As we had mentioned some time ago, Aliwal Arts Centre hosted a post rock gig featuring Echolight (Indonesia), Paint The Sky Red (Singapore) and Deepset (Malaysia).
Organised by Offkey SG, the gig is strategically marketed as a nameless one, to let the name of the genre and its three bands become the tagline. Post rock, though growing in strength as a genre, is still not well-known among the local audience; even those who listen to this music might not know of local or Asian post rock bands.
It was a simple no-frills event held at the multi-purpose hall; seats were cleared for intimacy of the audience with the stage. Ticketed audience wore a neon green armband that allowed them to roam freely around the venue and performers hung around outside talking to friends and audiences who came to support them. All of this indicated a cosy and relaxed good time ahead.
Echolight opened the gig and their strong post-punk influences easily made them the harder-hitting sounds of the night. Straightforward and without flourish, the guitar tones were distinct and complementary in their varying arrangements. That being said, the overall mix was a tad dry from the lack of reverbs, which made it slightly taxing on the ears towards the end of the set. However, despite ears pounding, band members Fariz Halim, Gega Darmawan, Dito Setiasa and Fendy Suwardana were powerful performers with amazing stage presence – their showmanship and chemistry set our hearts racing.
Paint The Sky Red were comparatively mellower and dreamier, mostly playing songs from their sophomore album Not All Who Wonder Are Lost, which is inspired by the sounds of US post-rock band Archabald.
How the four-piece band sounds live is markedly different from the music off the record; let’s just say the recordings did them insufficient justice. With extensive usage of pedals, the band comprising Nurazman Rahhim, Nur Hakim Alim, Yasser Abd Wahab and Fahmi Jamal, created intricate textures and harmonising guitar lines. The occasional pad sounds stood out in the mix, soothing and hopeful, like warm rays of the morning sunlight, if we were to put a metaphor to it.
The band’s chemistry showed through effortless transitions between sections, and dynamics and build-ups were well controlled. What came through (that was great), was the unspoken respect that each instrument had for the others, which showed the significance that each member had in every song. Safe to say, it was an enjoyable set that made for easy listening, with dreamy riffs that blended seamlessly with every strum or change of chord – if the song was a living breathing entity, that would be its change of breath.
Deepset closed the night and they certainly made a show of it. Their whole set was no doubt a series of songs, but more than that, it was a journey that we were taken on through their world.
Generally more treble-heavy than the previous bands, Deepset was probably let down by the speakers, which distorted the sound quite a bit for a large part of the set. But that didn’t stop me from riding that musical roller coaster. You could say it added to the grunginess and rawness of their (deep)set.
In addition to creating ambient sounds on the instruments, the band comprising Lufti, Zubir, Asshad and Azwan, inserted a smattering of pauses here and there throughout the performance. In essence, this allowed the silence, occasional shuffling of feet and breath from the audience to become a part of their music. How’s that for engagement? Making use of textures and dynamics, Deepset created musical interpretations of the power of storytelling, which crafted a truly organic experience for us in understanding and feeling what was being expressed.
On the whole, the sound of this ingeniously titled post rock gig was not as balanced as we expected, but each band stepped up to the challenge of making up for the harshness in the mix. Whether it was a cathartic night for post-rock fans or a moment of conversion for those fresh to the genre, we can’t say but it’s a start, and slowly but surely, we’ll be hearing more from post rock and its frontrunners.
Image credits: Offkey SG FB page