1999: The competition

i first met red eye reduction at a gig organised by the guys from the university of north london, one fine easter's evening in 1998. they were the opening band, who played an entire set of original material with much aplomb. it wasn't a year later, that i got to fraternise with the bunch that was left behind after goof and bond left sheffield.

AJ and his mates were living at the legendary (after bode's tale, it definitely was!) 27 filey street. they had the best basement in sheffield, for they didn't really have any neighbours. it was such that you could jam till the cows come home.

it was one day at the students union when AJ and syatir decided to take a detour to buy a snickers bar. fate would have it that they saw an ad for the 1999 student band competition (gomez was one such band who won this competition). the closing date was on that day itself and they realised that the entry form had to be handed in like in 5 minutes! they scribbled on the form and came up with
extended coordinates, the first thing that came to mind (don't ask). after handing in the form they thought nothing of it and after a while, came to forget about it!

it was a few months later when AJ got a call saying that they were in. they practised their asses off and got into tow three medics, riki, bagak and ganja, on guitar, bass and drums, respectively. riki was a tone-freak and was able to conjure up a multitude of sounds on his bas mini zoom multieffects while ganja was a talented multi-instrumentalist. bagak was on bass, syatir played rhythm guitar and AJ took the task of handling the vocals. the set list was three rage against the machine cover tunes.

the evening came finally and extended coordinates rallied the troops (and a camcorder) for support. i remembered vividly AJ asking the organisers if they could swear onstage (lyrical content for artistry's sake... haha). when it was their turn to get up there, all of us felt quite nervous. hentam saje lah!
bombtrack was the first song. bagak handled the intro fine with the sheffield's lousiest bass and the band simply erupted. the lighting guys were great as they synchronised the strobes to the beat. AJ's vocals were a tad muffled but riki's guitar noodling and ganja's drumming were absolutely spot on, effects and all.

bulls on parade went well with a bunch of malaysian students going absolutely mental at the front. it wasn't till the final song, killing in the name, that everything went into full rapcore mode. unlike the other bands, we had this crazed metalhead together with the entire jive stormtroopers (the opening slipknot-like boilersuit-clad non-competing house band) joining in the malaysian melee, shoving their fists up in the air to the chorus. you know how the song goes.

it was great. sweaty backs patted and all. until this announcement came on the tannoy that extended coordinates have been disqualified. it appeared that during the rush of filling in the entry form, AJ and syatir didn't see the "at least one original song" clause. we felt quite down at first but after seeing the response the crowd gave and the fact that they got to play onstage with professionally equipped backline, PA and lights, it was one experience they will never forget for the rest of their lives.