KOKO Gig Watch

No Bad Music @ No Black Tie

By Johnny Mayo
Tenderfist @ No Black Tie, Kuala Lumpur
16th September 2009

After a cheeky nod from the man, I managed to get myself out of work and straight into Palate Palette for 5pm beers with Deserters frontman Zack Yusof. After discussing all things football and bringing up the subject of Wayne Rooney once or twice (he’s an Everton fan), he notably informed me that he was there to interview a band called Tenderfist who were due to play at a cool little venue a few doors down the road called No Black Tie later that night.

After being reused into more beers than I was expecting, I was thankfully given an invitation to witness a private interview with the band before the gig. Coming across as timid and a bit shy I wasn’t sure what to expect from the three boys known locally as ‘Tenderfist’, although I had been told to expect great things.

Sitting towards the back of the venue on my own, with a borrowed pen and piece scrap paper, is not quite how I envisaged the night. But with a Heineken in my grasp and a fag clenched in my teeth I was introduced to a concoction of sounds that I was a fan of – easy listening, electronic and uplifting.

Tenderfist took to the stage in the same timid fashion that they had used for their previously mentioned interview, by declaring before they perform “We hope we don’t offend you in any way”. With this statement and the songs to follow about kids growing up in rusted towns and a boy who thinks he owns the universe, how could they possibly offend us?

The set kicked off with a track titled ‘Sunlight’, a trancey, melancholy instrumental which set the tone for what was to come. The best way I could describe it would be an Ibiza influenced ‘Postal Service’, as some of their hooks and blips I remember vividly from trance tunes that first introduced me to the clubbing scene at fourteen, however their style and sound was distinctly soft tones, extended keyboards and precise, laptop generated beats.

The intro and outro to their fourth song of the night ‘Heartbeat’ made brilliant use of the often underused example of samples, perfectly timing the use of the random speech that I was far too mashed to recognise, but was enjoying nonetheless.

Finishing with the track ‘Our Lives’, about a naïve boy who believes he has control over his circumstances, only to find out he doesn’t, was the long trancey outro the band needed to round off a first-rate performance which had been recommended and subtly delivered.

Essentially it was three men behind a desk, one with a laptop, the other a keyboard, and the singer switching between his guitar and sound FX box, topped off with that preppy, understated look. Something many try to imitate, but few manage to deliver. Tenderfist are an example of the later.

While eavesdropping on Zack’s earlier interview, I overheard that a forthcoming EP was in its final stages. If the studio performance is as precise as the live, it will be one to watch out for.


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