In June 2012 — alongside international acts like China’s Carsick Cars and Japan’s Electric Eel Shock — the powerhouse, grunge rock Vietnamese outfit Go Lim took the stage in Hanoi as CAMA Festival’s Vietnamese rock representatives. Borrowing elements and inspiration from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, experimental guitarist Nguyen Manh Hung and avant garde art studio Nha San, Go Lim was a breath of fresh air among the male-dominated local rock scene. The band’s collection of original sound scoffed at the insipid love songs that dominated the local airwaves, and instead featured songs on oddball topics like being a hungry cat.

 

 

In a high-energy, unhinged performance that featured frontwoman Nga Nhi flailing wildly while whipping the audience into a frenzy, CAMA Festival 6 saw Go Lim cement themselves as one of the most audacious, original and sometimes downright bizarre live acts in Vietnam. In 2012, they were the band to watch.

 

Yet, the next year, the unstoppable creative force of frontwoman Nga Nhi came to an abrupt end. In October of 2013, Nhi passed away unexpectedly from complications arising from a chronic illness she'd been battling for years, and left Go Lim fans in shock. The outfit — which held the promise of being the catalyst for Vietnam’s newest underground phenomenon — was left reeling in the face of losing the driving force behind their forward momentum.

 

Yet, despite the palpable void that was left in the Hanoi underground music scene, Go Lim’s legacy is still felt strongly in the city’s creative community. As fierce advocates of independent music and creative expression, Go Lim was an anomaly among many of their rock counterparts. The group had set a precedent for original music and fresh sound, which pushed even the underground scene to its creative limits.

 

For Hanoi’s underground music sphere, bands like Go Lim paved the way for the scene’s original music to find an audience in the city. By bursting from Hanoi’s music subculture and onto the big stage, Go Lim is hopefully the first of many enigmatic bands to put Vietnam on the global music map.

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