Thank you so much to the amazing team at The Underground who ran this event whilst I couldn’t make it. The bands were fun & amazing to watch and it was a great way to spend one night of the long weekend (that’s what everyone there said!). Thanks to Backstage & it’s amazing soundmen and staff. Enjoy the reviews and photos. If you weren’t there, I bet you now wish you had been 🙂
love Chris B xx
The name of this band is BLAK, but you can also try BLΛK; clearly these are young men playing with words. BLAK is well-known as a two-piece all-electro band but those of you who were at the show witness the rebirth of BLAK in a four piece. Originally, the line up was Jacky (Velvette Vendetta) and Po Kei (most well known being a frontman of Good Fellas). They now have added drummer Marvin (In Love & Pain!) and Angus (also of Good Fellas, but erstwhile of Born To Hula) on bass.
It takes too long to describe the background of a somewhat supergroup. Probably because it’s their first show as a four-piece, they draw the first slot. I personally know the BLAK catalog rather well, and they have completely rewritten the songs for the four piece. We now have Angus on the round bass sound and Marvin with the steady beat. You can almost tell Marvin have to struggle a bit to shed the Animal (of The Muppets) drumming to keep a dance beat (Marvin later on confessed that, yes, he needs to listen to click). It was particularly cute for me that he used a small china (for the ching ching crash sound), and a relief at fills when he could extend a roll over four drums or more! I haven’t seen Angus on bass for some time now; thinking back at one point he was playing a double-bass, too.
While BLAK made a bit of a stir being a rare electro outfit in Hong Kong, they are still not a local sensation yet, and it took the crowd a little while to warm up. Jacky, in his red plait jacket, is certainly a perfect handsome frontman. Po Kei did bring the set to a boil with “Break In” (not a comment about Jacky but that it takes time for even a great band to warm a crowd up). Even line-up vs line-up, BLAK came as a great set-piece against the industrial The Medullary Paralysis but it was, I suppose, still early in the set. Furthermore, I suppose not everyone in attendance was aware of the historical significance that this band just bursted out of their pupa and is soon to be a full blown butterfly, as, if I may say so, when a line up gets so frighteningly strong.
— Bun Ng
I have the good fortune of seeing Vrank three times in the recent two months. They are Hong Kong’s no. 1 gothic industrial band, or one of the top, anyway. Frontman Frankie sings in the most impressive gothic style we have nowadays (while some other are basically more industrial than gothic). The key thing about Vrank as a gothic band is they’re not just about the gothic beat which some of us basically identify gothic with. I must add quickly, though, that drummer, Ku, absolutely blast the hell out of me every single time, which means if you look for some of the more dance gothic music that we’re familiar with, no, this is more than that, even if we only count Ku’s drums. Oh, to cut the long story short, yes, as BLAK needs to get used to a new line-up, Vrank is certainly very comfortable in their clothes (so to speak).
And based on the four piece structure with no-synth (not on the album, mind you), Vrank give us swirling gothic (the instrumentation part) with some amazing vocal. After each show, I would expect Frankie to have lost his voice, but his hoarse gothic vocal just delivers with the biggest punch every time (and then after a show, normal talking quality). Kiyo, the bass player and diva (I’ll call her a diva just for here because I’m not an opera fan so may be some of you would frown — on me, not on Kijo), led the show with the first song over a opera vocal style. I sort of emphasize this only because in the other shows Kijo do more songs in the middle of the set. But this is so fitting, as Kijo did not only sing, but also dance a great gothic dance. Not sure it means a lot if you don’t get to see even a video clip, but you can think of this as an attraction.
You would say it’s not fair to not describe the swirling (at times I would wonder where that sound come from) guitar layer that Phantom plays. No need to go overboard, and besides, yes, Ku is responsible for controlling some programming rhythm/synth portion, but Phantom was not JUST letting you hear guitar solos (or rhythm guitar if you may). Even The Medullary Paralysis were cheering and jumping up and down to this great set, and I like to conclude this portion with a peer-level comment (or yell out) to a friend that, “yes, no wonder Vrank is your favorite band in Hong Kong”.
— Bun Ng
The Medullary Paralysis (Italy 意大利)
I must confess, my first concern was, “glad this is not an outdoor Hong Kong summer show”. Latex is it. Not just it. The Medullary Paralysis took the stage each in glamorous purple latex dress/shirt/pants, and goth-style make-up. Apology I didn’t ask them what they think of this. No sweat. If, after a show, they didn’t notice they have sweated, it may not have been such an energetic show anyways.
The Medullary Paralysis is an electro-industrial band from Italy, and, if you may only have read about this show the first time, then, yes, this is even their second time in Hong Kong. According to their web site, they were to release an album, but have postponed it till after the China tour, this show being the last (makes perfect sense). Singer Alessandro has a voice that pierce through the house P.A. over their well-balanced sound. I stood on the opposite side of the stage to keyboardist Ada, but was constantly watching the swinging bass player Valentino. Oh, yes, in their specific gothic industrial electro sound, the band was quite honest about what they listen to, and, could even have been quoting their influences (you better read their band info to find out who their influences are). They are a three-piece with programmed drums (the pictures should be obvious). I don’t know if we have to praise an international band so, but indeed they capture the more complicated songs so well, and I was thinking to myself, this is approaching the complication I hear with Muse. Often, watching an band up-close, I love it that the “haven’t made top-10” bands are also glad to share the stage with some of our local favorite bands. Still the cleanness in their music, clearly remind me that The Medullary Paralysis is more about “We Don’t Drink, We Don’t Take Drugs, We Don’t Have Sex, We Feel Compassion”, which, in all sincerity, was their first EP released a couple of years ago. The set was mostly songs with the industrial driving energy (sounds so unmusical!) but is interlaced with the more ambient tune in the middle.
The crowd loved it, even though they started a little bit late (a longer sound-check I reckoned), and then the band rewarded the crowd with a longer first encore and a second encore. Too bad, no albums for sales, what a missed opportunity.
— Bun Ng
photos © Copyright 2012 by ANGUS LEUNG
poster by ANGUS LEUNG