Underground Reunion


IMG_1888.JPGOur 183rd event, here at The Underground, it was awesome to inspire some Hong Kong legends to reunite for one night and play for an appreciative audience.  The bands, I’m overwhelmed with respect for you all​, thank you so much for taking part in this special event as part of The Underground’s Ten Year Anniversary!  Special thanks to the sponsors who donated prizes for the lucky draw:  HIPPFISH, VOLCOM, GIBSON GUITARS, WEAR YOUR MUSIC, HMV, MUSIQUE LEATHERCRAFTS & GRAPPA’S CELLAR.  Thanks to the amazing power of Jägermeister, Singha Beer & JackDaniels Cola for powering the musicians and the audience.  Thanks to Skip & Grappa’s Cellar for the wonderful venue & the awesome sound.  Big shout out to GFM.FM for their support.  Please remember the events are made possible by The Underground Team.

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1. Underground Mood
2. Man Oh Man
3. D4664
4. You Never Cry
5. Rite of Youth
6. Love Will Tear Us Apart (Joy Division cover)

The night began appropriately enough with, I think, the oldest act that obliged us all by reuniting for the show. Endeavour was formed in the 80s by essentially film-school/university friends who wanted to play some underground indie music. One of the more serious (in tone) acts that I’ve come across, they generally deal with subject matter such as freedoms of all sorts, the contours of civic feeling, political unrest, etc.; i.e., very different from the things that the vast majority of bands tackle in their songwriting. They have mostly explicitly political songs such as You Never Cry, written with reference to Nelson Mandela, and Rite of Youth and its theme of student protests. Indeed, I found their performance to be somewhere between a poetry slam and a set of live music; the words and music aren’t intrinsically connected to create a flowing, unified rhythm like with most pop music, Instead, the words, which are often not sung, and the music operate on different planes and only interact occasionally. This disconnect, as may be expected, is equal parts interesting and off-putting; however Endeavour, I think, manage to come up on the ‘interesting’ side more often than they do the other.

They have all the signs of a band that has been around for a long time; they touch on many different styles in their songs, including some that oppose each other. They name-checked Genesis and Joy Division during their set; the proggy keyboards with plenty of effects in most songs, and the almost-leading basslines for many songs and the feeling of separateness that the bass has with every song attest to both of these. There are various aspects of electronic music intermittently strewn about in songs (which I humbly admit I don’t have the vocab or know-what to address); however, this is done judiciously, and not every part of every song had an overpowering beat. In fact, despite how excessively avant-garde descriptions of their music may come off as, their songs can be surprisingly dancey (at least in parts). Indeed, despite its serious theme, You Never Cry had the feel of an old, very early-U2 song.

At times this combination feels almost like Hawkwind’s science fiction-y style, with the spacey atmosphere and effects and slightly odd timing of lyrics such as in Man Oh Man and D4664. However, as much as their choice of song must’ve endeared them to their fans and music aficionados alike, I must opine that I think their interpretive rendition of Love Will Tear Us Apart could’ve used some tight editing and a slight rethink. With a band that’s already teetering into weird territory like Joy Division was, merely adding a couple more unusual, non-rock elements doesn’t a better song make. Still, it was an intriguing set which created a terrific feeling in the room, and gave us all a glimpse of the sort of aesthetic that pop and rock music often benefit from bringing into the fold.
— Shashwati Kala

當晚為音樂會揭開序幕的,是資深文化人黃志淙、Makin Fung和Thomas Chan所組成的Endeavour民藝復興。Endeavour民藝復興是和Beyond、達明一派同時期的樂隊,也曾推出過兩張專輯,他們自稱主要玩experimental rock(實驗搖滾),Endeavour民藝復興當晚不但是他們三人的重組,他們更帶來兩位年輕樂手作supporting player。他們先以歌曲 “地下情懷”作開始,歌曲一開首以guitar effect和keyboard syth營造出混亂焦躁的氛圍,剛烈的結他聲加上不斷的slide做出有點storm-like的感覺,然後黃志淙引用讀出世界人權宣言,整首兩便這樣唱和讀交織著。第二首 “Man Oh Man”是一首關於自由的歌曲,有著很長的intro,像是把觀眾慢慢吸進這歌曲的哲學世界中。 “D4664”,是講述為理想和目標犧牲青春,這一首的搶耳點在於bass line,而vocal的echo也使歌曲十分有feel。最後他們以cover Joy Division 的Love Will Tear Us Apart作結,獨白時的竭斯底理,使人更投入歌曲,也增歌歌曲所帶出的情緒。整體而言,黃志淙在台上拿著小小的本子,讀白出哲學性的篇章,十分有feel,雖然音樂技巧上沒有特別出眾,但也彷彿有觀眾回到那時代的搖滾樂,聽著也更像一個宗教儀式,替觀眾們上了一堂文化藝術課。
– Sidick Lam

Lucky Draw: HMV $500

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Guitars & Panties

1. Sharp Teeth
2. Goodbye
3. Alien
4. Happy? (Audiotraffic cover)
5. Attitude

Quickly following Endeavour were G&P, and there were perhaps fewer bands in HK that could have contrasted with the former quite as much. With their elaborate get-ups (save one), sexy clothing (including some perennial PVC) and bright colours, it was like Hole and Bikini Kill following ELP. And it actually worked, when it could’ve bombed so spectacularly; the energy that the first band ginned up was kept going expertly by G&P. Oh, also they have an awesome, “kickin’” drummer, as Krist Novoselic put it.

Having self-admittedly not played together for 8 years, they played a very tight set; no fuck ups or awkward little moments. They have an early-Foo Fighter sort of sound, which can go from playful to broody, but without the massive punchy drone of grunge; instead, it’s straight-ahead poppy rock. The slightly discordant Sharp Teeth, apparently their first song as a band, began the set sounding a little like a lighter version of something by Bikini Kill, like Suck My Left One, followed by the downtempo rocker Goodbye, which placed in between the fun and faster song was something of a damp squib than it would otherwise have been. Alien was hilarious, with its talk of falling in love with an alien and Chris B donning a gigantic fur-trimmed coat, and was oh-so reminiscent of Frankenstein by the New York Dolls (“I’ve gotta ask you one question, Do you think that you could make it with Frankenstein?” indeed). A great cover of local indie legends Audiotraffic’s Happy? Followed, somewhat making up for their inability to reunite themselves for the show. The band’s signature song ended the set, with its refrain of “Guitars & Panties” being partially sung along by the audience, and having the quite surreal action of the musicians on stage throwing panties at the crowd in some sort of cosmic turning of tables. In sum, a really fun set that livened up the night and lightened the mood a bit for the bands to follow.
— Shashwati Kala

由Rachel、Shirley、Yan Yan和Chris所組成的四人全女樂隊Guitars & Panties於當晚作第二隊的演出單位,他們先以歌曲 “Sharp Teeth”開始,淨電結帶入的intro很搶耳,能吸引聽眾的注意, “Sharp Teeth”是一首很high的歌曲,企圖推高觀眾的情緒,而歌曲也十分有剛強的感覺。第二首歌曲 “Goodbye”,節奏較上一首慢,感覺也較柔,像是和上一首的剛強感作對比,顯得全女band獨有的女性感,而主音Chris控制聲線的能力亦非常不俗,完全可帶出女生對男生不捨卻要說再見的感覺。然後是 “Alien”,值得一提的是這一首歌曲減掉了bass然後加入了keybord,而keyboard選用了piano的聲音,使歌曲增加了不少古典感。第四首歌曲是cover Audiotraffic的 “Happy?”,這一首的guitar riff很吸引,層次感亦做得很不錯,鼓聲亦十分強而有力,是個有質素的cover。最後他們以可算謂他們的主題曲 “Attitude”作結,他們也笑說很多人誤以為歌名叫 “Guitar and Panties”,應該是因為副歌不斷重複 “Guitars and Panties”這歌詞,這首歌曲rock中帶點可愛的感覺,值得一提是中後段觀眾們大合唱 “panties..”十分有趣。總的來說,Guitars & Panties為當晚推高了氣氛,也盡顯出女生玩搖滾絕對不輸給男生的道理。
– Sidick Lam

Lucky Draw: Wear Your Music

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Lucky Draw: Gibson Goodie Bag

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1. Why Break My Silence
2. Wilt
3. Eleven
4. Afar
5. Letters to You

Next up, to continue the theme of contrasting acts, were the acoustic poppy strains of Slash!SAKURA!Slash!. Basically consisting of one guy on a guitar, Benson, we had the added treat of having Timmy Gunn of Shotgun Politics joining him on some songs. Generally, the music was a sort of raw and edgy acoustic singing in the raw, guttural, raspy and constricted voice of a punk instead of soaring, flowing melodies and tuneful singing, which adds a touch of punky feel to the songs. The stop-and-start approach that being unaccompanied and acoustic affords you was made full use of during this set, and the choppy guitar effect was nicely used in the somewhat Jewel-like Why Break My Silence. The addition of Timmy made terrific contrast with the stop-start style, adding a more flowing, solo-oriented layer to the music to great effect, and particularly well on the Goo Goo Dolls-esque Wilt and the strangely minute-yet-grandiose Letters to You; the latter was so much so that at points it almost was reminiscent of a classic rock ballad played acoustically, such as Aerosmith’s Angel or Bon Jovi’s Blaze of Glory. A nice little break from the more boisterous bands between which it was scheduled, it was a thoroughly enjoyable set.
— Shashwati Kala

玩Acoustic 音樂,由Benson Looi組成的一人樂隊Slash!Sakura!Slash,當晚繼續只帶一把木結他出場,先以 “Why Break My Slience”開始,別以為只帶一枝木結他伴奏會稍稍輸蝕,Benson Looi只用一枝木結他反而顯出他精湛的結他造詣,加上他具穿透力的歌聲,更顯音樂本來的純粹感。然後他請出了他的好友,Shotgun Politics 的Timmy作crossover和supporting,兩人帶著兩枝木結他在台上似jamming般,十分精彩動聽,或許這是兩個音樂人的浪漫吧?而歌曲中後段的Guitar fingering melody很入腦,也十分田園風。第四首歌曲 “Afar”中Benson的嘶吼很令人驚喜,用木結他做的層次感也做得很不俗,但他的聲線聽著會覺得有點兒壓底了的感覺。總的來說,Benson Looi背著木結他一人站在台上投入地唱著,很有busking 的感覺,但一定是非常高質的busking,是在街上看到也絕對會停下來看完的那種。
– Sidick Lam

Lucky Draw: Musique Leather Strap


Lucky Draw: HippFish

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False Alarm

1. My Sweetie Valentine
2. Internal Bleeding
3. Eat & Sing
4. Kenny’s Dream Song
5. San Francisco
6. Give Me More
7. Biological

False Alarm returned to the stage after officially having packed in their gear in 2011. They’re well aware of this and made sure the crowd were, too, remarking that everyone present had better enjoy them now because there probably wouldn’t be another reunion for years to come. An oddly confrontational statement, to be sure, but also one that seemed to really drive the idea of savouring the moment into the brains of the fans present. Throughout their set there was a throng of fans enjoying themselves thoroughly, and the atmosphere was electric. I can officially add False Alarm to the many terrific local bands that manage to package a sense of humour into their music, to use it as a tool against the subjects they tackle. In contrast with a band like Endeavour, who place their subject in a different light by giving it a serious treatment, False Alarm are in the glorious tradition of punks who take the piss out of things that deserve it.

They sound like a mix of the NOFX attitude and tunefulness and the Sex Pistols in their more headbangy moments, but they’re not afraid to use non-punky rhythms etc. in what is (I’m guessing in significant part owing to these guys) a local punk quirk. Like good punk bands, they also have multiple members of the band singing and lots of singalong bits in which everyone with a mic sings and everyone who doesn’t is encouraged to do so as well; how fun yelling along the words to a fun (and possible funny) song with everyone else also yelling is an experience one is made to have with a band such as this. They flirt with getting very poppy indeed, with Internal Bleeding being slightly broody and yet boppy, and Eat & Sing had a Beach Boys-ish rhythm, like that of That Thing You Do. However, things got really heavy indeed by the time Give Me More came along; it began slowly and gradually sped up, moving from an Axl Rose-type song to a point where it really felt like they were all going to smash their equipment like at the end of a Sonic Youth song. They ended their set with the singer shaking like a quaker possessed, and a military beat creating ever so much drama for the band to feed off of. I can certainly see why these guys were a big deal when they were around, with their energy and the sheer fun in their songs. Someone commented to me that ‘they definitely sound like a band that was formed in high school – in a good way’, and I have to agree; somewhat like Black Sabbath did, say, they clearly found something together and kept it alive together. It’s unfortunate that they’re not a band any more, but if you can’t watch them you should definitely watch some of the bands they’ve inspired in their long career.
— Shashwati Kala

當晚第四隊的演出單位是始自1999年,今年是他們的十五週年的七人樂隊False Alarm,觀眾們似乎對他們的演出期待已久,在他們出場前己走到舞台近前等待。False Alarm有三位電結他手,因此他們的音樂底和編曲都十分豐富,第二首歌曲 “Internal Bleeding” 一貫是很full的音樂,guitar riff也十分搶耳,歌曲最後收尾的餘音造成了很特別的感覺。第三首的 “Eat &Sing”,由鼓帶入,而且drum beat十分搶耳,讓人自然會跟著跳舞或拍手,副歌亦十分朗朗上口。之後的 “Kenny’s Dream”,貫穿整首歌曲的guitar melody很吸引,隨後慢慢加入其他樂器,製造層次感,也與前幾首full band直入的激烈感覺有一點點的不一樣。 “Give Me More”中最特別的是每位團員都像上了身一般,跪地、搖結他、screaming都出動,像要在這一首歌曲用盡所有的力氣一般。最後一首歌曲 “Biological”,歌曲的高低起伏明顯,主唱也題出他的歌唱實力,高低音域也掌握得不俗。False Alarm是當晚set list最長的一隊,而看他們的演出便明白觀眾的期待,亦相信他們當晚沒有讓觀眾失望。
– Sidick Lam

Lucky Draw: Volcom Bag

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Lucky Draw: Grappa’s Dinner for 2

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The Train

1. Here Come the Razs
2. Disco Suicide
3. Don’t Feel Shame On Me
4. Pink
5. The Train
6. Wide Open Space (Mansun cover)

We moved from the realms of punk to those of Britpop as The Train took the stage. They unfortunately had some technical problems that didn’t go away quickly towards the start of the set, but after they’d got it all sorted, they didn’t spend any time mincing chords. It was full-throttle from the word go with Here Come the Razs, a knees-up let’s-dance three-chord progression with a whole lot of energy. They quickly moved on to Disco Suicide which was sort of the epitome of their sound; a mix of the dancier side of the Arctic Monkeys and the slightly heavier side of Pulp. However, I can’t say whether this was due to some technical problems that persisted through their set, but they seemed to have chosen only one type of song for their entire set, which made it seem slightly monotonous and sterile towards the end; mixing it up with a change of pace or a slight change of style from the midtempo rockers would’ve been nice. Still, once they got going it was great to watch and listen to them, and they proved to be a great addition to the night.
— Shashwati Kala

於1997年成立的四人樂隊The Train,曾獲多個樂隊獎項,亦曾在多個音樂節和香港不同的地方演出 ,這次的久別重逢,證明了他們絕對是寶刀未老。他們的特別之處是少有以bass手當主唱,不過這樣也使歌曲的bass line編得不那麼複雜。這次他們以短短四首歌的set list,使觀眾的情緒推得更高,他們以第一首短短的歌曲作開始,由bass帶入,很搶耳。在第二首歌曲中,密集的guitar riff讓人聽得很過癮,而chorus 中的和音聽得很舒服,唯歌曲完得有點突然,個人會希望有一個小小的outro。隨後的一首歌以帶點pop味的intro帶入,music break中的結他點弦十分搶耳。最後一首歌曲中,由鼓有帶入,歌曲散發快樂的氣氛,觀眾們也十分亢奮,而outro中有一下是全部樂器sharp cut只剩bass讓是驚喜和留下印象。整體而言,The Train的四首歌曲都是他們一貫的brit pop風,短短的set list已足以讓人愛上他們,因為他們的演出不只是好型,更是好X型!
– Sidick Lam

Lucky Draw: HMV $500

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Teenage Girls

1. Red Rover
2. Morning News
3. Stay Forever
4. Johnston
5. Jamie

Finally, the highly-anticipated Teenage Girls (whom everybody loves, or so I’m told by the stickers that were being liberally handed out) came out on stage to continue the musical festivities. They have a gentler style of rock than most other that night, a sort of hazy, light-rock, fuzzy, indie throwback to the very melodic 1950s rock that’s toe-tapping and makes you want to sway at the same time. There’s a dash of the Ramones on Stay Forever and Morning News sounds a little like the Foo Fighters’ Big Me. Red Rover is probably their catchiest song, with a peppy tune somewhat like the Cranberries, and Jamie sounded a little like a song by awesome ex-local band Who Shot Holga? with its big, chugging opening and settling into a middling pace. Overall, they sound rather like Guided By Voices in the Alien Lanes phase, except with a more r. Perhaps, again, the only thing I would say is that while they did vary their set between midtempo and slower songs, but they could’ve added a faster song for some variety in the set. But even despite this minor quibble of mine, it was terrific to see them play again, and it was equally terrific to have gotten to see so many bands that I never would otherwise have been able to see. Teenage Girls ended the night on a gentle and enjoyable close, thus topping off the night to perfection. Hopefully we’ll see all of these bands play for us again!
— Shashwati Kala

當晚最後的演出單位,是三人樂隊Teenage Girls,他們第二首歌曲 “Morning News”是一首中快板的歌曲,偏pop風,旋律性較強,整首歌十分穩定,outro編得很不俗。第三首的 “Stay Forever”,走的個可愛的風格,是一首感覺很女生的輕快歌曲,歌曲中的bass line很突出,而outro的 “ohhh..”十分入腦,drum beat也十分有趣吸引。他們當晚最後一首歌曲 “Jaime”的chord progress 營造出一種青春的感覺,主唱的歌唱技巧十分不俗,而這種青春感會讓我想像到這首歌曲的acoustic version,應該也會挺不錯聽吧。整體而言,Teenage Girls的音樂真的是十分teenage的感覺,若音樂能用眼看見,我相信會是彩色的音樂,散播快樂的氣氛。
– Sidick Lam

Poster ​& ​Photos by Angus Leung
海報由Angus Leung。
由​Angus Leung攝影。

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