GBoB Heat 1 at 2 Kolegas: A shaky kickstart with a good surprise.

I wasn’t supposed to be in town for this one but things ended up working out differently and by golly, I wasn’t about to miss it. With Beijing’s own RUSTIC winning the global battle for the 2010 edition, I expected a rush of bands to enter this year. Unfortunately, it hasn’t been the case.

I made it to 2 Kolegas earlier than ever at 9:00 pm, afraid to miss out on the goods and I definitely got there before things kicked off. It was a new different crowd that seemed mostly made up of musicians and their friends with a few usual suspects. The ever friendly Tofu wasn’t sure about any of the details like the number of bands playing, program or what now but i quickly tracked down some familiar places that might know.

There were 3 participants on tap for the evening: Velvet Highway, A公馆 (Residence A) and Kick Ass. They appeared in that particular order!

Velvet Highway were up first! The band got themselves on stage and started playing the intro to Motley Crue’s Too Fast For Love to their original song. The singer came out from the back looking like a throwback version of Axl Rose from the Appetite for Destruction era. They played one song which in retrospect was not bad at all but could not escape the earlier impression that they ripped off Motley Crue. This statement came out of two judges, not just yours truly!

A公馆 (residence A) was up next. I have never seen the band before but Rikki of Rustic fame mentions them as one of his favorite new shows in town. I looked at them and thought they would be eaten alive by the audience… I was wrong! The band was actually a lot better than they looked while delivering 3 songs to take them over the allocated 8mn per band. Still, I can tell you that they rocked the shit out of 2 Kolegas that night with their songs and I was actually jumping up and down during their set. I’m definitely gonna try catching them again. Jean Sebastian, of Insurance Salesmen fame, was quite impressed as well by their performance and lyrics… they should view that as a compliment.

Last but not least was Kick Ass. I’ve known Mess ( The straight Haired Slash) for a while now and was happy to see him enter his band in GBoB. They took a bit of time to get set up and then kickstarted the show only to stop again due to malfunctioning equipment. It took the staff a good 10mn to get them goign again. A Friend of mine coined the perfect sentence to describe Kick Ass: A dive bar’s Velvet Revolver.. I couldn’t agree more. On Friday, their performance was musically sound but the vocals were just not there! They played through 2 songs which the audience, made up from a lot of the band’s friends, was cheering to.

On the night, A公馆 impressed the judges while Kick Ass impressed the audience as the tally below illustrates. Both are moving on to the Beijing Final on September 26 at Yugong Yishan.

It worth nothing that A公馆 was really cool about coming back up and playing a few more songs for the few folks who had made the trek out to liangmaqiao. I wish all 3 bands did that…

Some thought from the night:

  1. Something doesn’t add up! With a band from Beijing winning the world Battle of the Bands, this event should have been packed. instead, only 3 bands entered this heat and the 9/11 heat at D-22 had to be cancelled because of low interest. weird.. weird… the next two legs are rumored to be full so here’s hoping for more of a show.
  2. I was not impressed with the judges/organizers not knowing the name of the bands… it took me 2 hours googling to find out that the first band was Velvet Highway as opposed to Velvet Rose/Rope. Maybe a printed list of names would help.
  3. The sound at 2 Kolegas is getting a bit shaky as of late. There was a noticeable buzzing noise that could have cost Kick Ass a spot in the final if not for the audience. They were clearly better than what they sounded like.
  4. GBoB associating themselves with Time Out might have cost them a bit of free press on this one in terms of interest and attendance. None of the other expat magazines/sites mentioned the event….. food for thoughts.

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