OK maybe booking a show on the same night at the Opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics wasn’t my brightest idea but surprisingly we had audience and of course we had music. Guess some of us prefer live music to pageantry 😉 Thanks to the hard-working staff at Club Cixi and most of all to the audience who came!
Chris B x
Tae Kim arrived at the show in the nick of time. He pulled out the guitar and Underground 65 started in a fresh set of acoustic music. Kim had a following of West Island School students (who were clearly above 18) and they didn’t fail to make the point that Kim was one of the greatest musicians around. Although he had been introduced as from the US, I suspected the association with West Island School must indicate some local relationship/history. This was a set of clean and sweet music with a great variety of guitar style, showing Kim’s versatility. But it was also evident that we were listening to a very contemporary urban folks that are common amongst acoustic musicians these days. This reminded me of Sanjeev Gurung in Underground 56 with the one-tone forlorn solo music, even though Gurung was armed with an electric instead of an acoustic; Gurung would appear in the next Underground 66 as a member of the band The Quasar. Kim held his show together very well, moving from very melodic tunes to more “serious” (his own word) stuff, when he down-tuned his guitar and went into sadder songs. It didn’t matter to the crowd, who were cheering like that was party music, and I would think may be on record the songs would take you through a gentle ride of city life ups-and-downs. Don’t want to say it’s opening, but in good spirit, Kim and company promptly left shortly after the next act started performing. May be, teenage party ensued.
Scamper (Macau 澳門)
Never underestimate. Somehow after talking to a few people, I notice it’s a general concensus that Macau probably doesn’t have very good bands.
By now, you would have guessed what I was going to say. There is a Chinese saying “only a tough dragon would cross the water”, meaning anyone from overseas must be great. That saying is definitely inaccurate. But not in Scamper’s case.
Yes, you guessed it right. On the bio, it was said the band was formed in 2006. They certainly looked that. Five guys that looked like they’re fresh out of high school, Scamper, with the right sounds, mix of songs and even the correct postures, were clearly ready for the big stage. With the good fortune of being the last band to sound check, their equipment were well-set for the show, and they got on, grabbed the equipment and gave us all a solid rocking set. Good energy did its job and quickly there was a crowd in front of the stage. Singer Angus demonstrated a good baritone on the first few songs and went on to travel to the high notes with ease. In their emo and punk spirit the songs were energetic jump-ready and served very well to get your attention to the young drummer El, who would win best drummer that night if there was a competition. Scamper wrote well-crafted emo songs that could give My Chemical Romance a run for the money, and I think I have to back that up by saying the guitar, bass, drums and vocals were working together very well. I felt energetic myself and had to ask … wait, only the second band? just to realize that the crowd slowly dissipated. Huh!? something wrong I didn’t notice?
Dovey was a bit nervous, that was easy to spot. This all girl band impressed us with professionalism in playing, but they seem to fear looking at the audience or even communicating with them/us. They made very mature music. I had to assume majority of the bands in The Underground already produced mature music, but when you watched their young stage performance, the music was exceptionally mature. Mild-looking lead guitarist Micky could actually lead the sound of the band through her tasteful guitar licks, and when she broke into the finger taps it was a pity the crowd did not go wild, may be because she was being so nonchalant about it that everyone else thought it was “oh nothing, never mind”. Their songs typically had a hard-rock arrangement, just sounding rather pop-rock. This highlighted singer Natalia’s great voice, reminding me of Dolores O’Riodan of The Cranberries. And we all know, this kind of voice can go very far. With this amazing line up, why so shy?
Sway Dogs’ review would be easy to write. I shouldn’t need to take notes. A power-house three-piece band singing very hilarious Cantonese pop songs with a sizeable following. At the show, they brandished a self-made demo CD which I didn’t know if they really distributed. But I got one from Chris B. They started the set with a cover song of local pop star Sam Hui. Quickly you’d realise it was one band you could listen to and identify swiftly. Songs were simple pop-rock not unlike Monogel’s (oh, you also didn’t know them, did you?). Bass was loud and snappy reminding me losely of Peter Hook of New Order, that style actually added percussive feels to the songs. It was strange that lead guitarist Kay had his guitar turned down so quiet (not that it was really quiet like candlelight dinner … I mean comparatively quiet) so the songs lost a bit of kick but it was enough to get a crowd jumping up and down like they were the headliner. Well, The Underground typically does not have one single headliner anyway, so why not. Before the last song, they played one more cover song from Cannes winner movie star Tony Leung. Chris B was frowning: two cover songs, a sin. Oh, well, if you turned a song upside down, may be it’s an original. The crowd loved it, right? This was a lazy band. They formed in 1999 but hardly ever played, so you better keep a lookout or … you’d miss their next performance.
KillerSoap came out and announced they recently went into their fourth band competition, and for the fourth time, they were placed second. Oh, bummer. But I thought some bands never got number one in a band competition, so I for one, wouldn’t judge them based on their placing in a band competition. Ha ha ha ha. Enough joking. KillerSoap actually came out like the headliner; it seemed the crowd knew that. If you hadn’t heard KillerSoap, it’s emo (if they didn’t mind being labelled as emo) rock solid. And the heart-felt music was so fast, guitar, drum, bass, everything, at times it actually sounded a little messy. No offence, may be that’s why KillerSoap was not first place. Great vocal contribution from Rocky. Just his singing alone should land them a record contract, but they were still selling their home-made CD at the show at any price you want. Even with the killer guitar riffs and fast rhythm section, Rocky’s voice cut right through, quite like most J-rock vocals. They ended their set with an old song called “Distance” because it was the last gig with their current bass player, who’s a founding member. With the current market shortage of bass players, I hope it would not affect their schedule.
Another great voice. Oh yes, Underground 65 was certainly a treat. Peri M is a five-piece band with the typical line up of two guitars and the rest. They were very humble, but the bio said they formed in 2002, and played J-rock cover for a few years until they started doing their own songs. Clearly, the years of seriously doing cover songs were doing them a lot of good. Singer Aeo has a great voice (every band in tonight’s show had a great voice, damn!) and they as a band were tough enough to do a Iron Maiden cover, with all the good 80’s metal riffs (Chris B must be really mad by now). I was not a learned scholar in J-rock, so I could only comment that their 80’s metal riffs and wholesome bass, which to me, was old school metal, was very good. With the typcial variation of fast and slow rock songs, they eventually went into an emotional number called “Candle Of Life” when they asked the audience to please raise the candles on the tables, or your lighter, or your cell-phone. Man alive! have we de-evoluted so far that we had to depend on LCD lights to rock an evening. Oh well, it didn’t burn your fingers, I suppose.
By the time Crazimalz climbed the stage, only the crazy animals were still left standing in Club Cixi, because it was getting late. I suppose mum’s waiting. They described their music style as a combination of Japan style and English style rock. In fact, it didn’t matter, they were hitting all of hard rock’s rough edges and vocal limits. It should have been a very rocking moment of the evening but there just wasn’t a lot of people around. But they didn’t care. The set was short with only 5 regular length songs, and there was not enough people to seriously ask for encore, but they shared their energy with everyone around and even stayed very late afterwards to talk to the fans, or should I say, friends? Nice ending to a great evening.
photos © Copyright 2008 by ANGUS LEUNG
Poster by Sheli