Dr. Feelgood

Posted by Pete DeMola on 21. Dec 2008

t’s an unusual move for a neophyte band to singularly perform at such a large venue on a Tuesday night with zero name recognition, especially taking into account that it’s only the third time that the act in question has ever played together—in public or otherwise.

“We’ve only been together for a month,” said Zeng Yu, Dr. Feelgood’s de facto frontman. “I guess this is more of like an experiment than anything else.”

Their name is a homage to glam rock act Mötley Crüe’s seminal 1989 record, which was purportedly a reference to a Sunset Strip drug dealer named Jimmy. It was also the first Western rock song that the frontman, who plays guitar and programs electronic sequencing through his MacBook, ever heard.

The trio is signed to Pilot Records, who pulled some strings to give them the chance to debut their sound at Yugong Yishan, the vast performance space on Zhangzi Zhonglu, in the city’s Gulou neighborhood.

“We are a side project just for fun,” Zeng shrugged. “We really like electronic music, although our background is playing in hard rock bands.”

Zeng and drummer Diao Lei are also members of the melodic rock quartet Honey Gun (糖果枪), while Guo cut his teeth with Zuo You.

Structured by Zeng’s throbbing staccato guitar riffs, the band sailed through a protean sea of shimmering synthetic textures in their hour-long set; the leitmotifs being breakneck drumming wrapped in an a relentless industrial dirge peppered with the occasional sample of esoteric dialogue—all with transitions efficiently maneuvered with machinelike precision.

The band knows how to use timing to create devastating emotional breakdowns, too, as exemplified by Guo’s minor-keyed symphonic interludes.

In an independent music scene characterized by an rapidly-increasing number of acts and genres each with their own designated habitats—Brit Pop at MAO Live House, jazz at East Shore Live Jazz Cafe, underground electronica at White Rabbit, and an amalgamation of acts showcasing everything from hair metal to fuzzy shoegaze at D-22—Dr. Feelgood has a clear advantage in the sense that they should be able to effortlessly slip onto the bill at any of the aforementioned venues alongside a myriad of different acts with chameleon-like ease.

But despite their machinelike musical prowess, perhaps their voiceless aggro-stomptronica lends itself more as background music at venues in which live performances take a backseat to ass-shakery and inebriation. For some—this writer included—it may be difficult to remain captivated on a such a well-oiled, mechanical outfit that very well may have been digitally beamed in from a sonic laboratory.

“The idea is to make people dance,” Zeng said, echoing those sentiments. “And I hope that we can do that.”

Dr. Feelgood is set to drill in the New Year at Yugong Yishan, opening for Girl Girl Kill and SUBS. Check out the events page for more information.


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