Our 7th show this year proved to be a spectacular event. We discovered that everyone loves guitars and they love them even more when girls are playing them really really well! 🙂 Thanks to Alice for the artwork and also to Save, Diego and Cordelia for the supporting artwork! Thanks to The Hub for hosting this event & thanks to Billy for his sound engineering. Thanks To Jack Daniels Cola for keeping us refreshed. Thanks so much to El Jay & Cyril & 傑仔 for taking the time to watch and write the live performance reviews. High fives to all the wonderful people who make The Underground run so smoothly on site: Dicky, Ally, Leon, Olivia and especially Bun! Biggest thanks to the audience; the bands and I appreciate you guys so so much. 我地今年第七個演出活動可以話係超級精彩呀！估唔到大家都咁鍾意結他表演，尤其係彈得好犀利嘅女生結他表演！！！ 😊 感謝Alice嘅設計，同埋Save, Diego同Cordelia嘅設計支援。感謝The Hub主辦場地同埋Billy嘅音響服務。感謝Jack Daniels Cola為我地提供飲品。感謝El Jay, Cyril同傑仔抽空出席同埋填寫演出評語。同時亦想感謝Dicky, Ally, Leon, Olivia，特別係Bun，令The Underground今次嘅活動可以咁順利舉行！好感謝咁多位觀眾同埋演出樂隊，表演真係十分精彩呀！
❤️ Chris B xx
1. 起床歌 Get Up
2. 時刻 Timing
3. Grey is the new blue
5 麵包圈啟示錄 Bagel Inspiration
非常適合作為第一支樂隊演出，曲目編排次序相當不錯，雖然只有結他和人聲，卻帶有驚喜。Timing最能夠展現樂隊過人之處，結他既不會流於掃簡單和弦，亦令主唱聲線突出，轉音位技巧成熟，顯然對聲線極有掌握力。Grey is the new blue旋律不錯、情感亦相當充足豐富，但整體過於單薄拖沓。同時，亦礙於樂隊走這種勵志結他彈唱路線，風格未有太大突破，而且聽到第三四首，已並無太大驚喜之處，變得可預計地沉悶而單一。
The atmosphere at The Underground nights is always strong – and Girls with Guitars was no exception. Long-standing folk duo Winter Bagels kicked off the showcase with a collection of five charming ditties. Though at times the softly spoken band struggled to be heard above the chattering punters at the back of the room, their set was soulful and warm, inviting listeners in like a campfire gathering.
Chill opener Get Up had a flavour of fellow Hong Kong folk duo Lil Ashes in its beautiful harmonising and added a charming touch with its kazoo interlude. The band then introduced themselves as Cup on the left and Kaki on the right. Cup then explained their band name: ‘winter’ comes from both singers being born in winter and starting their band in 2006, and ‘bagels’ is a reference to one of their favourite foods.
Cup then said that next song, Grey is the New Blue, was about one of her friends being upset about the current state of affairs in Hong Kong and deciding to move away. She held the spotlight with melancholic chords and lyrics in English, before being joined by Kaki for the chorus. It’s rare to find a song like this: charged with real, heartfelt emotion without being draped in saccharin melodrama. Cup’s raw voice channelled The Cranberries’ Dolores O’Riordan and sad chord changes evoked Radiohead.
Next song You was described as a love story by Kaki, but then Cup cut in to say it wasn’t a love story because it never happened. After the chuckles from the crowd faded away, the pair performed a gently picked, softly sweet song that echoed Laura Marling in its sparseness. A ‘lalala’ refrain was simple, yet catchy, while strumming built in intensity to deliver the full emotional clout of the song. Cup played the rhythms while Kaki soloed. It was stunning.
Cup thanked the crowd for coming out and announced their last song Bagel Inspiration was their “theme song”. Simple tapping and picking and fragile yet powerful dual vocals harked back to Faye Wong’s mid-90s music. Kaki delivered sunny chords as the song evolved into a kind of Hawaiian ditty: perfect for a desert island and a strong sign-off on a set that served up a well-needed calm amid the chaos.
– El Jay
Bad One For a Friend
You won’t be down forever
Nothing Like Ours
主唱極有舞台魅力，隨意的碎語、即興卻成熟的結他彈奏、偶爾遊走，遊刃有餘得簡直把舞台當成了自己家裡的廚房。開首的Paperwork是難以形容的獨特，抒發了長大後的迷惘、無奈和接受，卻又童年味濃、毫不頹廢。這種特別的曲風既有Fleetwood mac又有4 Non Blondes的影子。黑色幽默感極強的主唱將最後Nothing Like Ours的二人蝸居世界感覺透過音樂描繪出來，intro和outro的旋律令人記憶猶新。但除此之外，其他的幾首卻未能好好展現這種極具特色的魅力，未有太大驚喜之處，甚至有點過於混亂。
I had never seen Sunset Moth before but from audience response, it seems that they’ve been a fan favourite for a while. Sunset Moth is the child of singer-songwriter Jules O’Brien who has been performing at the underground now for over half a decade, including at several Girls With Guitars shows, but mostly as a solo act.
Friday’s performance began with a jam which led into their first song Paperwork. Having never seen or hear them before, the opening jam was an unexpectedly musical move normally reserved for experienced jazz artists. With my interest piqued, they went directly into Snow Boots, an old song that O’Brien used to perform solo. It was a reflective performance; expansive and beautifully harmonic in its writing, O’Brien’s strong compositional techniques allows seamless transition between sections of contrasting genres and moods throughout Snow Boots and, by extension, the whole set which included ballads, ska and briefly heavy rock.
What set Sunset Moth out from other bands though, is that they aren’t just good at performing or writing – they’re amazing at both. In Snow Boots we really got to see O’Brien’s background as a solo performer. Close to crooning, she told and acted out the song’s story, reaching out her hand to ‘grab the prize’, as the lyrics went. In Bad One For a Friend, the band’s performance style changed again becoming more active as the song’s ska beat started. Following in suit, O’Brien’s vocals became a now in-vogue half-sung-half-rapped style of singing adding to the song’s rhythmic backing.
The only moment in the performance I found disappointing was during their final song Nothing Like Ours which was a swinging upbeat song in the style of 60s songs like ‘Oh Darling’ and ‘Unchained Melody’. Whilst O’Brien is an astounding guitarist, she’s not the best pianist and the difficulty of playing a fast 6/8 riff (don’t worry, I know how difficult it is, I’ve tried many times to no avail) actually slowed down the song a bit. It’s not like Sunset Moth doesn’t have a pianist and maybe this was just one of those times where swapping instruments wasn’t the best idea.
Like other singer-songwriters led bands, it’s clear who and what is in charge in Sunset Moth. Without any creative constraints, the independent artist can write about any feeling, compose music of any genre and then have their music improved by collaborating with her fellow bandmates. The result was a performance without a dull moment; a really special set of intelligent, creative music that’s not pretentious at all in its writing of performance. O’Brien’s variety of compositional and performance styles is exactly the sort of musicality we need in pop music.
– Cyril Ma
1. Summer Sea
3. With The Flow
5. Let’s Keep Dancing Tonight
樂隊整體風格鮮明，表演似乎非常熟練熟手。Summer Sea和With the flow帶有青春、夏日和輕鬆舒適的感覺，哼奏部份旋律簡單入腦，樂隊彼此之間的配合都不錯，歌與歌之間既有分別又能帶出樂隊的特色。但聽到後半部份，表演竟然有種機械式的感覺，感受不到一絲隨性，感受不到音樂為她們帶來了甚麼喜悅。也許比起追求完美的演出，嘗試真正擁抱liveshow可使樂隊走得更遠。
From the beginning of indie pop opener Summer Sea, it was clear that Whizz had something special about them. With bright guitar solos, bouncy, effervescent rhythms, the quartet proved themselves a cut above in terms of musical skill. With jaunty beats and bright melodies, the group tipped their hat musically to Hong Kong indie pop kings Phoon – and brought all of the same chemistry and stage presence.
Second song Reality had a flavour of No Doubt about it, with strong vocal hooks, while With the Flow (a song about going swimming for the first time) had jazzy overtones and was sunny and uplifting with a clap-along section. Each member was fun and interesting to watch and, together, they formed a tight and extremely well-rehearsed unit.
Until penultimate song Sorrowful, the set had been a bit “indie band by numbers”, with few moments of vulnerability beneath their glossy sheen. However, this song brought a touch of grit to an otherwise pristine performance, changing from groovy pop to a more soulful sound. With lyrics about mental health and opening up to others, the song paired lush bass melodies with shimmering guitar, building to a loud and impactful climax.
Closer Let’s Keep Dancing Tonight brought back the optimism and ensured Whizz’s set finished on a high, with rolling drums. The drummer took over singing responsibilities; her sweet vocals belied power and emotion. Whizz seemed to come out of nowhere fully formed to perform at Girls with Guitars. This certainly won’t be the last we see of them.
– El Jay
So It Goes
Way Way Back
3 Is A Party
主唱聲線令人印象深刻，充滿力量的同時竟然可以溫柔細膩。樂隊風格迷幻、迷失而狂野，但礙於現場表演的關係，應將樂隊昇華至令人層次的細節處理未能好好呈現，狂野的部份略嫌過強，鼓亦應注意力量控制，毋須由頭大聲到尾，例如Way Way Back幾乎只能聽到crash不斷敲打的聲音。Stardust旋律編排相當不錯；3 is a party和When I Dream of Grapes Turning Blue展現樂隊如何以簡單的元素創造厚實豐富的質感。整體而言，樂隊可塑空間很大，若能進一步專注調整細節，絕對是難得一見的indie樂隊。
So It Goes is no stranger to the live performance scene. We at The Underground had tried to get them to perform at a show for several years but their bookings were always so full that we could just never match times! It took four years, but finally So It Goes was performing on a The Underground stage.
As a reviewer, I had personally not seen them before and going by their self-written description of ‘Alternative Dream Pop’, I was expecting something along the lines of David Bowie or Sia, well, don’t expect that, at least not on stage. You’d find, if you were to search for them online, that their music is heavily produced with effects and modifications that definitely fit into the ‘alternative dream’. The only time I managed to hear anything ‘dreamy’ in their live performance was in the Wah Wahs that connected Bugs and Way Way Back. Instead, their musicality on stage is aggressive, straightforward and in your face. It’s grunge, it’s punk, it’s heavy rock.
Formed of only drums, guitar and bass, the small ensemble is incredibly tight in demeanour and performance. In fact, this tightness as a group sets them apart from a lot of other bands (especially indie bands) where certain personalities take lead. The first thing you realize when you watch a So It Goes performance is their image. Dressed fully in black, they began to play without any introduction to songs or band members. One would think they’d introduce then after the first song or during a later number, but you’d be wrong. In fact, with their heads always covered by long hair, you can barely see their faces. As they continued performing though, it became obvious that everything – down to what they were doing offstage – was part of a performance. So It Goes has an all-black mysterious, stoic punk image and they never for a second let you forget that. Once I realized that, the performance became all the more astounding because despite the image being a somewhat cliched one, you could feel the band’s authenticity radiating with every beat of the drums or strum of the guitar.
And boy did they beat, boy did they strum. Cutting down on stage banter, their setlist included a whopping nine songs with all of them high energy. Yet, despite the heaviness, their music is introverted, reflexive and sometimes tinted with humour (Cat Café has a lot of references to ‘my treasure, my treasure’ – I too think that all cats are treasures and am glad to have found a band that agrees with me). A criticism I would give though is that despite every beat being clear, the songs themselves were not very clear. With few introductions and a dragged out vocal style – absolutely on point for the genre – I found it hard to follow each song’s lyrical trajectory. The only introduction I can recall is when they introduced Sunday as a song for ‘people who hate Mondays’ to which the whole audience expectedly laughed. At some moments, it was as though I was simply sitting in a wall of blackness both in sound and visuals. As I’ve hinted at, their online sound is different and perhaps taking a stronger cue from that occasionally and injecting the aesthetic into their live performance might mix it up a bit or perhaps there could be a way of injecting some more interactivity within context of their distant image; after all they were the only band to control the screens at the venue, maybe there’s something there.
Nonetheless, So It Goes was an amazing performance to watch. They controlled every aspect of their performance, not a word was out of place, not a note was out of place, even the screens were deliberately turned off to fit in with their all black image. So It Goes is the sort of band that knows what it wants to be and does it well, their cohesion is more than astonishing, everything from music to visuals is deadly accurate. Whether or not you like the aesthetic or the music is one thing, but So It Goes is a band that demands and deserves respect.
– Cyril Ma
Photos by Leon Che’ Clark.
由Leon Che’ Clark攝影。
Poster by Alice.