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Whai? I'll Tell You Why
What Chinese band could possibly make me think of Helios Creed, The Cure, Tom Waits, Pink Floyd, Tool and Portishead all at once?
By Kat Tosi
(more articles from this author)
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On Friday, August 24th, WHAI played at the small but ever-mighty Dos Kolegas, a small club in Beijing that specializes in being special. Around 40 people had shown up, most waiting for payday. A free show on a Friday hit the spot. Not knowing much about them, I arrived with an open mind and no expectations. To my absolute shock, things kicked off on time, and within a few minutes, I realized that these guys are way out there. Seriously. They come at you from a different dimension.

Electro feedback loops featured. And the crowd was really there to listen and go for the ride. However, WHAI don't always know where they are going; songs began developing but then ended to soon. What they do offer is an absolute plethora of sound, texture and mood with an ounce of reflection for good measure. What band could possibly make me think of Helios Creed, The Cure, Tom Waits, Pink Floyd, Tool and Portishead all at once? Minimal vocals in Chinese only added to the mystery.

Seriously, with such a diversity of sound, mood and tempo, they could easily put together a concept album. And they like ponytails and the colour black and sunglasses. So forget the Wall, think of the WHAI. These 4 guys have heart and soul and talent. Plus drums, bass, guitar and whacked out electronic gizmos.

They have something in their heads and they want you to hear it. What can this sound be called? And where did it come from? Experienced musicians, these guys got together almost one year ago. All of them are from the same hometown: Yinchuan. This apparently is the Hui Autonomous Region of Ningxia, north-central China, near the western end of the Great Wall of China. It ain't Brooklyn. They say post-psychedelic rock. I say experimental rock. Well, it is WHAI.

When asked about their musical influences the answers were, "Too many to name." Nirvana, Pink Floyd and dance music were mentioned, however. When asked about the biggest challenges facing them as musicians in China, the answer was, "Life and trying to find yourself."

Maybe the question is not WHAI but how?
What? A successful musical mega-experience indeed.
Where? Beijing
When? About 2 times a month in small venues.

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