Underground 87

17-10-09

Well it was an eclectic mix of bands from acoustic dynamic duo to a visual rock band with a smattering of ska-punk and nu-metal! Thank you so much to the five bands who performed. Thank you to the amazing crew of The Underground who photographed, filmed and made sure everything ran smoothly. Big shout out to Calvin on sound. Thanks to ROCKSCHOOL & its staff. See you all soon at the next show!
love Chris B xx

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Of Moths and Stars

Setlist:

  1. Cosmic Waves
  2. Never Get Older
  3. Waterbird
  4. A Path Through the Trees
  5. Life Is a Sleepless Journey
  6. Dear Oscar

The night kicks off with a series of chords passionately strummed on an acoustic guitar that somehow reminds me of System of a Down’s Chop Suey. Yet, as Chris and Nate progresses to the subsequent parts of the piece, it becomes clear that those chords function as an exotic piece of ornamentation, which makes their British Acoustic Pop sound catchy. Apart from this, the duo delivers an especially autumnal and hopeful feel in Waterbird; as if you are taking an evening stroll down Gloucester Road, with cool breezes blowing and busy traffic rushing by your side. Such deep mood also attributes to the harmonies beautifully done by both of the members.

Of Moths and Stars would certainly make a remarkable band that lives up to their poetic nature if more attention is paid to the variations on the guitar, whether they be the strumming rhythm or melodic picking, as well as the dynamics of each section of a song.

Nicholas

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Halcyon

Setlist:

  1. Choking
  2. Life Out
  3. Untitled
  4. Halation
  5. Paradissm
  6. Playback

Halcyon has the potential to develop into a sophisticated Indie Rock/Shoegazing quartet with hints of Japanese Indie Rock and Trip-Hop. What constitutes this first impression of them is, first and foremost, the guitar sound and the song arrangement. Although the former still remains subtle and not elaborate enough to take full advantage of the delicate song structures, it has the capability, by adding more effects, to unfurl a world of intensely explosive and experimental noises. (To Halcyon: if you guys get to see this, do check out in particular Tongue Tied and Cemented Shoes by a British band called My Vitriol. The whole “Finelines” album is legit!)

Another notable quality of the band is that the melodic guitar riffs and bass lines emit traces of bands like Nature Living and When the Leaf Seared. They both act as a great accompaniment (or contrast perhaps) to the frontman’s nonchalant, cold vocal timbre – the darker version of Brian Molko. The piano in Playback is what I like most about this band. Not only does it provide an array of harmonic chords that broaden the richness of the song, the Trip-Hop-like solo carries considerable weight in conveying a solitary experience. Superb!

Nicholas

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Transnoodle

Setlist:

  1. Down in the Delhi
  2. Port Royal
  3. People Aren’t Bad
  4. Polonium 201
  5. Tony Chan
  6. Rumors
  7. Black Rain
  8. Body Snatchers

Listening to Transnoodle’s music is really a relaxation – the kind of exuberant, festive vibe that is long missing in this local music scene as well as this concrete jungle. It is not uncommon that one would easily picture himself on a beach carnival with white tents spreading across the shore. (And watching Transnoodle play a beach show would be a double thumbs-up!)

In this type of funky Ska music, the bass usually plays a very essential role in laying out rhythmic, laid-back basslines that make people want to dance. It makes no hesitation to say that the bassist does a fantastic job turning the songs extra groovy. Together with the mellow harmonic ostinatos played by the keyboardist, they, of course, serve to underscore the shuffle guitar patterns, the self-assertive vocals and the captivating saxophone. Every piece they play is just colorful, rich and witty. To be more specific, the way the bassist incorporates into the songs the famous Billie Jean intro, and the saxophonist Careless Whisper, catches the crowd off guard and highlights their performance with a memorable touch.

Since Transnoodle has a wide range of world music elements in their music already, I would be more delighted to see congas, djembes, and/or other indigenous instruments like the mbira and hosho being used in their set. And of course, I would be more than delighted to watch them play again!
Nicholas

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Zoundz

Setlist:

  1. Born Infected
  2. Eyesore
  3. Self Within Myself
  4. Beat It (MJ Cover)
  5. Disaffection

These guys are the real deal. They are heavy. They are aggressive. And most of all, they do not compromise. Just before they begin, the moment the vocalist vents, “Are you fucking ready? We’re here to bring you some heavy shit!”, there is no doubt these anger-ridden metalheads are here to bring the place down. Instead of provoking mosh pits, their brisk Nu-Metal breakdowns intend to smash you hit by hit right in the face. Each instrument – the chuggy guitars, the fat bass, the powerful drums – interlocks with each other so tightly that it liberates a broad range of sound frequencies, on which the growls and screams cling and strike your eardrums.

Beat It is indeed a quite clichéd song to cover, or shall I say a quite difficult song to render and make it not generic. However, Zoundz has turned it into one that carries their own style and sound, notably the screeching guitar effect. Man, these guys are crazy! \m/

Nicholas

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Paranoid

Setlist:

  1. 圓 Circle
  2. 給所有絕望的人 – 彼岸 – To Those in Despair – Paradise -
  3. 情書 Love Letter
  4. Bisexual
  5. 囚蝶 The Caged Butterfly

Japanese Visual Rock, for some reason (or many reasons not widely acknowledged), carries a rather negative connotation in Hong Kong. And this may be the cause that undermines and limits the growth of such bands within the local scene. However, amongst the very few Visual Rock bands that still stand today, Paranoid proves themselves as musicians whose music and musicianship reach far beyond their androgynous make-ups and costumes. What is more respectable about them is that they do stay true to their own belief – make friends with music.

The band also manages to present their whole set with energetic stage performance – the frontman eliciting adequate call-and-responses with the audience, and the whole band bending and headbanging more or less in unison during heavy interludes. Music-wise their songs are glamorous, bitter and sometimes confrontational, gracefully decorated with the vocalist’s occasional high pitched singing that resembles Hyde from L’Arc~en~Ciel.

There is still a long way for them to go; but at least they have already landed gigs in Tokyo, and soon will they tour Japan again.

Nicholas

photos © Copyright 2009 by ANGUS LEUNG

poster by ANGUS LEUNG

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