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December 10-13, 2009 KUALA LUMPUR MALAYSIA
From the Archives: when On the Beat and Path was called Backpacker Band
  Welcome to Malaysia
  Steve and his merry men of musical backpackers enjoyed a shenanigan-filled time in KL where they enteedr a local music competition and recorded some original tunes.
  Steve and Gary met up with Reza Salleh, outstanding musician and founder of Moonshine KL - Reza's monthly event to promote the wealth of Malaysian talent.
Encores and Mixed Tapes
  Do Steve and the boys have what it takes to earn a spot in the Global Battle of the Bands? Will they get signed by a record label? Who will carry their guitars?
Hey, Those Guys Don't Look Malaysian!  
kl blog
The Backpacker Band consisting of Steve, Gary, Erik, Dave and Kenny landed in Kuala Lumpur with something that almost looked like an agenda. Kuala Lumpur's reputation of a growing independent music scene was strong and the Backpacker Band, previously allowing fate, luck and silliness to direct their musical exploits, wanted to be sure that they didn't miss any of the action. So with three days and some helpful contacts, the boys set off in the Garden City for what they hoped would be a series of stories that would one day become legend.

Day one saw the boys attend the show of KL's soul/funk diva, Poova. This beautiful songbird of Indian Heritage had begun to tear it up in the local music scene with her undeniable voice and charismatic stage presence. Poova performed with a talented 6-piece band providing the musical backdrop of classic funk and soul favourites. Poova's energy was infectious as the crowd at Delucca Italian Bistro continued to groove and shout for more. Poova has also begun work on a series of original tunes that she was preparing to showcase in the very near future. Backpacker Band promised to return to see and hear what will no doubt become Malaysian (and perhaps global) funk classics.
Next up was a stand-up comedy show for Steve. Steve got wind that the local stand-up scene has seen a boom over the past 12 months and with a personal history in stand-up comedy, Steve wanted to be involved. After all, what made Malaysians laugh? As our adventures revolve around music, Steve was determined to bring his guitar up on stage and incorporate it into his act.

Doing some research as he cruised the town, Steve quickly determined that Malaysia had an interesting, if not mild loathing of their neightbour to the south, Singapore. Taking this as inspiration, Steve quickly constructed a 4-minute gem of a song, gently ribbing the idiosyncrasies that make Singapore unique. Steve's set and his now classic, Singapore Song was met with extreme applause and laughter as Steve delivered a form of stand-up comedy that was truly different to what the local scene was used to.

As the sun rose on day two, the boys cruised the streets and popular landmarks of Kuala Lumpur breaking out their instruments to perform at the architecturally-stunning Petronas Twin Towers, the vast green landscapes of Merdeka Square and the ever popular and populated China Town. It was a great opportunity to familiarize themselves with the local landscape before they hit the town to witness what was sure to be great live music.

That evening, Steve and Gary ventured to an event titled Moonshine KL. Moonshine is a monthly live music event started by local indie powerhouse Reza Salleh. Reza dreamt of a large and vibrant local indie music scene and quickly realized that no one else was going to do it for him. Moonshine's monthly events collected an array of interesting local acts to showcase independent music to what appeared to be enthusiastic and appreciative fans.

On this evening, Steve and Gary were witness to a female singer-songwriter named Zalila Lee, A group of experimento artists by the name of Monologue, a tight three-piece power rock unit under the moniker of Tempered Mental and a ten piece ska punk explosion called 40 winks. The quality was as amazing as it's diversity as Gary and Steve took time out with each band to ask questions for the episode. All were only too eager to offer their take on the local scene and their respective bands. The music, performed in both English and Bahasa Malaysian, was evident of a scene that is not only growing locally but also told of a scene that was ready to burst out on a more international landscape.
Day three was our final day and the rocking was starting to take its toll. However, the Backpacker Band was extremely inspired by the quality and range of musicianship on their Kuala Lumpur tour that they decided that they were dedicated to a mission that would see them perform with local bands.

The Global Battle of the Bands challenge, GBOB, was going on at the time and we approached the organizer of the event to inquire if it was appropriate and legal for us to enter. Intrigued by our situation, story and idea, Malaysian GBOB Director, Issa Rodriguez granted us a performing slot with 11 other local bands. The process was simple: every band had 8 minutes to impress a panel of celebrity judges for the right to represent Malaysia and go on to London, England for the Global Finals of GBOB. Now I am not sure if Malaysia was keen on sending a group of five Mat Sallehs (foreigner) to London, but our mission was to rock and that didn't matter where we were from.

We gathered our gear, checked our gut and headed to one of the nearby rehearsal studios. These great DIY studios were all over Kuala Lumpur and for a very reasonable price of approximately ten US dollars you could plug into Marshall and Line 6 stacks and bang away on reasonable quality Yamaha kits for an hour. We tried to come up with a few rockin' anthems that we hoped the locals would enjoy.

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That night, we drew the sixth performance slot out of twelve bands and ultimately were happy with our placement. The show was packed with young, eager rockers, mostly dressed in black just excited and appreciative of the music they were about to hear. As we took the stage at Titanium Super Club, the crowd stayed right up to the stage and showed us their appreciation as we rocked hard for eight minutes, ending our set with a show-stopper of a guitar smash. The crowd of predominantly Malaysians lost their minds and cheered for more.
Although our passports alone dictated that we would not be representing Malaysia in London, the Backpacker Band's adrenaline ran high as we enjoyed a truly memorable rock and roll night.

Catch us next time performing somewhere on this planet.

Bangkok Kuala Lumpur India London Laos Vietnam Bali Singapore Cambodia Brazil Sumatra Myanmar/Thailand Malaysia
Mission: On the Beat and Path provides a window into the planet's love and longing for music, using music as the primary language of global communication in order to develop a multi-media outlet for the sharing of music, travel and friendship.
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