Underground Heavy #3

08-05-10

BRILLIANT NIGHT! We had such an eclectic mix of bands this night and so much entertainment and talent about. We had a last minute replacement with In love & Pain!, thanks guys for stepping up. Thanks to McKenzie Eddy who was in town for a few days and played a sizzling set with some of HK’s best musicians. Thanks to 鬍鬚女 Wu So Lui for all the laughter and entertainment provided. And of course Defiant Scum, your punk rock is the best in town. Then we had Djizoes, Swiss band on their world tour, slipping into our Heavy #3 show seamlessly. Tie Shu Lan 鐵樹蘭 & Daybreak on Monday, we bow down to thee!!! People will be talking about Heavy #3 for a long time… 🙂
Chris B x

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In Love & Pain!

Setlist:

1. 21st Century Exodus

2. Our Lives in Digitalism

3. On the Road / Into the Wild

4. Way to Go

5. Darkest Side

6. Warning

Having to hurriedly fill in Gong Wu’s shoes at the 11th hour was a task that IL&P was well up to. Taking the stage with what is, inevitably, their infectious energy, they made the place seem a lot fuller than it was at the time. Their set began with the anthemic 21st Century Exodus, played at deafening levels of amplitude. Their set was much like an excellently oiled machine, with nearly every song segueing into the other, and the band’s vigour being completely taut throughout. The vocals were largely hammed, but that’s not a problem for them, as their songs don’t really rely on them for a melodic driving force. Their unique formula of having a rota of singers on every song really gives them an edge in terms of presentation; it’s very fun to see them exchange singing duties by moving around between mikes on stage (with the exception of drummer Marvin, of course).

One of the standout features of their songs is the fact that despite being loud and metal-esque in many ways, their sound comfortably ambles into much varied territory by preserving many nuances that are often given up by bands on the heavier end of the spectrum. A prime example of this was On the Road / Into the Wild (a song also on Compilation CD#3) with its brooding, melodic portions blended with the hard-hitting rhythm bits. Way to Go has a massive hook in its chorus, as do many of their songs because of the chorused style of vocals. They truly saved the best for last, as Warning had metal opening, with a mix of modern and classic rock, with each manifested in spurts, giving the song a very cool disjointedness. Their set finished on the same energy level it began; it was clear that the guys were having immense fun, and at the end of the day, that’s what matters most in the pursuit of good music, isn’t it?
— Shashwati

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McKenzie Eddy (USA 美國)

Setlist:

1. Whisky Song

2. Close My Eyes

3. Fuck Reality (Let Me Let You Go)

Chris B really brought her two attitude-offspring (Screw, and You) to the show that day, with not one but two acts that don’t quite fit into the mould that the Underground usually uses. But, as no wise man ever said, even the sweetest cakes have salt in them. And just like that meaningless analogy, that night’s guest from the States, McKenzie Eddy’s short but sweet set allowed everyone a change of pace. With a (very impressive) band assembled just a couple of days before, her set was no less enjoyable despite not belonging to any ostensible “heavy” genre. She does have a staggeringly beautiful voice, though, which was the perfect gild for her backing band’s able soft rock stylings. With immense control and deceptively melancholic melodies, her songs were catchy and clearly heartfelt, and her presence calm yet firm. Close My Eyes featured a nearly electronic, elastic riff, while Fuck Reality had a blisteringly impressive solo in it, topped off with intensely hummable lyrics. There were even some funk slap bits cleverly thrown in by the bassist. The best thing that could be said about the set, though, was that it wasn’t one of those times when the audience smiles and applauds politely because there’s nothing else to do; McKenzie Eddy really won them over, and by the time she was clearing off, it was clear that the significant applause was genuine.
–Shashwati

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Wo So Lui 鬍鬚女

Setlist:

1. My Pride

2. Love Trap

3. Let’s Get Wet

4. Love Tutorial

Before I say anything about this act, let me specify that very little in the following portions of text will be about music.

Dawn introduced him, but she really had to sweat the nomenclature; plenty of arguments and smart-assed comments mixed with the “intro”, about gender. The “Bearded Lady” had to be coaxed out of his backstage hiding-place (I know…just get used to the rapidly switching gender references) by the audience chanting his name. Out he came in floral, strapless garb that the pepperpots on Python would have been proud of, and proceeded to take the stage in classic Susan Boyle stance. When the first track began to play, a sweet American Idol-esque song began; but the audience was onto him, as chuckles and anticipating banter abounded. Then, as the music got heavier and moved into hardcore territory, the headbanging began, the vocals were spit out, and the audience was rolling with laughter mixed with feeble attempts at headbanging, led by him (which most people were too busy to do, for filming the thing going on onstage, anyhow).

Love Trap saw the act escalate, with his partner in crime coming on, and an action-comedy-pantomime-type-thing followed, replete with fake punching, mean stares, pelvic thrusts, and exaggerated 3 Stooges style slapstick. His control of the crowd was remarkable – they were certainly all on …uh… his side, and went along with every beat of every joke that I’m guessing he cracked (I was not privy to the meaning, not speaking Cantonese myself, but it sure seemed like it was funny). He moved between smarmy pop and pissed-off metal-style personas with almost schizophrenic ease. His 3 ponytails were clearly free spirits as well; each moved of its own accord. The thing about the act is, though, it would be MUCH less enjoyable if he wasn’t a good singer, much like Tenacious D. I’ve never seen Jayne (formerly Wayne) County play live (just videos), but I imagine this was a lot like that. However, to add a legitimate musical side to his show, he really should get a band to back him – he’s certainly got the pipes for it. The massive roar that saw him off left no doubt that he had captured the audience’s hearts.
— Shashwati

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Defiant Scum

Setlist:

1. Every Day is the Same

2. Fashion Whores

3. No Gods

4. Defiance

5. Bombed

6. Tortured Logic

7. I Don’t Care (Antelope cover)

8. Pirates of Cheung Chau

9. DIY

10. Bullshit Tycoon

11. Lies

12. Punk Rock Rickshaw

13. [Untitled]

14. Someone’s Gonna Die (Blitz cover)

Moving on from a gender-bending, essentially unmusical act, Defiant Scum was a return to the hard-hitting, gritty streets of punk/hardcore that are so rare here in HK. They began with a new song, Every Day is the Same, heralded by crashing, machine-gunned drums and angry, yelled vocals. Their presence was as loud as the music, because they certainly couldn’t be ignored if you were anywhere in the vicinity of the stage. In the honoured tradition of punk music, the songs were really short, and if you weren’t paying attention, you’d probably miss huge chunks. They reminded me a lot of the Germs, with their mix of an irreverent attitude, the punky hooks, balanced out with the skilled, more metal-esque solos. The frontline of revellers was visually populated mostly by Wu So Lui, continuing with the ponytail-banging (only, off the stage, this time). Defiance marked by a very cool method of short yet noodling riffs, and a pogo-worthy rhythm. In what was to prove a continuing theme that night, one cymbal repeatedly fell off; but, they didn’t let it impinge on their show.

By the time I Don’t Care came around, further technical difficulties (this time supplied by the guitar) forced the guitarist to sit down, and play the rest of the set walking the fine line between nursing and bashing the strings (kudos to him for being able to do that). Pirates of Cheung Chau was “down to a bit of a jig”, and was terrific fun with its nursery-rhyme melody, and also had a really fun audience-singing-along bit. There was clever use of lyrics in Lies, using the word where “la-la”s would usually have been used, followed by the catchy Punk Rock Rickshaw, almost reminiscent of the Ramones’ best tunes. A tip of the hat was made to the grindcore genre, in the form of an untitled riffy-song thingy, followed by the cover of a closer, with an increase in speed towards the end (which I always love). Throughout, the audience was rocking right along to their awesome beats; however, at a few points the set seemed a bit laboured, which can easily be remedied by cutting out a couple songs. But, in all, a thoroughly enjoyable set, which was very useful in putting the night back on the right track again.
— Shashwati

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Tie-Shu Lan 鐵樹蘭

Setlist:

1. The Land on [the] Equator

2. Again

3. Memory

4. Format

5. Assimilation

The influence of the Noughties’ was seen the most in Tie-Shu Lan’s set. It set off with bangin’ drums mixed with screaming strokes on the guitar, but soon moved into a strangely heavy yet somewhat bouncy song. They seemed to use distortion to make normally light-sounding chords heavy, and they even started some pogoing in the crowd with their catchy beats. However, their set left me a bit cold because of one reason – while their songs probed around into the heavier end of the spectrum, there was very little melody in the songs to anchor them down. They all too often became just a pointless amble into rootless territory, making them sound too artificially metal. Which was a pity, because the band members clearly had some real talent – clever arrangements of sliding bass on Memory (reminiscent of the bass in RHCP’s Give it Away), thundering chords, a very good singing voice (when used that way), and the inherent pogo-ness of their songs went somewhat to waste because there was not much of a foundation to the songs. The singing towards the end of Format was quite impressive, and the riff in Assimilation was really cool, so they clearly were going in the right direction sometimes. Their control of the crowd was impressive, and their energy always up, and the attitude was right. But the simple lesson needs to be learnt, that being a heavy band does not simply involve sounding like angry fluxes in a speaker. All they need to do is re-tool some of their songs because there’s real potential there. And if they disagree, I really, really hope they prove me wrong the next time I see them. Here’s to the future, guys.
— Shashwati

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Djizoes (Switzerland 瑞士)

Setlist:

1. I Could Be Your Lawyer

2. A Song for Them

3. The Machine

4. Bind Us To War

5. The Cat Island War Dogs Reception and Training Resort

6. The World is Undersized

The special guests of the night came along, all three dressed in Wanch tees, and the bloody heaviest basslines of that night. Having the classic hardcore lineup, their sound resonated with every bit of the anger that the metal-hardcore genre was invented to represent. The set opened at breakneck speed with I Could Be Your Lawyer, featuring some very cool Paul Gilbert-y, pacy metal melodies. The crowd, though initially somewhat stunned, clued into what they were doing quickly, and headbanged to the best of their ability. But, there was only so much you could do, because things were happening in the songs so quickly, it was almost impossible to keep up. The band had remarkable coordination between them, not one second of airtime was dead, as they filled it very ably with some elastic chordwork, moving from rhythms to leads at the drop of a hat, weighed down by the lead-weight bass, and backed up by simply phenomenal drumwork. It’s fair to say that I’m missing out on a lot of what happened during the songs – however, I truly don’t think I can be blamed here, because it was absolutely impossible to keep up with the speed with which these guys made things happen.

And yet, never once did it seem like they were repeating themselves, as each song had its own character (with some due to the difference in composition chronology, no doubt). The metal was all there, with its typically epic-sounding overtones, as in A Song For Them, but it was nuanced, unafraid to stray into different areas, from Judas Priest-esque overtones, to a Pantera-feel that was in some songs, played most rapidly, re-emphasizing the adage (that I freshly coined) that “genres are for morons”. The rolling tune of The Cat […] was composed of an awesome hook, some fiery drumwork, leads both up and down the fretboard, and bone-rattling bass. The World is Undersized featured a deceptively calmer, yet still-powerful rhythm, that almost teased the crowd in its stasis. But, it gradually ramped up into what was certainly the most monster-riff played that night, played with a remarkable concision, complemented by a blistering solo in the most classic mould of metal. They finally slowed it down to a plodding rhythm, ending the song, and the set, with a rhythmic burst, that certainly left the crowd wanting more. –Shashwati

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Daybreak on Monday

Setlist:

1. Poison

2. Don’t Leave Without a Sign

3. Dream

4. Dawn

5. Borderline

[NOTE: The song titles are translated from Chinese by Dawn]

Following Djizoes was probably an unfair proposition for any band, but DoM took it on with gusto. Perhaps appropriately, Poison began with a near hypnotic riff, hypnotic and loaded with wah. Then came the shock opening, with the song reaching its peak pace within the space of a few beats. They purveyed a brand of renegade metal / hardcore, with a singer that actually sang and a terribly interesting musical interplay between the guitarists. There were melodic breaks in between songs, that ventured into eerie alt-rock territory, but played at express speed. The moshing was quite heavy by now, and the audience made it clear how much they were enjoying the songs. Their typical song-structure seemed to involve melodic breaks within songs, without going down the worn path of actual pace-changes. They even had a bit of a lighter riff at the start of Don’t Leave Without a Sign, followed by a unique twist of character in the song being effected by the drums!

Dream had an excellent melody on the guitar, topped off by arpeggiations, which filled out their sound very well. However, their songs always retained a jumpy, moshing character, which the crowd enjoyed to the fullest. A guitar-strap was broken during Dawn, which was remedied by bringing out one of Greg’s bee-yoo-tee-full LP Goldtops. The song was unique in the way that it had a typical metal base, but a clever pattern of strumming on the lead made the song sound different from what it usually would have. By Borderline, the crowd had thinned, but those who remained were headbanging their souls out. Some Tom Araya-like screaming contrasted with a nearly nursery-rhyme melody on the lead made for an immensely interesting song. Fittingly, after taking a break, the song went to an even faster speed, and the crowd followed suit. One of their few pace-changes brought the end of their set, definitely moving out on a peak, after a long night of many-splendoured rock (and otherwise).
— Shashwati

photos © Copyright 2010 by Man Ho

poster by ANGUS LEUNG

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