Underground 3

24-06-04

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2 months after wowing the Underground with their own special brand of rock, Audiotraffic returned for a triumphant reprise. This time going on first, rather surprisingly, thus the crowd was not at it’s height. Which was a pity, because they missed the classic Audiotraffic set, which never fails to thrill. Shortly after this gig, Audiotraffic won the local HK leg of Battle of the BAnds and will be representing Hk at the final in New Zealand next year. Frankly, the judges got it right, after seeing numerous bands in HK over the past few months, to my mind Audiotraffic are the best. rock on, Adrian!
Don Smith
Audiotraffic info can be found here – Audiotraffic.net

One of the more interesting bands to play at the Underground in it’s first few months has been THE FLOWERS OF BABYLON. The brain-child of Michael Peart, also leader of The PNS, the Flowers (or FOBS to their ever-growing fan-club) are a 5 piece band with a unique sound to Hong Kong. They have been described as a cross-over between Ian Dury and the Blockheads and Joy Division, but that is unfair as they have a sound of their own.

The band carries on the political traditions of The PNS with parodies of Bush/Blair in “Smile”, a gentle prod at the ICAC in “ICAC”, and the issue of patriotism in Hong Kong/China in “Patriot”. More so than perhaps even The PNS however, the humour shines through in the self-explanatory “Kill Tom Cruise”, “Apollo 39”, “Chinatown” and “Louise”. Perhaps their jewel in the crown is “Pervert in Disguise”, a song written by Peart for The PNS but taken over by the FOBS.

The band is unique in that at most gigs they have a projector and home-made videos showing behind the drummer, made by the band themselves. The prime movers here are Iain Mellors (the sixth member of the band) and Peart, with Mellors responsible for most of the shooting and edting. The video for Kill Tom Cruise is a bit of a classic, Mellors editing a recent Cruise movie with home-made footage of mostly Peart chasing the said movie star.

There are inevitably parallels with The PNS, who have stalked Hong Kong for years with their brand of wit and anarchy. Peart explains…”I am intensely proud of what the PNS have achieved, but there remains a certain musical style to the PNS…a heavier sound…which stopped me introducing a more poppier, indy sound to the songs. Brendan agreed that I should start a side project, but it has blossomed in a way I never thought possible. We have had agents in touch with us about record deals, but as we all have full-time jobs we have turned them down for the moment. Who knows though…

The FOBS are bolstered by the inclusion of Chris B on lead guitar, formerly of the legendary Sisters of Sharon, who is responsible for much of the FOBS powerful but melodic sound. Listen to her guitar on Pervert in Disguise, terrific. On drums is Matt Coleman, bass Matt H and keyboards Shirley. All three crucial to the FOBS sound. Try and catch them if you can.
William Sickey

Hard Pack had the unenviable job of following The Flowers of Babylon at Underground 4 and what an excellent job they did of it. To this untutored ear, they sounded a bit like Green Day at their best, melodic punk stuff which had the audience trying hard not to pogo up and down. The band have been playing for some time now, see their excellent website. They’re into skateboarding like any proper punk band should be…and they design their own t-shirts. Cool!!!!
William Sickey

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