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This Is Not A Review: Kung Fu Gig

Arriving several hours too early, we (that is, me and ed) managed to stand under the covers at the head of the guest list queue, thanks to Jason from Audio Karate. Anyway, we eventually got in when the doors opened, and reserved our spaces at the left side of the stage, right up against the barrier. After being tortured by The Foo Fighters on repeat, eventually the entertainment started.

The first band up were Tsunami Bomb, whose singer is quite possibly the most beautiful woman in punk today. Overall, it was a good set, with a lot of fun songs which had the crowd jumping around, but there were a few flaws. For starters, the use of only one guitar leaves many of the songs a little one dimensional - there's only so many power chords I can take before I start wanting a guitar solo over the top of a clever riff..... Regardless, the songs were well chosen, and went down well with the crowd. If I had a real grumble about the gig itself, it would be that the sound on the bass was turned up far too high, and drowned out both the guitar and the vocals.

The second band, and the one I had come to see, was Audio Karate, a college/garage/pop/punk/rock type band from Rosemead, California (as I recall). They've been one of my favourite bands lately, due to catchy vocals and guitar of such quality that it doesn't belong in their genre. Comparisons to The Ataris are flung about frequently, but to anybody who thinks they're similar I challenge you this: Sit down and play the hardest Ataris song - not exactly hard. Now play the easiest Audio Karate song - bet you can't. The guitar work is far more complicated, the songs have much more depth (and a varied format), and the overall style feels very different.

They opened with the first track on their debut album, Rosemead, with its unmistakeable drum and lead intro, which despite technical difficulties was still excellent. The fact that they kept playing uninterrupted by said difficulties reflects a certain professionalism which you don't often see in today's highly strung artistic-temperament bands, who walk off-stage at the merest sign of adversity.

They followed that with Drama Club Romance which was, again, excellently performed, with great guitar work. After that they played what I consider their main song, Halfway Decent, which was also the first AK song I ever heard. Watching Jason on guitar confirmed my suspicion that I had the basics of the guitar tab sorted, but was missing out an awful lot of work - both guitars come together really well on that song and the overall effect is one of pure rock. Or something...

Next came Nintendo 89, their current single over here, which was reasonably good, although I can think of songs I'd prefer to hear. And no sooner did I think that than they played Hello St. Louis, one of my favourite tracks. With its melodic guitar immediately before the chorus, and fantastic vocals, it really was a pleasure to listen to. And dance to. And sing along with. By this point, it became apparent to both me and the band that Ed and I really were in a minority among the audience, knowing all the words to all the songs. People were getting into the music, certainly, but nobody really seemed to know who they were listening to. It was a shame really... Still, the band seemed to notice that we were rocking out :o)

The next song, which they dedicated to my brother, was Do You Miss Meaning Everything To Me, which was recorded for their album but didn't make it on. As such, even the guys in the audience who knew a few songs didn't know the words to it. But Ed and I did, so we screamed along for them - it is his favourite song, after all... They followed that with Senior Year (the "yeah yeah yeah"s from the audience were poor - I dunno what's wrong with those damned Vandals fans), and finished with Jason, probably my favourite AK song (after Speak and the Devil Appears). The chorus to that was just fantastic, I really love the melody...

After the gig had finished, Jason came to the front and spoke to me and Ed, which seemed to impress the people standing around us ("Do you know him?!", "What's his name?", "Tell him we're your friends"). We then made our way upstairs to the merchandise stall, and met the whole band and chatted to all of them for a bit (though mostly Jason). They're all really cool, down to earth guys, which I wasn't entirely expecting. The fact that they're supporting one of the biggest punk bands around on a tour abroad doesn't seem to have gone to their heads - they're just your average guitar-playing beer-drinking fun guys. All very cool...

From various conversations we learned that they might be putting out an EP before their next album, which will have four songs on it that they'll be recording soon, apparently. Also, they're probably going to re-record Speak and the Devil Appears for their second album, due out late '03 or early '04. And finally, there's talk of them headlining their own tour in the spring, supported by Rufio, which I will certainly be going to see.

Anyway, after a bit more chatting to the band, and the purchasing of some t-shirts, we headed off back to our respective homes, having experienced the best gig of our lives.

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Since it's the same as mine, and everything. :oD

audiokarate drink guitars? wow. :D

I was very tired....

sure, sure... that's what they all say. ;)

thanks to Jason from Audio Karate

and Ed.

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