Sunday, February 17, 2013

Kami Ada @ Rumah Api 2.17.2013

Despite proclamations that "Punk Time is Dead," local shows are still struggling to start on time. A small but vocal contingent are pushing for bands and promoters alike to get their act together. I guess I should be optimistic now that more and more people besides me are grumbling about it, but it will remain a problem as long as the bands themselves can't be bothered to show up til hours after the scheduled starting time. Honestly, the only way this gets fixed is if promoters enforced strict set times: Miss your spot, and you don't play. The argument that bands don't show up on time because the audience is also always late is cyclical and pointless; most people come late knowing in advance that the bands won't be playing on time. It's time to break the cycle.

This show brought with it a surprisingly large delegation of German punks, due to headliners Kami Ada. I started to wonder if they weren't in fact a hardcore band but a collective of crusty performing artists. [I asked my buddy Azri what was up with their Malay/Indonesian name; his response: "I think they're obsessed."] This was their second date on an extensive trek through South East Asia; I hope they're used to waiting around, because they'll be doing a lot of it.

Don't judge a book by its skinny jeans: openers ANTI ("All Night Total Intoxication," apparently) may look like they wandered out of a Hot Topic, but they come with a surprisingly unique voice in the local hardcore scene, melding pummeling slowcore with screamo and the occasional blackened riff. They've tightened up and ditched the (frankly ridiculous) blood they were sporting the last time I saw them, and are developing into an interesting band. I'm curious what form their upcoming EP will take (and if it'll come with space boots).
Add Pahang's Naked Weapon to the growing number of doomy, melodic hardcore bands that seem to be gaining ground in the local scene; with Gymnastic Skull Whistling's vocalist on deck, their music was a balancing act of low rumbling and high shrieking. Good stuff, and if they're around to break the monotony of future crust/grind gigs, then I look forward to seeing more of them. But I hope that seeing more of ANTI, Naked Weapon, and Kah Roe Shi doesn't mean an overload of similar bands is on the way; or if it does, that the bands that staked their claim early on are smart enough to keep moving to fresher ground.

I recently saw a British TV broadcast that came with the disclaimer, "This program contains violent content and flashing imagery." WHHIRR should come with a similar warning. They begin with an extended - and absolutely warranted - diatribe about "Rumah Api" time. "If the gig says 'starts at 5:00,' show up at 5:00. Don't show up at 8:00, motherfuckers," Emi spewed. I hope the invective was taken to heart by all the bands that showed up late (and besides WHHIRR and the headliner, I do mean "all"). The problem with having a set up as basic as WHHIRR's is that when one of the elements becomes the victim of Rumah Api's notoriously capricious sound - in this case, the vocals - it leaves a noticeable vacuum. Their momentum was derailed until the technical error was resolved, though a Weedeater cover went a long way in keeping people excited. And hell, that opening rant was awesome. Bad luck but good speech.

The last time I saw Jalan Sehala was when they opened for grIndonesians Proletar when the latter played Rumah Api a few months back. As a last minute show that attracted less than a dozen people, it was perhaps not the best context to see them. Like the Evil Dead movies, their chaotic fastcore is best experienced with a big, enthusiastic group; in particular, putting a crowd in front of their lovable ham of a frontman is like placing an open container of gasoline next to a flame, and as the madness unfolded I quickly decided it was in my best interest not to come between the two. An impressive set, gifted with some impressive back up dancing by members of WHHIRR during the last song.

For all the emotion they elicit, Kami Ada are remarkably tight; a credit to German efficiency, perhaps, or maybe just experience in playing overcrowded basement shows. Their diminutive vocalista did a pretty good Linda Blair impression as the band took aim at all the usual punk targets: Police brutality, racists, multi-national corporations... even border security gets singled out in a song and accompanying lecture. Considering they're a Berlin-based, multi-ethnic band with a Malay/Indonesian name and song titles in Spanish, if anyone would rage against divisions between nations, it would be them. [After my singling out by customs agents on the way to Singapore Deathfest, I can sympathize.] Kami Ada are so far to the left they make the Occupy movement look like the John Birch Society, and their whole set was one long raging screed for anyone with an axe to grind with capitalist excess and corporate greed. [Not me though. I'm sick of ramen and looking to sell out. Make me an offer, universe.] A great set, that could only have been better if the enthusiasm of the kids behind me hadn't pushed me off balance and face planted me during the last song. I think next gig I'm going to show up AND leave early.

At Dreams of Consciousness, you never have to wait for the metal to start. See for yourself.