Underground 26

04-05-06

Thanks to the wonderful bands who played, for me this was a special night with each band displaying their own unique & original & creative songwriting. Makes me proud that there is an active live music scene happening in Hong Kong. May all the bands come back and play Underground shows again.
love Chris B x

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Sarasvati
The first band is Sarasvati whose 4-song set comprises a fine mix of slo-mo rock grooves, some raga rock, slow and steamy vox and a mid-tempo tune to finish. Ah Ning (bass), who is the Barry Manilow of the group (“I Write the Songs”). Ah Po (guitar), who creates the music with Lung Jai on drums and the gorgeous, pouting Emily on smoky, sultry blues-rock vox. .Some nice touches of heavy-jangle Byrds meets Electric Prunes raga guitar on the second track which is about space travel. Emily, who has been singing for about 3 years in blues-inspired bands has good stage presence – some swagger, – some cool poses against the howling backdrop of the band’s guitar wigouts.
Nick Lovatt
Nick! Barry Manilow didn’t write “I write the Songs” – William Sickey

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Sexy Hammer
Sexy Hammer prepare to take the stage. But, there’s a problem. The bassist is lost somewhere in Wanchai, but on his way. It’s well worth the wait as they are a revelation tonight. Some martial melodies and metal guitar solos recall live Judas Priest while there’s also some early Sabbath-inspired wah wah pedal action. They segue from song to song quite well. The bassist speed-raps like Linkin Park or the Beastie Boys. They’re not bad at 70’s-style UK punk either. The later tunes have an anthemic quality, reminiscent of Sham 69 or the Undertones thrash melody (thrashody?). The final tune could be their big “hit single” and sorta reminds me of what little I’ve heard of local ex-rockers Beyond.
Nick Lovatt

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Hotcakes on 55th
Teen band, Hot Cakes on 55th, are making their full debut, just 3 weeks after settling on their currant (ho ho) line-up.. They’ve brought their own happy punters with them who are front and centre as Chris B. exhorts the crowd to “give them lots of luu-r-ve”!. The quartet are Adriel the Kid on bass/vox, Matt Patt on guitar, Dom the Drummer and Big Timmy on vox/guitar. He’s the local equivalent of Big John, former lead guitarist with Scottish punks The Exploited and later with Goodbye Mr. McKenzie – the same band Shirley Manson started with before becoming Garbage. HC55th are eclectic and have a good rapport with the crowd. They mash up drum/bass noise with orchestral-cum-space guitar noodling and throw a few blurt blasts of trombone into the mix. This is an Underground first. The trombone is played (you guessed it!) by Adriel. Shades of the early (now late) John Entwhistle on The Who Sell Out. .I can hear some Frank Zappa wit in the music construction. The 4th/final tune with its “I wanna go home” chorus rises from a whisper to a scream as the fans finally begin to mosh. Chris B thinks they show great potential. I think, even an acoustic set by them would be industrial strength.
Nick Lovatt

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Sea Monsters
Sea Monsters prepare to deliver their avant-funk-prog blend of musical mayhem. They’re the only keyboard band of the night and it’s the first time I’ve heard them play. Advance reviews have been good. Yoji is the keyboard kommander blending jazz Moog with mini-Theremin madness. More Electric Prunes mayhem cross-bred with Sun Ra’s Inter-Galactic synth squeals and squiggles. There are nods of the porkpie hat to Phil Lesh (the bassist!) with the former Grateful Dead (now just The Dead) and his side project Sea Stones. Hiroshi, the guitarist, recalls Bob Fripp – founder of King Crimson, and a jazzed-up Jimi Hendrix. Koya, bassman with Very Ape, among others, does his funkadelic Bootsy Collins-style thing while the drummer Ogura performs the only solo of the night. I thought they weren’t bad, but Koya later apologises for their weak set, promising that “next time, we’ll do better”.
Nick Lovatt

A big hands up to the staff of Les Visages and a big special thank you to Rommel! You did great guys!

Above photos © Copyright 2006 by Willem Van Der Merwe

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