Our first Friday event in a long time…. Three awesome local bands plus one great Canadian band made it a night to remember. Huge shoutout to Jägermeister, Singha Beer & JackDaniels Cola for powering the audience and the musicians! Thanks to Backstage for hosting the event & providing sound & lights. Thanks to Sam for his amazing visuals, big thanks to Becky & Dicky on the door, to Calvin, Angus, Ewa & Sunil on the floor. Huge love to GFM.FM for their support as always. See you all in 2015.
love Chris B xx
1. A New Place
2. Good Friend of Mine
3. Worth Dying For
5. Watch The Sky
One Talent has traversed several musical styles in their journey from Canada to Hong Kong, and we’re told that this latest incarnation – a folky pop trio performing songs from a largely acoustic EP – will be just another stepping stone. On this night, the lineup was songwriter Konrad on tinsel-festooned keys, singer Bena on cajón, and third wheel Bill on guitar and general backbone.
The downscale, informal setup lent a comfortable living room vibe as the trio broke into A New Place, a lilting, groovy number something like Whitest Boy Alive fronted by a femme folk. Tempo was unsteady, but confidence levels were up. This carried through to the second and third tracks in which the beanie-clad Konrad presented us with his best Jason Mraz impression.
With Slo/Mo and Watch The Sky, affairs took a stylistic turn for the mega-mainstream. Wound-down, emotional introspection suggested the likes of Kelly Clarkson and Beyoncé at their most earnest – rainy days and all that jazz. One Talent then wrapped it all up with a surprisingly happy-clappy closer which confirmed that while their creative and thematic scope may have limits, their enthusiasm does not.
– Brendan Clift
The Sulis Club
1. Intro (instrumental)
2. Better without you
3. Devil inside me
4. There will be light
5. Next to you
6. Just a dream
“I wonder how they’re going to play? They’ve had loads of Jäger shots.”
– anonymous Underground team member
Thus the scene was set for a fine U debut for newcomers The Sulis Club, a classically-formed four-piece rock outfit. With bassist Yoshi hailing from Japan, although outnumbered by Hongkonger bandmates Jonathan, Andy and Foon, there was a distinct aroma of J-rock in the instrumental intro and elsewhere.
In between clean-cut rocking out worthy of a proper anime band – complete with ‘fan service’ from Jonathan to his cheering devotees at the front of the room – the guys attacked some pop-punkier material spanning possible influences from Hoobastank to Rise Against. These were generally well executed, and although the rhythm section needed some tightening up they did get the crowd up and pogoing.
The Sulis Club didn’t just offer unfettered enthusiasm – of which the on-stage high-fives were my favourite example – but bright ideas, radio-friendly songs and obvious pulling power with friends for whom the novelty was still intact. They put a smile on my dial.
– Brendan Clift
2. I don’t belong here
Mockingbird’s stated mission is “to let everyone find their true selves deep down” through their music. With such a lofty goal, a musical journey was to be expected. But, unexpectedly, it was Mockingbird’s split personality that dominated the travelogue.
The band kicked off in strong style, the four instrumental members churning out melodic riffs and pounding beats and Winnie wielding the mic like a she-demon. Emo-punk with a sharp, heavy edge and a sense of fun. They cramped up a little when they pulled things back, but they were adept when cutting loose, and Winnie’s wail was the icing on the cake.
Then: Cantopop. Two songs into the set, without any warning, Mockingbird executed a stunning backflip into a parallel dimension. Suddenly we were magically transported to a jumbo karaoke room in Causeway Bay where the Vicodin of musical genres reigned supreme. Cantopop! Wheeee, smile and wave along!
Two songs later, as if to lower us gently back to Earth, Mockingbird said Goodbye with a relatively standard, Cantonese-language, American-style pop rocker. But I’m still not sure where reality is.
– Brendan Clift
Van De Kamp (Canada 加拿大)
2. Ton Contrōle
3. Aucun Regret
7. Miow Benard
8. La Bas
9. Rockaway / Sheena is a Punk Rocker
10. Hey Ho
12. Le Feu
Van De Kamp need little introduction, and anyway, words aren’t much substitute for witnessing the maelstrom in real life. The Québécois have brought their brand of “explosive French alternative rock” to Hong Kong before, and they returned to close out the Underground as they trampled yet another trail of destruction through Asia.
VDK presents an unusual combination of apparent lunacy and obsessive commitment. No band that wears matching t-shirts and plays to a backing track with such precision can be said to be out of control. The fervour is strictly channeled into their instruments and as much of the stage as each member can physically lay claim to, with the exception of the front man who launched regular sorties onto the dance floor and made the whole room his stage.
The punk and post-punk aesthetic extended beyond the hairstyles and into the music. Comparisons to The Ramones and Babyshambles did the rounds, as well as a light seasoning of Pulp. It also extended to the show. Not content to have the most pugnacious fans of the night, VDK threw themselves at the task 100%, ensuring nothing was left on the field the night before they flew back home.
If you missed them, don’t worry, they’ll be back. These guys are never going to stop.
– Brendan Clift
Poster by Angus Leung
Photos with Underground watermark by Angus Leung
Photos with GFM watermark by Sunil Khiatani