Subway Stars / KLPHQ / Furniture (Substation, 27 Nov 2005)

I arrived from Resfest too late to see the first band, Life Without Dreams. Subway Stars were up next. Here is the blurb describing Subway Stars:

“Drawing influences from Radiohead, Muse, Coldplay, Travis and Silverchair, The Subway Stars aims to instill a raw sense of emotion towards their listeners, instigating the fact that there is an escape from everyone’s sadness and despair.”

I think the blurb speaks for itself. And indeed, the performance did help Jacob find escape from his sadness and despair – by leaving the venue for a beer break. Let’s move on, shall we?

Next up, KLPHQ. In the online review I’ve read of the gig, and other comments people have made to me in conversation, everyone seems to be under the impression that KLPHQ “almost” stole the show from Furniture. Dude, when it comes to stealing shows KLPHQ were that gig’s Bonnie and Clyde. If you ask me, the show left the stage with KLPHQ, got smuggled across the Causeway and squirrelled away in a Swiss bank account.

But before I can try to describe what impressed me about KLPHQ, I need to first do a ranty prelude about what does not impress me in live post-rock.

I’m always wary of bands who descend into extended jams which go nowhere but simply rely on the usual quiet-loud dichotomies to elicit a response. It’s lazy and derivative and not particularly interesting to listen to unless you’re stoned, in which case the sound of a dripping tap might fascinate you equally. Frankly, rather than suffering through post-rock-by-numbers most fans of long instrumentals with hugely contrasting dynamics would find themselves much better off with some Mahler. But despite this, indie kids will still stand around blissing out to turgid 20-minute dronefests when they would never countenance the same sort of dreck from mainstream US college “jam bands” like Phish or DMB.

So (rant over, thanks for staying with me) the reason KLPHQ impressed me and kept me engaged, and I do realize this is all totally subjective, is that nothing ever felt aimless or over-indulgent about their performance, and they sounded distinctive. The thing about the whole quiet-loud thing is that there are so many kinds of quiet, and so many kinds of loud, and so many ways to get there and move on, so when I hear something which sounds totally lifted from a song by some famous post-rock band it irks me. Thankfully, this never happened with KLPHQ. They were tight without sounding rehearsed, unhurried without becoming tedious, and fucking searing in all the right places. Never a dull moment.

I admit I was tired and hungry by the time Furniture came on which may have affected my enjoyment of their set, but it was the third time I’d seen them live and my opinion of them just hasn’t improved. Feel free to disagree if you were at the gig and think otherwise, perhaps it’s just me?


  1. Who are KLPHQ?! I’m such a dweeb. And they’re from my hometown. I have to stop being such a snob and start paying more attention to local bands. That don’t suck.

  2. Well, KLPHQ did quip during the gig that they are far more popular in Singapore than KL. But seriously, I still don’t get why you don’t go to more local (KL) gigs. Even if some may suck, which they often do, it’s not like there’s a huge amount of other better stuff to do. (Or at least, in Singapore there isn’t.) And every now and then you do get very pleasantly surprised!

  3. Yeah you’re right. It’d be good to do something different once in a while. Beats getting snubbed by girls at clubs every weekend.

  4. I’ve heard these post-rock chicks are all desperate, Benny. You could go to some gigs and help them escape from their sadness and despair. Two birds. One stone.

    Michelle neglected to mention that “KLPHQ” stands for “Kuala Lumpur Post Harmonic Quintet” which is like the least promising band name EVER. So it was all the more surprising how good they are.

  5. Laces: What, worse than Dreams Of Day Architecture? For me, KLPHQ is so totally overblown that it actually crosses the line from insufferable pretension *back* into lovable kitsch eccentricity. As geographical band names go, I think Mull Historical Society screams loser louder than any other.

    (Also, surely battling the forces of post-rock chick sadness and despair is more ideally done with one bird and two stones.)

  6. Post-rock chicks? I dunno about that. I’m depressed enough as it is. Hanging out with another depressed chick would probably kill me. We’d probably end up crying at the gig together.

    And have hot, emotional sex after that. While listening to Slowdive.


  7. But Slowdive is SHOEGAZE not post-rock! If you put that on during your hot emotional sex she might think you *shock! horror!* DON’T KNOW THE DIFFERENCE, at which point she’ll tell all the other post-rock chicks that you don’t know your Loveless from your Lift Yr Skinny Fists and then you’ll become a (drumroll please…) LAUGHING STOCK.

    (I’m doing that snort giggle at my own music nerd jokes now.)

  8. Shut up, you ungrateful !@#$%^&*. It is I who introduced you to Talk Talk. It’d be wise for you not to challenge your master.

    Besides, I don’t think the chick would care whether it’s postgaze or shoerock. Not when the sex is HOT. And hot sex is what I gives. Of course, I’m also a sensitive caring guy who still cries while watching ‘The English Patient’. Not only because it reminds me of how long I haven’t been laid, but also because I’m genuinely in touch with my emotions.

  9. You guys just made me spend several minutes wondering what it would be like making sweet love to the sounds of Bright Eyes. This was not a nice thought.

  10. While we’re on the topic, check out this awesome ILE thread from a while back, where a couple of regulars in disguise as “Sami Jheryylkanyga” and “Janne Karlson” do a fake discussion about making love to black metal.

  11. my god, bright eyes *claws own eyes out*

    i saw him at a gig in melbourne. i had to leave early or else end up throwing up all over the bar counter.

  12. also, will someone please tell these bands to think through their blurbs a little more carefully? how the hell do you ‘instigate a fact’? and instill an emotion ‘towards’ a listener?

  13. Ha ha notchy, I got irritated with the very same mistakes in the blurb, but decided not to rub salt in the wound!

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