Gig Recap: Underdog, Loudspeaker, Round Eye (2021.02.05)

Underdog 败犬, Loudspeaker 扩音器, Round Eye (Yuyintang 2021.02.05)

Live China Music’s last gig of the Year of the Rat and what a ride it’s been. Not even gonna bother calculating how many nights I’ve spent in the confines of a livehouse this past year — simply put, a lot. I headed to none other than Yuyintang last Friday to catch Beijing’s Underdog – a band that I fell into dirty love with back in my old stomping grounds. And good fun indeed was had.

Things kicked off with crust hardcore thrashers Loudspeaker, seasoned pros of the Shanghai punk scene for nearly twenty years. Essentially they’re the black coffee of hardcore – unfiltered, unruly, and roughhhh as fuck. I’m amazed the singer is still able to hit those guttural vocals with such malevolence still. There’s a bluntness to the band’s musicality that’s fascinating, though there are moments where its conviction feels ill-earned. Nevertheless, Loudspeaker are the rare breed of punk whose ruggedness makes them stand out from the rest.

A mess of personalities and styles that’s akin to that twelve-year-old ass clown begging for attention – you knew things when off to a bad start with Round Eye as soon as the frontman tripped over a mic stand setting off a chain of events that felt all too much like a Three Stooges skit gone wrong, eventually leading to the guitarist wailing in pain (respectfully internalizing it as much as possible). The thing is – when a band like this is dialed up to eleven straight out of the gate, there’s nowhere to go but down. Giddily mashing together tirades against Trump, the Big Red, and just about anything that irks them, there’s an obnoxious neediness that spills out of the band’s larger-than-life on-stage personas – chic Popeye attire, strung-out faux junkie tics, mid-life crisis CrossFit instructors, and the lovechild of Carrot Top and Richard Simmons – all threatening to tear a hole through the fourth wall. (Never change)

The evening closed out with Beijing supergroup Underdog (featuring members of SMZB, Casino Demon, and Dr. Liu & the Human Centipede). Lyrically driven with a keen sense of structure, chops, and tender humor, they deliver one dusty horn-infused, harmonica pimping ska anthem after another. A class act of old-school ska punk, bluegrass swag and rockabilly charm that immediately wins you over. With empathy deep within its bones, there’s something authentically old school about the band – a maturity that reveals itself through their rustic charm, rhythmic control and uncompromising defiance. Earnest and riotous all at once.

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