Underground Rocks 2019

08-06-19

Our fourth show in 2019, celebrating 15 years, continued with this rocking showcase! We welcomed back our Volkswagen battle winners Esimorp who played a scorching set. It was a delight to introduce to the Underground audience, two awesome bands: Noisy Charlie and After10. Plus, we were so lucky to have Uranus back on stage, with members flying in from all over the world, to take their place as third best band in Hong Kong 🙂 Thank you to all the bands for showcasing your best songs for a truly memorable night. Thanks so much to Ally, Laura & Leon for filming, audio recording & photography, Jasmine, Oscar & El Jay for their reviews, Prada, Laurence and Grace on door duties and to Bun for extensive IT and visual duties. Truly Hong Kong bands ROCK!
我地The Underground HK係2019年6月4號搞左今年第四場Show,亦都係慶祝我地15周年!
好開心可以搵返Volkswagen battle嘅優勝者Esimorp黎玩場咁正嘅演出,佢地嘅演出真係令人好難忘!我地好高興可以向觀眾介紹兩個好正嘅樂隊:Noisy Charlie和After10。
除此之外,我地好幸運咁搵到香港第三好嘅樂隊Uranus重新返黎舞台!成員都係專誠由世界各地飛黎香港演出。
真係非常感謝所有樂隊為當晚帶黎咁好嘅音樂。非常感謝當晚嘅工作人員,Ally、Laura和Leon嘅拍攝、錄音和攝影協助。
Jasmine, 傑仔和El Jay的評論。Prada、Laurence和Grace嘅門務接待。Bun嘅IT和視覺協助。
❤️ Chris B xx


Noisy Charlie (嘈查理)

1. Raise up
2. Gate
3. Two of us
4. Insomnia
5. Split

未知是否因為首次The Hub演出,Noisy Charlie的現場表演音量頗為失衡,大部分時間都聽不到主音聲線,只聽到鼓聲,但亦而聽出鼓的部份分明有勁,幾過癮。樂隊整體風格突出,每首歌都有不同感覺,又鮮明的分別,卻又一致地帶點迷幻、失落。如果能夠改善樂隊整體配合及和諧感覺,一定更正。而歌曲Insomnia最能表達樂隊獨特、吸引之處,正如失眠的感覺般纏擾,迷惘、迷失但又不頹廢!
– 傑仔

One of the best surprises of Underground Rocks 2019 was finding that opening band Noisy Charlie were superb. The band opened their set with Raise Up, a song dedicated to the government, which had a strong reggae vibe in its off-kilter guitar and distorted shouts. However, this was just one genre they would blend into their shape-shifting sound.

Guitarist King produced a stunning tone with his shining Gretsch Black Falcon, which sat high and crisp in the mix. Vocalist C朗 was intriguing to watch; the emotions of each song playing out in his facial expressions and mannerisms and he channelled every ounce of himself into the performance. There was a touch of Cedric Bixler-Zavala to his elastic singing – the Mars Volta vibe was especially heightened when C’s voice paired with bassist Samuel’s intricate and jazzy bass scales and King’s intricate noodling.

Clean-toned arpeggios started Two of Us, during which C’s soft vocals took a backseat to cerebral post-rock. A distinctive melody took listeners on a journey, evoking shades of Hong Kong group Prune Deer. King was impressive in his speed and precision as he delivered a great solo before bringing things home with a loud, heavy rock finish.

There was a slight delay while drummer 威倫’s kit was fixed after a cymbal rattled loose, but the show was quickly resumed for Insomnia. Melancholic guitar and morose singing instantly conjured Deftones in all their early 00s angst. A slow tempo and soft vocals soon built to soaring, anguished wails, crashing cymbals and galloping toms creating an all out frenzy to finish.

A sunny picked indie melody intro led into upbeat closer Split, during which psychedelic guitar effects came into play before an all out drum-smashing, guitar-destroying, bass-rumbling, manic-voiced outburst to finish. It may be a cliche, but the only criticism of Noisy Charlie’s set was that it wasn’t longer. They showed how a band with a shifting genre/post rock sensibility can work with vocal elements if done right. They have clearly mastered eccentricity without sacrificing integrity and it was a pleasure to be in their thrall for five varied and exciting songs.
– El Jay

Esimorp

1. Ghost Town
2. The Minutes
3. Erosions
4. Paris
5. State of Bias
6. Solace

結他solo一聽難忘,主音聲線溫柔、哀傷而有力量,大部份歌第一次聽已令人印象深刻,風格絕對鮮明,歌曲飽含情感。Ghost TownThe Minutes最能表現樂隊溫柔而具力量的一面,The Minutes的結他SOLO旋律更是既有激情又帶細膩。及後的歌開始偏向傷感,Solace主音和音又似呢喃、又似夢囈的吶喊更是非常夢幻,具有將觀眾捲入一場回憶的感覺。樂隊配合度高,樂手偶爾互望微笑,偶爾合上眼享受演出,偶爾認真調整音效。整體而言絕對是一種享受!
– 傑仔

Following up from their debut stint at Clockenflap 2018, Esimorp seemed to be a name on quite a few lips at the Hub.
As the band tuned up, their fans suddenly yet perceptibly trickling forward to populate the front of the audience space, I got an acidic twinge of excitement for what they had to offer.

Stripped back and delicate, their opening number Ghost Town was a slow-burner. It built in texture, with instruments gradually coalescing alongside soft drum tracks and a grooving guitar riff. This simple combination is steered by strong, breathy vocals from guitarist and lead singer Promise- Esimorp backwards. The sound is something akin to the heyday of Soundgarden, a post-grunge rock ballad which feels both familiar and refreshing.

There was even a touch of ska featured in The Minutes, which was commandeered by a particularly commanding bassline. It’s a musical cross-pollination of sorts, encompassing aspects of folk, gospel, and grunge with a collectively self-assured flair found only in bands which have the guts to push limits.

Whilst appreciating Esimorp as a collective, the individual performers do deserve individual praise. Special shout out to electric guitarist Ric, whose tangible energy never faltered throughout the set and whose skills definitely impressed the room.
Yes, I spotted the tapping displayed during the solo in State of Bias!

Despite the loudness of the bass in comparison to other instruments (which I have come to read as being a deliberate move, accenting the drum tracks), this is a band which clearly knows its craft. Each song took the audience on a journey; each grew and transformed from its barest bones; each left the crowd in rapturous applause. Esimorp explore the far reaches of alt rock, a blend of sounds and styles which span the breadth of genre whilst retaining consistently harmonic vocal melodies.

Maybe next time though, boys, let your bassist know about the stripy t-shirt plan.
I love a bit of yrtemmys.
(Read it backwards).
– Jasmine GW

URANUS

1. Alive Again
2. Chosen One
3. Leave Me Where You Found Me
4. Riptide
5. Painting Colours
6. Asia Rocks
7. I Gotta Feeling (cover)

樂隊眾人年紀偏高,甚至有不少白頭髮和皺紋,卻是現場演出之中最具活力、最幽默有趣、最享受、最大汗淋漓的一隊。歌曲風格就如不斷搞GAG的他們一樣活躍有趣,帶有微微美國民謠風,又有INDIE味,在複雜難形容的曲風之中,更是聽出The Grateful Dead的影子。旋律不斷彈跳間,令人覺得好似到了火星開Party一樣搞笑好玩。惟最尾的翻唱歌I Gotta Feeling (cover)嘗試重新編曲,主唱不太能掌握lay back精粹,變得像不跟拍子亂唱,令人難以投入。
– 傑仔

“Be gentle with Uranus,” Chris B joked to this reviewer before the band took to the stage. The excitement in the air was palpable as the crowd pressed in, eager to see what Hong Kong’s “third best band in 2009” had been up to in the intervening decade. Happily, the band brought a very fluid performance that didn’t feel too tight…

With their joke name and ironic 80s get-up, Uranus seemed like a spoof band but they were actually solid. They passed around a large bottle of vodka on stage, which gave the performance a progressively unhinged edge. Bursting out of the gate with a fast and heavy rock number, Alive Again, the band made use of a groovy wah-wah solo and had a distinct flavour of INXS about them. Drummer Dom Lau was particularly strong; his brisk beat carried some of the band’s more haywire shenanigans and held the show together.

Less kind reviewers may dismiss the band as dad-rock, but it did at least sound like Uranus had put the practice in. They came across as a tight and energetic unit, led by the charismatic frontman William Pfeiffer. Like Eddie Vedder-meets-Layne Staley, his booming and gritty vocals were perfect for the band’s classic rock sound, especially on Chosen One, an impassioned song dedicated to his sons.

Painting Colours had a kind of drawn-out, rhythmic, slightly psychedelic feel that echoed Primal Scream, while Asia Rocks smacked of ZZ Top in its driving guitar revs. (In fact, one punter air guitared so hard he fell backwards on the floor.) It was going pretty well until the band decided to whip the Black Eyed Peas’ generic earworm I Gotta Feeling out of their bag of tricks to close. It was pretty terrible – the vocals fell out of pace with the tempo badly – but nevertheless was a cacophonous sign-off from a fun and entertaining band who don’t take themselves too seriously.
– El Jay

After10

1. 層壓時代
2. Happy hour
3. 不許於這旅途嬉戲
4. 大頭佛
5. 大步走向我中心
6. 低沉

After10 rock味十足,是典型香港人最愛的勵志流行曲風層壓時代Happy hour就呈現了經典的BAND友味。但其後的不許於這旅途嬉戲就過於主流、賣弄情感,與其他歌曲明顯格格不入。幸好,其後的歌有玩味之餘亦架勢十足,好容易令觀眾投入氣氛,在正拍之中過癮地FING頭打拍子。大頭佛既呈現樂隊玩味一面又不失搖滾氣勢。在現場中,樂手兒子混入表演中賣萌打氣,令人更感受到樂隊「十年後」青春熱血褪去,但音樂熱誠依舊的香港音樂人味道。
– 傑仔

When a band has their very own Iron Man in tow, you know you’re in for a treat.
At least, that was my first impression as trio After10 took to the stage, a toddler dressed as a superhero hopping straight up beside them whilst clutching a cylindrical maraca.

The last band of the night and exuding an effortlessly relaxed rock n’ roll chill, they didn’t disappoint.

The group opened with層壓時代, an upbeat garage dance-punk anthem to get the crowd back up and jumping. With a rhythmic snare drum layered beneath a simple riff, After10 introduce themselves as a band which is here to have a good, good time and play some classic, no frills tunes.
This carefree sentiment persisted in Happy Hour, featuring strong triple harmonies from all (adult) band members. Bassist Fung doubled up as rhythm guitarist at times, playing notes higher on the fretboard to mimic the sound.

On the subject of guitars, however, I found myself repeatedly straining to hear the lead guitarist over the drums and vocals. Perhaps a technical fault, or perhaps it’s because there were three voices to stand out over instead of just one. The combined result is still a solid punk rock performance, sounding at times eerily evocative of early Foo Fighters.

There was a unique wholesomeness about After10. Of all the bands that evening, they seemed to take themselves the least seriously as they pelted through sings at maximum energy, with minimum conceit. The mini Iron Man standing dutifully alongside his band for the whole set earned plenty of coos and giggles, but those did nothing to sway the staunch determination of this three year-old.
After10 deliver a show which gives you that rare full-body kind of exuberant joy. From expert pick slides (as in closing number低沉) to Sum 41-esque rock-rap vocals, this band truly has something for everyone to enjoy.

Even, it would seem, an onstage crèche.
– Jasmine GW

Photos by Leon Che’ Clark.
由Leon Che’ Clark攝影。
Poster by Ananya Kala.
海報由 Ananya Kala。

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