Underground 58

03-05-08

AMAZING! What a great night Underground 58 was! Thanks to all the bands for their professionalism & smooth changeovers and of course their wonderful performances. Thanks to the audience, fans, groupies, the sponsors, Club Cixi, the Underground crew and to the soundmen.
love Chris B xx u58001.jpg

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KILLERSOAP



1. Somebody
2. Get rid of you
3. Once again
4. Distance
5. Reason
6. Dirty man

Not a new bathtime product for those hateful kids you have to babysit or the title of a B-grade horror movie, this band’s name is some kind of word play that can be translated as something akin to ‘secret weapon’. Stuck in the Cross Harbor Tunnel they were nowhere to be seen for soundcheck. But, once in the building, and by their second song, they had drawn a big fan following so the drama was all worth it.
More of a traditional rock band, rather than alt-rock, they offered a mix of loud rhythms and melodic lead guitar. The lead vocalist has the ‘it’-factor quality to his voice.
There was just enough variation in the vocals to save their sound from becoming too mainstream and there was just enough loudness from the rhythm section to save their songs from being too ordinary. I think I find the composition of their songs a bit too predictable. Since they have chosen their weapons, they should now use them to inflict fatal wounds and not just give us a few shaving nicks.
Isobel S. Saunders

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THE FRAGILE


1. The first day I believe there’s an angel
2. venus
3. the smog
4. eclipses

With dreamy crystalline guitar and hazy vocals, their songs frequently crescendo from a gentle start to a rich full wall of sound. Looking the shoegazing part, there’s zilch movement from the band on stage with barely even a cymbal moving. Completely devoid of a plain ol’ happy kind of singing, vocals were instead crooned and hummed into existence with the same seriousness a Tibetan monk would adopt in meditative prayer.
Really nice narcotic, melodic trippy sounds, with some discordant keyboards at times to stop you being completely soothed into a stupor.
I’m not sure their own description on the Underground 58 flyer is all that accurate. They’ve written that they are ‘depressingly charming’ (*snerk*) – it sounds a bit like a disguised insult, like when your school teacher wrote in your report card that you’re ‘reliable and you try hard’. It basically means you have no personality and have nothing going for you. This band has lots going for them, so let’s alter ‘depressingly charming’ to ‘lusciously woozy’. All the Underground crew, Manek the photographer and Calvin, Chris B’s right hand man, were yawning, suitably anaesthetized, under their masterful Novocaine effect.
Isobel S. Saunders

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GONG WU


Garden of Eden (Guns N’ Roses cover)
Sugar
All I Loved
Heart-Shaped Box (Nirvana cover)
Your Victim
Strip It

How shall I put this? Shall I just say that these guys LOVE performing…Look at me! Look at me! mentality …but I guess the best bands are a bit narcissistic. Unbuttoned shirts, medallions, dark shades and big muscles. Wild, energetic, heavy rock and lots of showmanship poured out of these guys. Any criticism? Nope. Weeell, maybe the lead singer guy could grow some more hair on his chest. And they played too many covers. Um ah, naughty!
Good scream-value vocals, well-delivered. I have a soft spot for bands like AC/DC and I could feel my hardened Grinch-like heart growing three sizes bigger when this band started playing. Even a smile cracked the corners of my mouth. The lead singer’s voice excelled and held his own over the loud instruments. Offering a harder rock sound, mixed with a bit of a post-grunge sound and some metal-influenced vocals, it is apparent why Gong Wu has a keen following. Under the final song’s strobe lights their followers weren’t shy about jumping around like fleas escaping the cat’s new collar.
Isobel S. Saunders

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HUNGRY GHOSTS

1. New Song
2. You and Me
3. Five Year Plan
4. Modus Vervendi
5. Chinese Families

As Shaun from the David Bowie Knives, who was milling in the audience, said, ‘The best bands have lady bass players.” He would know. His band has Clare. Hungry Ghosts have Tiffany. This is one of those exceptional bands who can mix up great playing, songwriting and use of voice into one great big dirty subterranean combo. They’re tight in a cool, understated way. They don’t have to try hard at all to be original and eclectic. They just do it naturally whether they realize it or not. Lead guy Luke is a bit gonzo and witty in a laid-back kind of way, which is all the more amazing after Tiffany told me all the songs were new (and named as such.) They didn’t even look slightly panicked.
“He looks like John Mayer!’ cooed a pretty girl in green. Paul tells me later this is a bit of an in-joke with the band. Looks like him. Sings like him… Charming like him, too when he complimented my red dress. Anyone who compliments the reviewer gets a good review. That’s the undisputed law of corruption and nepotism. Cash bribes are very, very good, too.
Their songwriting is original and Paul cites a mash of influences, such as Death Cab for Cutie, Minus the Bear, Brazilian CSS (Cansei der Ser Sexy) and Canadian indie stuff, like Broken Social Scene. Yeah, I had to check out TouTube for some of these, too…
This band emanates an uncommon radiance in this here shadowy underworld of alternative music.
Isobel S. Saunders

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CONSENT

1. 逃走
2. Feeling Release
3. Father
4. 抬起頭
5. Tribute
Extremely competent musicians and great performers, this band entertained a very sizeable crowd with more traditional sounding rock and some awesome rapcore vocals. Shades of bands, like early Linkin Park, here with some some good scratchy-stuff from their DJ in the corner. They mixed up softer melodic sounds with jolts of blasting rock and screamed vocals.
Because I have a liking for the eclectic, the oddball and all things unpredictable, I felt they lapsed a little into a more mainstream sound. They felt a bit tame at times. I know there’s a beast lurking in them, they just have to unleash it.
Isobel S. Saunders

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THE SINISTER LEFT

1 The Vulture That She Is
2 Lord Byron
3 M.S.G.
4 Timeless
5 The Faux King
6 Cast Away

The Sinister Left completely possessed Club Cixi’s stage like the dark evil matter that oozes purposefully out of the walls and floorboards in the devil’s own house to ensnare its latest terrified and screaming victim. Mouhahahaha! (*sound of devil laughing*)
A seriously powerful sound, helped along by a loud bass drum, altogether producing as ominous a sound as their scary name suggests. These guys are not mucking about and are tight and wicked from beginning to end. Guitarist Al cited the band’s influences as Mog Wai, Led Zeppelin, Radiohead and 80s UK post-punk band, The Chameleons.
This band manages to fit all the pieces of the great indie music puzzle together. They have a diverse repertoire with an extremely versatile, artful lead singer who can create any mood or feeling just by opening his trap, squeezing the back of his throat into various shapes and pushing some air out. The bass and drums form a solid, heavy combo creating as deep and emotionally charged a mood as Colonel Walter Kurtz’ (Marlon Brando) death scene in Apocalypse Now. Their set demonstrated some very accomplished lead guitar work and effects, at times producing quite crystalline sounds to offset the heavy rhythms. Towards the end of their set, the bass guitar gave up some quite complex melodies, proving it was capable of some tenderness.
Great songwriting, truly excellent and original musicianship with one of the best vocalists in Hong Kong right now. They have a strong following and deservedly so.
Isobel S. Saunders

Above photos © Copyright 2008 by Manek
Poster by Sheli

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