Did you make it to the Friend Or Foe album release at YuyinTang on Saturday? You missed something if you didn’t.
Full disclosure: I have seen Friend Or Foe play before and was sort of like, “meh.” Not terrible but not exceptional, a bit messy but mostly just there in the middle like so many other bands you see. If you’re familiar with the band (or you read our reviews here at Layabozi) you know that we think they’re a bit weird, and they are. But being a bit weird can’t really get you anywhere if you haven’t got the music to back it up, and I’ve felt like Friend Or Foe never had the music to back it up.
I take it all back.
Saturday night, they were amazing. Well, first, Rainbow Danger Club warmed up the release party with an excellent set. Shanghai is really feeling Rainbow Danger Club since the release of their album Where Maps End last March, and it’s all deserved. There was already a big crowd, and people were dancing, cheering and everything was good. So when Friend or Foe finally made their way to the stage, we were ready. And in true Friend Or Foe fashion, they really did make their way to the stage, through the crowd, in a bit of a theatrical procession. Their costumes were…Vikings? Gnomes? Offspring of Moloch with no pants? I’m not clear on the specifics, so whatever. The costumes didn’t outshine the music.
They started with their “gentler” stuff, which really was gentle for Friend Or Foe and unexpectedly melodic. I was already thinking, “Wow” and moving forward to get closer. And then they went into their “harder” stuff, upon which I had to move back—way back—so as to avoid the mosh pit forming in front of the stage. But it was all good. Even on their hard stuff—the heavier, louder, more metal rock and punk, when a lot of musicians tend to get messier because they think that noise is more important than a song—they were still good. Clean sounds, enthusiastic, and playing together extremely well. I was very impressed and so was the crowd, I think. It was a good show. And lead singer Rabshaka only leapt off the stage once to writhe around on the floor while playing, which I feel is the right number of times to do in one show. So, cool.
I’m kicking myself that I didn’t pick up their album on the way in, but I’ll be listening to that next when I have it. But if you get a chance, check out the new and improved Friend or Foe playing live. They are definitely getting better and better.