Archive for Tháng Mười Hai 7, 2009

Phổ thơ Hồ Xuân Hương để viết Đu Tiên hay chọn tập tục người Mông làm chất liệu chính cho Cướp vợ là một trong những thể nghiệm táo bạo của Ngũ Cung, rockband vừa giành giải Nhạc sĩ ấn tượng của Bài hát Việt. Đỗ Hoàng Hiệp, vocalist của ban nhạc đã có buổi trò chuyện cởi mở phóng viên. (more…)

Now the authorities are more open.”

Hanoi’s musical censorship has extended beyond rock. Trinh Cong Son (1939 – 2001), a singer and songwriter, often referred to as Vietnam’s Bob Dylan, spent four years in a re-education camp post 1975. Since death he has been honored by the authorities and his music lives on in Hanoi’s quieter music cafés.

Though permission from authorities is still important, Regurgitator were, inexplicably, not required to submit their lyrics for prior approval. “I’m really surprised there was no censorship,” said guitarist and vocalist Quan Yeomans, whose mother is originally from Hanoi, “we’ve heard stories about government shutdowns.”

“All song lyrics have been approved. A big program needs approval,” said Ngu Cung’s manager Ha. When asked whether the strong corporate backing that keeps the band so busy might create its own form of censorship, he paused and said, “They invite us (to play) because they love our music. They put their logos up and we do what we want.”

Ngu Cung does not play in Hanoi’s grimy rock clubs; they’re strictly a large event band.

This was evident during their well-polished performance. The smoky, do-it-yourself atmosphere of clubs such as ‘Heresy’, which are furnished with simple wooden stools and host guitarists who sometime have to play to their own backing tracks, lacking competent band members, are a world away from Ngu Cung’s dramatic rock star act, with wailing, multi-octave vocals, smoke machines and the occasional very long drum solo.

The young crowd, all in black pants and shirts with band logos or Che Guevara screen prints, went wild, thrashing and cheering at the foot of the stage. Reguritator received a similarly rapturous response from the crowd, though many had never heard of them.

“I think it was really good,” said Trang, 20, after the concert, as she and her friend passed a beer back and forth. “I never heard of Regurgitator before but I enjoyed it. I like Ngu Cung a lot.”

“It was really great, amazing, really fun,” said Regurgitator’s bassist and vocalist Ben Ely after coming off stage and being greeted by a new legion of fans eager for photos and autographs.

“I think it’s a very good beginning if they keep inviting great bands like Regurgitator from overseas. If that happens we’ll see a big change for Vietnamese bands. Meanwhile there’s a little bit of Vietnamese music,” said a smiling Quan as the young crowd quickly cleared out to beat curfew time.

HANOI — A recent rock concert in the capital attracted 1,600 fans and unusually, half were Vietnamese. With headlining Australian band ‘Regurgitator’—one of the very first international acts for Hanoi—and the new star power of some of the country’s up-and-coming groups, change was discernible in this communist capital.

Ticket prices were a very low 30,000VND (US $1.80), thanks to sponsorship from Tiger Beer and the Australian Chamber of Commerce. “We wanted it to be accessible,” Andrew Lamont of Tiger Beer told IPS. The October 12 gig was put together by the Club for Art and Music Appreciation (CAMA), an expatriate group that organizes music events in Hanoi.

Vietnamese rock band ‘Ngu Cung’.

The presence of respected home-grown bands such as ‘Ngu Cung’ and ‘Holy Red Cross’ was as much, if not more, of a draw card as the Australian band. Ngu Cung won Tiger Beer’s countrywide ‘Rock Your Passion’ band competition at the beginning of this year, earning the honor of supporting US rockers ‘My Chemical Romance’ on their one-off concert in Ho Chi Minh City, which traditionally has hosted larger events than its northern sibling. Holy Red Cross was runner up.This, coupled with a number of other large-scale events this year, such as the multi-disciplinary ‘Artport’ held in early August, is seen by some as progress for Hanoi’s live rock scene, long an underground phenomenon in a country where pop music, techno and karaoke have ruled.

“Regurgitator were a new band and a new style for them,” Giles Cooper said after the concert. “(Though) I think many of them only came to see Ngu Cung.” Many among the crowd were seen sporting black Ngu Cung T-shirts.

“There are a lot of activities in town now. Big companies have money for sponsorship,” Bui Thanh Ha, the commercially-minded manager of Ngu Cung, told IPS. “It’s developed a lot, the quality of bands has improved; they are sponsored by brands. Though a love of rock doesn’t depend on economic factors,” he was quick to add.

This is true. Vietnam’s rapid economic growth has led to rapid social change in some quarters. Youth activities and interests, from elaborately decorated bicycles, to hip hop and even kissing in public are often ascribed to the ‘westernization’ that comes with more money and big brands. But the rock scene in Hanoi has history.

Though initially banned in 1975 after the communist nation’s reunification, rock music gained a toehold post-doi moi in 1986, when the government opened the centrally-planned economy to market forces. Though the economy shifted quickly, day-to-day life remained largely traditional.

“After 1975 rock and roll was considered a type of music that encouraged negativity. They thought it made you crazy, insane, a freak, that it would destroy the order of society,” former drummer Vo Anh Tuan told IPS via phone.

Now a salary man, Tuan once played for the legendary rock outfit ‘The Wall’, leaving in 1999 after becoming disillusioned with the more commercial tact the band was taking. His drumming idol is Ian Paice of ‘Deep Purple’.

The burgeoning scene quickly ran into difficulties. Around 1993 there was a clamp down after an event marking the anniversary of John Lennon’s death held at central Hoan Kiem Lake went awry. Combined with a concert where the audience clashed with police, problems were inevitable.

“Newspapers wrote bad things about those events. The subject was, ‘Let’s Say No to Rock!’. Everything to do with rock in Hanoi was given a hard time in public,” said Pham Ngoc Quan, 30, lead singer in a local death metal band. “But nobody forced any of the rock cafés to close.”

Hanoi’s rock scene has largely remained within those cafés, which are often little more than bare rooms with some scattered wooden stools and tattered posters of still-popular idols like Ozzie Osbourne and Jimi Hendrix (music from the ‘Vietnam War’ era remains steadfastly popular among musicians in Hanoi).

“There’s always been this latent sense that the students are gonna revolutionize everything, but it never happened,” said Cooper, a corporate lawyer who’s lived in Hanoi nine years. “Live music hasn’t really developed in a decade. Now maybe it has a bit, because Tiger is pushing things.”

Though the scene may have stayed small and often informal, greater freedom has been granted. According to Tuan, “Ten years before you needed a lot of permission for a performance.