Unclogged Merde Kah: The Report
A bit late on this report but I think generally, we had a good night.
Unclogged Merde Kah opened with me playing alone as Sumbang at about 9.30 PM. The name “Sumbang” is self-explanatory really, right from the trademarked outta-tune singing to the wrong chords strummed to the ever present lyrics sheets on the stool beside me, etc.
I’ve been doing “Sumbang” on and off for a few years now, just me on the acoustic guitar and some songs, a few of which I wrote, the rest are covers of stuff I like (Motorpsycho, Husker Du, Elvis Presley, Dolly Parton, Hank Williams etc). Don’t really need no further explanation really, just me trying to be a singer-songwriter and so far has been rather inadequate at it! Thing is I’m gonna be inflicting you people more of Sumbang with the hope that I’ll get better! And yes, thanks for not booing!
After Sumbang, we had NAO, a band which I have been admiring for quite a while now. First saw them at the old Paul’s Place about two years ago and I have been a fan ever since. The trio is one of the few original post-punk bands around. Can’t really put my finger on the influences they have, but the songs are mostly angular, stabbing jagged riffage with a lot of different time changes and straying parts. At the later bit of their set, the band started to be bit too progressive for me but generally they did a very good set.
If you talk about local bands with relevant and hard-hitting socio-political commentaries (or “polemics” as some dismissive souls would have it), NAO is a rare breed indeed. The band passed around a lyric sheet in English featuring diatribes against the police, governmental follies, the ISA and more. They even had a specially-made flag draped at their feet (see picture).
Unlike many other “politically-conscious” local bands around, NAO talks about what happens in THIS country instead of being safe and sing about distant wars in some foreign shores. Why sing about Mumia Abu-Jamal when you have hundreds of innocents being incarcerated under ISA? Who are you singing to? Some American punk rock zines who don’t even know where the fuck is your country?
Next up, Freelove’s M. Jayzuan (AKA Mohd Jayzuan or simply, Jay) with two friends which I figured came from the MMU. One on a beatbox/sampler/synth thing, the other, a girl doing backing vocals. There’s no surprises here as it was still a set of cool indie-rock tunes, only it had gone acoustics and minimal.
It was not the usual jovial Jay which we have always seen at the gigs though. The set was governed by sadness and despair, a sure sign of someone addressing the turmoil of heartbreak. Friends around Jay would know that it was no act, the man has been through quite a bit of personal upheavals recently.
After that my band, Carburetor Dung, played 10 songs (including Oppression, which we didn’t really planned to play). It was okay, if I may say so. Not without the usual Dung mishaps though. Bullet the drummer lost his ways a few times, and I was struggling with some songs too. We did a new song called Memang Celaka, which was received pretty well considering it’s a fresh one; and of course, Boo Hoo, which is getting really tired nowadays (I think).
I have to mention that we didn’t do a soundcheck so it was a bit too late to realise that the guitar amp needed some sort of a booster gadgetry for it to really howl, and I didn’t bring my EQ. Pretty fucked guitar sound was the result lah. Should have borrowed them gadgets from the other bands but like I said, it was a bit too late to sort that out. Have to remember that next time.
After us, we had Rahmat Haron. The man came up on stage with our mutual friend and indie-pop enthusiast Abrocore on another acoustic guitar. I don’t like the set much though. Rahmat’s brand of untutored guitar ramble coupled with Abrocore’s lost meandering turned it into quite a disastrous affair. I’ve seen Rahmat and his guitar alone and it can be an intense experience; a bit like (s)avant-garde on acoustics with poetry on top, but it was not to be that night.
Rahmat came back into his old fiery self with the rendition of his now classic and very much loved Kerana Mu Malaysia. I will never tire of that prose, a scathing attack upon the mundane and mind-numbing cycle of media terms and political jargons; especially those ceaselessly used for government’s propaganda, stereotyping and generalisation. The fact that Kerana Mu Malaysia was not included in his recent anthology is telling. For me, reading the prose is totally different from experiencing it live, raw and spitting. If you were not there, then you’ve missed another great rendition.
Klang’s Radioflyer came up afterwards and the first song was Murder of Richard III, a very good rocking song which like I said before, reminded me of The Cult with psychedelia and hard rock mixed up in a finely concocted broth. The band was truly a well-oiled machine with the singer thumping not on one but two tambourines, swaggering across the floor.
They appear very confident, capable, tight and much experienced band, so much so that a friend of mine enquired whether they were a “club” band. I laughed out loud at that, but on hindsight they sounded pretty much like a club band, only the style was different and it was not a Top 40 set by any length.
However, I didn’t like many of the songs rendered later in Radioflyer’s set. A bit too polished maybe, and most lacked the “rockist” tendencies of the first tune. The later parts were more Verve than anything else, so it didn’t help. I’m not much of an Ashcroft/Verve person.
By the time Radioflyer done their set It was already 40 minutes after midnight and I was worrying. With another two acts to go through, I didn’t think Unclogged Merde Kah will make the 1 AM deadline.
Little Havana has a high-rise condominium block facing it and the occupants have the tendency to call up the cops when the music gets too loud. I’ve been told to keep the noisier bands playing before 11 PM and after that put up mellower stuff.
I did as told by having Azmyl Yunor & The Cigarettes on after Radioflyer, but getting The Ranomes as the headlining and curtain-closer would be pushing it a bit!
Anyway, I missed most of Azmyl’s set. Some old friends were congregating round the pool table downstairs and I just had to go and say hello. The little that I heard sounded different though. It’s Azmyl with an acoustic guitar fed through a distortion pedal, unusually complimented by a drummer and bassist.
I like it though. Azmyl can be effective on his own but he has the tendency to fuck up his strumming, usually veering away from the beat intended. The addition of a rhythm section not only gave the man a bit of muscle but also kept him on time. The songs shone through pretty well too, but I can’t say much since I missed 90 per cent of them.
The Ranomes closed the show with much support and jubilation from a section of the crowd. As mentioned, they were a bunch of The Ramones fanatics and so there were nothing else but Tommy, Joey, Dee Dee and Johnny good time.
Main man, Anton had all the low-slung-Johnny-Ramone-punk-rock-god pose really well. His torn-jeans-covered legs were just akimbo and splayed all over the floor. Anton just dug into his mode and stayed the course. I love the man!
However, the rest of the band (with The Bollocks’ Tom on drums) didn’t do that well. Somehow it was not as fast, tight and furious as I have been expecting. There were a few hiccups, especially parts where they were deciding on what song to play. The Ramones would never stop, apart from saying “Hello, we are The Ramones”, the rest of the gaps should be taken by yelps of “1, 2, 3, 4!”.
That said, I was grinning from ear to ear watching The Ranomes play. It was fun, reckless and when The KKK Took My Baby Away came on, I just had to singalong. Nobody can resist that!
We stopped the show at 1.30 AM, 30 minutes beyond the stated deadline, but everything was cool with the club, so another fine night was had by all!
UNCLOGGED MERDE KAH – FINANCIAL STATEMENT
The Deal with Lil Havana:
For every ticket, Lil Havana took RM5 and Unclogged got RM10
That night we had 83 people who came in and paid,
so 83 x 10 = RM830
The doorbitches also found RM20 on their table, and they didn’t know where it came from!
And so, RM830 + RM20 = RM850 (TOTAL)
Unclogged paid for the sound system RM350,
so RM850 – 350 = RM500
Unclogged also paid our two excellent doorbitches RM50 each,
so RM500 – (RM50 x 2 = RM100) = RM400
We had 8 acts that night, including me as Sumbang,
so RM400 divided by 8, we have RM50 for each act/band.
Having RM50 per band is NOT great. I think the minimal amount should be RM100 per band. That would be substantial. Enough to cover some rehearsal money and travelling expenses.
Why did we get that amount? Here are several factors:
1. There were three other gigs happening around KL on the same day, especially a much talked about Nice Stupid Playground KL reappearance at Paul’s Place. I heard only 40 people paid to get into that show, another dismal figure. It seems to say that KL organisers should start avoiding clashing dates as it spreads the paying crowd a lil too thin lah!
2. I should not have too many bands/acts. Ideally there should only be five bands per night. That could improve the takings better. I’ll do this for the next Unclogged and see what happens.
3. They are a lot kids, including close friends of mine who refused to pay to get in. Yup! This has always been a bane in the local scene. The “friends” who never want to pay for anything to do with the scene they are involved in.
They don’t want to pay for your CDs or tapes, and they don’t want to pay to get in to your shows. They always want the “free” option. I mean, if you’ve contributed to the show or the recordings in some ways, that would be okay. If you really are broke, fine, come on over and help with the running of the show then. Or at least come to me and tell me the situation.
At the very least, give the organiser some money anyway. If you can’t afford RM15, give us RM10 or even RM5. Just tell us you’re broke! I mean, we are not some fucking financial Nazis here!
Of course, I let in these friends of mine anyway. I did that under protest lah. It’s the least that I can do, BUT hey, c’mon man! It’s not like we are making tonnes of money here. Everything goes back to the running of the show and the bands!
So, next time people, please refrain from the free trip lah. It just hurt a lot of us really. I hate to keep on repeating this but please do the right thing la! It’s common sense people! Aiyooo!
All in I want to thank all the acts, all the doorbitches, all the friends who helped in some ways, all the old friends who came even though they are really there not for the bands! And of course to Mokhtar for the efficiency in handling the equipment, and to the staff of Little Havana which has been a pleasure to work with.
The audience was super through out the night. You all were very supportive of all the bands, despite the hiccups. There were polite claps and all that, and I know some aspects of the runnings could have been better, so I must give you all a big standing tabik!
BTW; all pixs are by Nizang Nervous. Terima kasih ba’nyok Zanggg!