Sunday, June 7, 2015

Sarjan Hassan release show with ESRARR, Speedwitches, and Tinnitux @Rumah Api

Shortly after returning from New York, I got a message asking if I was back in Malaysia and would be going to Sarjan Hassan's release show at Rumah Api. [In reality, few people actually noticed I was gone until pictures from MDF started popping up on Facebook.] Rumah Api is a mixed bag in the middle of the year; with Ramadan coming up, there are few shows to look forward to, leaving a scene that's content to wait out the fasting month. But even when there are regular shows I don't often feel like I'm missing out. I mean, how many more times do I need to see the same 5 or 6 bands playing the same 5 or 6 songs? I'm better off staying home and working on my own music.


Thankfully, this line-up was mostly bands that I'd never seen before, starting with openers Tinnitux. Their nerves were noticeable, but forgivable - this was their first show at Rumah Api, and there probably weren't many others before this. They teased out the intro to "Dragonaut" but it's Kyuss that casts the deepest shadow over their music. Hopefully this is the first of many appearances in Rumah Api for them - they bring some much needed diversity to this corner of the KL scene. And more time on that grimy stage will help with their confidence.

Nerves were definitely not the case for Speedwitches, despite this being just their second show; not coincidentally, their line-up consists of Rumah Api regulars (including Emi from Tools and WHHIRR). If their name wasn't a give-away, they're a throwback to 70's proto-metal like Witchcraft and Witch. It's a style that isn't hugely popular in Malaysia (yet), and it's a nice musical change of pace from the usual monotonous sludge metal. Two gigs to their name and they're already one of the best new bands around these parts.

ESRARR are also new to me; with their bass being particularly dominant in the mix, the band they remind me most of is Rumah Api's own WHHIRR (who didn't play that night but whose members all took the stage in other bands). Covering Weedeater's "God Luck and Goodspeed" (already a staple of WHHIRR's sets) is a nice nod to their influences, but what they need more of is time developing their own sound.

The excitement for Sarjan Hassan was a little surprising, considering their singer kind of owns Rumah Api; so you'd think seeing them here would be taken for granted. But this new split with Hirax is a pretty big deal and a definite cause for celebration. Sarjan Hassan were a mixed bag the first few times I saw them; few in the region can touch them when they're firing on all cylinders, but their energetic sets would inevitably devolve into a collection of sloppy metal covers; not necessarily a good fit for how important/influential they are. Lately they've been keeping it lean and mean, with the only tribute being a sped up version of "Ace of Spades" that sends the room running around in circles - ironic that a song about gambling is such a safe bet.