Wooooohooo!! What an amazing night! So many people to thank! 13 years! Our 233rd show since April 2004!
Thank you first off to the amazing audience who came and kept saying what great bands we have in Hong Kong! HUGE love for the members of the audience who dressed in our official colour of yellow!
Thanks to our drink sponsors: Jack Daniels Cola and Singha Beer. Thanks to our prize sponsors: Hotel Icon, Sideways Driving Club, The Feel Good Factor & Musique Leather.
Thanks to the four bands who were part of this night and thanks to Carr for the amazing sound.
To all the wonderful people who make The Underground run so smoothly, I couldn’t thank you guys enough: The Underground team on site: Angus, Prada, Dicky. The reviewers: El Jay & Simon.
Thanks to Martin for the cool poster artwork. Thanks to Laalaa & Prada & Kei for behind-the-scenes promotions. Thanks to Vivek for looking after our website so beautifully!
Thanks to Shaun for supporting everything I do. I feel inspired to continue The Underground events for at least another year 🙂
Wooooohooo!! 真係好正嘅一晚啊! 太多人要多謝! 13年啦! 係我地自2004年4月起第233場show! 首先好多謝一班冇得彈嘅觀眾朋友們黎捧場，又讚我地香港有好多好正嘅樂隊! 更加唔話得嘅係所有真係著左黃色衫嘅觀眾們啊! 另外，好多感激我地嘅飲品贊助商，有Jack Daniels Cola同Singha 啤酒。多謝我地抽獎禮品贊助商，包括唯港薈、Sideways Driving Club、The Feel Good Factor同埋Musique Leather。多謝當晚嘅四隊樂隊同搞音響嘅Carr。仲有要向所有令The Underground一直咁順利運作嘅團隊，真係感激不盡。到場嘅The Underground團隊有Angus、Prada，同Dicky，仲有樂評人El Jay 同Simon。至於海報咁型嘅設計就多得勞苦功高嘅Martin。唔少得幕後幫手做好多宣傳工作嘅Laalaa、Prada同Kei。仲有多謝Vivek一直幫手將我地嘅網站整到咁靚! 最後仲要好多謝我老公Shaun一直支持我做嘅所有野，令我有更多動力去繼續搞好The Underground：)
❤️ Chris B x
Andy is Typing
1. Take A Break
2. Don’t Believe
4. Yesterday Was Sweet
5. Lost Pearl
Tonight’s first band on this auspicious occasion, are greeted by what feels a little more like a carnival atmosphere than just a normal mad Saturday in LKF. Orange Peel is packed to the brim and there’s a really beautiful atmosphere brewing to celebrate the Underground’s 13th birthday.
Andy Is Typing start the celebrations off with their single Take A Break, released earlier this month. It’s so full of energy straight from the off that the crowd doesn’t get a chance to think before being swept up in this bands magic. Andy (who I’m assuming also types) on bass is awesome here, and his bass lines are the centre piece of this song. I’m already compelled to call Andy Is Typing Hong Kong’s very own Muse, such is the similarity. But while there are similarities, they’re still doing their own thing. Jacky’s vocal has a touch of Brandon Flowers about it at times. His falsetto – absolute perfection.
On Don’t Believe, drummer Kelvin is a total superstar. Just like the bass on Take A Break, his percussion is now the centrepiece. Jacky’s vocal is a bit lower here and it doesn’t feel ideal for his voice to me. I think the higher stuff really suits it better. Bassist Andy is now at the back of the stage, clearly his 5 mins of glory at the front is over. I wonder if these guys got a deal on their haircuts, like a buy three get one free?
These guys are really tight, and seem like they’ve been gigging forever. Loving the lead guitar on Karma, way down the fret through the verses. It’s nothing new, but it feels familiar like an old friend I haven’t seen in a long time. Love the change in mood and the uplifting feel of the middle eighth. Strangely there aren’t many takers for an arm wave on Lost Pearl. The acoustic guitar is a nice contrast to the rest of the set up until this point. It gets a little ‘busy’ for me. A bit over complicated. They feel at their best went then keep it a bit simpler.
I’d love to see this band on a bigger stage, their energy and in particular Jacky’s charisma I feel are made for a massive crowd. I’ll be there.
– Simon Donald Jones
2. Show Time
6. If You Like Music
7. Make It Happen
It’s hard to nail down exactly what Ocean Boulevard’s style is. Like a lot of beautiful things in this world, sometimes it’s best not to always go looking for a label and just let it be whatever it is. But it took them a couple of songs to show ‘it’ to us completely. It’s clear to me that lead guitarist Rico spent most of his childhood listening to Carlos Santana, because it’s like the man is here with us now such is the similarity with his guitar riffs. There’s a hell of a contrast on third offering Indigo. The Santana-esque guitar, keyboard synths, Cecillia’s jazzy vocal, simple percussion and the funky bass.
Southern is a much more sultry song and all of a sudden everything clicks. And I totally get it. Its got a latin feel with old school Canto flavours coming out in places. I can really see this song being played in a nice hotel bar with low light. Beautiful. They’re like a different band to the first two songs.
They style themselves as Tropical Rock, which I have to say does feel like the right label for them. Fifth song of the night is Samba and it’s just all about fun. The whole place is dancing now, they’ve truly won this crowd tonight. At times I feel like the song is going to take a turn into Copacobana by Barry Manilow. Cecillia is nailing it now, looking completely at ease and working the stage.
They see to take it upon themselves to do an encore, without giving the crowd much of a chance to ask for one. Pretty sure they would have anyway. Make It Happen starts off near exactly the same as Uptown Funk by Mark Ronson. Rico joins in on vocals which gives the song a B52s feel.
They’ve been so much fun. The crowd are still buzzing. If I could I’d book them for a birthday party, because at a birthday party you want your guests to have a good time and Ocean Boulevard could absolutely guarantee it.
– Simon Donald Jones
3. Blue Moon of Kentucky
5. 噢! 爸爸
6. Maggie Mea
7. Somethings Else
10. 飛車 . 歌舞 . 樂與怒
The Underground’s birthday party may have been a great chance to discover the newer sounds of the city, but there’s no doubt that Boogie Playboys’ fans represented a hefty chunk of the packed audience. The slick and stylish entertainers, who regularly play at swing and rock ‘n’ roll nights, brought an infectiously fun show that dared punters not to dance.
Harking back to the pink milkshake-tinted memories of the 1950s, the Playboys’ music dipped into the sounds of Elvis Presley, Bill Haley and the Comets, Carl Perkins, Chuck Berry and Jerry Lee Lewis, spinning these classic influences with a dose of leopard-printed rockabilly attitude.
The sharp-quiffed five-piece, endorsed by Gretsch guitars, took to the stage to the sound of excited screams from party-goers. Guitarist K13 played his guitar with the genre’s distinctive dry reverb sound. Songs like Blue Moon of Kentucky evoked the same Appalachian-style crooning heard on slower Presley numbers, while 臭格 had a toe-tapping jailhouse rock feel.
The short but sweet 傷心鄉謠, a song about a heartbroken man, layered Cantonese lyrics over American country chord progressions. After “a one, a two, a one, two three, four” from drummer Barry, who stood upright for the song, the band launched into the old bluesy folk tones of 噢! 爸爸 (Oh! Pa Pa). It sounded like a faster version of Woody Guthrie’s timeless This Land Is Your Land, thanks to some neat slide guitarwork.
One of the few tracks the band performed in English, Maggie Mae was short but punchy, showing off guitarist Chan’s considerable skill. Somethings Else had everyone dancing to a classic rock n roll jam as double bass player Bluesman twirled his instrument to the beat and K13 gave an impressive solo.
人情做八舊 was a shuffle-stepping number about the cost of marriage, and effortlessly merged the rockabilly and cantopop genres. It ended with a hilarious discussion between K13 and lead singer Felix asking each other how much money they’d need for a wedding. Bluesman shows off more of his amazing stage moves, playing with his eyes closed during the penultimate song, which had a ragtime feel. Guitarists rattled off chromatic scales to a shuffling, cymbal-clashing beat that evoked Little Richard’s Tutti Frutti.
After thanking The Underground, the band burst into a Rock Around The Clock-style intro, with Bluesman pawing out scales on his bass. Barry sang while playing a rousing cymbal-snare beat, and Chan laid out a beautiful solo while the other guitarists held down the rhythm. The Boogie Playboys brought the house down, delighting the huge crowd and proving why they’re one of the city’s most entertaining and in-demand acts.
– El Jay
1. Let’s Get It On
3. Way That It Goes
5. Sexy Bitch (您好性感)
6. Gals Are Guys
9. Ska Song
A long night of rock was brought to a close by The Mongcocks, a rowdy gaggle of punks led by lead singer/guitarist Brian Woolsey. After the slick professionalism and showmanship of The Boogie Playboys, the ramshackle cacophony of this ska-tinged four-piece felt rather jarring. But this was party music, played fast with wild abandon by a band who doodle dildos on their setlist and are clearly proud of the city they live in.
It was soon obvious that ballsy shouting over rapidly-strummed open chords and jaunty beats was the band’s MO, as they kicked off with Let’s Get It On. After a few technical difficulties with drummer Mike Lee’s kit, the band followed with Mini-Bus, a slightly repetitive song that echoed the lo-fi punk of early Green Day in its power chord progressions.
As the performance wore on, it became clear that guitarist Judy Hai was the star of the show. Head and shoulders above her bandmates in terms of talent, she showed off dexterous fretwork with a snarling precision throughout the speed punk frenzy of Way That It Goes. Meanwhile, bassist Matt Kanoff’s bumpy riffs began sounding jolly and danceable, but soon grated in their repetitiveness and lack of originality.
Ramones-style yelling and raw, rapid snare-cymbal drumming defined Sexy Bitch (您好性感), which saw Brian and Matt join voices for the shouty chorus. Then, The Hives met The Offspring for the oi-punk-influenced tune Gals Are Guys, which was later explained to have been inspired by an eye-openingly wild night out in Thailand for Brian. “These girls are lies,” went the hilarious lyrics, underpinned by a simple, descending bassline.
Matt picked out a “super-fan” Callum, who was leaving Hong Kong soon, and started up a chant of “fuck you Callum!” The sentiment was clearly lost on most – only about eight people joined in. It was a relief when Judy stepped to the front to lead the next song 689, the strongest of the set so far. A punter sprayed beer into the crowd, instantly opening a mini moshpit as everyone ran for cover. Judy relished the lyrics “fuck your mother”, as she sang very slowly over fierce guitarwork.
The Mongcocks sped things up for Ska Song, which took everyone back to the days of dancing their teenage feet off to ska punk bands like Less Than Jake, Reel Big Fish and Goldfinger. Brian put his guitar down to concentrate on singing, once again letting Judy’s musicianship shine. “We’re not taking requests,” the frontman told the beer-spraying punter ahead of final song Wasted. The band got stuck into classic rock riffing scattered with more off-kilter, ska-inflected rhythms, recalling the likes of Dead Kennedys and Dropkick Murphys. Although their setlist could have done with more polish and original ideas, the rapidly-rising Mongcocks brought a raucous party atmosphere and sense of optimistic fun befitting The Underground’s big one-three.
– El Jay
Photos by Angus Leung.
Poster by Martin Ng.