Periphery in Shanghai or how to not handle a bad situation

Let me start this with: I was stoked! We don’t get a lot of great bands here. Let alone such a highly technical and mass appealing band like Periphery.

I came across them years ago while writing reviews for a now unfortunately discontinued German e-zine. It was a great time.

Periphery are a highly technical Djent band from Washington. They are great – listen to this and this. Opening act was Abstracts from Japan and they killed it. Fantastic sound, fantastic energy and amazing vocals. Basically Architects meets Structures meets Counterparts. It was seriously worth the ticket price 220 RMB or around 30 Euros.

Abstracts – the band that saved the night and concert

Then Periphery came on with good news and bad news and as everyone knows: people wanted to hear the bad news first (we never got to hear the good news, but I guess it was that they played in some way). They are terribly sick and there will be no lyrics. There was no ‘being sorry’, so they started playing and it was great, they handle their instruments well, they obviously are seasoned and great musicians.

The band without the singer and Jake not pictured

I was bamboozled with having requested to sing every note and word along. I don’t know most of the lyrics of bands I adore (apart from Manowar, who are also responsible for my English, but that is a different story) or bands I covered and screamed for, let alone a highly technical band with that kind of lyrics and vocal style.

Surprisingly people tried really hard and partly succeeded in the song Merigold. What they got was that they could do better and later that they don’t measure up to the excitement of Hong Kong – really?

I can think of multiple ways to make the concert still work somehow:

  • have a fan come on stage and sing
  • as band, sing along (at least for parts), it baffles me that this seemed not to be in the realms of possibility
  • have the recording or vocal track play in the back and play along (obviously you can do that)
  • get the Abstracts guy to do some of it or a Roadie
  • hum, step away or sing/scream parts or explain what are the words (every band I played in knew parts if not all of the song)
  • have someone scream whatever along the way
  • have someone randomly freestyle on what you play

Look, you are not a post-rock band nor a Killswitch Engage where people are entertained solely by the music nor do they have a chance to even remotely (in China) know the lyrics and notes of every single song. What were you thinking?

I could have excepted everything that happened but lost it completely at the encore, the fact that you played that stuff, to wait and have people ask for it (I have been there and we have planned it) was sooooo out of place, people actually asked and chanted for it and you got it. And asked for even more… I couldn’t believe it. Play the tight set, apologize and walk off. Or have the grandiose (I am serious) opener lead the show, play 20 minutes of your best songs instrumental, apologize and introduce them to a band that is amazing and came with the energy of a thousand suns. Let them shine and be humble.

Instead we got someone who was in the unfortunate position to break the bad news and I understand that working in customer service who gets riled up and antagonizes the crowd with everything he says. I feel sorry. I feel sorry for the 3 dudes who clearly tried and had fun and played everything with passion and sincerity and every one of them would have probably been a better spokesperson than Jake (I think that is your name and I am really, from my heart of hearts sorry to critique you that way, but that came off as arrogant and completely misplaced).

It was immature. I understand people shouting negative things and I am surprised not more people have left early. I am hands down amazed by the people that were okay with all that and kept asking for the next song and clapped, I tried and did so first too.

Again, I am glad I was there, I would have missed out on Abstracts and I understand that a refund was probably not in the books, nor would I have asked for it. I also do understand and appreciate that the band played, but man, this was so badly handled, I have trouble finding a lot to redeem that and I leave this with a sad feeling. Something seemed off and I hope the singer is okay and recovers but on the top of my head I can think of at least 3 or 4 ways how that could have went a different and better way. You can do better and I saw the disappointment that you were aware of and maybe you were all a bit sick but you powered through but not in the smartest way.

A couple of years ago Deafheaven played here and I think for a whole song (it was one of the first songs and I don’t think the screamer was sick) the microphone gave up completely. The singer shouted over it and played along for the whole song, not missing a scream and it was not audible but dayyum, it impressed me and that act alone made me hear the words in my head.

I feel bad for the band trying so hard and clearly being passionate about it, but Jake my man, I am disappointed and I hope one day there is at least that one word ‘sorry’ that could have made it all bearable…

4 thoughts on “Periphery in Shanghai or how to not handle a bad situation

  1. Good article. I was there yesterday but I wasn’t disappointed even there were no vocal and bass. But I felt so sad about Jake‘s attitude.

  2. Hi, I wasn’t there but I read few negative comments about Jake. What exactly made people get upset?
    Hard to imagine how things turn out so sour. We all know that Nolly stopped touring, so don’t talk about no bass issue.
    Spencer got ill. So no vocal, sorry about that.

    • Hey man! They still played really well and the missing bass was not really an issue for me. Jake was just not handling it well and came off as arrogant. A bit like give a mouse a cookie and they ask for milk… so people were warming up, banging their heads and applauding and basically got called out for not being enthusiastic enough. They could have had the music and their performance speak for themselves and thrown some thank yous in there but basically whatever the audience seemed to give (and I found that was a lot given the circumstances) they were made small and got compared to other audiences.

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