Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Chaos in Rumah Api 2

With a dozen Russians, almost as many Australians, and twice as many Indonesians in attendance, Chaos in Rumah Api is officially an international fest.


Kontradiksi were one of a number of Indonesian bands that brought some fabulous hair and a contingent of their homeboys, who threw themselves into each other like they were getting paid by the bruise when they weren't off in an alley drinking some unsavoury form of liquor.

Friday's headliners Atomicdeath were one of the few Rumah Api regulars who played this year's fest.
I've lost count of how many times I've seen these guys. They've tightened up a lot over the years, though they're not without the occasional stumble. Still, as soon as they hit the opening notes of "Bestial Pain",
I remembered why I keep calling them the best band in Malaysia.

Nenett from XRDM was pretty fearless when it came to jumping into the pit and mixing it up with the boys. In general, the ladies in the scene seem to enjoy shoving their male counterparts every chance they get. [Also, the toddler on the far left was more popular with them than any of the bands that played that week-end. Try to act surprised.]

There was a recurring theme all week-end, with Shock & Awe devoting a whole issue to the "womyn" in the scene; I myself conducted an interview with a few for an upcoming podcast. I guess the general consensus is that Rumah Api goes out of its way to make women feel safe and comfortable. Considering how sketchy the actual location is, that's an accomplishment.

As Man and Emi promised, there were more outdoor food stalls this year. The heavy rain probably did more to curb people's fried food intake than any health concern. [I regret nothing.]

By far the most popular of the food stalls was Yuss Chrust's "Blastbeat Kuey Teow".
The apron with band pins was a nice touch.
Lowfat = high octane. The Japanese/Thai hybrid kicked all kinds of ass, thanks to their vocalist Sano, who generated enough energy to power a small city.

Singapore's Backlash were one of the biggest surprises of the week-end. The members of the band are barely out of their teens, and made their more established peers sound like amateurs. Seething, unrelenting, and tight as fuck.

The torrential rains, a leaky roof, and a considerable amount of sweat contributed to the floor being a slippery mess. That didn't stop any of the kids from running around in circles though. Unfortunately, the heavy rains meant that a few of the East Coast bands had to cancel their sets, due to the heavy (practically biblical) flooding in their hometowns.

By the time Indonesian punk legends Milisi Kecoa played on Saturday night, the humidity was so intense inside the venue that my photos took on a Cinemax "soft focus" look. I need a bath just thinking about it.

Indonesian band Grasp of Dynamite were the last to take the stage Saturday night. Sometime near the start of their set, a kid crashed headfirst into the ground and couldn't stand back up on his own. After being picked up and taken to one side to recover, he struggled back to his feet, got belligerent with a few people, plopped down on the stage and spent the rest of the set lying there with his middle finger in the air. I couldn't tell if he was concussed, drunk, or just fucking stupid. Probably a combination of all three. Later that night I almost got into it with some other drunk idiot who kneed me while my back was turned so he could tell me how he liked my shirt. Emi calmly led me away when it became obvious that I was going to beat the living shit out of the moron. On the plus side, for the second night in a row the show finished early, and I was able to catch the train with plenty of time to spare. Let's hear it for schedules.

An impromptu hair salon was set up before the last day officially kicked off. Can't go to the big dance without getting your hair done, amirite ladies?

Imminent Psychosis and Hidden Intent arrived together on Sunday in a maxi cab that was as close to a tour van as anyone had seen all week-end. Make no mistake: The Metal had arrived.

PunahRanah killed it with an early afternoon set on Sunday. They're growing from a straight-forward death/grind band into a more technical Immolation/Morbid Angel styled beast, and are all the better for it. One of the best bands in Malaysia, and one of the few with genuinely impressive musicianship.

During Imminent Psychosis' set, homeboy in the white shirt got down on all fours to headbang on the stage (which is only a few inches off the ground) and make an all-around spectacle of himself. You're not in Adelaide any more, fellas.

Daighila was the other Rumah Api staple that played the fest, and they killed it with their savvy mix of dynamics and emo theatrics.

...but what if my friends are delicious?

The band I was looking forward to the most was Да, Смерть! (Yes, Death!). The first Russian band to play Rumah Api (and probably anywhere in Malaysia), their upbeat punk was somewhat at odds with the singer's intensity and their political subject matter ("This song is called, Anarchism Will Never Work in this Country!"). It's also worth noting that their bassist had a white Darkthrone shirt with a happy face pasted on one side, which maybe sums them up. The crowd were game to skank along and slow dance when it was called for. It seems surreal that I watched a Russian punk band come to Malaysia to play for a bunch of drunk Indonesian kids.

Interestingly enough, despite Chaos in Rumah Api ostensibly being a DIY punk festival, the first and third nights were headlined by metal bands: On Friday Atomicdeath's Sodom-goes-crust onslaught closed up shop, and on Sunday Hidden Intent wrapped the whole shebang with a bow. This is the second time the Adelaide thrashers played Rumah Api; I think what I appreciate most about them is that even when they're playing our little punk squat, they act like they're on the main stage of Wacken, stage banter and all.

At my age, three days in a row of sweaty drunken punks is probably two days too many. Fun as it was, I was relieved to say my goodbyes to my new globe traveling friends and head back home.