Beloved Local Studio Celebrates Decade of Free-Flowing Rock Music

The black walls echo with the heavy hum of sweaty guitar riffs as the crowd pulsates with the incoherent lyrics of punk frontman Zamir Alif’s raw vocalization. The sweat drips from the bassist’s nose as he seduces the strings to quicken the tempo of the song. His bandmate behind him, drummer Ali Johan,  strikes a vehement crash that ripples in with the audience’s movements, kicking off a night of boisterous (e)motion. This is just Killeur Calculateur‘s first minute onstage.

It was the perfect beginning for Awakening Studio’s 10th anniversary showcase at Taman Danau Desa in the small and intimate venue, Live Fact (formerly known as Pink Fono). Ten years of amazing musical showcases and memories, of watching bands come through and camp there to record classic alternative EPs and albums; of discovering cool new outfits who would jam and  rehearse there.

Awakening has done its part in providing an option for the ever-evolving fringe scene, giving birth to and nurturing various bands which soundtrack the daily adventures of young Malaysians beyond its suburban Damansara base. Live Fact is also conducive: many of the lineups who show up at the self-sustaining D.I.Y venue owned by the tirelessly passionate Mak Wai Hoo has had some history with the now-officially defunct studio, and last weekend they did a great job paying tribute to honour Awakening’s contribution to the scene.

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8ish-pm, Saturday, 30 May 2015 — From the outside it appeared quiet and slightly dodgy: attendees are dressed in black (a rocker’s uniform) scattered about the parking lot sharing their anticipation over a cigarette (no different to an arena rock show). The presence of the black tee-d, noise-hungry joy-hunters however, affirmed that here lay hidden treasure.

A nylon cable tie at the entrance marked an RM20 admission fee and there was also a table in the corner for you to  catch up on what you’ve missed band merch-wise. Beverages (compulsory of course) were easily reachable to ease socialisation concerns, what with the influx of humans entering the premises and potentially enhancing tonight’s experience.

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Not that such enhancements were really necessary. With acts like Killeur Calculateur, The Metaphor, Decades and Daighila lined up, it was bound to be a solid night of rocking. Think a fusion of punk, post-rock, instru-‘mental’ and head-banging, decorated by raw and unconscious screams of uninhibited emotion.

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It was strange that the showcase actually started with the well-known, mint-condition quartet crashing out of the gates, fresh from returning from their Book of Flags tour of Indonesia, instead of the expected lukewarm warm-up band. These serial-killing office desk devices didn’t waste any time waiting for the crowd to get warmed up. Killeur Calculateur full-on murdered this audience and systematically hypnotized them to move their bodies as one big, orgasmic moshpit pumped with adrenaline.

By the end of it, the whole place was drenched in sweaty awe, making The Metaphor’s soothing post-rock a welcome gust of cleansing wind. These 2011 VIMA Awards nominees had a far more relaxed instrumental sound in comparison to their predecessors onstage, which allowed the audience to cool down and sway off to a softer pace while giving themselves a sobering breather.

Next act was Decades, who took control of the stage and wasted no time in signaling that post-punk was clearly on again. The loud symphony was rained down through an aggressive attack of instrumental rock that assertively set the mood for the final act. The sound of Decades seemed like a weird chemical explosion of various personalities hailing from different backgrounds and states in Malaysia, a familiar composition of individuals but tuned into a fresh perspective. The band’s 130 copies of their first self-titled EP managed to sell out its stock before night’s end, leaving those who missed out scavenging online to satisfy their particular specific for Decades’ vocal-less melodies.

Daighila took the night in and closed it out with a well-earned, hot-and-bothered finale and a touch of post-set rowdiness. The band pulled off quite the interactive performance, which engaged the audience in an intense ballet of fierce head-banging and air-guitaring. Overheard was that this would perhaps be their last show of the year before they take some time off to pursue other projects – it just looked like they preferred going out kicking and screaming, using what they knew best which was metal-charged guitars and combustible drum blasts and hellish screeching voices.

Obviously still in a rampaging mood after taking down their kaiju brethren in Japan on their tour of the Far East earlier this year, the Rembau boys’ performance was an atomic ending to a rocking good night which left the audience radiating in post-punk-rock(ing) residue.

After quite a long night’s exposure to the four unique bands pitted together on this discerningly curated celebration of Awakening Studios 10th birthday and closure, I  saw a lot more to this scene of free-living, music-loving freak folk, and left wishing I had seen more.


*All pictures were taken by this reviewer, except for the last photo in this set which belongs to Teoh Eng Hooi.

First Published on The Daily Seni.

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