KOKO Gig Watch

The Standards Smash Octoberfest

By Matty Boy of The Standards
Miri, Sarawak, Borneo

'We don't get many bands like you coming to Miri." said the Octoberfest organiser as we drove to the venue on our way from the airport. Myself and Nit shared a glance across the back seat of the car. We'd heard this before and both now knew the next days gig could all go one of two ways. Either the anticipation of a new, fresh, British sounding band has brought out the starved live music fans and we'd be rapturously welcomed or it could be the complete opposite. No one could turn up; they could all turn up then leave when we start playing; or even worse than that - I could be handed, mid set, a scrap of paper with "Smells Like Teen Spirit" drunkenly scrawled on it. Either way though we hadn't just spent 12 hours on a plane to be put off, whatever happened we were once again on the road and nothing could break the buzz that was circulating through The Standards, especially when we found out the next day that over 2000 tickets had been sold.

Sound check went well but with one minor interruption, a seven strong K-9 unit marching across the dance floor. Strange we thought, but then so too was the small, yellow beret military unit that appeared 20 minutes later. Obviously I'd heard of security and expected there to be some kind of police presence but this wasn't something I had seen before. Naturally curious, we asked our new Miri friends at the venue what was the need of 7 Alsations and a convoy of army men. "We'll have many VIPs here tonight" was the reply. "The dogs are for their protection". Fair enough I thought, we were, after all at a massive country club in the middle of absolute nowhere.

Next came photo and press time. We were told the minister of Miri was due just after the opening of the event at 4pm and he needed to do a shoot with us, the two other Borneo bands that were on before us, Condolah and Paradise, as well as the headlining act, Dubai's DJ Sabrina. At nearly six o'clock, the minister and his massive entourage arrive, and this my friends was the best politician I have ever (and am ever) likely to meet. Now you have to remember that this Octoberfest was proudly sponsored by Carlsberg beer and I shit you not, he and all his 15-20 fellow men were dressed whole heartedly in bright green Carlsberg T-Shirts, casually with the top button undone. Quick handshakes all round then down to business, a massive jug of Carlsberg.....each. Gordon Brown, Mr. Obama, Mr. Chirac - watch and learn! No sooner had we taken a few photos and watched him get involved in an extravagant champagne guzzling contest, he was jumping into his blacked out Merc and was gone, driven off into the night to attend the next function.

Octoberfest was filling up nicely though and had well preceded anyone's expectations regarding attendees. The main hall was nearly full, it was still early and people were still coming in. Then Paradise kicked things off with their very traditional sounding set. The songs went by without fault and the musicians competently played through their half an hour, setting a good mood. Next up were Condolah, picking up the pace and playing a more rocky set. The abundance of beer was starting to get everyone going too and the floor was filling up nicely. The Standards felt good to be there and the fact that the atmosphere was as high as this just pumped us up even more for the gig. Then, before we knew it we were beside the stage, the cheesy M.C. introducing us to a now whopping 2,500 strong crowd. It's an amazing thing to be stood in front of that many people and hear them cheer for you. The sound seems to come from so far away and right then and there I knew this was going to be a good one. From the off the audience were with us, getting a massive kick out of hearing something new. No more crappy covers tonight ladies and gentlemen, we're The Standards and we're here to take this fucking roof off and you're all gonna love it. And I'm pleased to say, love it they did.

Two songs in and the stage is already being invaded, there's a shit load of jumping and singing and by our fourth song, Jimmy Is A Livewire, I'm in the mood for a little crowd surfing. Everyone seemed to be having a good old, rowdy time until the army seemed to think it was all getting a little out of hand and parked themselves across the front of the stage. The men with dogs weren't far away either, keeping a watch full eye. But all this slightly extreme rulebook activity didn't seem to deter our audience that much. Obviously getting close to the stage was now out the question but they still went on rocking and rolling their hearts out until the very end of the set.

We'll always look back on that gig as a banging one - one to remember. Everyone involved had an open mind to start with and like I said it could have gone one of two ways but at the end of the day the people of Miri made it great and we're looking forward to going back there one day.


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