Downing the remains of a road beer in the cold outside of D-22, my ears immediately identified that Me Too was already into the mist of their set. This is to their credit, as the group truly does have a distinctive sound. Weird, funky, offbeat, a wee bit sinister and calculated, the band is starting to really come into their own. Each member really adds their own charm to the group, and play off each other quite well, with some appropriately ominous vocal backing from the keyboardist, some ever groovy bass, and a tomboy drummer who brings her own spunk. And the lead singer, well, what can I say? His vocals I think take a bit of time to adjust to, but it’s really one of the prominent features that makes the band what it is. Check out their newest song below, I really can’t get enough of it.
And after much thought, I believe I can say now that Me Too is greatly satisfying band, and is one I can proudly get behind.
Next up was X is Y, coming up from Shanghai. Though the group was missing their drummer, replaced with a Macbook, the remaining duo made the best of it, even taking turns to bang on the lonely drum set. Let me say this first – keyboardist and backup singer Yajing is cute as a button. Seriously, she made it hard to for me to concentrate. Looks aside, she provided some great vocals – a sweet shy vulnerable counterpart to guitarist and singer Guillaume more angst-strained vocals. Many of the songs had a delicate way to them, as if Guillaume were confessing or better yet exalting his memories, feelings, and thoughts over equally fractured and weary guitars licks.
For the most part I liked what I heard – I dug the guitar, I dug the keyboard. But at the same time, it did feel like a crucial element was missing from the outfit, and it made me wonder how much having the drummer would change their sound.
If low-key introverted angst defined X is Y, then Boys Climbing Ropes were the polar opposite. From the get-go, the group was firing on all cylinders. This is indie punk done right. Existential, moody, dark, edgy, BRC guises many of the manic-depressive lyrics and themes with a quick tempo, provided in part by infectious drum beats and a driving bass which keep your feet tapping, alongside cryptic poetic vocal duets between petite Xiao Punk and towering guitarist Jordan Small. Yet, unlike X is Y, which felt like a more personal affair, BRC manage to turn uncertainty and timidity into something universal, meditative and in many ways, uplifting.
Whether it be turning the mundane act of knitting into a scream against normalcy and conformity (at least how I’m interpreted thus far) or examining the fear of being swallowed alive in the big city, the band provide a unifying feeling of ‘we’re all in the same boat’. This point is driven home in probably the set’s highlight – the song “Grow Up, Stop Fucking Around”, off their new split EP with X is Y, “Summer and Winter Warfare”.
In the course of five minutes BRC proceed to turn the title of the song into a rallying call, an anthem to those of us out there who are perhaps for better or worse ‘fucking around’. And seeing many of the audience members sway and bop to the song it was clear that the song was hitting home for many.
After the surprise that was BRC, I was delighted to finally get to see Streets Kills Strange Animals for the first time. I’ve seen their names all over town, and to finally put a sound to a name was nice. Noise rock for sure, SKSA clearly aren’t for everything. Steering away from hooks or for that matter straightforward song structure, the band takes a more experimental approach to building up a song, with numerous tempo changes, giving the songs more of post-rock feel, albeit a more upbeat, dance your body into a seizure, break some furniture kinda feeling. In some regards, you could argue that the vocals (a deep, grumble of a voice which I’m sure will turn off many) take a backseat to the instrumental work at hand. And boy, does SKSA know how to wield those instruments – it was as if these guys (and gal) were born with guitars and drumsticks in hand. All in all, Streets Kills Strange Animals proved themselves worthy, and I’m glad they’re on my radar now. Check out their song “礼拜的日” below.
So there you have it – another impressive lineup at cozy D-22. Check below for more videos and photos. Enjoy!