Live review from Sub Terra #4:
Bang Hau Wun is a band that are impossible to categorise or pigeonhole. With a sound incorporating elements of metal, jazz, ska, post-rock and funk, the band dipped into practically every genre to create a colourful and at times confusing picture.
The performance began with reverb-laden ska guitar and theatrical, almost spoken word verses from frontman Lun Cheng. As fuzzed-out chords kicked in for metal vibe, Lun began to growl and squawk into the mic, emulating the death metal style. The whole combination had the offbeat, aggressive quality of The Fall, and signalled to the crowd that this wasn’t going to be your average show.
The sound morphed from metal to avant-garde jazz rock and Lun’s voice became almost cartoonishly sweet. There was a definite Chochukmo vibe in the indie guitar and pop melodies. Until! More growling began amid descending single notes. Lun made a cacophonous “grawwwww!” death-rooster noise. It was weird, but good.
The jingly guitar intro by Hugo referenced And So I Watch You From Afar’s Tip of the Hat on 採花拆大宅, before slipping back into that retro ska territory as the song progressed into something smoother and more typically rock. It became clear that Lun wasn’t the world’s most tuneful singer, which is probably one of the reasons he opts to experiment with his voice so much. The song sped up to noughties dance indie rock and Lun began chattering incoherently. With the gritty, spiky guitar and IDGAF delivery, Bang Hau Wun drew from the modern, spit-in-yer-face punk of Slaves and Savages.
For 并底脂蛙, the tone changed to a kind of dark jazz, oozing with vaudevillian theatrics. It was easy to imagine Lun as some kind of tragic mime performing at the Moulin Rouge. Hugo tried out a spot of soloing, before delivering a big, shimmering rock chord to finish.
Hugo the guitarist then shook the neck of their guitar for extra reverb at the start of 糟糠髮妻. Lun’s voice was low and foreboding, then the drums sprang to life and were soon joined by an amazing slap bassline. There was a definite Mars Volta tone to Lun’s frantic vocals and the progressive nature of the track. The lead singer adopted a goofy voice for a few lines, and began screaming as the band noodled into a prog-metal breakdown.
Then it was time for a soapbox moment. “Fuck China, I’m not Chinese … call me Hongkongese,” Lun shouted. “You’re crazy,” a punter yelled back. “Duh,” came the reply. Luckily, the band curtailed things by breaking into a bossa nova-style number, complete with rim-tapped percussion. As Lun sang softly, the song, 北京事變, took on an early Radiohead sound in its layered guitar fuzz and ascending wailing, before melting away with a heartbeat bass.
The show culminated in final song 兵長退役鎮魂曲, which showed off the impressive musicianship of the players and proved the most memorable track. In the days following Sub Terra, it was hard to remember much from Bang Hau Wun’s sound apart from Lun’s growling and the unsettling weirdness of the arrangements.
– El Jay
筆者第一次睇崩口碗演出係喺2016年中秋嘅一場遊擊show，同場嘅係David Boring、murmur、花等香港比較「前衛」、「實驗性」嘅樂隊，可想而知佢地同Sub Terra 4頭兩隊嘅方向甚至社交圈子會係南轅北轍。
– Elson Tong