Anugerah Band 2008: The Final Review…

This entry nearly did not make it because yours truly is having a bad cold, and it is no fun having to type when you’re sneezing now and again. I even had half the mind not to type this at all as I wasn’t in the mood to do one final review. Which also explains why I never did a preview since I’m too sick to type one. But it is THE Final. So sniffles and all, I’m back for one final hurrah because I know for the next three days or so, my blog statistics will jump off the roof with people wanting to read what I have to say on the show as well as the groups and the quality of their performances. This always happens right after every episode of Anugerah Band or if I were to attend big shows like APM or some concerts / showcases.

I guess it is what people have come to expect from this humble manor of mine and it can be quite stressful living up to people’s expectations. But I like the pressure and above all, I love the debates that ensue, even if I seem to make enemies out of people. Ok, I will not beat about the bush henceforth and just jump straight onto the first performance of the night. But first let me just say, the opening act was a forgettable one. It was to me, not a good start to the show as it lacked energy and punch to pump up the watching audience and those watching at home.

First performance – X-Tech (Tiada Aku Sadari / Sedang Ingin Bercinta)

It was something that we’ve come to expect from them week in and out. No holds-barred, full of energy but somehow I felt there was a wee bit of X-factor missing from them. You know, something that could really, really nail them as the outright champions of this competition. That aura of invincibility. I did not see nor felt that and for once throughout this whole competition, I doubted their credentials to be crowned the winners. This was made worse when they did their short promo later on in the show. Do you find it appropriate to dedicate a song / performance to someone who has passed on??? Cos to translate it directly, “…saya tujukan khas buat anak saudara saya yang telah meninggal dunia…” sounds a bit like a radio dedication to me, which is so not right when we all know prayers are what is needed by the people we love who are over at the “other” side…

Second performance – Trabo (Jujur / Puisi Untuk Teman)

This was a cool performance by Trabo, especially with the execution of Jujur. There was some raggae element added to their performance tonight and this was a pleasant surprise as they showed they could also get away from their usual rock genre and deliver it well. But somehow like X-Tech, I felt they were a bit too cool for my liking and their usual air of confidence was lacking somewhat. Final jitters perhaps???

Third performance – Fatskunks (La Mofetas / Sakura)

On one side, I would say they were only playing for pride since they were never mentioned in the same breath as one of the favourites, but on the other hand, their laidback stance seemed to have won them quite a few admirers, me included. While the vocals were patchy at times and the lyrics to La Mofetas were too repetitive, what was attractive about their performance overall was their ability to connect with the audience and infuse a party atmosphere. Tell me you didn’t feel like getting up and dancing along to their beats???

Fourth performance – Rancour (Telinga Ke Tulang / Melayang)

I loved their rendition of the official soundtrack of Cicakman, but felt a bit lukewarm for the second song as I felt it was just ordinary. Even though the second vocalist’s vocals were questionable, their performance for the first song alone I believe, swayed the judges into making them the favourites. It was compact, it was tight and for once there was no slang being heard coming out of the vocalist’s mouth. Still a bit patchy here and there but hearing Arab‘s comments made me realise that their chance to win was extremely high.

Fifth performance – X-Tech (Bebas)

This was much better as compared to their earlier performance. Personally I felt this was the best composed song of the night. It was edgy, it exuded raw energy and it certainly had the hallmark of X-Tech written all over it. But still I was not convinced they would be champions, simply because I had a gut feeling that two of the judges whose words carry the most weight, at that point of time had made up their minds on who they wanted as the winners. And it was a no-brainer which judges they were.

Sixth performance – Trabo (Mereka Bukan Kita)

One thing that sets Trabo apart from X-Tech is their ability to slow down the tempo and bring in a more melancholic side to their music. This was evident in this performance. Even though I liked this one compared to their own composition in the earlier round, their marketability appeal is somehow limited to the above 30s. Looking at their sms rankings also did not paint a good picture as to their wide appeal.

Seventh performance – Fatskunks (I Miss You But I Hate You)

Trust the boys to add their raggae element into this song. And what is raggae without a bit of raggamuffin’ thrown into the mix??? Excellent improvisation and arrangement, continuing where they left off earlier. Watching them tonight felt like relaxing on the beach with pina colada on one hand and a babe dancing next to you. They were my outside bet to win had this final been an all-judges affair.

Eighth performance – Rancour (Bila Kau Tiada)

This was the performance that stole the majority of judges’ hearts, even if it did not impress me that much as there were shades of Blink 182 about their song and showmanship. It was clearly evident from all the comments and subtle hints being dropped that these guys were gonna be the champions. They just needed the sms-es to confirm their outright win. For the record, Rancour gave their best performance and they certainly showed that they have all the credentials to mount a survival in this cut throat industry. Why I say survival even before their journey has begun, is because too many groups have fallen by the wayside having released one or two albums. They would do well to learn and have their own distinct sound, cos right now I look at them as being the Malay version of Blink 182 and Green Day.

Results At A Glance

Winner of Anugerah Band: RANCOUR

Winner of Follow Me Style Award: Keigo Sphinx

Winner of Media Darling Award: X-Tech

Best Vocalist: Keigo Sphinx

Best Musician: Alif (Putra)

General Thoughts – Somehow I felt the best performance of the night was the very last one which featured the three best vocalists and the selected band of musicians who have impressed throughout the competition (Ikrar Perwira). Had that been the opening act, it would have left the audience and those watching at home craving for more. It was truly an exceptional performance by all and it left the hairs on my neck standing in awe of their showmanship as well as their vocal power. This was also evident when I noticed a lot of people giving them a standing ovation when the song ended. While the choice of Keigo Sphinx‘s vocalist was a surprise as I had A’an from Knightwings as the favourite, the best musician award that went to Putra‘s Alif was justified. He had stolen the show prior to his group’s elimination and once again he showed tonight what an exceptional guitar player he is. Maybe the only questionable decision was to pick Keigo Sphinx as the Follow Me Style Award winner. They were certainly the last group in my head to win this award, with all due respect.

I was kinda surprised that Trabo and X-Tech did not sustain their normal confidence and that Rancour & Fatskunks had upped the ante. But this was of course THE FINAL and it was a fight to the finish for all the groups involved, so it was somehow to be expected that the playing field would be equal with all giving off their best. Initially it was difficult to say who would be crowned winners as the first round of performances had their fair share of positive and negative vibes. However, the periodical sms results that were shown showed that it was just between X-Tech and Rancour. The final say to me rested in the hands of the judges. And even though it was only the first round of performances, I had a feeling Rancour would win it simply because Arab, who was one of the distinguished judges, had lavished praise on them saying how he would love to turn back time to join them on stage. That was an effective signal that the tide was in favour of Rancour, since it would be him who would be guiding the winners later on when they start work on their album. Eddy Ali on the other hand seemed to “despise” X-Tech for being one-dimensional.

When Rancour came on stage again for the second time and when Indra Shahril and Armand Maulana had given their two cents’ worth, you just knew that barring any sms debacles, they would become the outright champions. They are of the right age in market-speak and their appeal musically as well as attractivity would certainly transcend all ages. And this being a Suria event, doesn’t it make perfect sense to have a talent in their hands that have the whole package, even if they are not esthetically nor technically sound??? It would now be extremely interesting to see how their careers pan out or if this is just a mere flash in the pan. A four-year contract with the relevant parties would give us all ample time to scrutinize their capabilities and worth and I for one would like to wish them all the best as they embark on this journey to add another dimension to the local music scene.

To the rest of the finalists, I’m sure they too would get some slice of the pie. Based on past Anugerah events, most of the time, the winners don’t end up carving a rosy career in the industry. But that was mostly before the Artiste Management Unit was set up and prizes were not recording contracts. It’s just that the winners now have a proper direction and guidance to move up the scale. I believe there is still a market for groups like X-Tech, Knightwings, Putra and Trabo to soar and build on this foundation that they have set up. X-Tech would have been the choice for the technically inclined audience, me included, but some people are still afraid to bring forward a more aggresive approach to music for our mainstream. And that to me is not a good sign of our local music industry moving forward…

P.S. Thank you for being an ardent follower of this blog throughout the journey of Anugerah Band. Really appreciate all your comments, feedbacks as well as debates. Oh and to answer Ari‘s last question in his review, I say “HELL YEAH!!!“…