Woooooooohooooooooo! What a great night! Our first show in Mongkok courtesy of The Live House. We had HKHQ.tv filming the event (watch out for that documentary coming soon…!) and making the bands feel like superstars. We had lots of girls with their guitars and variety of music and the feedback from the audience was very satisfactory. I personally love all four acts, as I’m positively biased towards female musicians 🙂 The Underground team is looking forward to more shows at The Live House and to more shows from great Hong Kong bands!
love Chris B xx
1. Fiddler and the Voice
2. Hunt the Wolves
4. The Perfect Storm
5. The Twat Song
The show began with a performer set in the classic “female singer-songwriter” mould. Alone with her guitar, Savannah has a considerable presence on stage, probably owing to her work as an actor. She’s got the kind of composition style which, at its best, gives you that warm floating-in-mid-air sort of feeling. Add to that her voice, which is rich yet having papery overtones, and you have a recipe for feel-good music. My problem is that she doesn’t fully utilise this voice in her songs – she clearly does not have an unconventional or unmelodious voice, because she does create some beautiful moments with it. But, because the songs are relatively simple in their construction and rely on their emotional content for effect, not hitting even one note can sour the feel built up to that point, and this tends to happen more often than I’d like. A little effort in this direction will, I’m sure, go a long way in making her a better performer.
Her guitar style is simple and unfussy, and tends to mirror the franticness or calm expressed in the lyrics almost exactly; an approach that works well in Hunt the Wolves, which is about annoying things that persist in your mind. Home condenses her songwriting approach into its purest form; and while it’s overly simplistic, it has potential for some lovely solos (perhaps she should consider getting a lead guitarist, or even a piano into her act). The Twat Song was definitely her best, and a really good closer, because it had a manic energy reminiscent of the Violent Femmes. I’m guessing the last two songs were written more recently because they seem to have a subtle dark undercurrent, unlike the others; if this is true, her future songs may be worth watching out for.
Girls with Guitar 4 — 照耀在女樂手身上的Spotlight
說起搖滾音樂或樂隊音樂，好像仍然是男性主導的世界，縱使外國出現過一些著名的女樂手，但還是屬於少數的例子。The Underground於2011年7月23日於旺角的The Live House舉辦了Girls with Guitar 4音樂會，重新把spotlight照耀在各女樂手身上。Girls with Guitars音樂會系列的舉行目的，相信並不是要提昇女樂手的地位或是什麼的，而是要展現及肯定女樂手的位置，相信她們能夠以獨特的女性觸覺為觀眾帶來好音樂。
當晚共有4隊樂隊演出，包括Savannah Betts、New Tonic Press、Who Shot Holga及FAD。Savannah Betts是一隊一人樂隊，說起一人一結他自然便令人想起林一峰，繼而想起at17的兩位成員盧凱彤(Ellen)及林二汶(Eman)，她們也是本地較為突出唱作人。而同樣也是一人一結他的Savannah也毫不遜色，以自學的結他自彈自唱多首作品。Savannah當晚演出了5首歌，題材都是圍繞著生活的所思所感出發，如 “Home”是一首比較抒情的歌，說出以香港為家的心情，而擁有香港人身份但卻有外國人外貌的她更能表達香港人身份的混雜性。而 “Perfect Storm”一曲充分表現出她出色的結他及圓潤而優美聲線，更以有力的歌聲把歌曲的副歌部分的情緒推至高峰，控制得宜。Savannah表達出年輕人的青春活力，欣賞過她演出的觀眾必定會受她的甜美聲音及自信的笑容所吸引。
New Tonic Press
1. The Mountains Are Moving
2. New Solution
3. Who Do You Think You Are?
4. Still Want You More
5. Something in the Water
6. Sunny Does it For the Money
New Tonic Press’ set heralded the night’s oddity of having the drummer being enclosed behind the transparent panels while playing their hands off (I was almost expecting carbonite to pour down…would’ve made for a much better still). And indeed, NTP’s drummer is absolutely fantastic – his style has Matt Cameron’s engaging rhythms and Dave Grohl’s (in the Scream years) frenzied pace and strength. This suits singer/guitarist Sue Shearman’s guitar style – dirty alt.-blues with some post-punk in there too – to a T. This sort of combination, though, is a dime-a-dozen, and what makes them unique is violinist Charliah Best; the sweet violin replaced the lead guitars and contrasted well with Sue’s guitar. Which was good, ‘cause the mix was not brilliant that night, and they didn’t have their bassist with them (whose absence left a noticeable gap in the sound); being unconventional was a good balm for these sores.
New Solution could’ve been a 90s Pearl Jam song, with a deep and dissonant melody that’s executed understatedly. Still Want You More was a cracking song, with something of a rockabilly feel (which, again, would’ve been much better with a bassist) mixed with garage-rock textures. The violin accents on this one were particularly exciting, as they were on Something in the Water. The song’s heavy, melancholic riff was one that cut through the muddy mix and hit you, backed up by the stinging sarcasm in the lyrics and vocal delivery. They way their songs are constructed, though, it’s very hit-or-miss; perhaps it’s the dark side of having a violin in the band, but the quality of composition varied even within the same song, and they tended to peter out rather than finish definitively. Again, though, theirs’ was a good chaser to the previous set and the songs were fun to listen to, so they can be given the benefit of doubt for that night.
New Tonic Press是一隊演出folk blues音樂的樂隊，今次演出的陣容有主音兼結他手Sue Shearman、小提琴手Charliah Best及鼓手Malte Noack。主音Sue的聲音華麗而具有個性，而最令人印象深刻的是小提琴手的獨特演出。當歌聲、結他及鼓演奏較為低沉而複雜的音樂時，小提琴以簡約柔和而不失力度、及不斷重複的旋律中，穩定及帶領著歌曲的方向，使慣常於古典音樂出現的小提琴和諧地與結他及鼓對話，使New Tonic Press的音樂充滿著古典氣息，有很大的感染力。這兩位女樂手Girl with Guitar及Girl with Violin於當晚的演出都同樣出色。
Who Shot Holga?
2. Got a Thing
3. Killer Heels
4. Ino UNO
5. What You Said
6. Let it Burn
7. The F Song
Next on was the “2/3 chick rock” of WSH – I don’t know what that means, but I do know that they’re wonderfully bluesy in a very unpretentious way, and their songs have riffs with massive bottom-ends (not often you get to say that about a band whose primary songwriter is female). It’s a result of singer/guitarist Tilly’s natural sound, which naturally tends towards the Chrissie Hynde style of upbeat blues-influenced American rock. Her lyrics, like her stage presence, are quirky and endearing, and she’s always fun to watch. Again, the mix was not kind to their sound at all, but the songs’ natural effervescence helped them counter that to a great degree. Bassist Marie is really solid, and drummer Martin’s style allows him to play some really cool fills while remaining in the proverbial pocket.
The drums were miked way too loud on More, and that nearly ruined the sharp, angular chords set against the archetypal 60s rock texture. After this was fixed, Got a Thing continued in the same vein but sounded much better. However, the song is composed in a manner that the chorus is sung on the very periphery of Tilly’s vocal range; this inherently means that there will be times that the execution will lack, and unfortunately that night was one of those times. Let it Burn had another heavy riff that sounded almost like a Troggs song, and it highlighted the side of Tilly’s vocal style that sounds like early-Blondie Debbie Harry. Hopefully this band will go far by building on these strengths, ‘cause I would love to see these guitar-laden girls for a long time.
Who Shot Holga是一隊很年輕的3人組合，包括主音兼結他手Tilly、低音結他手及和音的Marie及鼓手Martin，單張介紹他們演出的音樂是2/3 Chick Rock。她們的音樂節奏感很強，帶點玩樂及調皮的風格，這令人想起搖滾是屬於青春，而青春也是屬於搖滾的感覺，Who Shot Holga便給人有這樣的感覺。
1. Thoughts of a Dying Liberal
3. So Tired
4. Dream in Dream
5. Sleep Out
6. Disco 2000 (Pulp cover) [Encore]
I’ve seen FAD play a few times, and their stage manner is the epitome of a restrainedly nice band; they seem happy to be on stage, but not too excited by that fact. This is usually reflected in their music – they’re calm and clean compositions, often featuring long-held notes by each instrument intertwining and creating complex textures, in the vein of The Jesus & Mary Chain, or a slightly less grungy Catherine Wheel. It’s probably not a coincidence that so many of their songs centre on dreams and sleep. The songs tend to be emotionally resonant numbers sung with great care and delicate instrumentation. Basically, the band usually has very few corners of any kind. This is why, I guess, I’ve usually found them a bit dull – always pleasant, but I don’t find them exciting.
Which is why I was very pleasantly surprised to find a completely different band playing that night – they seemed loose, relaxed and like they were actually having fun on stage. Perhaps consequently, their set that night was a little more powerful – the chords were muscled a bit more, and the keyboards seemed to flow easier than usual. Now, I don’t know just how tipsy or whatever else they were, but their attitude that night is definitely something they should consider adopting once again. They were also luckier because the mix for them was actually quite good. The result was a bit like early Audioslave (vocals not included), and they sounded exciting and were great to watch in this avatar.
Thoughts of…began with a minimalist riff, its oxymoronic nature creating the intrigue, before adopting a much harder texture that was offset by the Tom Morello-ike solos. So Tired was refreshing because there was a nice contrast between the childlike melody and the abrasive chords made it an intriguing listen (much more than usual). Sleep Out had a wonderfully heavy yet subtle bassline that was its driving force, pushing the song into an experimental, art-punk sound. They were the first band I’ve seen that seemed genuinely surprised when an encore (much-deserved) was demanded, but they settled on the Pulp song after nearly 10 minutes (I swear) of discussion. They changed the style to more of a Noughties-arty sound, which also worked, and they finished off their Midas touch-night to a huge roar from the audience.
photos © Copyright 2011 by ANGUS LEUNG
poster by ANGUS LEUNG