Tuesday, November 29, 2016

BADBADNOTGOOD Live in Manila

Per my previous show review, I went to see British indie folk singer-songwriter Lucy Rose last week over at 12 Monkeys - and on a Monday night no less. That show was way better than I initially expected it to be and I even got to have my own photo taken with no other than Ms. Parton herself. Come the very next night, I went to see Canadian quartet BADBADNOTGOOD over at Black Market simply because aside from being quite into jazz myself[1], I just didn’t want to miss out on a band whose overall sound the late great Ornette Coleman had once best described in a landmark of record of his as “the shape of jazz to come”.

Support was provided on the night of Nov 22 by producer Lustbass[2] and synthpop duo Manila Magic, both of which I previously haven’t heard yet. While both acts did a rather good job at keeping the crowd all hyped that night, I strongly believe that Lustbass should’ve been the immediate opening act right just before the headliners themselves instead of being the opener for the entire show proper as his entire set is almost a dead ringer for some of BADBADNOTGOOD’s stuff that he could’ve very easily provided some much-needed warm-up tuneage while the BBNG guys were setting up.

Lustbass (right) with guest rapper RH Xanders

I hate to say this but I suddenly realized upon watching Manila Magic do their, uhm, magic live that their sole single called “In the Night” sounded quite good on record[3] but almost felt like an entirely different, poorly performed song when done live sans reverb. Their cover of the late Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror” also seemed to me as if I was watching two teenagers doing their best karaoke rendition of the song[4] while trying a bit too hard to sound like Bruno Mars for whatever reason. It didn’t help of course that the rest of Manila Magic’s set almost looked like the duo took more than a few pages off of The 1975’s playbook which frankly left me unimpressed given how I’m not really a fan of Matt Healy’s band at all. Granted of course that Manila Magic and its two members are still a young bunch but with one of them doing a daytime stint as a musician for a noontime show’s in-house band for quite a while already, one would’ve thought that the duo could’ve honed their craft by now. Unfortunately, their official Facebook page is admittedly a bit depressing to look at as it seems to me like they haven’t been going out that much to prove themselves worthy of being taken seriously as an emerging act in the local indie scene. What I think Manila Magic should do perhaps beginning next month is to get more gigs and sculpt their synthpop sound into something approximating a sincere throwback to the 80’s as filtered through the lens of the millennial generation. Only then could Manila Magic be ultimately deserving in my humble opinion of being an immediate opening act for a foreign band.

That's some really trippy background visuals right there, boys! 😂

After being treated to what amounted to me as a couple of teenagers failing to completely capture that 80’s vibe, I felt more than relieved that it was BADBADNOTGOOD’s turn to hit the stage - or lack thereof as all their instruments and gear had been laid out at ground level with only a makeshift velvet rope cordon serving as a boundary between band and crowd. As BBNG’s most recent live clips on YouTube found them performing in huge festival stages, the band members themselves surely must have felt more at home with a small venue such as Black Market that it somewhat translated into a set that lasted for a whopping two hours(!!), probably the longest set of any band I’ve witnessed ever since I first started going to shows back in 2012[5].

Jazz for your soul.

Drummer Alex Sowinski sure pounded the hell out of those skins like a madman on the loose that I actually can't help but wonder while watching him play if he might want to form either a hardcore or metal side project in the near future. He also did most of the banter as the de facto leader of the entire band that I can't help but be left utterly amazed as to just how much energy he’s got going all along.

Whiplash

Saxophonist Leland Whitty and bassist Chester Hansen also went beyond their designated roles in the band as the former also played cowbell and tambourine that night while the latter provided some additional beats via MPC. Good thing of course that the crowd that night was able to match the band’s relentless energy as almost everyone was bopping their heads rather vigorously, dancing, screaming and even jumping along during a portion of the last song “CS60”.

d00t

MPC beats for your soul.

Just when I thought jazz gigs here in the country have often been relegated within the confines of strip malls, expensive hotels and boring corporate parties with mostly middle and senior management types in attendance, I’m definitely more than glad that a band like BADBADNOTGOOD who does some really lean, mean and energetic jazz catering towards a younger, more musically informed crowd FINALLY got brought here by Intastella Burst and was more than well-received for the entire two-hour duration of their set. To conclude this writeup, BBNG’s show last Nov 22 has been one that is totally for the books. Really hoping now for more quality jazz acts to visit the country anytime soon.

Three show reviews down and one more to go in which I have an awful lot to write about.


1 Except for its slicker, more smooth-sounding variant that dominated terrestrial radio for much of the 90’s but has since gone on to become sample fodder for a lot of vaporwave artists to chop and screw as they wish.
2 As joined by saxophonist Roxy Modesto of Radioactive Sago Project and rap artist RH Xanders.
3 In which I had previously written for a Facebook music page that “In the Night” has all the trademarks of a certified hit if it was released sometime in the 80’s instead of this year and then some (I recall having compared their sound - at least based on that single alone - to that of Hall and Oates); shame on me then for not waiting until I get to hear that very same song performed in a live setting before making a write-up about it.
4 Which makes all those awful covers from local r&b singers whose names I would rather forget seem good by comparison.
5 All those BBNG live clips on YouTube usually last for only an hour on the average, thus my surprised reaction that the band had maintained more than enough stamina that night to play music of a mostly improvisational nature in an indoor venue.

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