Saturday, January 3, 2009

Girl Kill Girls and Sainkho Namtchylak

Girl Kill Girls are an all-girl Chinese rock group, and Sainkho Namchylak is a 50-something singer with a seven-octave range who is a world renowned throat singer from Tuva. Last night Girl Kill Girls opened for Sainkho at Yugong Yishan, a popular Beijing nightspot where I've gone in the past for film screenings and parties with DJs I know, to a crowd made up mostly of Chinese fans.

Girl Kill Girls have a strong stage presence and play well with and off of one another. The three young women are all professionals, their music has a lot of energy and it was easy to imagine them filling larger houses. Lyrics were in both Chinese and a heavily accented and at times difficult to understand English. Their music has influences of Boston area girl-groups the Breeders and Belly, and at times they were reminiscent of the Bangles or Shonen Knife.

With a career spanning decades that has taken her around the world, Sainkho is a down-to-earth matriarch in whose glow the entire audience basked. She started her performance with some traditional throat singing, reminiscent of what you've heard on NPR in the past, then moved into a blend of throat singing and vocalization using her entire vocal range, with instrumentalization provided by a young male accompaniest/DJ working from a MacBook and a turntable. At times her music felt like it came straight from a rave hall, at other times it was out of a dream. The crowd loved it and demostrated their appreciation through enthusiastic applause, which is rare here.

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