Live Review from Underground Kowloon #1
- Wong Gum Dai Do (Golden Avenue)
- Yau Ta Hui (Let it Be)
- Shining Eyes
- Ming Wun Gong Lou (Destiny Highway)
- Mong Yao (Sleepwalking)
‘Twas the night before the 22nd-day-of-Jan-mas, and all through the hour since the doors were opened, throughout the ManU Bar, there was a dense anticipation afoot. One so infectious and positive, that even Sir Alex’s unsightly mug couldn’t impinge on it. Obviously this was because the start of the first Underground show in Kowloon was nigh, and HOME was about to get on stage. One major bummer, as was soon to be discovered, was the sound. To put it politely, the mix was well below perfect, and this did not help the bands, who valiantly ploughed through the muddiness. To be fair to the sound guy, though, his ‘booth’ was a couple of shelves in a cabinet that was in a corner of the stage, roughly two feet directly behind the drummer – can’t get much done when you’re struggling not to be hit in the crotch by the drummer, I imagine. On the bright side, though, what was lacking in sound quality was made up for by the hilarity of the tableau I just described.
HOME kicked off flamboyantly, both in the singer’s stage manner and their largely guitar-driven style. They started off with the grandiosely punk Wong Gum Dai Do, which had plenty of the bouncy rhythms typical of pop music as well. This was a feature of all their songs, which were generally pacy and peppy. Singer Frederick was quite consistent, and aside from a few uncomfortable moments with the higher notes, sang well within his limits that night. Occasionally, they moved away from simple melodies to bits with more of a metal feel, accompanied by the use of chromatism (i.e. ‘sad’ notes), which provided the counterweight to their otherwise light sound. These bits were usually followed by a move back into their more typical, sunny territory, and such movement was seen more than once in Mong Yao. The transition between these portions need some work, as it’s not enough to just throw in different techniques and sounds for the sake of it. Their melodies can also be a bit repetitive, as with Heaven, which sounded like a rehash of their other songs.
Having said that, it is a good way to highlight guitarist Sam’s proficiency, who moved between different styles quite well. From Ming Wun Gong Lou – which could’ve been a song by local punks Senseless – to Shining Eyes, which is made for the romantic-montage portion of some movie (and sounded a bit like a lovey version of My Way). This kind of approach is very much like the one Steve Clark (Def Leppard) applied to great effect. Simply put, their sound is radio-friendly, and as their set proved, this epithet is a double-edged sword. But, all said and done, they worked the audience well (especially considering that they were the first act), and looked very much like they were having fun too; all in all, a job well done.