Voodoo Kungfu at Mao Live — Downhill Descent
Roughly about two years ago, I had one of the most memorable gigging experiences in Beijing when I managed to catch ChunQuiu Unpluged at jianghu, Voodoo Kungfu and the Folk Orchestra at Mao Live and finally the tail end of The Tag Team Christmas Shindig featuring none other that Ziyo… amazing night I’m telling you! Fast forward two years, Voodoo Kungfu is back to the scene of the crime, albeit without the folk orchestra.
I did see the band about 4 times this year with the better performance being their short lived headlining set at MIDI.I had high hopes that they would be bringing their A game to Mao Live and show Beijing that they still had it. One would think that the band would have a sense of urgency given that they haven’t really managed to cross over at the level they expected especially with that humiliating participation at the summersonic competition.
Mao was comfortably packed when I got there with J-Curls, Ruby and Ms Glee. There wasn’t much in terms of stage decoration but I’m learning that it’s a standard thing with the band. The show from 2 years ago was an exception… The place erupted when the band finally came on stage and we got started.. at least the computer did.
For the next 45 minutes, I stood there watching and listening in horror realizing that more than half of the music was just audio samples coming from some console or laptop. No matter how good they were, it oughta be criminal to have 2 musicians ( bass and guitar) just standing onstage for more than 3 minutes of a 5 minute while the singer is running around like a maniac screeching and wailing his way around the place. It’s an energy mismatch….
I can deal with it if it happens once or twice but not for the whole freaking show… These songs were crafted with more folk parts and they need the musicians to do it properly.
Of all the songs they did that night, the ones where I went wild were the ones with a low level of samples, mostly their cover of Slayer’s Reign in Blood which was pretty darn amazing. The other strong points of the evening were 西藏 and 只有神能评判我 during which they recaptured that Pagan ceremonial undertone to that I’ve come to love and expect from a Voodoo Kungfu show.
Still, when you’ve seen greatness, you can’t settle for a measly imitation no matter how good this imitation is.
By all accounts, if Friday night was someone’s first time watching Voodoo Kungfu, they would have come out impressed thinking that it was an interesting Metal band. Unfortunately, those of us that have seen them for sometime know that it’s just wrong and they’re much better than that. I can’t even really blame the new guitar player because it’s not like he has much to play.
It wasn’t all negative… one of the brightest points was to see how far drummer Shenzi Jun 申子俊 had come along in the one year he’s been with the band. He has developed into one of the better beatman on the scene and matches Li Nan in energy. His drumming was the highlight of Friday night.
I’ve had Voodoo Kungfu as a “must-not-miss” since pretty much the first time i’ve seen then but i don’t think it’s gonna be the case anymore. If I’m gonna listen to samples, I’ll do it from the comfort of my own home…. I really felt cheated on Friday then just walked out of Mao. Thankfully, an unexpected encounter with the Oi Boys (Misandao) at Temple salvaged the night.