Teenage Riot

IMG_9117.jpg Live Review from Girls with Guitars #9

1. New Romantic
2. Wa Jeng
3. Book of Face
4. Laika
5. Trash From Your Heart
6. She Sleeps Around
7. Driving in a Nice Car

If you have anything to say about Teenage Riot being a pastiche, they’re already way ahead of you. Performing a style of music heavily indebted to 90s guitar bands – a sound they’ve self-dubbed “copy rock” – the highly self-aware band makes no apologies for sounding like a tasting menu of overt influences. Though there’s no need to apologise: their Girls With Guitars set was one of the most uplifting shows Hong Kong has seen this year.

In a group formed of multiple other HK bands, the equally unassuming singers PorPor Channel and Freakiyo Yiu Wai Tung share vocal responsibilities. Seven members isn’t an easy number of musicians to coordinate live, but the show was tight and well-rehearsed. The guitars were fuzzy and haphazard when they needed to be, while the rhythms and synths sliced through to skin-tingling effect. The male and female voices – hers high and expressive, his flat and monotone – evoked the same duality heard in Asobi Seksu’s career, particularly when layered over walls of distorted sound. The sunny riff of Book of Face gave the track a Fleetwood Mac quality, while Trash From Your Heart had more of the happy melody/sad lyrics dichotomy of Travis.

Keyboardist Sabina Wong was the band’s secret weapon. She remained stoically and unobtrusively focused on the keys throughout the show, yet her shrill synth melodies formed the indelible backbone of each song. Together, guitarists Lam Hood and Ling Ling Ling would pull the starter rope to create tidal waves of shoegaze noise, before reigning in the MBV-scale fuzz with rambling, cleanly-picked melodies. Yanyan Pang’s basslines were beautifully intricate, while Samuel Cheung’s thoughtful drums gave the delicate songs room to breathe.

An impressive attention to stage craft culminated with both singers dropping their mics on last song Driving in A Nice Car and hopping off the stage to watch the other players reach a blistering crescendo finale. Rumbling rhythms, roaring guitars and screaming synths gave the ending the kind of end-of-the-world feel as Radiohead’s Blow Out. Arty and articulate, Teenage Riot owe a lot to their stateside namesake, yet ironically they’re one of the most exciting, refreshing bands HK currently has to offer.
– El Jay

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