Grinding it out: Swedish grindcore band Grid hits Manila.
by rick olivares
Frongo Larsson stood by the top of the stairs of the Darkside Bar. The six-foot-one bespectacled Swede, in Manila for his grindcore band, Grid’s Southeast Asian tour, was slumped against the wall. He was sweating buckets.
“Fuck,” he said to no one in particular. “It’s hot as fuck here.”
It was ironic as the metropolis was engulfed with Typhoon Gorio’s rains. The inclement weather had caused the cancellation of classes, work stoppage, and clogged up streets. Outside the Darkside Bar along Nakpil Street in Malate, the rain was pouring. Inside the bar, however, because of its small, cramped space with even worse ventilation and seemingly non-existent air-conditioning, and with bodies packing the floor for the plethora of the guttural singing/sounding bands that laid waste to one’s eardrums that night, it was extra hot.
“Fuck, man. All of a sudden I miss Sweden,” he chirped.
Larsson referred more to the humidity that threatened to sap all of his energy. Grid, the now two-man outfit, was on the last leg of its four-nation tour of Southeast Asia. They are on tour with Maticrust, that Fil-Arab outfit out of the United Arab Emirates, in a showcase billed as East/West Grind Core Finale”. Grid were also promoting their new album. “Human Collapse Syndrome” that was released by Discouraged Records last May 15.
“The album has been selling well on tour,” said Backstrom.
Friday night they were in Manila for their Darkside Bar gig then on Saturday, they play their last show at the Hi-Way 826 Resto Bar in Pampanga before flying back to Europe on Sunday.
“I guess it’s also because that we’re close to the end of the tour which is why I am homesick,” Frongo later shared. “But the show must go on.”
“I’m ‘Frederick’ but just call me ‘Frongo,’” he smiled extending a handshake.
I purchased a seven-inch single and two compact discs of their albums. That brought a huge smile to his face. “We sold out most of our stuff in our first few stops. Indonesia was fucking crazy. It was great,” he beamed. “We hope to get the same kind of response here. And I hope you like our stuff.”
Grid arrived in Bangkok, Thailand on the 19th of July; played a gig the next day then flew to Johor, Malaysia for the second show in as many days and countries. They spent four days in Indonesia that allowed them to see Jakarta. “When we were there it was foggy,” related Frongo.
Now he’s in between heat and rain.
During their 16-song set, Grid sent fans into a frenzy. At first, the fans watched the duo perform. Despite being a man-down, they are no less aggressive or loud. On display was technical proficiency. And loud as fuck brutal, agro music. A mosh pit ensued. Beer flowed. Cheers roared out into the dark and rainy night.
Later outside for some smokes, he accidentally dropped his cigarette on the street. The white of the stick is browned from the mud puddle.
“Give him another one,” called out a bar patron. “It’s already dirty.”
“It’s all right. I need a smoke,” he said putting the stick into his mouth while waiting for a light. “I need it before I go insane.”
The big man sat quietly for a moment. Reflection? Steeling one’s self?
It seemed almost embarrassing because the putrid smell of an open sewer assaulted our senses maybe even more than the music played upstairs. If the visitor was put off, he wasn’t showing it.
Then Larsson nodded. He was now ready to talk.
In the meantime, his co-bandmate, guitarist Andreas Backstrom has opted to stay upstairs. “How he can stand the heat, I don’t know. He’s like an iceman,” laughed Larsson.
According to the Swede, the grindcore scene in is homeland is dead. “Luckily, we can play in the metal and hardcore festivals so we still have some venues to play in. We just want to play.”
Talking to promoters around the Southeast Asian region, Grid was stoked to find out that the extreme music scene was alive and kicking. Some of the members of Maticrust enjoined them to perform in Manila. “’You have to try Manila,’” quoted Frongo of the invitation. “It’s good. We’re happy we’re here. And we’ve been having a blast man! I have yet to get fucking drunk in Manila.”
His last statement elicits a laugh from the fans around him.
“The tour is an eye opener for us. For sure, we’re going to do this again,” Frongo pronounced. “It’s good for the new experiences and making new friends. Hopefully, the experiences will make their way into our next batch of songs.”
Maybe when they return they can spend a little more time and see both the good and bad of the city if not the rest of the country. “Definitely,” Larsson said cheerfully. “We’d like to go to a beach as well because in Sweden it’s so fucking cold. The snow? It sometimes reaches up to here,” he said demonstrating with his hand how thick the snow falls.
“We’d also like to see more bands,” he added. “After all, we’re music fans ourselves.”
Then a couple of fans who made their way out of the hot and humid bar spot Larsson. “Sir… selfie?”
The Big Swede nodded.
“Hey, you’re famous,” I teased.
“Ha!” was the only one Larsson could say.
“We’re going to have to call it a night. We have a show tomorrow night.”
No rest for the wicked as the show must go on.
|With Frongo Larsson outside Darkside Bar. Dirty smokes and all.|