What a brilliant end to 2006! Thanks to all the musicians, fans, audience and especially the Underground team for making such a special night.
love Chris B xx
This is the first time that I’ve seen Dullfigure perform live and I have to say I was pleasantly surprised. This was the first act of the night and a great way to start the evening. Their set consisted of some heavy guitar-driven rock, with a few pop/rock songs thrown in for good measure. Sheila, the vocalist, took a while to warm up. She was often drowned out by the rest of the group, and I wasn’t sure if her voice was powerful enough to front such a strong band. Once they started their second track I realised that her gentle appearance is deceptive. She really blew me away with just how much of a natural she is on stage. She and the band had a moody look about them, and they looked and sounded terrific. Then on to the pop/rock numbers, and this was when Sheila really showed us just how dynamic her voice is. By this time the band had really loosened up and they and the crowd were having a great time. This is a tight and talented band; it’s hard not to like them.
Velvet Violet is a new band on the Hong Kong scene, but they still pulled quite a large crowd for their first Underground performance. Their music is alternative, with a nod in the direction of 90’s grunge. Image-wise they are much darker than the average local band, and their stage presence was strong. There is a certain ambiance about Jacky’s voice that adds greatly to their overall sound. However, image-aside, Velvet Violet’s music is not so much evil as slightly creepy. Their performance certainly wasn’t bad, but I do think that they need to work on listening to each other more when they play, as their timing was a bit shaky at times. Overall it was a good show, and they got quite a good reaction from the crowd. As an alternative band they can definitely talk the talk, and I think with experience and time this could be a band to look out for.
I have been looking forward to seeing these guys play live for while now. Maf2ia are a local band with a name that I’m not 100% sure how to pronounce, and have built up quite a good following. People told me that they have a good guitarist, and I’d like to add that they have a good bassist, vocalist and drummer too! The sound is guitar-driven with a strong and melodic bass line. Although Maf2ia’s tracks are Cantonese, there’s definitely a dash of J-Rock there. I do like Cantonese groups, but the crowd at the Underground are quite international, and I can’t help but think that bands that only sing Cantonese songs need to try to engage with them a little more. The performance was solid, but they need to keep in mind that a little more interaction with the audience can go a long way.
Albino have been heavily influenced by Brit-pop and rock, and they’ve obviously put a lot of effort in to improving their sound. This three-man band has come a long way since their first Underground performance. As a group they are tighter than ever, which is almost a shame as this is actually a goodbye show for the bassist, Martin, who has decided to leave the group. All three are competent musicians, however, they do need to think about how they can improve the sound of the vocals. Albert, the vocalist and lead guitarist, is confident, full of energy, and (according to the young lady sitting next to me) very cute. Perhaps what they really need is some backing vocals from the other band members to complete their sound.
Make no mistake, Very Ape are a very heavy, a very loud, but at the same time a very melodic band. These four Japanese musicians are quite possibly insane, and one of their instrumentals lasted longer than some other bands’ whole songs, but they didn’t lose the crowd for one second. Their rock has an almost jazz-like quality that takes a heavy sound and makes it so much more likable and accessible than a lot of other music out there. Their additively groovy rhythms had everyone on their feet and (almost) dancing – by ‘everyone’ I mean the crowd, bar staff, even the photographer! It’s a good thing that they were on last because it would be hard to find a band in Hong Kong who could have followed Very Ape at U35.
A big hands up to all the staff at Les Visages and especially to soundman, Rommel! You did great guys!
Above photos © Copyright 2006 by Willem Van Der Merwe
Poster by Manek