OMG! What night this was! With three bands all very much wanting to go for a rocking weekend in Beijing, gigging and partying with musicians from all over China, we had an intense evening of music. Thank you to TUX, insidejokes. And Defiant Scum for your creativity and ENTHUSIASM! Our special guests Jukator were kick-ass too!
To the audience who came to judge and vote and cheer the bands on, we salute you for caring about Hong Kong bands and their chances to play outside of Hong Kong. Defiant Scum said “who would have thought a punk band would win”, well, we welcome all genres of creativity and originality here at The Underground 🙂 🙂 Big thanks to Jon Wyler, Midi Festival and The Live House for supporting musician’s dreams.
love Chris B xx
1. Is That All There Is
2. One Man Island
3. Over the Sea
4. Not the Same
The night started off with the youngest band in the room that day – in the sense that they were just about a month old, and this was merely their second public show. That fact didn’t show through much, though (other than the occasional look of nerves that seemed to cross the band members’ faces). The band are tight, and pulled off some neat musical maneuvers, and to top it all off have an infectious sound. They call themselves ‘dreampop-shoegaze’, and there certainly are some elements of the style in there; the long, extended notes in shiny guitar tones, with the intense drumming set behind to contrast it are there in droves. The guitars also occasionally move into melodic arpeggiated, still-shiny-tones mode, also a typifying feature of the genre are there too, particularly at the starts of songs (a good ploy, by the way, as it sets the tone for the songs very well). Singer Dawn sounds like a mix of D’arcy Wretzky from the Smashing Pumpkins and Moe Tucker from The Velvet Underground – hers is a soft, thin voice with a lightly papery quality, and yet can be quite powerful (if slightly patchy…which practice will probably improve) when power is called for, as with the wordless a singing in One Man Island.
However, the keytar and programmed synth add an element of 80s synth-rock, in the deep colourful hues hues of The Cars. There’s also a bit of Noughties rock, in the powerful drumming and insistent, loopy basslines, slightly reminiscent of local band Hungry Ghosts’ style. In all, they put me in mind of the mood of the Smashing Pumpkins’ Drown mixed with some 70s dance-rock and 80s synth-rock. There are times when this mix gets a little lost in itself, and can be stuck in the doldrums a bit, such that it feels like the song doesn’t know where to go and things go a bit flat; surprisingly, this happened in the middle of their fastest song Not the Same. I do think, however, that this is a matter of them being such a new band, and their musical and songwriting styles still being a little raw, and should be remedied with time. Their sound is different enough and their energy high enough for them to stand out among local bands. They even handled the nealr-ten minutes of technical problems well. I hold out hope that they will be around for a while; if their first two shows are anything to judge by, they could be a local highlight.
— Shashwati Kala
1. Every Day is the Same
2. Fashion Whores
3. No Gods
6. Concrete Typhoon
7. The Pirates of Cheung Chau
8. Punk Rock Rickshaw
9. You Make Me Sick
10. Straight Edge
11. Dai Pai Dong
Their performance this evening at The Live House in Mong Kok positioned them as contestants for the BUD ROCKS 2012 Hong Kong FINALS, vying for the chance to fly to Beijing next weekend to represent HK in the competition.
Founded in 2006, we refer to them as Hong Kong Street Punk, and they are all that and more. These guys were raised as devoted students of the global punk movement, and have become seasoned punk veterans in their own right.
They hit the stage in true punk style, hammering out 11 songs in twenty minutes. With a very casual, “don’t take any of this too serious” attitude, they swooned the crowd into short lasted sing-a-longs of Defiant Scum classics, including “You Make Me Sick”, “Fuck Religion” and “Fashion Whores”. One of the highlights of their set was a very salty anthem “The Pirates of Cheung Chau”. The song is not quite pure punk in nature, with a little bit of a “London Calling” feel, it shows off that underneath their casual exterior, there is true artist integrity coming from within.
Overall their sound and musical approach is very classic punk, lose arrangements, slightly sloppy musicianship, raw, slightly out of tune, but all in the purist punk sense. I mean, what punk band would waste their time tuning, when there is so much rebellious music to be played!
And to nicely end the story, DEFIANT SCUM wins the trophy for the evening’s competition, going to Beijing to represent Hong Kong in all their punk glory. We wish them the best of luck in Beijing.
— Gregory J Tancer
2. Pieces of You, Pieces of Me
5. Nothing Lasts
The last band competing that night was a great contrast to Defiant Scum – as much as the latter were set in their ways in terms of sound, the former were far more malleable, moving between different styles through their songs. There was some Metallica-esque doom-and-gloom to begin with, moving into Foo Fighters-y territory, all in the space of Neon. They do tend towards the latter side of the spectrum, with lots of classic use of the Tele – reduced use of distortion, favouring the slightly wonky, twangy sound that the Tele makes when pushed. The guitarist seems to favour the ambiguous-feeling arpeggiation, reminiscent of Suede, and of the style that Sonic Youth helped create in Goo. There were bits in Pieces of… that were bluesier in a more Joe Perry-esque way, while Nothing Lasts was more light-funk (set to a marching beat, which was interesting), but guitars otherwise tended to traverse this territory. In particular, he reminds me of guitarist Xulfi from the Pakistani band eP, with his similar tendency for extended melodic moodiness.
The band, however, was hampered somewhat by the uneven singing. Their singer has a voice that could be edgy – it’s thin and nasal, and many a hardcore punk singer has used this to their advantage. In this case, however, the songs needed a vocal that was more accurate on the notes, as the misses tended to be more jarring than compelling. I’m all for having non-conventional voices that fool the listener’s ear into thinking that notes are being missed, but in this case it wasn’t like that. The songs also lost some of their impact because of some of the more egregious misses, and that simply doesn’t need to be so. They are otherwise a solid band, with some driving and enjoyable songs that lean towards the heavier end of the spectrum, and while they weren’t quite game-fit on the night, they showed a lot of potential along with their clearly realised skill. The answer to this is to just keep gigging, when they can, and polish their songs and technique, which I hope very much that they do, ‘cause they’re a good band.
— Shashwati Kala
WINNER OF UNDERGROUND PHONE CHARGER
2012年Bud Rocks 香港區決賽勝利者
WINNER OF BUD ROCKS HONG KONG FINAL 2012
2. Phantom’s Clutch
Gives a special performance tonight at the Live House in Mong Kok as guest band for the BUD ROCKS 2012 Hong Kong FINALS, the competition they had won in 2011.
Founded in April 2010, their name is taken from a Romanian word meaning “player”. With that, the best way to describe their musical style is progressive, flavored with gothic and classical fusion, with a heavy emphasis on musicianship.
They played a short but powerful 20 minute, two song set. Their music is quite complex in nature, combining interesting musical and vocal arrangements with non-standard time signatures and neoclassical and diminished minor scale patterns. The end result is an intelligent mixture of gothic neoclassical fusion, with lots of Hong Kong signature musical drama and flavor added in.
This band is a group of pure musician that are quite well schooled, with musicianship levels far above the average Hong Kong band. It is quite apparent that they have put lots of hard work and practice practice practice into honing their individual musical talents. Their overall sound has a foundation built on heavy use of keyboards stemming from the early fusion rock bands like YES and ELP, to some of the more recent acts like Dragonforce and Dream Theater.
From a musical standpoint, JUKATOR puts everything out there for us to enjoy, from the complicated keyboard performance by WongWai, to the solid rhythm section work of Jacky Man on bass and Joseph Ho on drums. Then as icing on the cake, we were treated to some quite accomplish guitar shredding by Siam Chan, and the super powerful vocal skills and talents of OK Lo.
With JUKATOR’s style unique to Hong Kong, they have a bright future and chance to have a positive impact on the overall Hong Kong music scene.
— Gregory J Tancer
photos © Copyright 2012 by ANGUS LEUNG
poster by ANGUS LEUNG