To be perfectly honest with you, I hadn’t listened to Boys Climbing Ropes before I saw them. I’d caught them accidentally at the Strawberry Festival in 2009, but wasn’t so impressed and so I never bothered with them again. I didn’t let myself be swayed by that, though, and trusted my friends’ opinions and went along anyway. It was, as it turns out, the best decision, because I was very impressed by what I saw, and this was when they were playing at 12:30 after four opening acts.
Yes you read that right, four opening acts. There were originally only two, and I don’t know where Thruoutin and Cassette snuck in, but they did. It worked out okay, though. I only caught the end of Thruoutin’s set, but it was quite good, and a friend of mine told me he was doing some interesting things with a sitar.… Second up was X is Y, who I’d seen at D-22 this time last year, but I missed them being upstairs.
Third up was Residence A, and while I have said almost as much as I can say about them, I must note that this was an amazing show for them. Their regular bass player was back after six weeks off for a hand injury, and the entire band was in fine form. I’m not sure what it was — if it was anything at all — but it was clear that they were having a good night. They interacted with the crowd a little more, showed off a little more, performed a little more, and it all added up to probably the best show of theirs I have been to.
Unfortunately, Cassette after them just felt lacklustre and boring in comparison. The female vocalist was clearly going for the Helen Feng effect, though instead of coming off as alluring and sexy as she played her synth, she just sort of looked like a pole dancer with a Nintendo controller. A friend noted that with her long black hair, she looked like something out of a Japanese horror film. In any case, that distracted from the music so much I honestly don’t remember what they sounded like, but I’m not sure that the first impression will have me back to see them any time soon.
Finally, half an hour after midnight, Boys Climbing Ropes took the stage to a small but energetic crowd who had all clearly been drinking since the first band. There was lots of crazy hipster dancing and drinks splashing around, but I can understand why. Boys Climbing Ropes were amazing. The energy of Xiao Punk is completely infectious, and their sound is down and dirty indie rock like we know and love it. Their lyrics are also great, and I think everyone in the crowd identified a little too much with “Grow Up” (“grow up grow up stop fucking around” — sound familiar, anyone?), and I think I’ve found a new favorite to spin alongside Residence A. There’s something indescribable about what having a practiced Western hand in the music does, but you can hear it in every beat. I loved it, and I can’t wait until they’re back in Beijing.
For now, check out their Douban and enjoy the hell out of them.