The second instalment of Tiger Translate had a distinctive warm orange glow to the entire venue, which of course is one of the two colour schemes of Tiger – some of the lounge area by the stage were drenched in blue. Similarly, the art installations that were presented at the event took the namesake animal as inspiration. For instance, there was a 2.5m tall sculpture of a tiger’s head by Rukkit Kuanhawate and a tiger glass statue made by local artist Louise Low. There was also a geometric beer hut designed by Hong Kong’s Parent’s Parents, and one could also have a firsthand view at Andrew T Crum live spray-painting on site.
Now, moving on to the music portion of the event; even though there were loads of people at the event, it became increasingly apparent that people were primarily there for mingling as a large majority of people could be found in their gaggles away from the lively main performance stage. However, the event started with Twilight Actiongirl priming people with some inoffensive indie dance tunes, then there was Love Me Butch – who replaced They Will Kill Us All (TWKUA) – with their hard, thundering songs that certainly willed some mid-noughties nostalgia out of us. Though we very much enjoyed the Shah Alam band, it’s unfortunate that TWKUA couldn’t perform that night due to one of their band members suffering an injury. Meanwhile in a smaller dark room away from the main stage, Tim Exile’s collected sound samples from around KL melded with Lightforge’s sound reactive graphics that constructed quite the audiovisual experience.
To our amazement, Taiwanese pop band Wonfu dialled down their over-the-top ensemble for some subdued black and white attire that just made them seem like regular folks, quite unlike the garish, cartoonish costumes they would usually sport during performances. Frontman Yao Xiao-Min was genuinely endearing in his energetic demeanour and he even made personable (Mandarin) conversation with the crowd, but he would catch himself and spout the oft-repeated, “Oh! We can’t talk much now because we wanna play you guys as many songs as we can! We can talk later after the show, alright!” which was then swiftly followed by a yelp – probably a trademark of his every single time he ends a sentence. While stripped of the hoopla of their outlandish getup, the band was still the spitting image of their cute self such as when they played the nursery rhyme of ‘Sherperding’ that came complete with, yes, bleating – but songs such as ‘I Go To Spin When I Was Young’ had the progressive guitar and rhythmic grooves to have everyone bopping their heads.
Even though the slight language barrier didn’t deter us from enjoying Wonfu’s set, unfortunately we really felt the disconnect with My Little Airport as the wordy vocal styling overpowered the music. The shy Hong Kong duo music was reminiscent of the maudlin Cantopop ballads that were the bane of that genre. Their listless performance paralysed the audience and the sudden appearance of a second vocalist just confounded us further. The secondary vocalist stood in the centre of the stage unannounced and started reciting the spoken word portion of the performance. We tried our best to remain as open-minded as possible about My Little Airport, but there were better art to see at the event.
Since Wonfu was jubilant and My Little Airport curiously schmaltzy, Blood Red Shoes (BRS) were a jolt of exhilaration. Sadly, not many who attended Translate would know this because the people who gathered for the UK garage band’s 11pm time slot can hardly be considered a crowd! After making a joke about our country’s humidity, the band made an instant statement with their potent guitar riffs and drums that sounded almost antagonistic in its aggression; especially with the track ‘It’s Getting Boring by the Sea’, especially with drummer Steven Ansell’s menacing gaze as he vehemently struck his percussive instrument. There was no holding back BRS and neither did the enthusiastic head thrashing few. The duo alternated vocally between each other, which resulted in some tonal dynamic within the power of their well-honed sound. Even if we weren’t as familiar with the 10-year-old band, tracks such as ‘Black Distraction’ and ‘Cold’ quickly got us singing along to their infectious, repetitive chorus. Suffice it to say, we enjoyed ourselves.
Tiger Translate 2015 went down on Saturday 13 June ’15.
More photos here.