Midday on a Saturday, it was dark in Cowboy Bar, in Asia City. At the door I could see Rizal, Jeremiah, Faustinus and Lazman busy setting up Mega Boogie equipment at the front of the rectangular room.
I peered into the darkness. There was a grungy pool table, lit by low-hanging lamps attached to wooden beams from the ceiling. It was really like an UNDERGROUND bar!
People milled about, cigarette smoke filled the room; it was all systems go. Retrock was soundchecking. They sounded good. There’s really nothing like live music, whatever the genre. Amos and Emmanuel Chee – the founders of Shockwave Entertainment – were pacing around sorting out stuff. “Noize Coalition, Revenge of the Fate 2011” was their first event trading under the Shockwave licence. Pressure!
Individually designed T-shirts were laid out on the pool table , belonging to Anonymous, a group of independent clothing designers working collectively, and supporting this gig. One of their members said this was the second music event they have been associated with. Hopefully they’ll be around for more.
I claimed a table near the front speakers for myself.
“Good sound, good view,” I thought. Got out laptop, USB light, phone, pens, paper.
Vivian and Terence were around; the fabulous couple who form Vivalova Hardcore Therapy, professional photographers and videographers from Labuan. Terence then started moving around the venue like a shadow, with his video camera and a massive, portable video light.
I thought: What kind of magic does he have? He manages to glide around unnoticed, even with a bloody great spotlight on his head…
“Have you been to something like this before?” Vivian asked.
“Maybe you want to think about moving away from the speakers, and away from the mosh pit?” she suggested politely.
My husband Mike turned up, gave me earplugs which he had just bought from Watsons.
“You should move,” he said, bluntly.
I moved to the bar.
Mega Boogie’s Rizal described the equipment they sponsored.
- 2 x MARSHALL guitar speakers
- 1 x CARVIN SWK bass amp
- ROLAND keyboard amp
- 2 x JBL monitors 712
- 2 x PEAVEY mid range speakers
- 2 x PEAVEY sub woofers
- 2 x SOUNDCRAFT LX7
Tama drum kit
- Tom 1
- Tom 2
- Floor Tom
- Hi Hat
- 2 x Crash cymbals
- Right cymbal
At the bar, Bandwidth Mag‘s Arthur Lee introduced me to Aderick Chong. Aderick owns Cowboy Bar, and has been running it for about three years. Seems like he would like to rework the image of the venue, and wants local music to be a part of that. I remembered reading something in Bandwidth Mag about that, they held a KK Idol competition at Cowboy Bar.
“I’d really like to do something for Sabahan musicians, to really make a scene here, if they’re interested, and not looking to run away to KL when they make it,” he said.
All good, huh? He said the Chee brothers talked with him a while back about booking the bar, and finalised things about a month ago.
The emcee was Luther Emmanuel Patrick. Man, that guy could talk! He was funny and talked a million words a minute. I recognised him from some events at Rumba, but he was more sedate then. He was manic here!
Retrock opened with a heavy bass line, then a clash of drums and we were into driving rock. They sounded great in this space. Guitar solos were fast, they played fast rock ‘n’ roll with a walking bass, then more hard rocker stuff…
The line up:
- Dang Bangdangs
- Thy Broken Chord
- Zombie Leads To Car Crash [from Brunei]
- Angel Falls [from Labuan]
- Strong Envy Now
- A Million Evil Faces
- Bleed This Skyline [from Brunei]
Dang Bandangs had that great rock chick, Nanette, with them. Singer Emmanuel Mojikon thanked Shockwave and Mega Boogie, then he and Nanette were in there no holds barred, death growls from both the singers.
It had to be the purest-sounding Death Growl in KK.
The sound was fantastic: the drums, the guitars, the bass, the singers. They worked that crowd and they’re all great instrumentalists, and we sure could hear it. “It’s really exhausting, but at the same time, very satisfying,” Emmanuel said afterwards.
“Do they use a machine to get that sound?” My mate, blues singer Johnny Toft asked.
“No. I think they train to make sure they still have a throat afterwards.”
Local band THY BROKEN CHORD delivered up Death pretty solidly too. Vivalova’s Terence was right in there on the stage, capturing on video the rapport between the singer and the crowd in front. They brought a bit of support with them and it was a tight fit in that mosh pit now.
ZOMBIE LEADS TO CAR CRASH was the first of two Brunei bands. Emmanuel Chee said the two Brunei bands were here thanks to Anonymous’ contacts.
The crowd was heaving now, strobe lights showing glimpses of the moshers’ leaping bodies thrashing, crowd-surfing. The Cowboy Bar in Asia City was as it was supposed to be, today: dark, smoky, sweaty, and throbbing with excellent sound, local bands giving it their all on stage, and slamming bodies in the middle of the floor.
Next, BEYOND MY RAGE took over. The floor was a sea of arms, heads, bodies, and everyone knew their songs, finishing the phrases as the lead singer pointed the mic at them. They leapt up at him, got on the stage with him. The band maxed out the reverb.
SINCEWAR… ANGEL FALLS… then STRONG ENVY NOW – Amos said this band was previously known as NAMELESS, and had been around for 10 years under that name. Today was their first reunion for two years, and there are only two original band members. They started in a frenzy. Within a minute someone was tossed across the mosh. And another. Strong Envy Now were a tight band; sometimes they were intense, other times there was a break and the guitarist made some space with excellent drawn-out, bending riffs. Then it was the madness again. They knew what they were doing, and their experience showed clearly in their sound.
A MILLION EVIL FACES … BLEED THIS SKYLINE… On this day, Shockwave Entertainment brought the moshers out to Asia City in Kota Kinabalu. They will do it again.