This candid shot was taken of the rock band DEATHPANDA (formerly known as Angkst) enjoying a cigarette break before a recent performance.
Angkst achieved widespread underground fame during the late 90’s and early 00’s, due to their energetic performances and unique blend of heavy metal and hip-hop. “Where Do I Belong?” peaked at #47 on the Billboard’s Rock chart in 1999, marking the band’s greatest commercial hit. “Riptide” reached #64 and was nominated by MTV for the “Best Concept Video” in 2001. In 2003, Angkst sued the band Linkin Park for “ripping off their style” and lost, generating considerable negative publicity. Things went downhill after that, culminating with the ill-fated 2005 European tour. Guitarist Blingery was paralyzed while crowd surfing during a performance in Milan, while bassist Fynx was apprehended in Bucharest after attempting to smuggle a rare species of bat out of Romania in his carry-on. Ostensibly, this prompted the breakup of the band, although most sources cite drug addiction and religious differences (drummer J-Duff was a devout Catholic who openly criticized singer B-Laz for pushing the band what he deemed to be a ‘pagan direction’) as other key factors.
However, in 2009, the group put aside their differences and reformed under the name DEATHPANDA, and began performing a mix of new and old material in full-body panda costumes. Blingery, who had been paralyzed from the waste down, was replaced on guitar by Mishredda, but joined the band onstage in wheelchair for a memorable encore performance at the Rabbot Cabaret. Fynx, who is serving a 20-year prison sentence for the trafficking of endangered species, was replaced on bass by Victor Wooten.
According to rapper Bill, “DEATHPANDA is all about promoting a positive message—protecting pandas and other endangered species—in a hardcore way that resonates with today’s youth.” The group was a commercial flop in the United States, but earned considerable popularity in East Asia. In 2010, the band relocated to Tokyo and tours throughout Japan, as well as in China, South Korea, Taiwan, and The Philippines.