A little bit of rock, a little bit of dangdutI haven’t been to many rock concerts but I kinda have an idea how they work: band plays vigorous music, audience participate with flailing limbs and/or enthusiastic head nodding.
So when A. and I walked into the auditorium last weekend to the sight of a band playing fervent head-thumping music, and an audience sitting primly in their seats, I was mightily confused. And then I laughed, “Is this typical Malaysian behaviour or what?”
The night was the finale of the Lord of the Bands competition where local underground bands from around the state compete for the dubious title that conjures up memories of an Irish dude doing high-kicks.
You had the choice of sitting in three areas: the bleachers in the back, plastic chairs in the middle, and what should have been the moshpit, except what you had instead were teenagers sitting rather primly on the floor. I always go for comfort so I suggested that we sit on the bleachers where we could at least stretch our legs. The cool kids always sit in the back anyway.
I didn’t expect to meet anyone I knew that night so I was surprised when a greasy-looking guy with long hair reached over and exclaimed, “Cayce!”
I was embarrassed because I couldn’t remember who this person was. It turns out that he had put on some pounds and grew out his hair, for whatever reason I do not know because it was simply not a good look on him. I’m not exactly fond of this guy and probably vice versa but whenever we see each other, we make pretend nice all in the name of Work Relations Harmony. Actually, he’s not so bad compared to his egotistical dum-dum colleagues that I’ve come across but I can only say that because I’ve never have to deal with him.
Anyway, he introduced us to his friends: another long-haired yet skinny guy and a more wholesome-looking guy with a nice smile. And then, Mr. Greasy left, citing that he was only here because his friends dragged him. Wholesome guy was much friendlier than Long-haired dude so we struck up a conversation that led to this:
“You know, I gave up everything for my band! My job, my girlfriend, my family, EVERYTHING!”
“Aahh… So what are you doing now?”
“Nothing. My band broke up.”
* * * * * *
It turned out that the audience would dance if they wanted to. The second band fared much better when they had SIX! people standing at the pretend moshpit and kicking their legs. There were about two hundred folks in the audience so you’re talking about three percent actively participating. It was quite exciting.
Third band must have wowed the audience because half of the pretend moshpit stood up and did their headbang thing. A. reckons that the Kuching bands get a lot more support than the other out-station bands because the kids were more familiar with the music. I still think it’s rather unfair because good music is good music, no matter where the band is from.
There wasn’t much good music that night.
I admit that it’s not my kind of music. There was this one band that was a poor imitation of an American band (name slips my mind – the one with the Asian dude and there’s a lot of screaming involved). No one got up for them.
I rather liked the band which drew inspiration from Weezer. Even the musicians were charmingly geeky with their emo black glasses and suspenders. They were a local band so they got some good support.
There was one band that got the most support (for a competing band) and I felt it was well-deserved because they didn’t sound like any other band that I’m familiar with. It was a little bit of rock and a little bit of dangdut. Too cute!
The band that I disliked the most turned out to be the opening act for Disagree (an established, popular band based in KL). I guess they were pure heavy metal because they only had three types of lyrics in the too-many songs they played:
“AAAAAAAAARRRRGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!” (deep monotone)
“SHUUUUUUUUUT UPPPPPPPPP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” (they must have read my mind)
Oh, the crowd just went crazy. They loved it. There was a conga line! Wholesome guy kept asking me eagerly, “Do you like it? Do you like it?” You’d think the pained look on my face would need no questions.
A. was very tickled that after every song played, YEAAAARRGGGHH!!! Guy would pipe up in a tiny voice, “Thank you!” They were good performers, I give them that.
Disagree was a solid act and I enjoyed watching them perform. But by then, it was past 11 and I must practically be an old lady because I was yawning up a storm. After an interlude, they announced the winners and the losers, yada yada.. I don’t remember who won, sorry.
We bid farewell to Wholesome guy and Long-haired dude and weaved our way through the now hyped-up crowd.
I remember thinking to myself then, “This is strange. I don’t smell pot”, as I walked past RELA (Malaysian volunteer corp).
Just another wholesome night in Kuching.