The Pansies

IMG_1450.JPG Live review from The Damned in Hong Kong

1. Scumbag
2. Teenage Pariah
3. Psycho
4. White Noise
5. Villain of the Year
6. Nail Polish
7. Model Girl
8. We Don’t Like You
9. I Wanna Be Your Dog [Stooges cover]

A large, slightly-imposing dedicated concert venue that’s blaring old rock ‘n’ roll and rockabilly songs during the lull before a gig is, as I discovered on this occasion, one of my favourite situations to walk into. The guitars resonated sweetly in the hall and the groove of the music was palpable as a mix of Kim Fowley, Johnny Kidd and the Pirates and Thee Milkshakes set the mood for the evening. While this prepared me for a good night’s music, it seemed to put the people that walked in during this time in the mood to drink. I say this because it’s pretty much the only explanation I can think of for why, when The Pansies walked out on stage, not one person moved from the drinking area into the non-drinking zone that was directly in front of the stage. The band started out with a grand total of three people in the area right in front of them (myself included), and I was appalled. While it’s probably not my place to chastise an audience, I’ll go out on a limb and say that I found this to be incredibly bad form and quite rude. Bad audience, don’t do it again!

However, while the band must have noticed this quite glaring lack of people, they certainly didn’t let it show during their set. And why would they, given whom they were opening for that night. Right from the get go, they were as high-energy and raucous as I expected them to be. During all my time writing reviews, I have not come across a band who background research warmed my heart more… They’ve covered the Dead Boys (!), the Stooges, Black Flag and even The Damned before, which was (literally) music to my ears, and cemented just how apposite a choice these guys were for this slot. And they quite lived up to these expectations. Their singer sounds something like Gerard Way of My Chemical Romance in tone (but has some way to go in terms of raw singing ability). There’s also a lot of wild flailing, including one very near-miss where the guitarist was almost stabbed by the upturned mic stand, so there’s no shortage of entertainment.

The guitar style ranges from most very fuzzy backgrounding, sort of a mix of Black Flag’s speed and the thudding quality of White Zombie or Misfits, and blues-tinged lead guitars, of the short-form kind perfected by Cheetah Chrome of the Dead Boys. The overall effect is quite like listening to an MC5 song: powerful, fast, bluesy and boisterous all girded by a wall of sound. This is best embodied in songs like Model Girl (apparently their first song) and White Noise, which came together beautifully. I also whole-heartedly approve of the guitarist’s minimal use of pedals. The prominence of their guitars was lost in the mix, though, as it came out quite muddy, so it was hard for me to delve as deep as I would’ve liked into the sound. But, everything I did hear clearly, I liked.

However, if I may offer an unsolicited suggestion, I felt like their drums aren’t quite groovy enough. When a band is this fast, it sort of sounds like they’re overproduced even during live shows. Now this would be fine if all their songs were amenable to this treatment but that isn’t the case. They have songs like Villain of the Year, a slower, more Strokes-like number, or Nail Polish, which was more Weezer-y, or the slightly more dance-punk Psycho, and this drum sound makes all the songs sound more similar than they otherwise would have. This, to me, is a terrible waste, similar in spirit to Metallica covering The Kinks’ You Really Got Me and replacing the beautiful crackling of the original guitars with a more generic distortion, and should be avoided. Were they to work on this, I feel like they may turn out to be a punkier version of local band The Sleeves, and wouldn’t we all be richer for that kind of a scene.

Finally, kudos to them for keeping the overt juvenilia to one song; the overtly ‘Young, Loud & Snotty’ We Don’t Like You. They kept the loud, rude punk song to one and even put it at the end of the set, which made it effective and very enjoyable, without overdoing the “youth” angle to the point of tiresomeness. And to finish a set like this with a pretty good cover of I Wanna Be Your Dog was a genius move and capped the set off perfectly. It was probably the best way to start this sort of show, and they did a great job in what was probably an immensely daunting situation. They’re a pretty impressive band that I hope keeps playing and developing their sound together, and are definitely worth keeping an eye on.

— Shashwati Kala

IMG_0778.JPG Live review from Heavy 18
2. Psycho
3. I’m Bored
4. Surf Punk (Iggy Pop Cover)
5. We Don’t Like You
6. I Got a Right/Night?
7. Cut My Teeth
8. Ooh Ooh Ah
9. I Wanna Be Your Dog (Iggy Pop)

It would appear that The Pansies have had more line-up changes than Fleetwood Mac since their inception in 2014, with guitarist Miggy De Leon being the only founding member still remaining on his designated instrument. Nevertheless, the band took to the Orange Peel stage with the confidence you might expect from touring veterans.

Opening track ‘Scumbag’ enters with a Billy Idol harmonic slide down the guitar, before pumping with a Ramones style power chord guitar/bass line combo, and frenetic early Joy Division drumming from Eph Yuen. ‘Psycho’ continued the angst-ridden punk with all members joining frontman Gabe Hackman with the shouty chorus “1,2….3,4!”. Simple, but catchy. The song propelled towards the end with the band speeding up to almost double speed, matching the audio with Hackman’s onstage antics.

I’m Bored’ was a more down tempo, but dancey number, with an off-beat hi-hat rhythm, and bluesy rock riff by De Leon in the vein of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. The bass patterns in this song were far more intricate from Koutaro Ueda (particularly in the middle section), introducing a squelchy wah effect during the verses. The track built with energy once more, and finished with Hackman shouting down the microphone, whilst wobbling his throat to create an over-exaggerated vibrato in his voice.

The band appeared far more subdued during their cover of Iggy Pop’s ‘Surf Punk’, but came racing back with ‘We Don’t Like You’. The palm muted riff and aggressive bass lines were reminiscent of Julian Casablancas + The Voidz’ ‘Where No Eagles Fly’, but the punchy chorus was straight up Sex Pistols, again getting every member involved vocally.

Cut My Teeth’ showcased a slightly more diverse side to The Pansies, with an almost jazz style of drumming, and a Stadium Arcadium-era Chili Peppers chorus, before another rapid and boisterous ending. Hackman came offstage, took a swig of a crowd member’s Jack Daniels, then burped into the microphone, perfectly in time before the big crash of cymbals.

Ooh Ooh Ahh’ began abruptly with screams down the mic over bluesy riffs, and animated gestures to the audience to join in on the choruses, which they did so willingly. By the end, Hackman found himself on the floor, falling off-stage. The most memorable part of the set though (and maybe even night), was closing track ‘I Wanna Be Your Dog’ – another Iggy Pop cover. Again, the band seemed a little restrained at first, but as the song progressed both crowd and band were bouncing along before Hackman unexpectedly slumped to the floor, undid his skinny jeans and jumped around until they had fallen down entirely.

Despite The Pansies wearing their influences so clearly on their sleeves, and their divisive on-stage personas, they delivered a confident and (most importantly) memorable set. If De Leon, Yuen and Ueda started donning leather jackets, The Pansies would start to look like the real deal…
– Chris Gillett

IMG_0189.JPG Live Review from True to This:

1. We Know Who We Are
2. Sonic Reducer (cover song – Dead Boys)
3. Scumbag
4. Nervous Breakdown (cover song – Black Flag)
5. Suff Punk
6. New Rose (cover song – The Damned)
7. All This And More (cover song – Dead Boys)
8. We Don’t Like You

The Pansies年頭在Battle of the Band 重製了70年代的英倫朋克,贏得學生組冠軍。當時的一大特點是有點放任,憤怒並操英倫的光頭主音表演時,實在有年青John Lydon的感覺。接近一年過後,光頭主音原來已到外地讀書, 原本的鼓手Gabe Hackman繼承了主音的位置。表演之前,我承認有點失望, 因為沒有光頭主音的關係。但在表演開始後,發現原來Gabe Hackman又是一個會把時間帶回70年代英倫朋克光輝歲月的人。但他一頭長卷曲金髲,妖冶的黑眼影加上紅黑的緊身褲Glam味甚濃。相比剛陽的光頭主音, Gabe Hackman繼承了不少英倫男主音的嬌豔, 懶洋的唱腔有時有Carl Barat的感覺。歌曲方面, 他們的歌曲繼續忠於70年代朋克, 又Cover了多首歌曲, 觀眾從開始第一首歌時像被這股懷舊的氣氛征服。舊式朋克歌曲特點在於節奏急速和歌曲時間短, 觀眾根本沒有時間休息,只有一同跳動至最後一首<We Don’t Like You>。全場大嗌We Don’t Fxxking Like You實在過引。
– Dicky Kwong

Unhindered by technical difficulties, an outspoken individual complete with eyeliner introduces The Pansies with a raw guitar sound, a lot of attitude, and a good amount of angst, The Pansies appeased my initial though of “I hope that’s an ironic band name” – starting with ‘We Know Who We Are’, the band blew away audience’s expectation of a softly spoken band. A couple of groupies behind me waves along as they continue with a cover version of The Dead Boys’ song ‘Sonic Reducer’, a rebellious song with a couple of screams. The coat comes off with the song ‘Scumbag’, revealing his own band’s name on a ripped up shirt. The hair-metal style reverb comes out in his vocals, as the crowd gets increasingly pogo-inclined, with the band keeping it tight. A fourth song revealed itself to be ‘Nervous Breakdown’, a cover of the Black Flag song that got a lot of heads singing and chanting along. A short interlude and the drums lead into the groovy song ‘Suff Punk’, a frantic song with fast vocals, again shining with the spirit of rebellious, angsty youth. Near enough all the crowd get moving to the sixth song ‘New Rose’, a The Damned cover– the guitarist jumping wildly, and the audience cheers from every line. The next song, ‘All This and More’, another Dead Boys cover features a star spangled solo, with the crowd lapping it up. Ending with spits of “Go Fuck Yourself!” in their super angsty song ‘We Don’t Like You’, the power chord heavy band punked out on stage like never before, the lead singer certainly put his all into moving about the stage, thrashing his hair around. It was nice to see an attitude-heavy band in the Hong Kong scene, a refreshing change to the namby pamby pop music that’s played regularly.

– Sherman Leung

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Performances by The Pansies: