Love, Chris B xx
1. Light & Shadow
3. Total Chaos
4. Happy Infection
It was all set to be a unique show, in that after a long time we had not one but two bands making their live debuts on this night. The first was a band that made for a very interesting visual – a bassist built like Doyle Frankenstein, a pop-star looking singer, one guitarist who looks like a Strokes member and one diminutive lead guitarist who almost certainly belongs in a Puffy AmiYumi video. This could’ve been majorly disconcerting, but luckily it only serves to augment their sound, which is a good mix of different kinds of rock. Now, there’s nothing groundbreaking or avant-garde or any words like that, let’s be very clear, but it is good, solid rock with some hints of Sabbath-like metal and light funk. That’s their wheelhouse; and if it’s yours too, you’ll enjoy them. It’s not surprising either, considering that they’re something of a “supergroup’ – bassist Gavin is ex-Gong Wu, and guitarist Gami used to be in Glitter, so they’ve been around the block.
Their drummer was especially good that night, essentially leading the band between different styles. My major problem with them is that they ended up sounding very generic, but they definitely deserve some more time. The singer in particular could go for a sound like Siouxsie Sioux – she certainly has the voice for it. For now, she’s the decent pop-singer type, but I have to say that a slightly more oblique approach could really help set her apart from other such singers. Another useful thing to do would be to get some good vocal training – in songs like Forever you can’t help but cringe when some very key notes were missed.
The lead guitarists’ style can perhaps be best summed up as “like Jennifer Batten”, who played with Michael Jackson and Jeff Beck in the 80s. The sharp, medium-paced yet punchy 80s-style melodic leads really reminded me of Ms. Batten, and that’s a compliment. The drummer’s command of the band was highlighted in Total Chaos, moving between grunge, glam metal and a Sabbath-ey chug. Nobody was an interesting number with a light twirling riff in the style of the Kaiser Chiefs, if a little let down by the generic singing. It’ll be interesting to see where they take their energies in the future. Whatever their faults, the band was really very tight, and definitely entertaining, so I’d have to congratulate them for a successful debut.
— Shashwati Kala
Little Fat Pig
1. I Love Hong Kong
2. Promise Me a Shiny Day in Kenting
3. Don’t Eat Shark-Fin Soup
4. Entertainment of Death
5. 669 + Killing in the Name [RATM] + Computer Explosion
6. Ice-Cream Muffin (Tonick cover) [Encore]
Tremendous fun, is how I’d describe this band in short.
Theirs is a powerful mix of grungy low-end, the speed of hardcore and the combination of strong opinions and messages delivered in a playful voice much like early punk bands had. On a personal note, I have to state how much I like the idea of knowingly having a female singer with a voice that many people might find annoying, but who sings so tunefully that you can’t help but listen – something that male singers tend to get away with more easily. It was the approach taken by greats like Poly Styrene did with X-Ray Spex (I can hear her singing all of Germfree Adolescents in my head right now) and LFP’s (admittedly adorable-looking) singer carries it off effortlessly. The contrast of substantial content and a jokey delivery is one they use to their advantage, especially in songs about not eating Shark-Fin soup and their awesome [partial] cover ofKilling in the Name. They’re the kind of band that make you (read: me) just smile, because they’re good without being calculating. Awesome and hilarious is not a combination you often get. Plus, they started off by briefly doing The Runaways’ Cherry Bomb, which instantly scores you points with me.
The sound was, overall, like the kind of punk that bred hardcore – lots of Ramones-ey buzzsaw sound with the guitar, and the drummer sounding like the frenzied Jerry Nolan of The Heartbreakers. They almost sound like the Ramones on Too Tough To Die, when they’d just gotten Richie Ramone and realised just how much faster they could play their already fast songs. But, that’s not all. Entertainment… there was a bit of early Blondie with their lighter punky sound, and some NOFX in the sardonic tone of the riffs. They manage to even get that Reel Big Fish feel of farcical enjoyment without having a horn section – something I should’ve though impossible.They ended their set, and were soon called back on, and did a romping Tonick cover, just to snag those last few who were holding out and make the whole room jump. Quite simple, a bloody good job.
— Shashwati Kala
1. I Saw Your Eye
2. Chicken Factory
3. Project Yourself
4. In Another Life
5. Lilac Sky
6. Pink Flamingo
7. Non-Stop Paradise
8. Karaoke Lounge
9. Taxi to Wanchai [Encore]
Logo is one of the most exciting live bands I’ve seen in HK, and one of the main reasons for that (aside from their songs) is that they seem to be teetering on the verge of chaos. They tend to go faster as songs progress, including ones that they started off at breakneck speed. This night, was not like that – their performance was perfectly paced and well-controlled, which, surprisingly enough, made for an equally cool set, which allowed the songs to sort of float in the atmosphere and into your mind. It really helped that the sound in the Live House was just about perfect for them. The crunchy reverb of the guitars with their various effects, the calm bass, self-assured drums and eerie vocals all seemed to meld perfectly even at the slower pace. This was a very different side of their music that was on display, and it was great to hear.
Another potential problem that Logo was facing was one that typically faces a band that releases a great first album – the second rarely matches up, mainly because the incubation time of the second lot tends to be much shorter. However, without meaning to jinx them, I’d say Logo are well on their way to bucking this trend. Their set this night was mostly new songs, and they all have that same incisive yet spry character that their earlier songs did. The Ray Davies-style observational lyrics that simultaneously work at conflicting levels of annoyance and attachment to the same thing are still very much there. How it all turns out remains to be seen, but the signs are promising.
The brass sheet that drummer James uses is one of the most distinctive sounds you’ll here in the music scene here, and it was the bellwether this night too. The sinister I Miss Your Voice was much slower than they usually play it, and took on an air of seriousness that was nicely broken by the guitar. Chicken Factory is a striding funky song, with a bass line much like one Larry Klein would’ve played. In Another Life was a much faster song, and one that I cannot describe using any references but Logo. It’s in a similar vein to their Temple of Smoke, but the Arabic lilts are replaced by a shade of hurried melancholy. They played almost unbelievably catchy Non-Stop Paradise, and surely enough the crowd couldn’t resist nodding along. Their encore was, as usual, a romping-stomping rendition of Taxi to Wanchai, which was the perfect chaser to their reserved, measured set. I would go so far as to say that this may be the most perfect set I’ve seen them play. In many ways, this set has convinced me that they would make a perfect neo-hipster band, and I don’t mean that pejoratively; come on hipsters, support Logo.
— Shashwati Kala
1. In Your Eyes
2. Pointless (OneLastFall cover)
3. If Only
4. The Anticipation
5. My Hero’s Dying
After a long hiatus away from the music scene, TeamHero’s debut saw the very impressive guitarist from OneLastFall, Faro, back into the swing of things with a new band. Good thing too, ‘cause they sounded pretty damn good. With their heavy, highly melodic, late 90s-style metal they took over the room instantly with the first notes of the anthemic In Your Eyes. Another thing this set made clear was exactly how good a vocalist Faro is – excellent, as it turns out, with a particularly rich voice that sounds great at higher pitches. This, combined with the Queensrÿche-like elegance of the two guitarists’ style made for a great listen. Pointless saw OLF singer, Sheila, do a cameo, and she was note-perfect as usual. The guitar acrobatics and vocal flourishes combined, I must admit, made me miss OLF somewhat. But, with the very next song, I was reminded how good this band is too. Excellently arranged, If Only harked back to the winding melodies of 80s metal without being the slightest bit cheesy, which is really hard to do.
The two guitarists styles were like the less cheesy side of Steve Vai’s style and a strongly Randy Rhoads feel of almost-classical tuneage mixing into an epic-sounding mix, backed up by a firm rhythm section. One thing I particularly liked was how they were able to sound heavy without abusing or overusing distortion, which allowed the songs to sound warm at the same time, significantly accentuating the melodies. This was most clearly heard in My Hero’s Dying, which sounded almost like Rainbow (with Dio). To top it all off, they refused the encore ‘cause they simply didn’t have any more songs. A non-wanky no-nonsense approach to back up metal of a similar kind, and they’re only gonna get better – well-worth checking out whenever they play next.
— Shashwati Kala
— Shashwati Kala
1. Kwun Gok 困局
2. Daydream Love Letter
3. Shades of…
4. We Are Dogs
6. 怎麼天生不是女人 (草蜢Grasshopper cover) [Encore]
I was quite apprehensive about ni.ne.mo, considering they used the word “electronic” to describe themselves, which has usually meant “distracted” in my experience. Happily, I was proved wrong by this band, who merely used electronic means to augment their spacey, indie sound. Lots of broody melodies and moody vocals, combined with cleverly used drums and subtly-used electronic effects and a violin, all mixed together on a vaguely jangly indie-roc palette, these guys were very interesting to listen to. Clearly, they had something to say too, which seemed to give their performance and the songs an inherent attitude – always a good thing. Kwun Gok sounded like a 2000s version of a Talking heads song, with is odd-sounding textures and stop-start rhythms (although, the lyrics were quite hackneyed). Shades of… was perhaps the song that epitomised the style, with interesting rhythms and pallor of discomfiting weird beauty that was added by the violin. The singer fiddled away with the effects on his vocals, as the music rose to frenzy and the ragged sounds made your heart rate rise. Exciting stuff.
We Are Dogs was about a professor who, apparently, called all HK people “dogs”, and was like a Talking Heads song, but the singer being Johnny Rotten. Feel how uncomfortable yet cool that sounds? It was just like that. In fact, the slight discomfort that’s caused by listening to unconventional music was a constant feature of the band’s sound, although they did push it over the edge in Daydream… and over-dancy (for me) Sogly. Their encore rendition of a boyband’s song was, I’m afraid, a mistake, ‘cause their set would’ve been much more impressive without it. They weren’t able to give an interesting twist to the cheesy tune and lyrics and it just ended up sounding…well, lame, instead of clever. Still, overall, they clearly have some interesting songs and make for a good live act, which they lived up to on the night. Now, if only they’d make their lyrics less typical, they could really show off their musical potential.
— Shashwati Kala
photos © Copyright 2012 by ANGUS LEUNG
poster by ANGUS LEUNG