say, a little bit more of originality would do Angkara a lot of good. Do not misunderstand me: they perfectly do what they want to do, but I think they have to pass the idolatry phase, and move on to craft a sound more of their own. If they did that, oh my!
All in all, the evening was quite fantastic and gave me infinite happiness. Not only because I got back on stage again, but especially because it was cool to be in one place where people are actually enjoying the local bands, and do not strike any stupid pose or act like they’ve seen it all before. This was the biggest problem in Europe, let me tell you. The reason why I decided to get back into this, and here in Asia, is simply because here there is still a lot of energy, involvement, and excitement. I guess I am just lucky because it appears this is the place to be for punk, rock and metal, these days and age.
So keep tuned and sorry to the other bands for the lack of pictures, but our SD card decided to play a delayed April’s Fool game and ate up half of them leaving us with the WEOT SKAM pictures only… Well, it will be for the next time…