Wooooohooo!! What an amazing night! It was wonderful to have these great bands perform to celebrate 14 years of our showcases.
Biggest shout out to the amazing audience who came and kept saying what great bands we have in Hong Kong!
Thanks to our drink sponsors: Jack Daniels Cola and Singha Beer.
Thanks to our prize sponsors: Edifier, Magic Seasons Organics, Volcom & Polaroid!
Thanks to the seven bands who were part of this memorable night
Thanks to Jon Lee, Sherman & Samjog for working hard on the sound.
Thanks to the Hub for hosting this event. Thanks to Leon for all the great photos.
To all the wonderful people who make The Underground run so smoothly, I appreciate you guys so much: Big shout out to the team on site: Bun, Prada, Calvin, Sophie, Holly & Raymond.
Total respect and love to El Jay & Dan, our reviewers who dedicate their time to writing reviews for each band.
Thanks to Martin for the cool poster artwork. Thanks to Laalaa & Jenna for behind-the-scenes promotions. Thanks to Vivek for looking after our website so beautifully!
Thanks to Ally and Dicky for helping to edit the band’s promo videos on facebook.
Thank you to Sam (The Triple X) for the amazing visuals on screen.
Thanks to Shaun for supporting everything I do. I feel inspired to start planning our 15th Year Anniversary parties straight away 🙂
嘩！ 多麼精彩的一個晚上！ 我們非常榮幸在14週年的紀念音樂會能夠有如此出色的樂隊為我們帶來精湛的演出！感謝親身到場熱烈參與及支持本地樂隊的你們！
在此要感謝我們的贊助伙伴 Jack Daniels Cola and Singha Beer 為我們贊助飲料，感謝 Edifier, Magic Seasons Organics, Volcom & Polaroid 贊助了豐富的禮品，感謝當晚蒞臨為我們熱烈演出的七隊樂隊，感謝 Jon Lee, Sherman & Samjog 落力為我們控制音響，感謝 The Hub 提供場地，感謝 Leon 拍攝了精美的圖片。
節目能夠順利舉行，當然少不了感謝一群幕後團隊 Bun, Prada, Calvin, Sophie, Holly & Raymond，亦要感謝我們的樂評人 El Jay & Dan 抽出寶貴的時間為我們撰寫樂評，感謝Martin設計了精美的海報，感謝 Laalaa & Jenna 的宣傳工作，感謝 Vivek 把我們的網頁設計得十分精美，亦感謝 Ally and Dicky 幫助我們剪輯了樂隊的宣傳片！多謝 Sam (The Triple X) 設計精美的動畫
最後要感謝 Shaun 一直支持我的工作。我已經急不及待去籌劃我們15週年的紀念呢！
❤️ Chris B xx
1. Let’s Go
2. Another Page
3. Things You’ll Never Know
4. Hong Kong Song
5. You Don’t Know
6. Fallen Soldier
7. Leave a Light On (Belinda Carlisle cover)
The first act on The Underground’s 14th birthday roster, Scottish singer-songwriter Laura Kenny showed no hint of trepidation as she took the audience on a journey through intricately detailed folk songs, delivered with a crystal clear, warm, enchanting voice that recalled a young Madonna with a touch of Andrea Corr.
Each song was preceded by a brief anecdote that added colour and context. Opener Another Page was “about missing someone far away”. The tearjerker track had a country feel, addressed to an unknown, faraway recipient, to whom Kenny urged, “Won’t you save a few more lines just for me?” She wasn’t referring to drugs; rather, asking the subject to put pen to paper and express their feelings about her.
“Relationships are like a book: they have a start and an end and hopefully a good story. But this is about a relationship that never got off the ground – it just had a start and an end,” Kenny said, introducing Things You’ll Never Know, a moving and relatable narration of a love never given the chance to flourish. Over rapid, almost Bluegrass-style strumming, Kenny’s lyrics the raconteurial flair of John Mayer, singing: “I’ll be out on the town with my friends but I’m thinking of you and the things that could have been … I’ve learned to let go of the things you’ll never know.”
Compared to the agonising poignancy of the previous track, the following Hong Kong Song seemed a bit trite. “It’s my love letter to Hong Kong and all the things I’ll take with me when it’s my time to depart,” Kenny said, revealing that after the best part of the decade in the city, she was making preparations to leave. Although certain lines verged on cliche, the lyrics captured some of the city’s most famous characteristics without being overly sentimental: sunset on skyscrapers, bankers rushing around, “You can’t see the horizon but you’ll have 2,000 neighbours”.
“I see some of you are here to rock, so I hope I’m not a disappointment!” the self-deprecating singer laughed, adding: “This is an angry song from when I was just venting.” You Don’t Know, a song about not wanting advice someone paired choppy, palm-muted strumming with a defiant chorus that temporarily gave the set a harder edge.
Fallen Soldier had one of the best anecdotes: the song was written about Kenny’s travels in Thailand and Myanmar learning about the prisoners of war who built the railways. She spotted the headstone of a soldier who shared her last name and felt compelled to write music inspired by the deep sense of empathy she experienced. To someone who hadn’t heard Kenny’s passionate explanation of the track’s backstory, the lyrics may have seemed too on-the-nose, a little too ‘Fox and Friends’, but the song was carried well by Kenny’s earnest vocals and Alanis Morissette-style guitar.
For her final performance, Kenny opted for a sparkling cover of Belinda Carlisle’s 1989 Leave a Light On, a song “any girls my age would have had on a tape”, bringing her timeslot to close with a foot-stomping chorus. “As the day is over, no one mourns the sun,” Kenny sung during her ode to Hong Kong. The same couldn’t be said of the crowd, left enraptured at the end of her shining set, hoping for more and mourning her impending departure from both the stage and Hong Kong.
– El Jay
The Stay Ups
1. Wake Up!
3 .Right Now
4. Far From Here
6. Broken Social Scene
The Stay Ups kick off with a big, raucous, raw punk rock sound which bodes well for the rest of their set. And indeed what’s not to like here – the attitude is present and correct, songs are well constructed, and the singer’s natty cap and polka dot sneakers complete the picture. Yes their 90’s influences are immediately apparent – Green Day, The Alkaline Trio, Blink 182, Sum 41 et al – but musically they certainly inject plenty of individualistic panache. It’s when the singing begins that things lose a little momentum. Those badass rock sounds need an equivalently badass vocal and Ryan – who actually has a pretty impressive music industry track record – is just so … nice. He almost speaks his lyrics rather than screaming them out a la Kurt Cobain/whatshisname out of Nickelback as I and I’m sure the rest of the audience were expecting. He could be at a tea party asking the vicar if he’d like another cup of tea. Don’t get me wrong, he’s got a great voice, it’s just that for this kind of music there’s something of a disconnect. Introducing one track though he did say “and it goes something like this” which redeemed it a little for me.
– Dan Creffield
3. Queen of Diamond Hill
5. Blue Pill Story
7. Grunge Love
Thirteen years after the first time they played The Underground, indie quartet 22Cats made a triumphant, eagerly awaited return and received an ecstatic response. Singer Chan Lam-por’s vocals were barely audible on opener 真實的嘴臉, which recalled an early REM-meets-Smashing Pumpkins sound with its blasts of distorted guitar, melancholic tone and rough, DIY feel. An unusual proggy mid-section touched upon elements of The Mars Volta in its contrast of loud-soft extremes. The band sounded heavier than Teenage Riot, Lam-por’s other, better-known group, yet was soaked in the same 90s-yearning nostalgia. Guitarist Chan Kwun-kit’s phaser pedal ending sounded extra effective, as was his sinister, unsettling motif on the excellently titled, Velvet Underground-aping Queen of Diamond Hill
The frontman’s off-kilter, low vocals had distinct echoes of Jeremy Enigk, especially when layered with the emo pop punk guitar of 性句號. Adding an underlying sadness and wistfulness to the music, his insouciant drawl grew to shouts of “Liar!” on the 80s post-punk Queen… as the music beneath barrelled towards insanity. From odes to dead cats to letters of love, the band ploughed through seven tracks, including the interestingly structured 如果就這樣離開這世界好嗎?, which used an uncharacteristically upbeat, jaunty melody alongside a rapid, skittering hi-hat, sweeping, sunny chords and creative basslines. On softer number Blue Pill Story, it wasn’t clear if Lam-por was making mistakes in the arpeggios, or whether the melody was deliberately designed to sound charmingly atonal. Guitarists Kwun-kit’s voice was much louder than his bandmate’s, evoking the likes of Dutch Uncles.
Last song Grunge Love channelled Siamese Dream-era Pumpkins with rumbling bass and thick distortion on the chords – Lam-por’s voice even took on Billy Corgan’s trademark nasal quality. The very 90s track featured a deceptive ending, before the brief silence was broken with a final meltdown of an unusual soundscape of effects before an abrupt, well-rehearsed ending. 22Cats’ richly textured set showed there is no end to the creativity of Chan Por-lam and his many musical friends.
– El Jay
It pays to be friends with Chris B: Mr Rockethead were added to The Underground’s birthday bill after messaging the founder asking to play. The four-piece, who have worked their way up from open mic nights at The Wanch, proved to be a solid shout for such an eclectic event, with strong musicianship and a distinctly noughties alternative rock sound that drew from the sound of groups like Stereophonics.
Although chord progressions and themes within certain songs verged on generic, the band kept the audience on their toes with a tight performance that left no room for sloppiness. Frontman 阿健 had a big rock voice which paired well with 阿熙’s wailing guitar work and Raven’s snappy, exacting drums. The bass sounded somewhat loud in the mix up to 附近的人, but this was soon rectified by The Underground team.
A backing track with strings gave 熟悉卻陌生的你 a cinematic, expansive feel, lending the song a sense of originality that made it stand out in the set. The band went all out on last song 童話, which featured frantic, high guitarwork, and a choppy punk sound contrasted with softer verses. The singer’s voice recalled Duran Duran’s Simon Le Bon over big, heavy drums and bassist Jon joined in for the chorus. The powerful track suddenly shifted in tempo, sliding towards a more 80s direction with a Joey Tempest-esque scream from the vocalist. A dramatic singalong brought an electric performance to a close.
– El Jay
2. Give It All Away
3. Do I
4. Too Many Times
5. Sad Song
6. All The Time
7. Come Together (cover)
A great slab of intelligent pop rock from this appealing young band – I hear elements of Crowded House, The Beatles and general classic rock delivered in a modern and original way. All the boxes ticked for me – there’s a nifty little distorted bassline running through their first track “Why” from Noriko Watanabe while third song “Do I’ features a lovely fusion solo from the talented Issac So on guitar which otherwise has a Cream-like feel (the band, not the dairy product). There’s unquestionably an understanding between them and the equally talented Masaki Heung on drums, and together they’re as strong rhythmically as they are melodically. It’s great to see this musical chemistry, which means excellent vocalist and guitarist Adrian da Silva can confidently concentrate on his singing. Great stuff, and it’s not until they take on the mighty “Come Together” we see anything resembling a stutter. It’s a calculated risk, and one that doesn’t quite come off, but I still admire their ambition. I mean, listen to the original.
– Dan Creffield
1. 4, 3, 2.5
3. The Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up
They may describe themselves as a “cinematic rock band” but I don’t think that does these guys justice. Having said that, I really have no idea how to describe them, and believe me, that doesn’t happen very often. They kick off with a honky tonk workout which every now and again stops for a few seconds of comedy classical piano in a kind of Mozart music hall way (see, I said I had no idea how to describe them). Their second track is epic Cantopop with a big dollop of Chinese opera which they throw everything at, including a few bars of rap. It’s all crazy over the top and absolutely hysterical and yet these guys are all great players and immaculately rehearsed like you wouldn’t believe. Their madcap antics totally win over a crowd charmed, enthralled and confused in equal measure. More of an experience than a band, they get the audience to freeze mid-song before singer-songwriter Van Chan teaches us all some kung-fu moves and sing-along lyrics. Their influences range over several decades and individually are not particularly original – put through the Nowhere Boys’ magic music machine however and it becomes totally their own. They’re clever and detail-orientated as well – during “The Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up” I heard a sample from what I guessed was a classic British Peter Pan movie (no idea which one), but unless you grew up 100 years ago obsessed with that fairy tale stuff like I did you would never recognise it. Mad as a bag of squirrels, but awesome.
– Dan Creffield
1. The Octobeast Rises
2. Sunshine of Your Love
3. Why Do You Do the Things You Do
5. My House is a House Full of Blues
6. Unmei. No. Sekai.
After an evening of perfectly produced pop-rock, Kongo’s scuzzy late night blues jam was both refreshing and bewildering, like beetroot juice. Or something. And with their matching blue biker jackets, the singer/guitarist and bass player certainly made a style statement. Completed by a Beach Boys look-alike virtuoso drummer/battery bunny who played a thousand beats to the bar all night (whatever he was on, I want some) this was an eyebrow-raising ending to the evening. There was no question they could play – the guitarist’s fluid Jimi-meets-Eric soloing was as impressive as the bass player’s “Smoke on the Water” rendition – it just wasn’t always straightforward to see quite where they were coming from. And at this stage of the evening, the audience probably could of done with something a little livelier to see them through the midnight hours. Still, as everyone knows, proper rockers are enigmatic, sunglasses-wearing Les Paul players who don’t give a damn about bouncy crowd pleasing pop numbers, and that’s exactly what we got.
– Dan Creffield
Photos by Leon Che’ Clark.
由Leon Che’ Clark攝影。
Poster by Martin Ng
海報由 Martin Ng.