What a cool Thursday night this was! We were indeed excited to be part of Social Media Week Hong Kong! We were honoured to have some of Hong Kong’s more socially connected bands to excite & blow everyone’s minds Thanks to everyone who made it out on a weeknight! Thanks to the three bands for giving 200% to their performances. Thanks to everyone at Backstage! Thanks to our wonderful sponsors Edifier, HKGFM.net and Becks. See you all at next month’s BIG event – Underground 100.
love Chris B xx
2. Don’t Close Your Eyes
3. Sleeper Cars
5. Built to Last
After an absence of several months, Reign Lee made a welcome return to once again grace the stages of Hong Kong. At the Social Media Underground Reign was somehow a little different from the Reign I knew before – perhaps on account of having Freddie Gunn (of Shotgun Politics, or “Orgasmic Freddie” as Reign called him) standing in as the drummer, who brought with him his brand of in your face, no holds barred goodness, against which Reign more than ably stepped up to meet full on. The end result was a set delivered with supreme confident, something which one has grown to take for granted when it comes to Reign, more powerful, edgy and intense, and yet darker than ever before (on the last point, I couldn’t quite pinpoint the cause). It was, however, a little erratic in places, which probably could be put down to a relatively new drummer, who has been known to get a little… erm… carried away from time to time.
1. The Choice That I’ve Made
2. For the Lost Souls
3. The Sun Also Rises
4. Just Gone
Bringing up their sixth appearance at an Underground show, Killer Soap played the part of the not-too heavy band that allows a transition from acoustic/light music sets to heavier stuff; and, boy, did they play it well. Their songs, nearly all of them, are astutely arranged; arrangements that create a sort of synergy between the different musical elements. Which is not to say that they’re inadequate musicians in any way – singer Rocky’s chops alone can put that idea to bed. It’s more that the very creditable restraint that they show (guitarists in particular) might make the songs seem underwhelming if they weren’t arranged as well as they were. Their atmospheric, at times ethereal guitars, soar in a way that makes your soundscape seem to be pleasantly expanding – a very 1999-and-after Foo Fighters tendency.
Rocky’s voice and vocal technique is impeccable, but also bordering on being very similar to the kind of insubstantial pop-singing that one hears in manufactured groups. In fact (and let me make it very clear that this is my opinion, hehe) when heard individually are quite similar to trends from 2000s pop rock – trailing, somewhat feel-good melodies made punchy by pedals, the rootsless drum style, and the singing that’s dangerously close to being ingratiating. BUT, the band takes on just the approaches that have lead to these results while avoiding the results themselves mostly due to their abovementioned restraint and arranging-acuity. Guitar effects are used with judiciousness worthy of Tom Morello (though not in a similar way). The result is a very lifting, flourish-based sound that’s reminiscent of the Goo Goo Dolls (at least in their Hold Me Up phase). For the Lost Souls is a particularly good example of this; the excellently coordinated stop-start structure and combined epic feel of the contrasting guitars (one soaring while one plays peeking-round-the-corner notes) were like ear-honey. The pauses, by the way, pervaded most of their songs, and each one was perfectly executed, so well done, guys. Just Gone (highly reminiscent of Hungry Ghosts’ Chinese Families to start with) highlighted even more clearly their ability to arrange well, because the splintered-texture of the guitars playing rousing melodies blended perfectly with the vocals. Reason, their most “famous” song, was a tour-de-force, being slightly more nitro-charged and intense than the other songs. It actually reminds me a bit of In Love & Pain’s style, with some light metal drums entering the sound. A very intense ending to a great set; testified to by the fact that the audience demanded more songs as they left the stage.
— Shashwati Kala
2. New Year’s Day
3. Paper Heart
4. Johnny Rage
5. Mama’s Girl
Shotgun Politics, which describes itself as a party rock outfit, has always been known for its ability to whip the crowd into a frenzy, and this night was no exception. After politely requesting the lighting tech to turn down the lights to make the stage cooler, the band proceeded to deliver an upbeat set of eminently danceable tunes at breakneck speed (that’s presto to the classically minded amongst you), featuring some of the popular tunes from the band’s two albums such as New Year’s Day, Johnny Rage. Only at the request of Freddie Gunn, who was probably close to exhaustion from having played two sets, did they take a breather with a slower tune (slower… at allegro), a new song, aptly named “Break”, which made me think must have been written for this very purpose.
This was the second time that I’ve watched Shotgun Politics since the sad departure of the lead guitarist Kevin Ronquillo. It must have been a daunting prospect for the new lead, Kit (of In Love & Pain!) to follow in the footsteps of such an accomplished guitarist, so it was good to see him settling into the band and making his own distinctive mark on the music – I have no doubt that Kevin would approve of his successor. With the new lineup, the Shotgun Politics has lost none of its lustre and can only go from strength to strength to entertain the public for a long time coming.
photos © Copyright 2012 by ANGUS LEUNG
poster by ANGUS LEUNG