Tuesday, March 23, 2010


Never believe the reviews! Especially those excerpted for puffs on the promotional flyers.

Last Friday I was tempted to check out visiting New York band Secret Machines playing at Yugong Yishan. Their publicity had compared them to early Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, and The Who. Wow!

Of course, I was a tad sceptical. I mean, if they've got anything of the quality of those great bands, why are they so obscure? Apparently they've been around for 10 years or so - but, really, who's heard of them??

And you'd think, wouldn't you, that if that's really their sound, the folks at YGYS would try to get a local band with a similar flavour - like Bad Apples or Wu & The Side Effects - to open for them, rather than the steadily degenerating RandomK(e) (less angry guitar and more lyrics is really not a formula that works for Richard, because the lad can't sing) and the excruciating Gia (her new band, Girl Kill Girl, is actually OK... apart from her: the self-important pop tart's "singing" still sounds like a cat in distress).

But, of course, it was all just empty music press hyperbole. Drummer Josh Garza has a pretty energetic style, but he doesn't set about his kit with quite the manic abandon of Keith Moon. That's about the only thing about them even vaguely reminiscent of The Who. There is nothing at all about them reminiscent of the other great '60s bands cited. They reminded me more of 'noise' bands like.... well, Nine Inch Nails, maybe (decent band, but not my cup of tea). Reasonable musicianship, but nothing very engaging about the songs - and the frontman has a dreadful voice. Oh yes, now I understand the decade of obscurity. People were leaving in droves by half-way through the set. I decided to join them.

The curse of Yugong Yishan strikes again! After two-and-a-half years of semi-regular attendance there, I've still hardly seen a gig that didn't disappoint (though usually because the acoustics are shite or the drinks are poisonous or the crowd are obnoxious, rather than because the bands suck).

By one of those odd quirks of fate, I'd been at Yugong the night before as well, to sample a token half-hour or so of one of those interminable, self-indulgent Lonely China Day sets. Even half an hour proved a bit of a slog. I realise the last few times I've seen them, it's been the busy back-projected video images that have made the show modestly diverting; without these, the music is nothing but a turgid morass of undirected experimentalism. I never liked them much even when they were "new and fresh"; with a few years' experience and moderate success under their belts, they've just got even more up themselves, and even less interesting.

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