OMG! This was the first Underground event where the audience were crazier than the bands!
The energetic handwaving and dancing continued to after 1am hahahaha Thanks so much to Wondergarl 神奇膠 who are just so entertaining in Cantonese :). We welcomed back KOLOR who played an amazing tight set of ROCK and so beautifully dedicated a song to The Underground (thanks!) and newcomers Les Gromechkos tore the place apart. The Live House made a perfect setting for this fantastic night of music. Thanks as always to The Underground team & HKGFM.net.
love Chris B xx
Wonder Garl 神奇膠
1. 傻豬豬您愛我什麼 (Why Do You Love Me, Silly Piggy?)
2. Super Friday Night
3. 放心吧！爸媽不在家 (Relax! Mom and Dad Are Not Home)
4. 歡樂滿肛華 (Lam Kong Wa Is Full of Fun)
5. 噢!多麼痛的領會 (Oh! What a Painful Link)
6. 一招收你皮 (Finish You Off With One Banana)
Wonder Garl 神奇膠 started off the night with one of the more clever moves I’ve seen in a show: a quick levels check with a song consisting almost entirely of the word “soundcheck” sung repeatedly. And a good introduction it was, not only to their obvious sense of humour and presence on stage, but also to their sound. It is an obviously punky one, sounding much like the polished, slickly-produced popular punk of the 90s. They also have two singers, which made for quite a deep vocal section in all the songs. Their lead singer, however, takes them slightly away from the punk style, in what appears to be (in my limited observation) a distinct tendency among bands in HK, by eliminating any rasp from the voice, and choosing the clean, smooth voice quality that appears to be preferred by many here. This is something of a double-edged sword, because while this does make the music easier to listen to, punk and punk-like music feels somehow lacking without an edgy voice. Still, at their best in this genre, they are reminiscent of one of the local punk scene’s stalwarts, Senseless, with similar preference for flowing melodies, and long syllables held at a high note, as in 傻豬豬您愛我什麼. While these guys do not quite execute Senseless’ relentless assault of energy, both physical and musical, they’re no slouches on stage and were a lot of fun to watch. 噢!多麼痛的領會 was a lightly late-Ramones-ey number, while 一招收你皮 was a more boppy rock song, reminiscent of Hard to Handle. There were some hints of mainstream American rock too, with Super Friday Night sounding like an Aerosmith song, but more playful. I did not like . 放心吧！… much, though, as it sounded like a pop-funk version of Another One Bites the Dust, which seems slightly lazy to me.
I did also feel that there was some lack of consistence between their songs. They have clearly gone through the effort of making each song sound different from the others (which is a common trap for songwriters to fall into) which is great for an artistic portfolio, but structuring a set (or an album, come to that) is a different matter. It felt like they were doing a different shtick in each song, and at points this veered into being slightly disorientating, and off-putting from the good work they’d done building up an atmosphere during a song. Their set being better structured would’ve helped them a lot, but otherwise, it was a thoroughly enjoyable performance.
— Shashwati Kala
In a strange way, many of the salient musical features I saw in Wonder Garl, I saw in KOLOR too, but scaled way up. Returning to the Underground after three long years, they epitomised the slick professional quality of a band that’s as popular as they are. They were nattily turned out, had an absorbing stage presence and singer Sammy really had the banter skills down too. Musically, they are a palette of pop-influenced, radio-friendly sounds that touch bases as diverse as Cantopop, bubblegum pop and light metal. Now, are they musically “interesting” as bands making more risky, strange and out-there music than them? According to this listener- no. However, they do not pretend or claim to be ‘avant-garde’ or hipster-worthy either, so I can’t have a problem with them. They know what they want to play and their objective as a band is to please their audience, which is something they do remarkably well. It’s little wonder that I’ve seen bands react with hints of admiration when KOLOR is mentioned – and the cheer that went up when they took the stage wasn’t a surprise either.
Like Wonder Garl 神奇膠, they sounded very polished and the tones were slick, but to a far greater degree. They were visibly controlled on stage and clearly knew what they were doing. They too changed styles from song to song, but more obviously so; the jump from radio soft rock to different shades of metal made between the first two songs, for instance. However, the general tendency of the guitarist was to play with a mixture of the sort of almost-emotional metal that Steve Vai plays and the tone of a Noughties guitarist, sounding like a less hyper Ray Toro (My Chemical Romance), highlighted particularly in the glam-ish 賭博默示錄, or the remarkably sweet fills he did in 地圖.Their drummer was excellent throughout, keeping them anchored with a solid Noughties rock beat in every song, and even double bass when the song called for it, such as in the Arabic-tinted 愚公.
Their singer, however, was slightly unusual, in that he actually had some rasp in his voice, and didn’t quite seem to favour the high notes; not a whole lot, but enough to make it significant among local bands. He also had the ability not to ham in ballad-ish songs (時差), which is a welcome departure from most singers (not just here).
They must be complimented, too, for clearly having put some time and effort into arranging their songs, for they were uniformly engaging to listen to, without dragging on the attention. It certainly didn’t on the audience’s that night – the encore was inevitable, and the catchy, light rock of 了不起 was a good closer. While not the sort of band I’d usually have chosen to watch, I’m glad I did because all in all, they were tight, interesting and engaging, and I can see why they are popular.
— Shashwati Kala
1. El Taximan of Sheung Wan
2. Le Secretaire
3. Wanchai Cowboy
4. Power Ballad
5. Toit Émoi…
6. Le Cracheur De Flute
7. La Gromechkienne
8. No Country (Club) for Cleptomane
9. Tai O Fish Market
10. La Makumbreizh
11. Bye Bye
首先想說各成員的表情已帶點喜劇感，配上一身Two Tone服飾更顯得他們有趣。另外相信很多現場觀眾應聽不懂Les Gromechkos歌曲的大部分歌詞，可是Les Gromechkos頗擅長以音樂「擺佈」觀眾，看台下有觀眾以口琴回應其歌曲便可見一斑。而當觀眾隨著一段快Fill In跳動揮手時，Les Gromechkos又會冷不防地急速放慢節奏，頗有點玩味。想在沈悶的生活中添點生氣，不妨一看Les Gromechkos的表演。
Les Gromechkos are easily one of the most different bands I’ve seen here, primarily because the gypsy-punk style (and its kith) just aren’t done very often here. And these guys do it well too – their combination of African and European anad Romani rhythms, perhaps best exemplified in Toit Émoi…, was potent, and well comparable to the giants of the genre, like Gogol Bordello or Motherhead Bug. They also had the heavy-handed loucheness of the early Elvis Costello kind, which made their songs even more forceful than gypsy punk usually is. They do rely on the plinky honky tonk piano much more than bands of this sort do, which leavens the sound in a good way, making it brighter and more ska-ey. Indeed, there is a bit of Mighty Mighty Bosstones in Le Secretaire, for instance) in their sound, if only because the songs sometimes got very intensely rocky. The same was done by the flute, but in a more winding and playful way, that actually formed the melodies. Their songs’ undulating pace was in interesting contrast with their choice of wearing a uniform, making each song as different as each band member looked similar.
They also themed their songs explicitly in HK, which was nice. Wanchai Cowboy was a perfectly kitschy, plinky saloon song to start with, and moved into that low budget spaghetti Western sound, before actually becoming slightly Latin; the ease with which this transition was achieved speaks to the band’s abilities as song writers. Le Crecheur De Flute had an almost jazzy feel to it, before the intense gypsy rock tune kicked in – and how, because this one had people singing along to it (not something that happens often, and certainly not to bands that people are unfamiliar with).
[At this point, I’d like to say that the crowd that night were just brilliant. They were more open and willing to participate in the show as a group than nearly any I’ve seen in HK. Very, very heartening.]
There was some Run DMC-esque hip-hop thrown in with La Gromechkienne, followed by some very heavy rock indeed – it almost sounded like Flipper’s I Saw You Shine. Bye Bye was a great closer; a potent earworm, it had some very frantic guitar-work indeed. The song sounded a bit like Muse, if they were interesting. These guys had the crowd going all the way through, and seemed to enjoy themselves as much as the dancing crowd (which is saying something). It was a terrific set, and one of the most upbeat notes I’ve seen gigs close on. These guys are quite something, and well worth your time going out and watching.
— Shashwati Kala
poster by ANGUS LEUNG
photos © Copyright 2012 by ANGUS LEUNG