Friday, February 25, 2011

Jia you, AIS!!

I'm away down in Malaysia this week.

As it happens, I had other reasons for being here (apart from escaping Beijing - although that was a BIG one), but it was serendipitous timing that I managed to get down here for the Grand Final of the 2010 Global Battle of the Bands  -  in which Beijing's very own The Amazing Insurance Salesmen are representing China.

I had worried that I was going to be their only fan here; but I think their even bigger fan Ruby is going to jeopardise her finances and her job by coming down for the weekend.  Jean-Seb has promised to reserve us some tickets, so I guess we'll both be down the front trying to teach all the local kids to yell 牛屄 at the right time.

The contest will take place tomorrow night, Saturday 26th February, allegedly running from 7ish until LATE (well, there are a lot of bands to get through!) at a club called KL Live, which is on the 1st Floor of the Life Centre at 20 Jalan Sultan Ismail, 50250 Kuala Lumpur.

The following bands and countries are scheduled to be taking part:

Brazil                  THE RIVER RAID
Jamaica               DUBTONIC KRU
South Africa        SONSTEEK
Morocco              NOPE
Norway               VOODOO VANITY
England               SCARLLETTA
Belgium               EXPERIENCED
Germany             SHENANIGANZ
Romania             WHITE WALLS
Moldova              ExNN
Ukraine               MAGUA
Russia                 SALVADOR
Nepal                 JINDABAAD
Thailand             LUMINASION
Indonesia           STRANGERS
Australia            THE TILLEGRA DAMNED

I can't help feeling that Norway have the best band name (and Morocco a close second); but, being Norwegian, they'll have ludicrous facial hair and will probably be turning out turgid Viking dirge metal, and so will not be among the leading contenders.  The Germans have the worst name: they sound as if they're going to be either hip-hop or a boy band; perhaps a hip-hop boy band - they're NOT going to be getting my vote!

I gather there is also to be a Malaysian entrant, yet to be selected.  I imagine that means there will have been a local final going on this week.  I couldn't find out where when I was pre-cooking this post before my departure.  With a bit of luck, I will have located it, attended, and put a hex on the winners by the time you read this.

Best of luck to Jean-Sebastien, Maikel, and Mao Mao!  

Rip the place apart, boys!!


Anonymous said...

I remember seeing that post about AIS back in November and thinking pfffft amateur band, no time to watch.

I will dutifully watch all of your linked clips from now on, I really missed out.

All I can say is.... are you f*&cking kidding me! Anyone who bests that trio in Malaysia had either be off the charts good or the voting is open to teenage girls who make Sheniganz the runaway winner.

Can't remember the last time I was blown away by a musical performance the way I was while watching that clip. What they did with Caravan, sublime, and to also work in a little Ode to Joy and Minuet in G (thought I heard that as well) during the performance. Amazing.

Is there a link to an official band website and have they put out any CD's?

Also, would love to see photos and updates of what your doing in Malaysia.

Anonymous said...

A couple of drinks in tonight and I had to revisit the performance. It seems like the second half of the video they are working in a bunch of other stuff. I swear he is doing part of the Freebird solo at 5:15... wicked hard hammer ons and pull offs. I think I hear some Hendrix in there too but I can't place it. These guys are fan fucking tastic! Serious chops... all three of them.

Hope I can see them live at some point.

Froog said...

Well, really, HF! I would have hoped you'd have more respect for my recommendations by now!!

I'm glad you've finally caught up with AIS - better late than never!

Alas, the boys did not prevail in KL this weekend. I never thought it was very likely, I'm afraid. Dazzling though they are in their musicianship, they're just not a terribly 'commercial' sort of band, and are always going to struggle in competition with less technically capable bands who can nevertheless manage to rock a big crowd. Also, to be frank, Jean-Seb's vocals are a bit of a weak point. I was of the view that the only way to really assert their pre-eminence over everybody else in an event like this was to do Caravan. This has become their regular set-closer here in Beijing, and it brings the house down. It's a little different every time - just a convenient framework on which to hang a lot of exuberant improvisations by each of the three of them in turn (I think the one on YouTube is relatively short; they have been known to spin it out to 8 or 10 minutes or more!). Instead, they chose to do a couple of regular length songs, just like everybody else; and it didn't give them enough latitude to distinguish themselves from everybody else.

J-S is a melancholy beggar at the best of times, and I think he's quite down that they didn't win it (or even make the top half of the frame, according to the judges - but the judging was, erm, eccentric, to say the least). I think they'll soon bounce back, though. They won a decent chunk of change as China champions, and hopefully some overseas tours should be in the offing (though I suspect Europe is more likely than America).

I will pass on your praise to them - I'm sure it will give them a lift.

They've already cut a demo EP, which I gather is set for launch in a couple of weeks. Watch out for more news of that here.

I'll probably be posting some pics and comments on the Malaysia final in a day or two. My friend Ruby, who was down there with me, is trying to put together a post on it tonight (incl. some of my photos) for the music blog.

I think that Caravan video is still the only one they've got posted online anywhere. They were being filmed at the last warm-up gig they played here in Beijing a couple of weeks back at the Yugong Yishan club; but I hear that was an unhappily misfiring show, due to sound issues (they couldn't hear themselves properly on the monitors - always some kind of screw-up with the sound at that place!); and I haven't seen the footage emerge yet. Perhaps it won't, if it doesn't seem to do them justice. However, J-S and the band have pages on MySpace, etc.:

That last one - the leading Chinese music website - has a number of their songs for you to listen to.

Anonymous said...

Ah, very cool, thanks for the links. Looking forward to the write up of the trip.

So who did win? Was Shenaniganz some weird hiphop/boyband hyrbid as was suspected?

Its funny listening to your description of AIS's technical skills but lack of commercial appeal and weak vocals. Sounds an awful lot how I often hear a certain canadian trio that I am a big fan of described as and that you devoted an entry to and used as a punching bag. ;)

Would love too see clips of the bands that bested this group. Can't imagine any of them doing something as mind blowing as their Caravan performance. The guitar playing speaks for itself but was so well rounded out with the other solos. MaoMao looked a bit like Chick Webb back there flailing away and sounded damn near close to him as well. The bass player, fantastic stuff on that 5 string. Takes a damn good bass guitarist to turn one into a musical instrument and not just a vehicle for a running line.

Looking forward to the EP.

Froog said...

Shenaniganz, despite their awful name, were actually not bad - a hard rock act (barely into their 20s, but they've been playing together since they were 14 or 15).

The winners were the very run-of-the-mill reggae band Dubtonic Kru - a choice which mystified just about everyone in the venue, I think.

I would have gone for Luminasian, the excellent hard rockers from Thailand or the creepily compelling and utterly sui generis Nope from Morocco.

Ruby's roundup is here.