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Battle of the Bands – Final Heat

 

 

The night is hot and sultry with not a breath of breeze. Inside the temperature is soaring, not just with the press of sweating bodies crushed shoulder to shoulder, but with the excitement and tension of competition. It’s the final heat of the battle of the bands and the contest is as hot as hell.

Club 13 is rammed with a mass of youthful energy to see four bands fight out Tianjin’s final round. Each group is the winner from a previous round. Tonight’s clash comes to a climax with the champion going forward to other cities in the Tiger beer sponsored search for Chinas top rock act.

You would expect ‘Hangover’ to be at the end of the night rather than kicking off the evening. True to their name, their set begins with a head banging rhythm from a wall of guitars wielded by their three front men. If there was a prize for enthusiasm they would win, but fun though it is, like the night before the morning after, memory of their performance is, later, a little hazy.

2nd on stage, ‘Li Liang Jie and Rock’, are the less conventional of the 4 acts, looking like a cross between a Tianjin Talk show and a more familiar rock band. The lead singer plays a San Xian (Chinese traditional guitar) and a big guy smashes into a large Chinese drum. The sound is heavy on rhythm and reliant on the humorous lyrics often sounding more chanted than sung. 

‘Mr.’ are the liveliest, somehow managing to stay looking cool while jumping and fist pumping their way through their high energy set. The have a catchy soft rock song ‘My Girl’ whose chorus is burned into the brain long after their act is finished. They own the stage like veteran stars and even manage to get a portion of the crowd enthusiastically moshing.

Last up are the 3 piece rockers ‘Stone Lion’. In contrast to the clean, cool choreographed energy of the previous band, Stone Lion’s act is an understated stripped down show of raw power. Complex instrumentation weaves over churning rhythms and screaming vocals. Style is just wild hair plastered to glistening foreheads.  

 

Then the music is over and the bands are left to sweat it out while the voting begins. ‘Mr.’ establishes an early lead by getting 20 votes from two of the three judges. The last judge, from Tianjin Plus, narrows the gap by giving their 10 votes to ‘Stone Lion’. Finally, the audience’s votes are added to the judges and Tianjin Plus’ favourite, ‘Stone Lion’, scrape a victory by 7 votes. 

 

The war is won and people pile out like refugees from its fug into the comparatively cooler night, clothes clinging to bodies and ears humming. The lead singer of Stone Lion known as ‘Strong John’ thanks Tianjin Plus and they’re wished good luck in return. They were the best tonight, but judging from the four previous rounds, it’s clear that there’s a lot of talent in Tianjin.

 

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