Archive for at war with gods

Terror in Bangkok

Posted in Thailand with tags , , , , on March 17, 2011 by Alright Jack
 

I suppose this is the first guest post on Jagged Visions. I am the Jagged Vision’s creator’s younger brother and currently living in Bangkok for perhaps up to a year (it’s sort of unplanned still). I thought it’d be cool to write a little about punk and underground culture here in Thailand. Enjoy.

 

Last Tuesday I saw Terror play in Bangkok. I missed the first Thai band as the flyer said the show would start 7:30. In Europe this usually means that the door is open at 7:30 and the first band starts at 8:30/9pm, but here the second band was almost already finished when I walked in. At war with Gods from Melbourne sounded cool, but sort of standard, the crowd went crazy on it though. But from what I’ve heard the response to the first Thai band “10 baht per hour” was much crazier than to the Australian band. I’m a bit angry about missing out on the first band, but I’m sure I’ll have a second chance here in Bangkok. Terror from the first seconds was complete mayhem. It’s been a while since I’ve seen show with this amount of headwalks, crazy jumps and moshing. And Scott Vogel continued to call for “more stagedives, more stagedives, more stagedives!”. It’s never enough for that guy. Anyway, Terror seemed to enjoy themselves and played as you’d expect them to. It reminded me of the craziest Terror shows back in 2004 in the Netherlands. You don’t see this stuff all that often in the Netherlands anno 2011. Thankfully more than half of the songs they played were from One with the Underdogs and Lowest of the Low, which is the only stuff I’m able to recognize.

The one thing that bugs me a bit is the entree fee of 600 baht. 600 baht translates into 15 euro, which I would already consider to be a lot of money for a punk gig in the Netherlands, and for normal Thai people here that’s an awful lot of money. Unless you’re from a priviliged background or have a good job (and there are of course plenty of rich Thai people), the monthly rent for your apartment for 50-75 euro a month here. To then spend 15 euro on a punk gig is rather insane. It’s like what you pay to see Metallica and Iron Maiden play in the Netherlands. But then for a hardcore band that barely lasts 30 minutes. And then doesn’t even play an encore. I’m not saying that punk bands should play more than 30 minutes. I usually hate encores. I like it short and powerful, and I’m sure Terror isn’t going to make a lot of money out of it. But still… I guess it’s just fucking expensive to have a Western band come over here considering flight-tickets and all.

Picture from Siam hardcore website

The place itself, the Rock Bar, was also horribly commercial and filled with kitschy objects. The drinks are expensive, resulting in a venue where the only people drinking inside are farang (foreigners), while all the Thais are sitting outside drinking cheap booze bought from the convenience store. In general this seems to be a problem in Bangkok. All the clubs and bars are horribly commercial. Not many places feel authentic or have character, it’s all kitsch. And unless you like Thai pop-music, there are not too many real cool places for going out. At first sight it seems underground culture is rather undeveloped. Considering the amount of empty buildings (abandoned skyscrapers for fucks sake!) there should be plenty of space for people to organize and set up things together. I know the authorities are probably a bit less easygoing on squatters and diy initiatives than in West-Europe. Here you might just have a 40 cops armed with batons and teargas ready to break some faces show up during an event. I have no idea. But the people living in the slums of klong thoey can be considered to be squatters and  seem to be quite succesful in resisting the police and the interests big capital. So it might be something that could be developed. The only proper underground venue in Bangkok I’ve found so far is The Overstay, which is an unorganized hostel owned by a French guy in which cool stuff is organized from time to time.

Thai HC kid with a patriotic No Turning Back shirt

It seems to be a rather small punk scene. Terror would probably attract a bit more people on a week-show in the Netherlands, even when they play there 10 times a year. But there should be potential considering there is plenty of disenfranchised youth around. Funny to me is that you have exactly the same fashion, dancing, posing and punk music style as back in the West. It’s pretty much all copied, but that’s of course exactly the same for contemporary hardcore kids in Europe and the US. You see a bit more bandana’s than in Europe, and just as with Latino’s, bandana’s seems to fit Thai people much more than white hardcore kids.

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