44OUT bid farewell last weekend with one last riotous evening of barn-burning tunes. Whether or not, in the end, the ambitious three-course festival was a success is beyond me (it felt empty one moment and then packed to the gills the next) but in terms of musical quality, it’ll be hard to beat. And they could not have picked two better bands to close out with then Absolute Purity and Stolen.
Shanghai’s Absolute Purity have been honing their sound for some time and while we’ll have to wait a little longer before we can hear it full-on record (they’ll be hitting the studio this month) there is an exhilaration to catching the band live. A blissed-out mix of post-punk, electronica, and psychedelic music, with echoes of everything from My Bloody Valentine to the Pixies – they’re a force of nature on stage – led by a Wen Jun, who dips from hot to cold (desperation to innocence) in an instance and accompanied by driving bass and drums. Alluring, affected, and heightened – the kind of set that leaves you dazed.
Speaking of dazed, I was in no way prepared from what Stolen had to offer. It’s been a good four years since I caught the Chengdu stalwarts live and holy cow did they elevate their game. The tightest, most kinetic act I’ve seen all year – laying into the slick techno aesthetics of their sound – there’s a darkwave buzz that feeds into the band’s retro almost gothic take on post-punk genre that pretty much ignited the crowd into a frenzy, as bodies pogoed in delirium and limbs were tossed side to side. Sweat poured down, and you could not wipe the shit-eating grin off my face. That’s how it’s done folks.
Props to 44OUT for attempting to bring a little festival spirit to these dire time, to all the strange and beautiful people we encountered, and of course, the bands and artists providing the perfect weekend soundtrack.