In Arts Review – VaChina And Decaying Matters, HubHao reviews the live projects of Adrian Blackstock and Charlie Utter.
There comes a point where I get bored of listening to cover bands. There are only so many times I can hear Sweet Child O’ Mine or Wonderwall. Don’t get me wrong. I’ve got a lot of respect for a musician who can do a good cover of a personal favorite and I’ve got a soft spot for artists who take an existing song and turn it into a different kind of beast altogether. But for me, nothing beats the excitement of seeing a band of musicians take to the stage and play something completely new that I’ve never heard before.
While there are plenty of decent cover bands travelling through Dongguan, there is few are playing original material. So when I saw VaChina and Decaying Matters were performing at Murray’s Irish Pub I made sure I was there.
Headlining was VaChina, the project of Adrian Blackstock, which struts with confidence across hip-hop, rap, and dance. It isn’t the first time they have played Dongguan and nor is it the first time I have seen them play. Supporting on the bill, is one of Blackstock’s many other projects, Decaying Matters. Along with Charlie Utter, the two-piece deliver several different slices of alt-rock. A first for me, but based on the other projects, I had high hopes.
First up are Decaying Matters with Blackstock on drums, Utter on guitar, and both providing vocals. There is a swagger, charm and, most strikingly, an earnestness to them that reminds me of early Modest Mouse, Built To Spill’s Keep It Like A Secret, or a personal favorite Japandroids. A comparison I never thought I would be making about a gig in Dongguan.
There is a playful experimentation to their set. With a carefree attitude their songs fluctuate in length, style and structure. Some songs end abruptly and others take turns down into more serious avenues, but all along you still get the feeling that the band are being straight with you with what they are trying to say.
After Decaying Matters finish their set and a brief break, Blackstock returns to the stage in his more familiar guise of VaChina with his group of dancers. Whilst most acts at Murray’s politely stay within the confines of the stage, Bradley and his dancers come marching out and commandeer the space before them. Its territory they hold all night and only add to as the evening progresses goes and more people join them in dancing.
Blackstock’s keen ear for a beat is clear as his infectious samples are the perfect backdrop for his natural, almost lazy flow. Having only seen, VaChina once before, I still found myself recognizing tracks from the beat alone.
It all really shouldn’t work, but the thing is, it really, really does. It says a lot about a performer’s showmanship when they can make the audience forget they are in an Irish bar and make them bounce around like they are in some night club. The Big Band Theory might want to have a word with me, but VaChina has got to be the most entertaining act in the PRD at the moment.
Decaying Matters and VaChina are two of my favorite bands around. It just so happens that Blackstock is in both of them. Frankly speaking, we are fortunate to have a musician as talented and versatile as him playing shows in Dongguan. Whether he’s billed as VaChina, Decaying Matters, Space Folk, or just plain old Adrian Blackstock, make sure you catch one of his gigs whenever you have a chance.
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