Tag Archives: mr sterile assembly

Favourite Gigs 2016

Construction and redevelopment has seen Chengdu’s cultural landscape (read: the places we go to drink alcohol and listen to music) change dramatically. But as old places close and new ones emerge, great shows from bands, performers, DJs and collectives continue to entertain and inspire.

Along with the loss of Bowie, Prince and George Michael, we lost many of our local stars this year. Morning Bar 早上好 on Minzhu Lu was demolished and construction of the new Music Conservatory concert hall began, Machu Picchu I closed after over a decade of business in the backstreets of Yulin and Soul Kitchen shut up shop just as renovations were completed. But it’s not all doom and gloom, laobans have gone on to open 2.0 versions of their former bars.

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The fall of Minzhu Lu. Video: Unknown WeChat source.

Not ones to be phased by forced demolition, the Zaoshanghao crew came back in style with the incredibly epic Morning House in Flower Town, taking over the old Xiwo swimming pool bar and fitting it out with an outdoor-stage, hot pot and rehearsal spaces. The Dojo crew took over Soul Kitchen in the Soho Building and established Berlin Haus, bringing much needed day vibes, strong coffee and workspaces to the inner city. Yulin also saw the opening of Yabany 牙半厘, a smoky little bar fit out with retro neons, cult film screenings and despite lack of any backline, the occasional jam night.

Perhaps the venue making the biggest waves this year has got to be NU SPACE. Freshly renovated at the back of Mintown, NU SPACE is kitted out with a minimalist, concrete design, banging sound system and some of the most diverse billing in the city.

When I first came to Chengdu as a backpacking language student in 2013,  I was greeted with jungle fireworks and Drum N Bass and Rammstein blasting from a shopping trolley in the magazine aisle of 7Eleven. Friends took me to Morning Bar, Lantown, Hemp House and Xiwo, vibrant venues tattooed with psychedelic murals and scented with herbal inspiration. Now, more than three years later, none of those venues exist anymore, but the shows certainly go on.

“…when the world outside is scary, boring, ugly, and hateful, what do you do? You either drown in it or you drown it out.”

– Brian Chippendale for The Creative Independent

Music is the gateway, it elevates us above the mundanity of everyday life. We choose to participate in it and represent who we are. Live music is the beating heart of a community, where the performer and audience meet like minded spirits, enter a space of their own creation, and be free.

Without further ado, here are my favourite shows of 2016 in chronological order.

Chinese Football

Little Bar, Chengdu

8 January 2016

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“NI HAI PAAAAAAA – WO HAI PAAAAA!!”

Man, how good are Chinese Football?! These Wuhan emo kids came through Chengdu on their album release tour way back in January, playing to a sea of woollen cardigans and thick framed glasses. No support act, didn’t need it. Super 爽 guitars, vocal melodies and FEELS. Chinese Football also probably have the strongest merch game in the country. Subsequently invited them to play NUART Festival in October which was also highly dope (see below).

Check out their album on Bandcamp.

Mike Shannon

.TAG, Chengdu

19 March 2016

It was a packed house for Berlin-based Canadian producer Mike Shannon and .TAG’s 2nd birthday. A six-hour long set of fresh, cutting house and techno, masterful hypnotism of the dance floor and the delivery of positive vibes. The excellent support slot was Beijing bro Yang Bing, who kept things popping till Sunday lunchtime. Much rave!

Chunyou 春游

Morning House, Chengdu

22 April 2016

Chunyou is like Christmas for music fans. With the introduction of an electronic stage, rental tents courtesy of Steam Hostel and a new abundance of sofas, this year’s Chunyou at Morning House saw many punters stay on site for a memorable weekend of debauchery. Memorable moments include:

  • Hiperson on the main stage live with new bassist Ming Ming for the first time in Chengdu.
  • Someone setting off a fucking FLARE in the middle of the Stolen mosh pit.
  • CDC inviting all the white people up to dance on the stage and all the white people being really excited.
  • Playing guitar with atmen at the electronic stage on Day 1.
  • DIO was sick.
  • Pascal Pinon putting a spell over the main stage
  • HELEN TING IN THE DJ ROOM ON SUNDAY MORNING. Rolling out of my shitty tent after passing out for two hours and stumbling into the DJ hut with no pants on to find this insane Hong Kong lady with an afro, coloured shades and enormous Aladdin pants absolutely slaying the decks with a mix of afrobeat, soul and funk, a dedicated crowd of ravers grooving strong, mystically attaining sunglasses as the sun came up. Fuck how good was Helen Ting?!
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atmen live. Image: 仙人张
Aus-atmen Festival

Dongli Juyuan, 三圣乡, Chengdu

21-22 May 2016

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Rain rain rain. More rain. Stage closures, mud, the gear getting soaked, the police shut down… As dysfunctional as Aus-atmen ended up being, it was a testament to DIY culture, a love of electronic music and thinking big. It was also completely unforgettable. Check out the review here.

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16:30 – 18:00   Hao (Chengdu, CN)
18:00 – 19:30   May (Chengdu, CN)
19:30 – 21:00   Bchir (Rabat, MA)
21:00 – 22:30   Ewan (Chengdu, CN)
22:30 – 00:00   Xiaolong (Chengdu, CN)
00:00 – 02:00   Mike Ravelli (Amsterdam, NL)
02:00 – 04:00   Su (Chengdu, CN)
04:00 – 06:00   Xiang (Chengdu, CN)
06:00 – 07:30   Chamberlain (Beijing, CN)
07:30 – 09:00    Hiroshi (Hiroshima, JP)
09:00 – ??????    CA1XR (Chengdu, CN)
??????  – ??????    Su

Hiperson + Lonely Leary

NU SPACE, Chengdu

10 June 2016
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Chen Sijiang of Hiperson. Video: LittleNew

This was the first show I put on at NU SPACE and is also my favourite poster of the year, a  collage we made of clippings from an old flipbook featuring a flying decapitated head. We posted it around the city on cheap A4 print outs.

Hiperson Lonely Leary poster

Lonely Leary have two speeds: fast or faster. Bass heavy rhythms drove the blitzing pace like a schizophrenic roller coaster. There was no looking back for Hiperson, who played a killer set of new material, confident and self-assured. May have shed a tear.

NU SPACE had just opened and we were working a lot of shit out… the lighting really wasn’t great, but these two bands together in concert for a home crowd was in my eyes a real triumph.

Yue Xuan: Entrance and Exports Remix Project
feat. Cvalda + VJ PLGRM

NU SPACE, Chengdu

24 June 2016

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Beijing-based pianist Yue Xuan 岳璇 came to Chengdu as part of her Remix tour to perform with Cvalda, one of the producers who remixed a track from In & Out (2015) that formed the Entrance & Exports remix album. Comprised of three sections; contemporary piano, electronic collaboration and drum n bass, this was a unique and creatively curated live show from one of China’s biggest talents.

Also a composer for film, Yue Xuan’s concert was suitably accompanied by incredibly beautiful visual pieces by PLGRM on the big screen for us in this intimate performance. Oh, and we got to see Cvalda in “formal dress” as she laid down some serious bass.

Neverland

Fairy Mountain, Wulong, Chongqing

8-9 July 2016

NUTS Livehouse and Morning 早上好 have done it again, Neverland 2016 was bigger, better and more well organised than ever – no deadly mud slide between stages, and a quarantining of the psy-trance stage to it’s own little hill commune in the forest. The addition of more food stalls was a welcome relief (shout out Baker Street for giving us the last pasta scrapings on Day 2), a big improvement from the food options available in 2015.

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Wild animals, beautiful landscapes, hand built teepees and jamming instruments providing pleasing environments for those on acid and co., while the downside was an influx of loud, obnoxious tourists who killed the vibe from about 9pm – 2am both nights with yelling, beer showers and general fuckwittery at the Main Stage.

Metope and Yang Bing were highlights on Day 1, as Dusk Till Dawn proved their namesake. We were treated to the best of Shanghai, with MIIIA and MHP making appearances on the second night. Raving on a mountain in the early morning as the morning mist slowly glides in from the hills – YES. Go Neverland!

Punk Fest CDC

Morning House, Chengdu

6 August 2016
punk-fest
One of the many stage dives at Punk Fest. Image: YRL

How many punk bands are there in Chengdu?

According to Punk Fest CDC, actually quite a few.

It was an absolute scorcher in Flower Town and hoards of people turned up for a good time, enticed by the free entry ticket price. A ferocious mosh pit fuelled by copious amounts of beer, Morning House was buzzing for a day and night of recurrent stage diving and comic pool throws. Stink Mouth threw a bunch of condoms into the crowd. Good times.

The Others Way Festival

Galatos, Auckland

2 September 2016
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Nick Johnson from Cut Off Your Hands. GIF: Kiwese

BOY am I happy about Cut Off Your Hands coming back this year. Their performance at The Others Way was a total throwback to 2008’s You & I and even Takes Slowly Over from their first EP, finishing up with Nick Johnson jumping on guitar for their new tune Hate Somebody. Brilliant band, incredibly energy and everyone was going ape shit like it was 2006.

The Others Way coordinated all the venues on K Road into a night packed full of back to back shows and it was impeccably well organized. I also caught great performances from Nadia Reid, Fazerdaze, Purple Pilgrims, Mermaidens, Shocking Pinks and the inimitably chaotic King Loser.

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JC Satàn

NU SPACE, Chengdu

17 September 2016
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Image: Kiwese

Powerful women rocking out, YEAH. Paula and Ali totally rock. French imports JC Satàn were an unexpected delight. Bathed in red light, the band jumped and lurched and grooved their way through an set of throttling, kerosine coated garage punk somewhere between The Ramones, Thee Oh Sees and Queens of the Stone Age. A two-metre tall keyboardist thrashed about like a barely caged giraffe while guitarist Arthur kicked and shook like an electrified rock and roll Bruce Lee.

The bassist and guitarist lost their guitars in transit (ouch), but took kindly to borrowed instruments which I was surprised to find intact after the show, not pummelled into a fine dust. A mighty gig that brought out all the head bangers, stoners and more than a few devils horns. Rock is not dead, thank god.

NUART Festival

Kuixinglou Jie, Chengdu

1-3 October 2016
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Image: John Yingling

Three days of sunshine, four stages, hundreds of market stalls and thousands of punters – 2016 was the first year I’ve been on board at NUART Festival and man, what a trip. Chengdu community vibes and street culture combined with some of the most innovative alternative acts in the country. A cohesion of genres, with a smorgasbord on the Main Stage, experimental/electronic music in NU SPACE, a DJ stage and a vinyl record zone run by Marco Duits himself.

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I feel this festival brings the community together, young and old, the livehouses and the clubs. Absolutely amazing and completely exhausting. Too many highlights to mention! Marco closing the festival with an Always on the Run 7″ by Lenny Kravitz was pretty amazing though.

This year’s line-up:

WHAI, Chinese Football, ChaCha + DJ Aivilox, Wednesday’s Trip, South Acid MiMi Dance Team, CDC, Sulumi, Biggaton + Blood Dunza (JA), Hu Yang, iimmune, Taiga, Charlie Tango (FR), Starcardigan (RU), Wanmei Daoli, Fake Swing, Jahwahzoo, Sound and Fury, Zhang Xiaobing and Friends, U M U / Microsoft Voices (NZ), Faded Ghost, 3000, Xiang, Su, Kaiser and May, Lao G, Just Charlie, Jovian and Marco Duits.

mr sterile Assembly

Support: Die! Chiwawa!Die!

Loft345, Guangzhou

15 October 2016

mr-sterile_guangzhou

This year Kiwese was pleased to tour with mr sterile Assembly across Guangzhou, Guiyang, Chengdu, Chongqing, Wuhan and Beijing. While each show was unique, Guangzhou was my favourite.

Hauling gear up four flights of stairs paid off as Loft345 came alive with dancing and general limb flailing. Despite a bass amp meltdown, Chrissie ripped through a set of chest pummeling tunes through a tiny guitar amp with no overdrive, while mr sterile, having upgraded from the drum-less venue in Shanghai, happily smashed away on his melange of cymbals while yelling out pagefuls of lyrics to those bafflingly brilliant time signatures.

The night was a success thanks to our hosts QiiiSnacks Records and Die! Chiwawa!Die! – an inimitable Guangzhou  hardcore noise/screamo/chiptune band which frontwoman Jinbo bouncing up and down like a possessed Pokémon while guitarist Howie and the other screamo vocalist thrashing across the ground as if it were being tilted and shaken by an omnipotent overlord.

Sabu Toyozumi + Li Jianhong

NU SPACE, Chengdu

26 October 2016

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In a tour named 耳舍 (lit: ear tongue), acclaimed experimental guitarist Li Jianhong 李剣鴻 and legendary Japanese free jazz drummer Sabu Toyozumi treated us to a two hour display of skill, stamina and imagination.

Toyozumi, now in his seventies, was like a playful kid in a sandpit, pushing the house kit through its paces – smacking, dismantling and scraping it together, even whipping the snare with his sock at one point. Li Jianhong deftly cast out a palette of colours with his effects board, the scrape of his guitar and slamming of wah pedals sounded as if he were fishing for frequencies in an ocean of sound – calm, patient and free. A journey through tone and timbre that constantly reached into new territory, furthered by local multi-instrumentalist and improv king Kun jumping on violin for the last segment of the show.

Afterwards, the promoter said Sabu only played for 30 minutes in Chongqing, which made us feel even luckier to be treated to such an epic long set. Sabu was also super happy to chat with fans afterwards and sign CDs. Super swell guy! Stay tuned for his NZ tour with the Sound and Light Exploration Society next year.

Michael Rother

Support: Chui Wan

Little Bar Space, Chengdu

31 October 2016

michael-rother

VICE have brought quite a few touring acts to Chengdu this year (Ratatat, Tonstartssbandht) but Krautrock king Michael Rother from Neu!, Harmonia and Kraftwerk with Beijing psych/no-wave band Chui Wan took the cake. Little Bar Space is a cavernous monstrosity when half empty and even Rother himself politely commented on the small crowd in between songs.

Chui Wan is like LSD for the ears. Michael Rother and band were uplifting, melodic and joyful. Lovely, though with that number of people (100-150 ish), I couldn’t help but think how great and intimate it could have been at NU SPACE…

Eagulls

Support: Sinkers

NU SPACE, Chengdu

18 November 2016

eagulls3

When Eagulls took the stage my heart stopped.

Was it our newly minted fog machine that cloaked them in a turquoise haze of gothic mystery? Was it frontman George Mitchell’s post-punk nonchalance and lyrical wordsmithing? Was it the bass line from Skipping that echoes the refrain from How Soon is Now? Was it that I’d witnessed their metamorphosis into an immensely professional, polished and powerful live act directly after Tsingdao cans, rollies and toilet banter?

Sisu (Acoustic)

Berlin Haus, Chengdu

22 November 2016

This was a really special show for me because:

a) we threw it together last minute

b) it was Sisu’s first time ever playing an acoustic show

c) it was the first ever Berlin Haus show.

Shout out to the chick huffing a qiqiu (balloon) at the back lol. Classic Tuesday night Soho.

Octopoulpe, Le Crabe, Digou, Klaus Legal

NU SPACE, Chengdu

13 December 2016

gigs_trump

Two aliens slithered on stage and blasted into a set of garbled bass/vocals hardcore before Donald Trump emerged bearing hot dogs and hamburgers then was skinned alive and left for dead. The show went on until Trump was revived by the sound of Chinese pop and destroyed by a glowing orb where he and the aliens were forced to evacuate by dragging themselves along the floor out the door, leaving Earth forever.

The All Seeing Hand, Womb, Unsanitary Napkin

Meow, Wellington

23 December 2016

gigs_ash

Wellington disciples of the A.S.H order convened upon Meow to praise their latest auditory offering Sand to Glass with support from Unsanitary Napkin, Womb and artist Georgette Brown. A feast for the eyes and ears! The All Seeing Hand are in a class of their own, the shamans of sound, the Triptych of Trippy – stay tuned for their China wanderings in 2017.


Commended:

  • Caspian @ Little Bar Space, Chengdu
  • Noise Temple @ .TAG
  • Audible Area:SunWei + 16ways @ NU SPACE, Chengdu
  • Dizzy Love + Wednesday’s Trip @ NU SPACE, Chengdu
  • DJ Sodeyama @ Here We Go, Chengdu
  • Street Party Rain Out: Marco Duits @ Hakka Bar, Chengdu
  • U Brown + Blood Dunza @ Jah Bar, Chengdu
  • Tobias @ Here We Go, Chengdu
  • All the Yang Bing raves @ .TAG in the first half of 2016

What will 2017 bring?

I’d like to see shows make there way out into the public, in found locations or reconverted spaces. DJ Marco Duits is someone who constantly leads the way with this in his ‘Street Party’ concept, though even these shows are becoming few and far between. No one wants to get in trouble, or worse, have their gear confiscated, but how can we branch out into different spaces and create something new for ourselves? I look forward to the new year of new shows and new adventures.


Full disclosure: I work at NU SPACE so saw a lot of shows there and missed those at other venues.

This year, Kiwese was lucky to be invited to Going Global Music Conference and The Others Way Festival in Auckland – many thanks to Dylan, Kath at the Independent New Zealand Music Commission for the opportunity!

Header image by John Yingling @theworldunderground

mr sterile Assembly China Tour 2016

Brace yourselves – in the second ever Kiwese tour, Wellington outsider punk duo mr sterile Assembly are making their way to China to freak some people out and devour various vegetarian fry-ups. 

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Last month I found myself waiting for some friends outside Baobab Cafe. Despite a two year absence from Wellington, everything was overwhelmingly familiar – the tangy scent of South Indian curries in the breeze, rows of faceless mannikins posing in op-shop windows and bright yellow public buses trundling past with a mechanical groan. Lofty signs for QUICK AND EASY PERSONAL LOANS remained latched to the sides of cheap bakeries. Not much had changed in Newtown, an inner-city suburb dotted with ethnic restaurants and a growing number of hipster hangouts.

After work traffic kept me waiting by the side of the road. Conversation floated by among those clasping fish n’ chips or Keep Cup lattes to their puffer-jacketed chests. A cold wind blew as gutters were scoured for cigarette butts and spare change by the chapped hands of the less fortunate.

The income gap in New Zealand has continued gape wide open in the two years since I’ve been gone. A suit scrolls through his iPhone while a homeless man rolls a used durry. This is the reality of urban Aotearoa – no glossy tourism pamphlets, no rare and endangered birds, no hobbits or wizards.

There is, however, a pair of performance punk musicians whose music speaks to the experiences of the poor, marginalised and ignored members of our society, who believe in telling stories that belong to the current cultural conversation, who believe “indifference is the death of the heart.” They are mr sterile Assembly, dubbed as one of the most unusual live acts in New Zealand, a band who have reached out to Kiwese seeking a way through China.

At a little past half five, my ride arrives.

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Three years since the last break, not a single day off since
Paradise is busy by the bay
In orbit of the corner store, seven days a week
Seven through to seven every day

Upper flat, inner city, such a long, long way from home
Double cleaner’s wages pay the rent
In a tiny condensed world, make do in a single room
Quiet touch only, beside the daughter’s bed

Living third world in a first world city

Employer brands the loyalty, keeps the manners nice
The old bloke at the front desk, bites down the bitterness
Stress value first impression, try to smile with missing teeth
Fight for slight promotion and pass the urine test

Living third world in a first world

A state house by the motorway, a tiny condensed space
How many can camp down, into a single double bed
Fever likes the company, attracted by rheumatic heart
Win the prize of penicillin, or a surgeon on your chest

Loud hear them
Lucky them
Who were there
And who got out
Don’t hear them
Other them
Who are there
Who can’t get out

– ‘Othering Heights’ from It’s All Over
by mr sterile Assembly

A car pulls up in the middle of the road and a man with the most fantastic moustache in the South Pacific gestures for me to hop in. It’s the ringmaster Kieran, the drumming and singing mr sterile himself, with the other half of the Assembly, bassist and vocalist Chrissie, behind the wheel. Car troubles aside, we are soon cruising around the South Coast as the sun sets behind the hills, tinted orange and pink.

We soon arrive at their Happy Valley home – mr sterile gets to work on reheating a veggie curry for tea and Chrissie fires up the brazier. Their kids have all grown up and moved out, leaving the cat to prowl around the cozy living room stacked with a staggering array of books, CDs, records, cassettes and paintings. A drum kit and bass amp sit next to the sofa. It is a home full of music and information.

I’d received an email from mr sterile Assembly several months prior, who had seen the Orchestra of Spheres Rockumentary on YouTube and were themselves long intrigued by the possibility of touring China. A few more emails, a Skype and a serendipitous trip back to New Zealand for Going Global, I was now sitting in their living room hearing tales of Levin bogan basement gigs, the touring circuit in Indonesia and the travels of DIY punk duo Sabot.

It is with much pleasure that I announce the mr sterile Assembly China Tour 2016, kicking off this Friday in Shanghai.

MR STERILE BIO:

The mr sterile Assembly is a bass and drum duo of explosive proportions from Aotearoa New Zealand. With one foot in the world of punk, and the other dancing between noise, math rock, free-form squall, they are not easy to box, and are quite happy about that. Known as much for their wordsmithing as for their impressive live performance, sterile’s fierce delivery has been described as “oppressive and delightful both at the same time.” Organ Magazine, UK.

After 15 years, five albums, and several excursions to Central Europe and South East Asia, Sterile are looking forward to this 20 date tour across 2 continents.

The band will be traveling with their latest album, It’s All Over released through the band’s label skirted Records. International distribution is through Portland based Metal Postcards. Take a listen on Bandcamp to “A jolt of pure creative spirit married to social commentary, and damn good fun!” NZ Musician.

KIWESE PROUDLY PRESENTS: 
MR STERILE ASSEMBLY CHINA TOUR 2016

10.14 (FRI)
Shanghai @ Space-631
NOIShanghai LXXIV X Space-631 Vol.8
Support: Torturing Nurse, 反方向的钟(上海) 白梦薇(上海))
20RMB Door

10.15 (SAT)
Guangzhou @ Loft 345
In Collab With: QiiiSnacks Records
Support: Die!ChiwawaDie!
50/60RMB

10.16 (SUN)
Guiyang @ 劲Power Livehouse
Support: 走失的小马
50/60RMB

10.19 (WED)
Chengdu @ NU SPACE
Support: Don Trash
Visuals: PLGRM
Tickets: zaomengshe.com/c/494912
50/60RMB

10.20 (THU)
Chongqing @ Nuts Livehouse
In Collab With: 珊瑚坝
Support: You Come Twice
50/60RMB

10.21 (FRI)
Wuhan @ Coastline
In Collab With: Imaginary Person
Support: Panic Worm
50/60RMB

10.22 (SAT)
Beijing @ Red Gate Gallery
In Collab With: Dan Beban
TBC

10.22 (SAT)
Beijing @ Caravan
In Collab With: AWEH
Support: Death Narcissist and DJ Fido
Free

10.23 (SUN) 4pm
Beijing @ fruityspace
In Collab With: Sound and Exploration Society
Support: Dead Corner, DINGCHENCHEN
50RMB

mrsterile_explode

mr sterile Assembly是来自新西兰惠灵顿富有爆发性的贝斯和鼓二人乐队。他们一只脚踏在朋克世界,另一只脚则在噪音,数字摇滚,自由即兴的世界中起舞,他们难以被人贴上某种风格的标签,而他们则很满意这种状态。mr sterile Assembly因其伶俐的歌词和神奇的现场出名,他们激烈的演出风格被描述成一种“压迫感和愉快同时存在”的体验。
乐队经过了十五年,在发行了五张专辑,好几个在欧洲和东南亚的巡演之后,mr sterile Assembly非常期待今年的跨两大洲二十个站的巡演。他们要把最近的在自己的skirted records厂牌发行的专辑《It’s All Over》带上。而这张专辑的国际发行则是美国波特兰Metal Postcards厂牌负责。在Bandcamp可以听一下他们的音乐,被NZ Musician网站形容为“纯粹的创新精神与社会评论的联婚,好玩死了!”

“我们的音乐讲故事,这些觉得应该属于在当今发生的文化中的故事,不要被忘记的故事,应该成为当代文化沟通的一部分。”
– mr sterile

http://www.mrsterileassembly.com
http://www.site.douban/mrsterile
http://www.mrsterileassembly.bandcamp.com


Kiwese will be joining the tour from Guangzhou, will try and post updates on the road, see you there!