The Ray Ban party is supposed to start at 5 pm, but when we sign up for our tickets (and 20 years of spam), the doors are still sealed. Maybe the concept is so secretive nobody is supposed to show up. Or did they simply forget to send invitations? I guess they ran out of budget after somebody decided to put the air conditioning on minus 15.
Inside the KL Live hall, a new ice age has started. But the decoration is absolutely mind-blowing: video projections, walls to paint on, a photo booth, great lightshow and a giant pair of Ray Ban spectacles. But even through giant glasses, I can’t spot a crowd.
The party theme is ‘Change’ and Shawn Lee - Malaysia’s number 1 beat boxer - takes the stage to spit some rhythms into the mic. Groups of beat boxers – like Bauchklang from Austria – can do the most amazing things. But solo, Shawn can only switch from one drum roll to another, just like animal sounds imitators can only go from Waf-Waf to Meow-Meow. He has the looks, the pose and the shoes but not the act. What was the party theme again? Change, thanks.
Next is the fierce looking female DJ Arabyrd. In one of the promo films, she talks about: “expressing herself through music.” Like every DJ, that basically means playing records of other people expressing themselves through music. After 1 song, she takes off her jacket, only to put it back on. That air con is really strong. But the beats are addictive and dancing saves us from frostbites.
While an army of roadies cleans the stage, the MC throws in another annoying interview. “Is it true that DJ’s can’t dance” is a great question for DJ Arabyrd. Unfortunately we can’t put it to the test as the roadies have already removed the sound system. Where’s that beat boxer when you need one?
Meanwhile, the Asahi promo team goes all IN and starts giving away their entire stock. No vouchers needed, every 5 minutes a waiter passes by, almost begging to clean his tray. Just in time because our nerves are tested again. The MC now launches an endless series of silly games. I never longed for change so hard in my life.
Parties really don’t need change. They need good classic bands. Like Malaysia’s finest indie band: Kyoto Protocol, hitting the same stage they shared with Jack Black a year ago. Only now, there’s a crowd of 300, not 3000. But who cares? With Kyoto Protocol the temperature rises to party level. Mi legs! Mi legs! They’re alive! And they can’t stay still on Kyoto’s cocktail of B52’s, funk on the rocks and Benny Hill nonsense.
The band is playing an easy home match, but sounds tighter than on previous gigs. Drummer Shan normally jumps from behind his drum kit in Lars Ulrich fashion. Maybe he’s afraid of heights, as he literally got upgraded to a special drum stage. Singer Fuad does his usual stand-up comedy and finds a helpful partner in keyboardist Gael. Bassist Shakeil looks solid like a rock. And guitarist Hairi still has the best hair since Johnny Marr.
“Still Alive” sounds ballsy – gosh, that chorus is so addictive. Crowd pleaser “Pussycat” – the song that launched them into stardom – passes the setlist but never really does it for me. I’m a “Jelita” man. That was my Youtube introduction to the band. When I first saw the stop motion video, I thought Kyoto Protocol had a sweet female singer and some shy musicians in the background. Oh boy, was I in for a surprise when I discovered them live. ‘Jelita’ was once penned in Malay for a TV show and the melodic Bahasa gives it an extra sugary touch. It always works for me. So yeah, party4change, but never change the songs.
It’s a shame for Ray Ban so little people showed up. Maybe it's time 4 ... what was the word again?