Underground 90

05-12-09

Wooooohoooo! What a great night this was!! FIVE stupendous bands entertaining a lot of people!! Thank you so much to The Melting Pot & Zane for the great sound and great atmosphere. Thanks to the audience who packed in for a musically ROCKING night.
love Chris B xx

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Speaka

1. Mission
2. Miracles
3. See ya later
4. Princess
5. I am fine
6. You are the one

Speaka are a four-piece band that stated in their bio that they have a variety of musical styles, from typical UK styles to college punk, so I was interested in finding out more about them. I also found out that they are one of the few bands that didn’t apply to play at the Underground, but were invited by Chris B. She assured me that they were something special.

As Speaka approached the stage, the lead singer, Ben, announced his drunkedness to the crowd and he yelled confidently “We’re Speaka!” Then, they started the first song which had the speed and energy of a Blink 182 song. The lead guitarist, Fai, led this punk song with his awesome rock stance and all of the members looked very confident on the stage. Ben’s voice got better as he warmed into the chorus and he had the words ringing in my head, “What I left behind.” I was wondering if this was a love song? Next thing I know the song was finished and the Melting Pot was crowded with people clapping in applause.

Ben introduced the second song to us, ‘Miracles’. and he told us that this was the first song that they had created since they had formed the band. There were a few oohs and ahs at the start of the song which I thought could have done without, but once they got into the verse I was hooked. This song had a different style than the first, something more akin to ‘Five for Fighting’ or ‘Live’. The song played out as expected and the band members melded back into a cooler stance.

Their 3rd song, “See ya later” was yet another song of a different style. It was still Pop rock, – but the influence came from another source. There seemed to be one thing that linked all of the songs together. I could be wrong. But, I have a feeling they all about girls. And why not? Girls can be very influential on young men, especially me. This song seemed like it ended abruptly or was it that we the audience just wanted to hear more of it?

They moved onto their next song, “Princess”, which started off very Muse-esque. Yet, this time Ben played the piano which added a new element to their band. It’s always nice to have some versatility. The audience bopped along enthusiastically while we were drawn into another uplifting yet moody song led by Ben on piano. Once he got to the piano it seemed like most of the attention from the audience had drawn to him. He finished the song beautifully with a solo piano outro that really did it for me.

They introduced the next song, “I am fine”, as having a music video. Ben said it was a sad song, but to me it was yet another moody dark song in their repertoire. He continued playing the piano. This song had a great chorus. All of the instruments were in perfect timing with each other and Shinji the drummer even added some harmony to Ben’s vocals. It really made this song “Jeng!” I really enjoyed the guitar trills in this song after the chorus.

Their last song of the night, ‘You are the one’, was yet another love song. Ben began to play the keys and sing, almost like James Blunt. The song started off slowly with just the keys until a minute later when the whole band kicked in. This was another nice song which finished off their set. I was quite impressed with their delivery and their different tastes in style. It was good to see a quality band start off the night.
Cain (F.B.I. vocalist)

Winner of The Underground Tshirt Design Competition

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Cicadas

1. Caliban
2. Scavenger god
3. Jokers attack
4. The head that wears the crown
5. Hide my dreams
6. Poppies
7.Lazy butterfly

I wasn’t sure quite what to expect from the next band when I read their bio. A drifter who can play the guitar, harmonica, mandolin and sing vocals? But, can he do them all at once I thought? His name was Marcus and he was joined by Kieran who could sing and play guitar aswell. They seem to be the focal point of the band, especially as they write most of the band’s songs. The band also includes Gareth on bass and Malte on drums who joined the band in 2008.

The first song started off with a great bass line, and I loved it when the harmonica kicked in. Kieran sang the verse and then Marcus joined in during the chorus, which was quite catchy and yet familiar. As soon as Marcus stopped singing he reverted to playing the harmonica and the guitar at the same time. I suddenly thought that this song would be suitable for a Quentin Tarantino film. I could just imagine the whole bar erupting into a brawl and Cicadas continuing to play on stage while the fighting was going on around them. Luckily for me, that didn’t happen. But, when they finished their first song the crowd did erupt in applause.

The second song was of a similar style, but with a different beat. I tried to listen more closely to the words and I am not sure I got the intended meaning as I couldn’t make out the words. But, I felt like this song could have been about freedom or about tripping out. I was on the left-hand side. Why wasn’t anyone passing it to me? It felt like the song could go on forever… the beat… never ending… I was stuck in a trance and only the end of the song could snap me out of it.

The third song is the first song I heard the name of, it is called ‘Joker’s attack’. I found out later that this song was actually a cover of a Brian Jonestown Massacre song. Sounds creepy. I could keenly hear the mandolin start this song off nicely. This was a more catchy and pacey song that the audience could do a little jig to. I noticed the guy next to me closing his eyes, shaking his head and tapping his head in a daze as he listened to this song. Gareth on the bass was superb in this song and the vocal trills were also very exciting. The song ended with yet another loud cheer from the crowd.

“The head that wears the crown” came next. We were greeted by yet again another vocal trill at the start of this song. Yee-ha. It did fit their theme very well. It felt very country pop rock. In ‘Hide my dreams’ there was also another nice bass line to start the song and worked really nicely when it was joined by the harmonica. It felt like the intro went on for too long, I wanted to hear some singing. Then as soon as I thought that, Kieran started to sing with his husky country voice. His singing was a real contrast to his vocal teammate in Marcus.

The next song started off quickly with Malte leading from the drums. The people on the dancefloor were getting excited to this change in beat and up in tempo. Drunken dancing and shindigging was going on everywhere. This lead onto their last song, ‘Lazy Bar Fly’, which they announced was their best song. This song started of classical, then changed up into a jiving grooving song. I wanted to get up and jump around with the rest of the crowd, but I was too scared to lose my seat. There were so many people. Cicadas inclusion into Underground’s 90th show helped to make the night a memorable evening.
Cain (F.B.I. vocalist)

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Thinking Out Loud

1. People
2. Little Fishes
3. Gonna Be Famous
4. Wedding Song
5. Radio Airplay
6. Sex Junkie
7. Rock n Roll Machine Part 3

Three words… Oh my god!I am ashamed to say that I have never heard TOL live before this night. I know, what a travesty! I had however heard them on the Underground compilation CD no 2. And they are one of my favourite bands off the album. And I am not just saying that to suck up. Lol. Anyway, I kind of knew what to expect. Chris B is a performer and having seen her perform in other bands, I knew that TOL wouldn’t be anything different. She would give us a show. It would be the same leading lady with a different bunch of blokes or girls. But, this time Chris had some really good fellas with her. And two are from the band Good Fellas! (They are Egg on bass and Angus on guitar.) Bren plays drums, while the icing on the cake is definitely the sexy sax of Mysterious Mr B.

The first song, ‘People’, started out much like I would expect TOL to sound like. For a few seconds I was wondering if this was one of the songs off the CD. But, it wasn’t. Mr B jumped around during this song while the sexy Rock mum held her rock pose. I was listening to the lyrics and I thought wtf? ‘Masturbating to a magazine’? Her lyrics are always quite humorous and catchy. As if you didn’t know what the response was going to be… the crowd loved them and rooted loudly for them.”We love you Chris” was shouted from guys and girls.

‘Little Fishes’ started with the sax. Mr B held the whole song and all of the attention in his saxy hands until Chris started doing some fish dances and vocals. Wait a sec… fish dances? Yes, it could only be pulled off by the Rock Goddess herself, and should never be tried at home. In the chorus Egg joined in with some ‘oh’s’ and the song ended with some more awesome sacks work. Apparently this was a song about the environment. I didn’t get it.

TOL’s third song of the night was off the Underground Compilation CD no 2 and is my favourite song off it. In this song it’s not so much the music that is the hook for me. No, it’s definitely the lyrics. The lyrics in the verse are great, so contemporary and catchy. “I could be a centrefold edition, bigger than Pamela Anderson… I could be any woman I want to be, yeah!” I especially like it when Chris sings the oohs and ahhs and holds the notes for a long time. The crowd especially liked the song and gave them lots of praise.

Chris announced that Angus hadn’t played this next song before. It was called ‘Wedding Song’ and he played along fine to me. I think this song was supposed to be directed to married people? Don’t know. Anyway, this song had more of a funky beat and was really groovy. I kept on being impressed by Mr B, and Angus’ solo in this song really rocked. And I always thought he was a bassist? We didn’t know where to look as the whole band competed against each other for the spotlight. Chris joining in with some self choreographed hand movements.

TOL’s fifth song is a song that they wrote with the newly acquired Angus. It’s called ‘ Radio air play’ and had a great drum beat to start the song. It made me want to steal that beat. Then the vocals kicked in and I thought “Hey Mr. DJ” is going to be stuck in my head all night! Mysterious Mr B butt in and did a little bit of singing, while Chris’ vocals crept back in… getting louder and louder until his voice was to be no more. This got the biggest applause of the night.

The next song was dedicated to all those people who like sex and the whole bar roared in agreement. ‘Sex Junkie’ was a fitting name for this song, which started off with yet another awesome drum beat pumped out from Bren, followed by an equally seductive bass line. Then the seductive vocals of the Rock Goddess. When listening to the lyrics I have to wonder where her inspiration is coming from. Is she the ‘sex freak/sexual junky’ we are hearing about? Though half the people in the room could be sex freaks for all I know.

The last song, ‘The rock ‘n’ roll machine part 3′ is also another song off the Underground Compilation CD no 2. What I liked about this song is how Egg’s bass sounded. He really tore up the stage in this song. Again Chris’ movements were mesmerizing. She even gave us some head banging action with her black and pink tinted hair. During the song you could see the whole band getting into a frenzy, really enjoying the music and rocking along. They finished their song with much gusto and a welcoming audience erupted in applause once again. Before leaving the stage she still remembered to plug the Underground Compilation CD, the sign of a true Muso. Truly a great performance! Already we are three bands in and we have had three completely different styles and all of them rocked the stage.
Cain (F.B.I. vocalist)

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Shotgun Politics

1. Niki Heartbreaker
2. Rebel Radio
3. Pill (the one with toms and a more shuffly feel)
4. Carry On (this is the one Timmy sings)
5. Mama’s Girl
6. Johnny Rage
7. Cover of ToL ‘People’
8. London Town, with extended outro

Next up is a bunch of four guys from a cool little band known as Shotgun Politics. I saw these guys live at GBOB and thought that they had a lot of energy and charisma, so I was interested in seeing what their full set would be like. The band consists of Niall guitar/vocals, Timmy guitar/vocals, Freddy “Mercury” on drums and Jimmy on bass.

“Let’s get ready to party!” screamed Timmy and the band began to entertain us with their form of party rock. Everyone stopped their conversations and heads turned towards the stage as the pop punkish styling of Shotgun Politics filled the air. The song had some cool guitar riffs and the drummer was especially awesome. “M-I-K-A” I thought I heard Niali sing, later to find out that it was actually ‘N-I-K-I’. The song was over before you even knew it, it had built up and built up and then it was suddenly finished. More I thought. The crowd loved it too.

The second song, ‘Rebel Radio’, started off with some nice guitar chords which sounded a little bit familiar. Listening to this song was like listening to a song by Jet. It was full of energy and I enjoyed listening to the entertaining lyrics. I especially enjoyed the ending when Niall sang “Play it loud and all night long! All night long! All night long!” The band got an even bigger applause than the previous song.

In the third song, ‘Pill’, I thought that the vocals were too low and I wanted to hear what Niall was singing about. This song had a nice tempo and reminded me of the early days of Offspring when they were more punk rock. This was a song you could bop your head to and dance. Actually, the guy on the other side of me is finger dancing to the song. Lol. The band is so energetic and every single one of them holds a lot of stage presence. It was hard not to like them.

We carry on to the next song which is, ‘Carry on’. This song started off much slower than the last song. Timmy sang in this song and I thought that it was awesome as I wasn’t expecting him to sing. I think that’s what blew me away. He had a nice sweet and gentle voice. When the song gradually picked up pace and got heavier I could feel my leg shake in time with the music. At this stage Timmy started singing using more of his rock voice, then more guitars and once again it was over, while we were still begging for more.

By now I was thinking that they never actually introduced any of their songs? Or was I just not listening? Their next song started off quite like a marching song, something similar to The White Stripes. The bass was awesome in this song, though I did think that the vocals sounded abit weird. This song ended with the lead guitarist standing on one of the large speakers and jamming it out until the end with the drummer.

I heard the name of this one, ‘Johnny – (something)’… ‘Rage’. This song started off like a Guns & Roses type ballad. Timmy and Niall shared the vocals for this song. Then the timing of the song changed and it built up speed. The chorus of this song was very addictive and I kind of wanted it to repeat a few more times so I could do some head banging. Then it ended with some sweet and alluring plucking of the guitar.

For their 7th song they asked Chris B to join them to sing this song. I was not sure what to think? What should I expect from this crossover? Were they going to play a Shotgun Politics song or a Chris B song? The song did start off familiar, yet different. Then, I heard the chorus and the familiar line, “masturbating to a magazine’ and I realised that I had heard this song already tonight. It was a TOL song. They played the song with respect, but were just lacking the sax styles of Mysterious B. The crowd cheered loudly.

They announced their last song, ‘London Town’ which started with heavy guitar. There was a good pace to this song, very catchy and head bopping. There were so many people jumping up and down on the dance floor by this stage. This song had some interaction with the crowd too with us echoing to some ‘Hey! Heys!’The song ended with some lovely ‘woahs’. I was actually sad to see them leave. They had an awesome set filled with songs of mixed variety. Their performance was both audibly and visually entertaining. They are a still a young band, but they have the potential to be a big hit here in Hong Kong.
Cain (F.B.I. vocalist)

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Hazden

1. Suicide
2. I see it
3. All I need
4. Alina
5. Finale

Before starting this review I wanted to know why they called themselves ‘Hazden’. Apparently, the name of the band is formed by two words: ‘Haze’ and ‘Den’. Haze stands for the style of their songs, which is cold and grand, Den is a word meaning ‘one-man hole’, means the songs played by the five of them. Hazden is a five piece local band lead by the stylish vocals of Faye. On lead guitar is Cheong, playing rhythm is Kevin. The bassist is Lun and the drummer is Lok.

When they first started playing it sounded so familiar to me, like I had heard them before. Maybe I had? Their first song, ‘Suicide’, had a good intro and I liked how it built up into the verse. You could tell they were very talented musicians, though they arched over their instruments and did not really engage the audience.

Faye introduced her next song, ‘I see it’, but I couldn’t quite hear what she was saying. She did go on to say that all of her songs are about life. Then, the song started slowly and it didn’t seem that all of the instruments were on time together until the song sped up. Faye’s voice sounded especially good in this song, she could reach all of the high notes and she even did a little bit of screaming at the right times. The song ended like it had started, slow and chilled out.

Unfortunately, to be on last at an Underground event is not always a good thing. When it gets to almost one o’clock many people have already opted to take the MTR home. Also, by this stage the people still left in the bar are probably drunk, like me. So, by the time Hazden played their next song. ‘All I need’, I was already spent for the night. I wrote a note down as a comment to this song- release the emotion in the music. I have no idea what I was on about. It was late. I was in a Haze-den.

They got my attention back in the next song which I noted as including the piano. I thought would they do as good a job as Speaka did at the start of the night? I guess it might have been the levels, but when Faye first started singing I thought she was singing in Cantonese, until a little while later I realised that it was actually English. I really did enjoy her vocals in this song. This song had a Radiohead feel to it, but with female vocals. I thought it fitted quite well. Some Radiohead songs make me want to sleep, and this song had the potential to do that too, until it got heavier. Then the ending didn’t sound anything like it had started. But, I was definitely more awake now.

I am confused because in my notes I have got six songs and in the list they gave me there is only five. So maybe what I thought were the two last songs, were actually the one song. Hmm? Well, when this song started I thought it sounded like any Canto-rock song I had ever heard. I heard her screaming something along the lines as ‘Fa hoi fa’. Something like that. I remember thinking that the sixth song actually started out the best of any of their songs. But, little did I know this was still the 5th song. Cheong and Kevin played their guitars really well in this song. Though poor Faye’s vocals were too low and Lun’s bass was overly powerful. The band banged it out to end the 90th Underground show. A truly memorable evening.
Cain (F.B.I. vocalist)

photos © Copyright 2009 by ANGUS LEUNG

poster by ANGUS LEUNG

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