Warped Confessional: Unclogged Returns Gig Review
First of all, many thanks to all who came to the show. There were 137 attendees who paid to get in, so altogether Warped Confessional drawn about 160 individuals (including performers, spouses & friends) and that’s pretty awesome for such a small place. The new NBT coped well with the crowd though, but it did get a bit too smoky in there at the later stages of the show.
So how was it? Well, personally I think again we had an amazing show, if I may say so myself! I always think that it’s pretty hard to top each succeeding Unclogged and this one is no different. By the time 360 Degrees played their last note, at about 1 AM, there were still a lot of people who stayed on outside and inside hanging out. At first I was pretty worried that most would leave by 11PM!
It’s also one of the most organised Unclogged ever. The soundcheck was a bit late as we started at about 7PM but most of the performers arrived for the check in time and I must commend them for being rather professional about it. Usually, most acts at the previous Uncloggeds would forgo soundchecks for whatever reason and left us agonising over the time they took checking their sound on stage as their sets started. I always hated that, but I have to admit my band is also guilty of that sometimes!
By about 8.45PM, everything was ready. The merchandising table was set (manned by Tiffany), the door-bitching paraphernalia and personnel were ready to spring into action (Farez at his best per usual!), stage-hand Alak briefed on his responsibilities, the soundcheck’s done, the stage’s prepped, my video-cam all ready and primed on a tripod and people started trickling in. Wowie! No pening kepala this time!
We started the show at about 9.20PM, out of choice not out of necessity! As usual people turned up fashionably late, so why not? Rahmat Haron opened the night up with a lengthy poem about our selfish fuel consumption – “tutup enjin kamu!”. He was pretty psyched up and a lot more energetic and fiery than usual, Rahmat at his best, brimming with sarcastic fury.
After Rahmat, I called upon Azmyl Yunor to the stage and he appeared with his mates Ronnie (Furniture) on keyboards and Ben (Ben’s Bitches) on guitar. Azmyl started on the piano before moving on with an acoustic guitar. He played about 5 songs including the now prominent Bahasa tune Makan Gaji, a precursor to his soon come all Bahasa album.
As per usual, Azmyl’s set was pretty ramshackled, with the additional keyboards giving him a rather exciting new feel, but only to be upstaged by Ben’s too loud electric guitar and his occasional glitches. Not the best of Azmyl but this guy can get away with murder. Meor told me last night that he loves Azmyl’s gung-ho nature, wishing that he has the similar gusto to fuck-up with style!
Next up we have Farmhouse, featuring recent award-winning documentary maker Hakim and Mang Kechok, both who had just got back in town from the Raya holidays in Terengganu. Mang surprised me with his new look, all moustached and goateed with extra long hair! Farmhouse played the favourites, right from Sumbang to their longstanding Red House Painters cover; but they surprised me with two songs rendered by Mang alone.
Again, they were not that great that night, understandably unrehearsed as they were called as replacement at the last minutes for the Kuchalana crew who had to pull out from the show. Hakim was as charismatic as usual with Mang being rather nervous. I’m sure they could have done better but Farmhouse is really an off and on duo these days what with Hakim busy with his film-making activities.
The night started to pick up drastically with the appearance of Meor. Tell you the truth, this was the best performance by Meor I’ve ever seen, especially with the great acoustics of the NBT giving him another edge to marvel at. The tunes were also more recognisable nowadays, what with his recent CD-R releases making their rounds, prompting a part of the attendance to enthusiastically singalong.
One thing for sure, each time he played I would discover more great nuances in his songs, prompting me to go back again to his recordings and appreciated them more. A true troubadour, the man has quit his part-time job at a musical equipment store and is now busking full-time, he even went straight to nearby Jalan Alor to do his rounds right after he’s done at Unclogged!
Meor finished up his set jamming with Rahmat on the mike, performing his most well-known and much-loved poem, Kerana Mu Malaysia. It was an intense part of the show, and I do believe the calm pickings by Meor as the soundtrack to his rantings lifted up the whole poem to greater heights. Rahmat was also excellently at ease, alternating between breathless speed and sarcastic pauses. Powerful moments there. I’m glad I got it on video!
After a 15 minutes break, we had Fathullistiwa Soundscapes, with ex-Spiral Kinetic Circus / Infectious Maggots Fathul on vocals and two friends on guitars. The man played about four tunes from his upcoming album, dishing out a mixture of poignant love songs done via Javanese indie-pop leaning and his omnipresent tortured “romantic vampire” persona. It was again, an intense performance, only marred by Fathul’s constant impatience, refusing to play out the drama and tension he created with each tune.
He appeared rushed but cooly charismatic, giving out his all whenever each song started to comfortably sets. His rather over the top pronunciations of words, a combination of gothic theatrics and grindcore grunts (!), had Hishamuddin Rais making jokes at Fathul’s expense; a jibe which Fathul laughingly took in his stride!
Speaking Hishamuddin Rais, the man appeared as the “mystery performer” of the night. I believe, this was his first stint as a “stand-up comedian cum spoken-word artist” ever and he pulled it off succesfully! I was glad I called him up to do this. I mean the guy is seriously funny when we hang-out at some mamak stalls, so why not have him on stage and share his jokes with the rest of the people?
Anyway, the man’s barbed jibes includes the “torture” which he hugely enjoyed when he was incarcerated as an ISA detainee (“but I like S&M!!”), the amazing “qualities” of the “Mat Rempits” (“gay-gay tak main la brader!!”), the questionable taste of Anwar Ibrahim when it comes to picking up “lovers” (if he’s gay that is!), and also about the best “petai” in the whole wide world (from his kampung, Jelebu, of course!!).
Hisham had the crowd in stitches for more than the 15 minutes allocated but it was worth it. I think a star is born! Unclogged has launched another monster, and I hope Hisham will go on mining this field for our benefit as we all really in dire need for a more downhome, mamak-stall-friendly Jit Murad!
If the highlight for the first part was Meor, the peak of the night was with the appearance of Sherry. Still skinny, fit and unfashionably long-haired, the man hasn’t changed a bit. Opening his set with a Jimi hendrix cover, Sherry’s guitar playing was awesome. I can just sit and stare at the fingers and nothing will matter. And then he opened-up his mouth to sing and boy! It’s Mississippi Delta flooding right in Jalan Mesui! Someone uttered “praise the lord” and “gawd have mercy”, just like the southern rocking churches. Dang, i was highly spiritual!
Before the show Sherry complained that he didn’t have much time to prepare for the show, the last time he was playing at some clubs and as usual at such clubs you only play the evergreen covers. Anyway, it didn’t stop him from dishing out my favourites, right from Back Door Man to a song about the meddling authorities (Bastards in Uniforms) to Babi (a tale about a young pig who hate his families who are all pigs!!) and more excellent stuff, dished out with much aplomb and skills.
Right after that I realised that it’s geting pretty late and I was tired, the phrase “I’m geting too old for this” came to mind. My back was acting up but there’s another act, the curtain closer and it was 360¬? Head Rotation with Rafil on acoustic guitar and vocals and the excellent Jack on electric Fender.
I have to say, I had to miss most of their set as I was busy out in the bar area counting the takings and making sure everyone’s getting paid. According to some friends, 360¬? did a good job with the usual fleshing out of their venomous put-downs, sarcasm and bile. I only wished I had someone else taking care of the business so I can enjoy them fully. Oh well, I’m sure the band will be gigging furiously very soon as the 6-month long sabbatical has ended, and seeing 360¬? with a full band set-up has always been an experience to look out for.
Okay, so that’s the show. I’m pretty chuffed by it all. Loadsa people came, loadsa people had a good time, the venue made money and the performers too expressed a refreshing outing very different from their usual; and so I’m a happy puppy!
I would like to thank all of you who came, or at least supported the show via promoting it through your connections. There were a mixture of old friends and new and also fresh faces I’ve never seen before.
All the friends who backed it up, from Farez and girlfriend Tiffany who manned the tables, Alak who took care of the stage-side to Alok who took care of the sound, one of the best in this business I’m sure. Remember the night where Roslan Aziz turned off the sound-system and walked out of Unclogged because kids can’t stop moshing? It was a benefit for Food Not Bombs at NoBlackTie two years ago and Alok helped us out by taking over the sound console and actually tunred up better than Roslan himself!
Then there’s the venerable Evelyn and staff who are always accommodating to Unclogged’s shenanigans. NoBlackTie is home, despite the new premises rather “too posh” and classy feel. As somebody said it, it’s up to us to bring the decors down to have a bit of dirt, wit and character! And I think we did just that with Warped Confessional and of course more to come!
Thanks to all the performers; I’m very much indebted to you all for another memorable show. May the roads rise to all of you!!
Sorry if this review sounds rather bombastic but I’m ecstatic and I hope everybody who were there feels the same.
The customary “accounts statement” follows:
People who paid to get in: 137
Tickets, RM 12 each
Takings: RM1644 + RM7 (we don’t know where it came from! )
TOTAL = RM1651
how we spent it:
DoorBitch: RM 56
the rest shared equally between me and all the acts, and so:
Organiser, me: RM 155
Each act: RM 155