Gig Recap: The Bootlegs, ROMO, Pacalolo, GOINDOWN (2021.10.30)

The Bootlegs 靴腿, ROMO 如梦, Pacalolo, GOINDOWN – VAS Live 2021.10.30

You know Halloween weekend means business when you head over to VAS Live expecting a full house of drunken gig-goers and instead find just a smattering of fans, most of whom kept their distance from the front stage (opting to utilize VAS tier-set up). It was a bit disheartening, especially considering some of these bands have been known to sell out shows here on their own, but hey, you’ve got to roll with the punches. And who doesn’t like a bit more dancing room for themselves (and smaller lines to the open bar which came with the ticket price)? 

The night kicked off with a set from Wuhan post punk up and comers ROMO who dropped their debut on Maybe Mars this summer. This was my first time catching them and was glad I did – a paranoid-laced melodic fever dream that leans into the genres more ethereal side – I was surprised at how catchy some of their tracks were. And while it may be easy to make comparisons to other bands of their ilk (I.e Fazi, Lonely Leary) they have tapped into something authentically somber. Can’t wait to see them again. 

Since first hearing their 2019 debut EP, I’ve been something of a fanboy of Qingdao’s The Bootlegs. Lo-fi dream pop that seems to be charged up at twice the speed; embedded with a surf pop charm and a propulsive go-for-broke exuberance, the band hits a nerve with me and I can’t help but be swept up in its glorious convergence of distorted vocals, jangly guitar riffs and simmering grooves. It’s a visceral reaction and one that is immediate as soon as those drums kick in. Bliss.

This was also my first outing with Chengdu ska punks GOINDOWN, who broke onto the punk scene in 2018, and made up of a motley crew of Chengdu regulars, including members of Deep Water, JahWahZoo, GaiWaEr, and more. Genuine, foot-tapping ska music that’s earnest, lyrically rich and a hell of a good time. What more do you want. 

It has been years since I’ve last seen Beijing electro rock veterans Pacalolo, and it was great to see how much they’ve grown and how much their quirky, cheeky, bombastic brand of music has caught on with audiences around China. They’re entertainers through and through and were the perfect bookend to a long messy Halloween weekend. 

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