I don't think the curtains had even opened yet, but BB Bomb didn't care. Blistering and blasting, theirs is a music that ain't gonna wait around for nothing and no-one.
Since 2004, band leader Xu Pei 許珮 has been leading the charge, withstanding several lineup changes and evolving from an all-girls outfit into their present incarnation, with the excellent and ubiquitous drummer Miao 喵 (of InhumanBand and tonight's headliners MSAYS) and new bassist Xiao Zi 小紫 (from Pepper Cats).
The addition of Xiao Zi is brilliant. Xu Pei writes powerful, straight-up punk and sings with a classic sense of melody, and now with Xiao Zi adding back-up vocals, the band brings the full force of their songs into fruition. As well, her little dances add a more dynamic element to the live set, as by necessity Xu Pei needs to stay near the mic.
Older songs like Punk Rock Girl, Say Oi, and The Last Night have left the setlist in favor in newer pieces, so I couldn't tell you the names of anything (aside from their finale Bye Bye Baby). But I can tell you this - the new shit rocks, BB Bomb rocks, and here's hoping they enjoy more success in the near future, cuz they deserve a bigger audience.
(And speaking of audience, it was Friday night in the city - where was everyone? The night's turnout hovered somewhere between 30-50 people. One suggestion for the fine folks at The Wall: close off the space behind the mixing board when attendance is sparse - I think 90% of the crowd was in the back for the first two acts. Having people nearer to the stage creates more energy instead of allowing it to dissipate. This is one easy way to facilitate a more rock environment. I think everyone would come out a winner.)
Are you ready to rock? HOTPINK kicked-off fast and furious. I don't think they gave a shit whether the curtain was open either. Here we go!
Formed in 2003, HOTPINK is another veteran band that has endured numerous lineup changes. The one constant has been guitarist/vocalist Sharkie and her full-on punk rock passion. She's complemented by a strong band - 小匹 Pat on second guitar, bassist 小小Xiao Xiao , and new drummer 陳翰 Chen Han, who adds a lot of gusto.
I'm sure it would be unoriginal of me to comment on Xiao Xiao's diminutive stature, but it is striking to watch her attack her gigantic bass, hopping in circles and somehow maintaining both balance and the beat. Meanwhile, breathless and sweating, Sharkie delivered song after song, and riff after riff with equal enthusiasm.
The set consisted of songs from their fun new CD (This Is) What Took Me So Long, as well as a few oldies likeWeekend and We Are HotPink. And like most punk rock, the tunes were short and to the point. Before I knew it, the curtain had closed and we were awaiting Act 3: MSAYS. Bring it on.
I don't care that I'm about to type blasphemy and will go to Hell for it, the next sentence has to be said:
Jesus-Fucking-Christ, how did My Skin Against Your Skin become THIS goddamn incredible?!?
They've always been good. And now? Now they are Great with a capital "G".
The last time I saw them play was in early spring. So what's happened since then? Oh, just a bit of jet-setting around the world. Y'know, some festivals and gigs in Canada, China, and Japan, that's all. There must be something about the experience of world tours that galvanizes good bands and helps elevate them to the next level. I saw it with Go Chic when they returned from their European tour, and now I feel it with MSAYS, too. I can't attribute this transformation solely to touring, because I know both bands work their tails off, but making new fans in new places and interacting with other professionals has to be inspiring. To their credit, My Skin Against Your Skin has risen to the occasion.
But that's not all. They've also scaled down to a 3-piece, simply vocals, bass, and drums. No more guitars. And I don't intend any slights against those who've filled that role before, but MSAYS are clearly doing well without. I believe this is a prime example of Less Is More - more power, more kill, more awesome.
As this band has significantly reinvented itself over the course of the year, it means bassist A-Lu 尤世儒 is now a busy, busy man, and not even a glitchy input/cable can keep him down. He's got the right balance of effects and riffs to make you forget there's no guitar. Really, it is a commendable achievement to get that all right. There are so many variables and potential pitfalls, but he creates a full sound that seamlessly shifts from one mood to the next.
But the star of the show, beyond a doubt, is vocalist Andrea. Elegant in a custom-designed dress, her hair whipping, tiger stalking, knee quaking, pouty stomping theatrics demanded our attention, and got it. Here's the thing, these aren't affectations - hollow, pretentious mannerisms - but a very deliberate, very sincere performance by an artist who has IT, that intangible quality that ensures success. I mean, she even looks artful kneeling down to tie her shoe. That's some motherfucking charisma. Andrea is not going to be a star someday, she already IS a star. The rest of the world just has some catching up to do.
I suppose another effect of reconfiguring their lineup is having to rework and even write all new songs. At the end of the day, it's about the music, and yes, they've got that going on, too. These new songs - they pounded us, seduced us, leaned over and tussled our hair and then emphatically punched us in the jaw. It was awesome. Aided by frantic strobes, thoughtfully atmospheric lighting, and an excellent sound mix, MSAYS left me stunned. And so it was that My Skin Against Your Skin rocked my world. Halle-fucking-lujah!