Underground 62

28-06-08

Hey! What an ultra amazing evening, thanks to the people who came to watch all the bands and show their support for live music originality in HK. Thanks to Soler for introducing Thinking Out Loud 🙂 Thanks to the soundman Iris who was patient and gave all the bands a great sound. All four bands were superb. Monogel – keep playing, your songs are great! See you all soon at one of the many live music events in HK!
love Chris B xx

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Monogel

Any band kicking off an opening song with fiercely strummed bass chords has to have something going for it. The kind of sound I like too – loud enough, frequent changes of gear, and plenty of space between the notes.
Contrasting with the opener, song two was heralded by the least energetic drumstick count ever. No matter, because Monogel performed compact little songs with energy and zest, coming primarily from singer Law Wai Yip, sporting an impressively Jarvis Cocker-like fringe and glasses combination. Without understanding the Cantonese lyrics, I could imagine each song commenting on various aspects of life, like chapters in a book that gets better as you get into it.
By the middle of the set, the band opened up a little, chancing a few three-part harmonies and even confidently throwing in some ba-ba-ba backing vocals. Confidence showed too in slowing the pace right down for the Zombie-like fourth number. Polished up in the studio, Monogel could almost be Britpop. Live, they were looser and louder.
Paul M

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Comanches

Can’t find too many things to say about Comanches. Right haircuts, right jeans, right guitar, although clearly the wrong hat. No discernable Native American influences. Folky songs that stayed closer to Nick Cave meets the Waterboys than Mull of Kintyre. There were one or two moments, though.
Excellent, compelling singer and front man, but irritating and not noticeably functional changes in who-plays-what-instrument. Lots of ballads of one thing or another, and most lyrics seemed to start “This is the story of…” Great drums too, holding together rather ambitious arrangements of relatively simple songs.
Shambling is good, but shambolic isn’t. Scope for a little bit more simplicity, and possibly rehearsal. Definitely worth checking out again.
Paul M

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F.T.T.


This was the second time I’d seen FTT. The first was from a greater distance with, I think, a bigger crowd at a previous Underground. Vocalist Po Kei has an eager-to-please demeanour that for me works better in a more crowded room.
Either way, FTT are completely and winningly guileless in every respect. Chirpy, poppy, guitar-driven pop songs where boy meets girl and pretty much nothing else happens. Po Kei’s singing often doesn’t stand up to the songs, but his delivery has charm to spare. Good stuff.
Musically, FTT specialize in compelling intros and using two guitars, bass and drums with maximum efficiency. If the Strokes were from industrious, no-nonsense Hong Kong – and still practicing in their bedrooms – they might sound a little like this.
My highlight of the set was their cover of karaoke classic Leaving on a Jet Plane. Better than it had any right to be.
Paul M

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Thinking Out Loud

Noticeable difference in class from the rest. Tight, tight, tight. Awesome lead guitar. Chris B doing windmills. Great bass sound and guitar effects used unobtrusively, both for the first time this evening. Right and proper use of saxophone. Never having seen any of Chris B’s previous bands, her voice and presence are a revelation.
While discipline and musicianship are undoubtedly virtues at the Underground, several of the songs seemed way too short – most are easily good enough for an extra chorus. Along with this quick-fire delivery, the sheer variety of sounds, subject matter and, for that matter, language made it a little hard to pin the band down.
Tongue-in-cheek pseudo pop of “I’m gonna be famous” was followed by a textured, powerful number sung in English and Cantonese (not at the same time, obviously). Then straight into a frantic Fratelli’s cover, sung by the talented, Bowie-vocaled bassist Egg, proceeding into a SteelyDan-ish white groove thing.
Undoubted, err, climax however was the penultimate number, introduced by Chris B as “that song”. It quickly became clear why. True to the bands name, it was the uninhibited sound of the excitement and commitment of really excellent sex. While I imagine this came primarily from Chris’s thoughts, the rest of the band seemed to have enjoyed similar experiences. Excellent number.
It certainly doesn’t sound this way when I’m doing it. But then, I’ve never had sex with Chris B. Or the rest of the band.
Paul M

Above photos © Copyright 2008 by Yan
Poster by Sheli

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