Dirgahayu, The Psalms – C! Album Showcase at No Black Tie

hey so what happened? No2, I did not fall of the earth. Life happened! Two school going kids, heavy work schedule…bla bla bla..i also found out that writing is mentally exhausting lol. BUt you did not come here for a sob story. So onwards with the show…

When I found out earlier that Zulhezan ‘ s( ex-Akta Angkasa) new band, Dirgahayu was putting up a two night residency at No Black Tie, it really did pique my interest for 3 reasons. One, Dirgahayu, being the hot new band in town, has played a couple of shows now but the timing has been conflicting with my own personal schedule , so I havent been able to witness them live until last night. Two, its at fucking No Black Tie. I dont even remember when was the last time we had loud bands at this venue ( maybe there were, maybe i missed some lol). And third, one of the bands on the bill were Singapore’s The Psalms. My own band shared a bill with them last week in their hometown, they literally melted all our faces ( and everyone elses too), so no way Im gonna pass witnessing blow the roof off in KL. Funnily enough, back in 2012, I played with avant garde ensemble Space Gambus Experiment at Actor’s Studio and The Psalms were also on the bill but unfortunately I didnt pay close enough attention at that time.

One thing that kept playing in my mind prior to actually arriving at the venue was how the hell were the bands going to fit all those equipment & gear on such a tight stage. Well lo and behold, I arrived to a setpiece on the audience floor (!) ( where normally it would have been tables & chairs for jazz cats) centered around a 360 Degree setup, allowing equal opportunity to watch all the acts performing. Plus it makes such a cool fucking photo op at every angle. Having worked with Zul in 2013 for the Mull Debauch showcase, I knew aesthetics and design is as important as the music for him, so kudos to him for the set arrangement.

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After two opening acts, singer songwriter Straw and post rock outfit Deepset, The Psalms casually sauntered with no pretense. The crowd initially thinned out, probably to seek refuge from the ringing delays of Deepset. It didnt take long for the crowd to fill up again, at the moment lead frontwoman Suhaili’s vocal started to pierce the air. To say the band was on fire was an understatement; there was only surging energy, no letting up. There were hiphop grooves, funk, metal, punk, odd signatures, jazz scat shrieks , all mashed up in a solid groove, the entire band tight as fuck. The band’s set drew mostly from their new record People Eating people, which had a more dynamic groove,compared to the abrasive tone of their earlier work  on the Ishamel’s Wishlist EP ( for the record, i love that EP too). Extra special mention to Suhaili, seeing all those neck muscles strained at every delivery makes me worry that something could go wrong, but nothing did and she remained a pocket full of energy, like a woman possessed with every word uttered. My only minor complaint: the mix wasnt the best, as the music constantly threatened to drown the vocals. Anyway, please buy their new record ( in white vinyl no less!) and go see them if they play in town again.

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Ahhh, Dirgahayu, now where do I start? The host for two nights, they’ve only been a band since last October last year, but these guys are not fresh kids on the scene, what with each member having paid their dues in previous incarnations of other bands. The ever so effervescent Seikan ( drums)  keep the party rolling with his semi drunken banter and extremely approachable attitude. no divas present here at all! But what about the music? The band, after a quick setup ( complete with a broken straplock holder and saved by duct tape! long live duct tape!) , wasted no time for line check and launched into an all out assault. They remind of me of Japanese post rock/screamo bands, really powerful technically but without being show off-y, complete with interlocking arpeggios, furious tapping and start/stop attack. It may look sloppy on the outset but make no mistake – these guys are masters of their craft, picking up at ease even after going through some intense moments during the set. You could sense that all they took their time to craft each single note, each intricate part of the song had a purpose and this kind of flow does not just happen overnight ( or maybe it did LOL…there are mountainsize talents in this band). They blazed through the songs of their debut Commemorate! ( which I may add, had some nifty packaging, please go buy it), with only one minor hitch being the Korg Synth Bass ( see picture below, one i was looking forward to hear live, its  rare museum piece!) failing to operate during one of the songs.

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Thank you Dirgahayu, Thank you The Psalms. You made a working night worth going out to the heart of KL .

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