Underground 85

19-09-09

Thank you so much to Calvin & Heather for running this evening of great music whilst I was out of town. Big round of applause to Zane, the super soundman of The Melting Pot. HUGE applause to the amazing 5 acts we had performing, I am SO looking forward to the video shot by Toson. Biggest thanks to the audience for supporting live original music in Hong Kong.
love Chris B xx

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Kris & Ben said….

1. Stuck on you

2. Holes

3. How high

4. What you want

5. Machine gun

Kris and Ben are an acoustic duo that play the darker side of indie folk rock. This was their first show together and their debut at The Underground. So, I am sure that many people were interested in how their first performance would go. Their first song, ‘Stuck on you’ had a very infectious chorus that invoked feelings of sadness and happiness at the same time. It was quite a light-hearted song and was very mellow. Kris’ voice reminded me of Dido, and she strummed the guitar while Ben played the more technical parts. The crowd was silent throughout the whole song and I began to wonder if anyone was here because it was so quiet. But as they finished the song the crowd erupted in applause and I was amazed at the response they had gotten. The bar had filled up more quickly than usual for the first band.

For their second song, ‘Holes’, Kris put down her guitar so she could concentrate on her vocals, while Ben accompanied her with his delicate guitar skills. She reached many high and low notes with perfect ease and I began to admire her singing talent. I was starting to wonder, is this ‘Kris & Ben said’ or should it be called ‘Kris said’… and maybe ‘Ben just played’. This song was the kind of music I would like to listen to so as to get away from the hustle and bustle of busy Hong Kong. It had an abrupt end… but you could see the crowd were thirsty for some more.

The third song titled, ‘How high’ was a more upbeat song from the last two. She told people that they could groove along to the music. It was definitely a song that people could tap their feet to. I loved it how Ben picked the last note after every verse. The duo made us feel so comfortable and at home with their happy go lucky style of music. I could see smiles on the faces of the people near me as they slapped their hands onto their knees along with the beat.

The fourth song. ‘What you want’, was another slow song. This time Kris played the piano, but she apologised to the audience for looking at the keys. I couldn’t imagine why because her skills were flawless. Looking back on all of their songs up to now I could see a trend going on. All of the songs were heavily influenced by relationships. I felt that this song was very touching and I could sense from the lyrics that she wanted to win someone back. Even though she played such a heartfelt song you could see a smile planted on her face and you couldn’t help but smile back in return.

I had already listened to their last song of the night, ‘Machine Gun’, via Kristina’s alivenotdead website. The chorus and song lyrics are quite simple, but very effective. In my mind I got images much alike to the music video of ‘Zombie’ by ‘The Cranberries’. I could just imagine a war going on, dirty faces of kids and people running around in despair. All of this was going on while the story of two lovers was being told; amidst the confusion and chaos of the war. In this song I found myself drawn to the front of the crowd to support her and to enjoy the music.

I am sorry if I keep referring to Kris throughout this whole review, but I couldn’t get past her amazing voice and talent. Ben was equally as good, but I had the feeling that he was there just to help Kris along with the backing guitar, as maybe her guitar skills were not yet up to speed. I know the whole crowd were focused on her, and why not? She is incredibly beautiful and talented. I looked around me and even found all of the girl’s eyes fixated on her in awe and maybe a bit of jealousy. I heard from a little birdy too, that she is going to be Ms. Lovett in the musical drama of Sweeney Todd that will be performed in late November 2009. Wow! I can really see a bright future for her, be it with ‘Kris and Ben said’ or as a solo act.
Cain (F.B.I. vocalist)

 

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Supper Moment

1. 日記 (Diary)
2. 最後晚餐 (Last Supper)
3. 對岸.對望 (Look Across Coast to Coast)
4. 話別空氣 (Farewell to the Air)
5. 無知的一伙 (Orphan)

Supper Moment are no newcomers to the Hong Kong Indie scene, having been involved in many competitions and band shows around the town. They are a four-piece band that consists of Sunny on vocals and guitar, Martin on guitar, CK on bass and Hugh on drums. They claim to be heavily influenced by John Mayer and you can sense it in their music as they are really Pop rock.

In their first song, ‘Diary’, Sunny’s voice immediately shines through and you can tell instantly where the influence comes from. This was a very short song that was quite melodic instrumentally and was lead by Sunny’s awesome vocals. He has an amazing voice, and while he sings in Cantonese you can still tell that his vocal skills are awesome.

After the short and quick opener the band played their song, ‘Last Supper’, which sounds like it has religious connotations to it. I wouldn’t know as I couldn’t understand what he was saying, but the tone of his voice made me feel quite content and relaxed. I felt like the music video would be something like two people who really liked each other, constantly looking each other’s way and smiling shyly. I felt like the guy wants the girl but doesn’t know how to express his feelings to her. I really liked this song because of the imagery it gave me, even though it might not be the intended message.

They said that their next song was a new song. ‘Look across coast to coast’. Before they started the song Sunny spoke a little about the song. He said to imagine that you were walking down the street and you saw you ex-girlfriend. He asked what would you do? Would you go up to her and tell her that you still loved her or would you just walk away? So, this was another love song, but this time I was told it was sung in Mandarin.

The band moved onto their next song, which I wrote down originally as the ‘la la la’ song as they repeat this part in the song quite often. I found out later that it is actually called ‘Farewell to the air’. But, I thought that my song title was more appropriate. I think it is quite nice how they have the full band sound while Sunny played an acoustic guitar as the rhythm.

By the fifth song I was kind of feeling like I had heard it all before, most of their songs have the same feeling and I felt that there was not much diversity in their style of music. Not that there is anything wrong with that. They have a distinct style and again, as with the last band, their songs seem to be heavily influenced by relationships. This song, ‘Orphan’, which I don’t think is inspired by the recent thriller at the cinema, was another gentle song with great vocals. I loved how Martin played the guitar trills in this song.

Supper Moment are a great bunch of musicians, I never felt like they played any wrongs notes or made any mistakes. They are very well rounded musicians, but again I couldn’t help my attention being focused on Sunny, the vocalist. Maybe it’s because I am a vocalist too, but he seems to hold most of the stage presence for the band. I think that this guy could almost do it on his own if he wanted to, but the whole band sound completes the songs.
Cain (F.B.I. vocalist)

 

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Brothers of Roadkill

1. Hanging around the clouds

2. If

3. Tits

4. Questions & Doubts

5. Gayle

6. I believe

7. This is me

8. Untitled

With a name like ‘Brothers of Roadkill’ I expected to be blown away by some kind of heavy metal type of music. But was I so wrong! In their bio they claim to be the most exciting band to come out of Hong Kong of late, so I was a little put off before I even started writing my notes for the review. It annoys me when bands talk themselves up so much, especially before I ever heard of them. This was their debut at The Underground and I found out they have had only had a few shows prior to that. But the trio lived up to their bio in the fact that their first song kicked ass. It was so funky! I loved it immediately. All of the guys are Chinese but their style was so Motown.

Adrian played the piano while singing, Wong Chi Tung played Drums and CM Groovy played bass. What an awesome combination. I thought that Adrian played the piano better than Elton John. CM was so funky on the bass and Wong was keeping a beat that picked up the pace and the atmosphere of the crowd. Their second song, ‘If’ was slower than the first, but still great. It reminded me of James Blunt. Again I couldn’t help being drawn to vocalist, his voice was so versatile and so pleasing to the ear. I felt like I was in the piano man’s cabaret bar.

By the third song I was starting to feel that their band name was not suitable to the type of music they play. It came across to me as more Blues Funk. Maybe they are influenced by the Blues Brothers? The bass player (CM) jumped around during the song and was generally excited. Wouldn’t you be if you were playing a song called ‘Tits’? Love the song title by the way. Wong played really well on the drums and didn’t overpower the other instruments, but just extenuated them.

The fourth song, ‘Question and Doubts’ was so great that I wanted to sing along by adding some oohs and ahs that I thought would compliment the vocals. I am sure when they do a recording of this song that they might think about how to add some extra vocal tracks with my suggestion. The fifth song, ‘Gayle’, was another piano and lyrically driven song. I felt no cares, no worries and that everything just seemed alright. When the song reached the climax I heard everyone scream, it was as if everyone had just came in their pants. Ha ha.

In the song, ‘I believe’, I was greeted again by another lovely drum beat. By this stage I did really think that they were the most exciting thing that Hong Kong has seen of late. They are not rocking, no… wrong genre. But, they are definitely very musically entertaining. These songs were something that you could dance to. This song had the biggest applause of the night so far. And they kept on going, rounding up to their seventh song of the night, ‘This is me’. This was a new song and was supposed to be their last, so I went to the front of the crowd to dance and groove along to the music. I didn’t write anymore notes. What else could I say about these guys. They finished their song and the crowd were not satisfied yet, they screamed for more, and that is just what ‘Brothers of Roadkill’ gave them.

They played one last song. This time this song was so new that they hadn’t even named it yet. I thought this song was actually their best song of their set. It started initially with only the piano and vocals, but in the crescendo it was met with the onset of the bass and the drums. I was hooked on the music. The drummer showed his skills and the bass line cut a chord with my heart. I loved the encore so much, words can’t describe it. ‘Blues’ ‘Brothers of Roadkill’ were definitely a highlight for my night.
Cain (F.B.I. vocalist)

 

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OneLastFall

1. This is our time

2. Beneath this voice

3. Lullaby

4. Pointless

5. New direction

OneLastFall is a five-piece band that is lead by Sheila on vocals. She is surrounded by a team of burly men who look mean and ready to rock. They are Faro and Rob on guitar, Charles on bass and Majid on drums. They are not the type of people you want to piss off. As soon as they started their first number, ‘This is our time’, the atmosphere of the bar changed into an orgy of heavy rock. This band was much heavier than any other band that came on before them and they may have frightened some of the guests who came to see the earlier bands. Despite that, many people began bopping up and down, and I even got the urge to shake my head roughly to the music.

I loved the performance that these guys gave us. In their second song, ‘Beneath our voice’, one of the guitarists constantly spun his mop of hair around which was a testament to early 90’s Heavy metal. Sheila had great vocal skills which were beautiful and melodic, which reminded me of female vocalist from the band Paramore. The bass player sang along in this song too, and I thought that it made a good combination. Someone else told me that they sound like ‘Eddie Prekell’, but I have no idea who that is.

By the third song I started to think that I have heard these guys before. Not realising at that stage that I have had the pleasure of sharing the stage with them. No wonder I thought I had heard it before… dur. They had definitely improved as musicians since the last time I had saw them. Their next song, ‘Pointless’, wasn’t so pointless after all. It was a slower song than the rest and relied heavily on Sheila’s melodic vocals. I liked how the guitar sounded when the song picked up the pace.

To end their set they played. ‘New direction’, which was another song that got people into the mood to do some head banging and the like. You could tell the crowd enjoyed them very much. For me I couldn’t find much diversity in their songs, I thought that they all sounded quite similar. But, that is their style of music I guess. I had read in a previous review about this band that they have a mixture of sounds and style. But, I think by this stage they had found their style. And no, I don’t think they sound like Incubus or Queens of the Stone Age, not at all. I would say that they sound more like Paramore, Eyes set to kill or Perfect Circle. They are a hardcore band driven by sweet melodic vocals. So, if you like these bands then this is the band for you as they seem to follow along the same lines.
Cain (F.B.I. vocalist)

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In Love and Pain

1. 21st Century Exodus

2. On the Road/Into the Wild

3. Darkest Side

4. Give in To Me (Michael Jackson Cover)

5. Our lives in Digitalism

6. Warning

When In Love and Pain came onto the stage I got a sense of déjà vu once again. We were treading familiar waters, but something was different. Last time I saw these guys they were all sitting side by side each other just plugging away on their guitars. But, this time it was to be different. They were here with their full band sound. I thought to myself could The Melting Pot handle this heavy barrage of pure metal?

I have seen these guys plenty of times, it is hard not to when they have been doing around 3 shows per month for the last year or so. How do they keep the momentum while still pulling out some new original material for their ever growing fan base? The reason is that all the members of the band (Marvin who plays drums, Satva who plays bass, Henry and Kid who play guitar) are all very talented musicians. There is no doubt. Though, I did get the feeling that I had heard most of these songs before and was hoping for something new.

The four-some play some really heavy tunes which almost go into the realm of screamo at times when Satva begins screaming in the songs. In my previous review of this band I said that they sound a bit like Rage Against The Machine, but as I listen to them more closely, I don’t think so. They lack the rap vocals of Zach De La Rocha, something most of us musicians die trying to imitate. IL&P’s songs are more hardcore and sometimes resemble the band, Ramstein, in the fact that they are so heavy and I have no idea what they are screaming about. But, it still sounds good.

Marvin also sings while playing the drums and you got to admire him for that, because you can see he is thrashing away while trying to sing some melodic vocals, which is difficult stuff. The guitarists raise their instruments in the air during the climax of the song and twang their guitars in unison which looks really good and adds to their stage presence

From the get go I couldn’t help myself. The alcohol had made it’s way to my brain and I succumbed to the call of the music. And you might say, the call of ‘The Wild’. I stopped taking notes and began to enjoy myself, jumping up and down while the band delivered their powerful repertoire of hard rock. There was a frenzy in the audience from the people who remained and there was a bit of nice pushing and shoving.

I can’t give you a play by play account of their set because it kind of just flew by without me realizing it. I should have gone back so much earlier to write some more notes about them, but before I knew it they were announcing that it was their last song. I didn’t even notice that they had put in a cover of Michael Jackson’s ‘Give it to Me’. Their set was intense and they never let down until the end of the show. This was really a great way to finish the night off.
Cain (F.B.I. vocalist)

photos © Copyright 2009 by ANGUS LEUNG

poster by ANGUS LEUNG

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