Tuesday April 5, 2005
The Times and OAG in an impressive showcase at Hard RockBy ZACK YUSOF
Much has been made in local alternative circles about the alleged feud between The Times and OAG but at their gig at the Hard Rock Café in Kuala Lumpur last Saturday – the latest instalment in the venue’s popular Saturday Rock Fever series – both bands kissed and made up in true rock ’n’ roll fashion by delivering blistering back-to-back sets on an enjoyable double bill that buzzed on the music rather than controversy, rumour and bad blood.
After all the stories that have been written about both bands late last year following the shock departure of key OAG members – Natazar and Alim – to form The Times in a creative knee-jerk reaction to OAG’s shift towards a softer, more mainstream musical direction, it certainly was good to see both bands close the book on all the gossip in a bid to let their music do all the talking instead.
OAG’s guitarist (Sizul, left) and frontman (Radhi) rocking it live at the Hard Rock Cafe last Saturday.
Shuffling on stage all skinny, dishevelled and shaggy-haired like a local version of Oasis, The Times certainly looked the part of a bad-a** rock ’n’ roll outfit. But the burning question was whether or not they had the required chops to deliver the music to match their impressive presentation. With the band’s Clockwork Records debut Soda Pop Rok ’n’ Roll having garnered a lot of favourable press upon its release last October, the anticipation in the audience as the KL based six-piece took to the stage was certainly high. The 200-odd indie rock kids who turned up knew this bunch had the music to match the attitude.
As it turned out, The Times managed to deliver a feisty nine-song set of material culled mainly from its debut album that succeeded in highlighting its burgeoning potential. For the band that came together in a hurry, these lads have obviously been working hard in rehearsals to get their act together and it showed in how tight they played as a unit on the day.
Musically, The Times are obviously indebted to British indie rock and make no effort to hide their desire to want to wear their musical influences like Pulp, Oasis and Franz Ferdinand proudly on their sleeves. Playing with passion and gusto, accessible indie anthems like the strutting opener Nostalgia Curang Rok ’n’ Roll, Lagu Bintang, the rousing Disko Dansa and Ghosts N Flower did the trick in getting the afternoon audience all hot under the collar.
Prowling the stage with intent (and good humour), singer/ frontman Natazar was the consummate showman and adopted the kind of live swagger that Liam Gallagher has made a lucrative career of. Interacting with the crowd throughout the set, the singer did well to establish a strong connection between the audience and band.
Another indie frontman that is certainly also no shrinking violet on stage is OAG’s effervescent mainstay Radhi. Bouncing on stage to a rapturous reception from the crowd, the charismatic mop-topped singer proceeded to hurl himself into a bustling performance full of energy and vigour. Freed from guitar-playing duties, Radhi was left to concentrate on singing and whipping up the frenzied crowd.
The Times’ shaggy-haired singer, Natazar,was the consummate showman.
Drawing from its extensive 10-year back catalogue, OAG delivered a greatest hits set that went down a treat. A decade on, OAG’s stock–in-trade remains ridiculously catchy power pop and with the band now extended into a slick sounding five-piece, its trademark sound has developed into a more muscular and meatier version, especially in a live context. Like a local version of Brit indie favourites Ash and Supergrass, OAG’s music is infectious, hugely melodic guitar pop with hooks-a-plenty and it plays like a dream to a indie audience on a mission to mosh hard and sing along with the band.
With the band sounding well-rehearsed and energised, each song was greeted like a long-lost friend. Ever popular OAG anthems like Beautifool, Can’t See That, Ikhlas, 60s TV, Aku Statik, Slumber, Knocked Silly, Konspirasi Bising International were just rolled out one after the other to a joyous reception few other indie bands in Malaysia can muster up. Make no mistake: OAG can rock it with the best of them.
At the Hard Rock Café on Saturday, all controversy between The Times and OAG took a back seat to the music, much to the enjoyment of everyone present. Judging by how good both bands sounded, there’s certainly more than enough room for both to grow and flourish in the local alternative scene with nothing but healthy competition between them. After all, one can never get enough of a good thing.