Fifi Rong and GLASS – O2 Islington, London (28th April 2016) – LIVE REVIEW

It’s an unfortunate thing, when an opening act outshines the main event. GLASS were only named as the special guest for the concert held at the O2 Islington, on 28th April. A short set was to be expected, as preparation for the headliner of the night, Fifi Rong. But as soon as the duo came on stage, it was clear they were there to own it. Jessica Winter, wearing a white night shirt and her hair slicked back, took stage right, as Scott Rimington, wearing a leather jacket, a guitar and a massive beard, took stage left. In between them, front and centre, stood the star of their music – the double sided keyboard.

It was all about preformanship with those two, and what a performance it was! When they were not playing the keys and staring intensely into each other’s eyes, Winter was dancing in mechanical movements all around the stage. And when it was Rimington’s turn for an energetic guitar riff, she came down to the audience and demanded their attention. Everything was coordinated to perfection, even if Winter’s broken-doll dance routine seemed awkward and uncomfortable. It was all in sync with the music, which could also be uncomfortable at times, but there lay it’s strength. The band define their genre as ‘pop hip-op crance’ and basically it’s just that – an incomprehensible mishmash of styles, that will make you sway, dance, feel, and most of all – enjoy. GLASS is surely an act to keep an eye on.

Moving on the the next set, the main one of that evening, there a was a definite sense of anticlimax. Fifi Rong, Born in Beijing and now based in London, is a veteran in music. She’s already released two EPs and one album, headlined shows throughout the UK, Europe and China/Hong Kong and was even nominated as the best Electronic Music Artist and won best Song at the IMA (Independent Music Awards). There’s no denying that she’s an interesting artist, especially when it comes to her stage persona.

Rong took the stage with an elaborate, Asian-inspired costume; her hair pulled up in an impressive do, her face painted white, red and blue (skin, lips, eyes), with thick lashes and liner and clothes include a colourful corset and a full-length flowing skirt. The film projected behind her through the set, was also very colourful, presenting Rong along side various traditional imagery. The music, in contrast, was very bland.

Rong labels her style as ‘hybrid electronic’, but really, it’s more of an electronic yawn. Songs blend into one another and move into a haze of low beats. Some more mellow, some attempt to liven the crowd, but none stand out and demand attention. Well, all but one lovely tune, which was sung in Chinese. The melody was slow and stripped down and really made a point of showcasing Rong’s voice. And low and behold, she had a great one, it was just hiding behind a big, electronic production. It felt like the song also tapped into the singer’s Chinese heritage, which is highly apparent with the presentation, but lacking in the actual music.

At her very core, Fifi Rong is a good singer and a lovable artist. She’s sweet and genuine, and you truly want to like her. You root for her to succeed but at this current point in time, the singer just seems lost. Maybe by revisiting her musical roots and digging deeper, she can find that big statement she ‘s trying to make – one that’ll be apparent in her music, as well as her image. One that will be worthy of a headlining act.

This Fifi Rong article was written by Tal Imagor, a GIGsoup contributor