Thursday, February 27, 2014

Doom comes to Kuala Lumpur 2.25.2014

Few underground musical scenes are thriving in Malaysia right now like crust punk; you can't throw a stone at a local gig without hitting someone in a "Dis", d-beat, or Tragedy-core band. So when crust legends Doom announced a Kuala Lumpur stop on their Asia/Pacific tour, the response was huge. Nearly 400 people showed up, some flying in from as far as the island of Borneo, and many hopping on a bus to Singapore the next morning to see the band play there as well.

The gig was held at the under-utilized Black Box space in the swanky upscale Publika mall. It was an odd venue to host anarcho crusties; most of these kinds of gigs take place at Rumah Api, a punk squat/performance space that's run by members of the band Sarjan Hassan and serves as the beating, bleeding heart of Malaysia's DIY scene. But seeing the sheer number of people who descended upon Black Box that night, it was clear the show's organizers made the right call. Security guards watched the congregated punks with bemusement, while the mall's usual posh clientele avoided the area all together.

D-beat upstarts Hellexist whipped the audience up into a frenzy, and were treated like hometown heroes (they actually come from Malaysia's southern-most city Johor Bahru) - due in no small part to their similarity to the night's headliner. Seeing a couple hundred kids throw themselves around for a band that was opening sparsely attended local show only a few weeks ago was both surprising and heartening. Clearly Hellexist just needed a bigger platform to prove themselves.
The audience was strand-offish over KL's own Blood Legion - their workman-like style of death metal seemingly at odds with the majority of the punk kids in attendance. But that reticence was eventually worn away by the band's goofball charm and a cover of Death's "Zombie Ritual". And they said punks and heshers can't get along (though any single member of Doom has more hair than Blood Legion's guitarist, bassist, and singer combined, it has to be said).

The crowd's excitement for Doom was obvious when tour shirts sold out before the band even soundchecked; it became increasingly more so as the crowd exploded during the first notes of "Fear of the Future". The pit raged from front to back, the response bigger than even Sick of it All got when they played this same space last year (it should be noted that SOIA tickets cost almost three times as much, which probably served to keep the wilder element of the audience out). Young women used the chaos as an excuse to gleefully shove their male counterparts. The band themselves seemed to have mixed feelings as the flying bodies flew with abandon over the front of the stage. "Take it easy," vocalist Denis Boardman entreated early on in the set. "Enjoy yourselves, but take it easy." [Did it cause anyone to actually take it easy? It did not.]

The sound was an indistinguishable blur of rumbling guitars and caveman drumming - so, an accurate recreation of Doom's records (seriously, this is the only band that makes Discharge sound sophisticated). Meanwhile, the pillars of KL's metal and hardcore scene - members of Tools of the Trade, Sarjan Hassan, and Atomicdeath among them - watched reverentially from behind the backline, drinking in every distorted note and anti-religious screed. Stage banter was sparing, but Dennis took good natured aim at kids who were too punk to take off their jackets despite the oppressive heat (for anyone unfamiliar with the climate in South East Asia: Run the hot water in your shower til your bathroom mirror fogs, then imagine you're the mirror).

Even a full hour of Doom wasn't enough to satisfy the audience - such is the dearth of touring bands that pass through Malaysia. In their extensive encore, the band threw in a bludgeoning cover of "Symptom of the Universe", to the delight of this aging hesher. Of course, no song was appreciated more than the anti-authoritarian anthem "Police Bastard" (with Denis cribbing NWA for his intro - "fuck the police coming straight for the underground" - points!). When the last song had finished, the band was in danger of being swarmed by kids looking to take photos with them; they wisely left the stage before getting mobbed, and those looking to update their Facebook profiles settled for taking selfies in front of the ostentatious backdrop.


Fear the Future
Bury the Debt
Lost the Fight
Life Lock
Reasonable Force
Dig Your Grave
Trash Breeds Trash
A Dream Come True
Suffer in Silence
Pro-life Control
Open Mind Surgery
Stripped, Whipped, & Crucified
Human Meat
War Crimes
Police Bastard
Natural Abuse
Nazi Die
Symptom of the Universe
Means to an End

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