Wooohooo! What a great fun night it was with our special guests bands and our HK bands strutting their stuff. We hope Trashbox & WildCat enjoy the rest of their China tour and we’re very proud to be their HK stopover. Thanks to all of you who came to check out rock around Asia.
love Chris B xx
I must confess that I do not possess any qualification in music history and have only the most rudimentary grounding in music theory, so styles such as twelve-tone or minimalist are as incomprehensible to me as Sanskrit. Sea Monsters, a five piece act, must represent the equivalent to contemporary classical music on the rock scene. The music was unlike anything I have heard before and definitely fell on the experimental side of things. The compositions were essentially based on improvising around set rhythmic loops (which, by the way, would change several times throughout the piece, with quiet moments and climaxes), the use of different tempi and complete change of styles within the same song was almost symphonic in nature with different movements . What really made this band stand out was the vocal, the lead singer’s strong and versatile voice was cleverly used throughout to add another, instrument-like layer which was rarely seen, and, unlike the Sea Monsters, not always effective. The end result, was a bunch of very accomplished musicians having fun experimenting – the music itself was mostly abstract, unpredictable yet fascinating, and definitely required some work on the part of the audience to appreciate. I think anyone who likes artists such as Björk would surely appreciate the Sea Monsters.
WILDCAT (China 中國)
The next act hailed from Shanghai, but with the exception of the native Shanghainese guitarist, there was nothing Chinese about the band, comprising of a Japanese drummer, and Korean lead singer and bassist, accompanying Trash Box on its tour of China. The group entertained the audience with a set of pleasant, “feel good” light rock music (what they described as “J-pop”), tightly delivered. The music, on the whole, was fast tempo and rhythmic, with some nice hooks and good groove, with a couple of ballads thrown in – one of which, “Because I miss you”, was played with sincerity and definitely heartfelt (I’ve no idea what they were singing about, since I don’t speak Japanese, but I felt the lead singer’s pains). The only criticism I had with the band was that the sound seemed a little on the thin side, and as such was a little bit short of the ‘expansive’ sound that I’ve come to expect from J-pop, apart from that, good songs, well performed.
Next on the line up was The Ember, an all girls outfit from Hong Kong, which served up some wholesome emo rock for the crowd. The set was dark, atmospheric and well crafted. Despite only being a four piece (lead vocal, drums, bass and rhythm/lead guitar), the music was nonetheless quite intense and moody, through their good use of guitar effects, and good fills from the drums and bass, which all served to captivate the audience. Unfortunately the music was let down in the vocal division, the lead vocalist’s was clearly straining at the effort and I felt that she is capable of much more if she examines her singing technique.
First stop on its tour of China, Trash Box from Japan wowed the Underground audience with some good old fashion rock and roll. The set began by hitting the crowd straight between the eyes with a fast and lively number “We Love Rock n Roll”, followed by song after song of fat sounding rock somewhat reminiscent of the glam rock genre. The band was tight and worked the crowd well despite clearly struggling with the English language and the listeners were treated to 30 odd minutes of great harmony, sweeping guitar sounds and melodic groove.
Shepherds the Weak
The last band of the evening was the well known local hardcore/metal band, Shepherds The Weak, which has been around for 8 years. I DON’T LIKE HARDCORE, but since I was asked to write the review I made the effort and admittedly, was surprisingly well rewarded. The music… yes, the music – definitely loud and intense, but everything was excellently delivered, every guitar chop, every bass drum kick (and there were a lot of it) was clean and distinct. Once I was over my initial prejudices I began to appreciate the care that has gone into the songs, a lot of musicians can play fast and loud, but to put it all together and make it all flow naturally and melodically is not an easy task and I believe Shepherds did that very well. In a couple of the songs there were quieter moments which definitely gave the musicians their chance to show-off their skills. The use of 2 vocalists served to add more complexity to what were already interesting arrangements. In summary I can honestly say I actually enjoyed the set, something that I’ve never said of my past hardcore experience – I realise now it was prejudice at play and I would say if you listen to the music rather than write it off up-front, then I believe Shepherds will not disappoint you.