Day 2 of our festival and held on an amazing stage. Big thanks to AIA Great European Carnival and Michael Denmark and Alex Gibbs for this opportunity. Shout outs to the team who worked tirelessly: Angus, Sophie, Jon Lee, Kei & Abe. HUGE LOVE to the eight bands that played this day. We were really stoked to have Anders Nelsson, Soler and KOLOR all on one stage. Thanks to the amazing crowd who came along to watch & cheer great local indie talent.
love Chris B xx
音樂節嘅第二日場地簡直一流 ！好多謝友邦歐陸嘉年華，Michael Denmark及Alex Gibbs對The Underground嘅支持令一切成功。重有一班不眠不体嘅團隊：Angus, Sophie, Jon Lee, Kei 同Abe。當然唔少得當晚令大家超期待佢地演出嘅8隊樂隊！我地好開心可以見到Anders Nelson, Soler 同KOLOR可以同台演出！當晚D觀眾都非常值得讚賞，一直支持本地原創音樂！
love Chris B xx
Part One 星期六 1月30日
Anders Nelsson & Perry Martin
1. Out of Sight, Out of Mind
2. It’s Over
3. We’re All Just People
4. I still love you
5. Reasons Why
6. Hotel California (cover)
7. Johnny B Goode (cover)
Some bands, believe that less is more. Anders Nelsson and Perry Martin believe it and know how to do it. Armed with just guitars and pre-recorded backing instruments, they eased us into day two of the Back to its Roots festival weekend here at the AIA Carnival.
The legend that is Mr. Nelsson, as I feel inclined to call him, commands the stage with presence, in Cantonese! When you follow a bilingual local rock goddess with a white dude who speaks fluent Cantonese, it is rather surprising and awesome. It definitely peaked the interest of the crowd.
Opening with a rocking Out of Sight, Out of Mind, Anders kicked things off with energy and pizazz. He was able to get little kids, parents and everyone in-between to start dancing on the astro turf.
On their second, It’s Over, Perry Martin slowed things down by channelling an inner Don Henley. You would not be wrong if you thought that they were covering an Eagles track with the grand reverb on their guitars, their exquisite harmonies and smooth vocal and guitar melodies. You forget that they don’t have a full band cause it doesn’t matter.
We’re All Just People, is a bit of Everly Brothers and Dusty Springfield but of, soulfulness. It’s what songwriters these days would love to write, but they just don’t have the right kind of emotion to convey something as heartfelt and genuine.
I Still Love You is very much a distant cousin of The Animal’s House of the Rising Sun and some of Ben E King’s songs. The melody echoes that bluesy laid back tone of the 60s. With a groovy drum backing this song, Perry Martin launches into one of the smoothest of guitar solos that would make BB King proud.
Reasons Why just oozes class. Part Eagles, part Santana with a bit of the Beatles thrown in there, it is a genre reunion, and it works, and to great effect. Always, it’s the guitar work and their harmonies that make their songs brilliant and unique.
Speaking of the Eagles, with the recent death of Eagles founder Glenn Frey, Perry and Anders launched into a very poignant tribute to the music legend. One song, besides Bohemian Rhapsody where everyone thinks they can sing is Hotel California, thankfully these guys are pros and knocked it out of the park, making Frey and all of us in the sound booth happy. And that guitar solo, Nailed It!
The Legend that is Anders Nelsson is definitely worth standing in the cold for. HIs music gets you swaying to the point where you feel warmer. He always talks to the audience in both Cantonese and English, making him the male Chris B.
And because he was that good, the crowd wanted more, so to close out their set, they launched into Johnny B. Goode. No better way to close out a show and get people dancing. If I closed my eyes I could almost hear Doc Brown shouting at me to get into the DeLorean, but alas, I was brought back to the present. Worth It.
– Jon Lee
1. This is a love song for yourself
2. How to disappear
3. Mrs. Nightingale
4. If I were a Magician
Jing Wong took the stage next and showed us sometimes, you don’t need a full band to keep people engaged. Armed with an electric guitar and an army of pedals, he used his natural inner groove and style to carry the songs.
Wong launched into his first song This is a Love Song for Yourself, A strong early Maroon 5-ish foot stomper and head bobber. You wouldn’t fault him for not moving around so much with his lack of band, but he really owned the incredibly large stage.
How to Disappear could have been mistaken for being a Hendrix song, with his generous use of fuzz. With a bit of Purple Haze, Jimi grit in his vocals you kinda wished he had a backing band. But no need, cause a clever use of looping pedals helped create a bigger sound. A small crowd at this point started looking over curiously at this intense wall of sound coming from the stage.
If you said that Mrs. Nightingale sounded like a Blink 182 song, I’d say you’re not entirely wrong. At this point I had finally noticed that he had been using both stage guitar amps to build his sound. And it worked, as he switched back and forth between distortion, loop and clean sounds, he was able to adequately create an atmosphere of more than one instrument. Though I certainly did wonder if he had had a drummer or a full band, how cool some of the songs would sound.
Seeming like he heard me, an impromptu drummer came on stage for his next, If I Were a Magician. The guitar work was laid back and could have been a bit repetitive, but his Eddie Vedder like voice gave the song character. And once the drums kicked in and the tempo sped up a bit, proved to me that his songs were better served with a backing band.
I had been surprised that up to this point, Wong has been singing primarily in English as for some reason I had expected Cantonese lyrics. But again seeming like he heard my thoughts, 我們 (us) was the next song. A typical Canto Pop track and a bit of a mood changer but as far as Cantonese songs go, it was still enjoyable.
He did have one final English track up his sleeve. For Shipwreck, he channelled his old school bluesy black guitarist for the intro. If you closed your eyes, you wouldn’t picture a Chinese dude which I think is the biggest compliment you can pay. Having the drummer help him close out his set, made for a very enjoyable closer. As the song progresses, you could also hear a bit of The Doors some of The WHO in his singing and guitar playing.
All in all a good day at the office for Wong Jing.
– Jon Lee
Token consists of two guitar players, bass guitar, drums, and a female vocalist who also plays violin. All in all they are quite solid musically, with a special mention of the extreme talent of the female lead singer. Their composition is very professional and polished. Similar to some other Hong Kong bands, but with a unique style and feel. The things that set them apart from other bands are:
– Their music is more focused on composition, than just the usual standardized verse -> chorus -> verse -> chorus -> GUITAR SOLO -> chorus -> verse -> chorus.
– The added violin parts of the female singer are very sweet and add an unusual tone and texture seldom seen.
– The violin with the second guitar player really fill out the sound eliminating the need for a keyboards.
Song #1 糾纏圈
Canto-Pop song, with a slightly progressive feel. The song vamps on minor cord changes with a very interesting violin part layered over the top, with a dramatic sense and feeling a lot like the Electric Light Orchestra.
Song #2 時光倒流二十年
This song had a very happy major key feel. Something like girl meets boy, boy hurts girl and girl gets hurt. The song was very short, maybe less than 2 minutes.
Song #3 耳目手足
Pop with punk undertones. Also a very happy, up feel with the violin nicely filling up the open space. They quite effectually used dual melodic passages, so much so I was hoping for more, in a good way.
Song #4 瞞徒
This song was heavier and more progressive than the others using heavy style minor and chromatic scales. As well mixing up and playing with the time signatures. A very challenging piece that was done nicely.
Song #5 昨日
This song was too much classic Canto-Pop style. I really feel that TOKEN is better than this to fall into these generic, sound-alike canto styles. Lots of the crowd hand waving and really silly pop star worshipping nonsense.
Thank you TOKEN for a very nice set.
– Gregory Tancer
1. She’s the Devil
2. Dark Early
3. Two Way Mirror
4. Ear Poison
The band is a group of fine musicians. The real strength and critical difference in Operator that sets them apart from other bands is their song composition. Their song styles are very consistent, filled with emotion, both musically and lyrically. The thing I especially enjoyed about them and made them unique, was their sound, it is a mixture 80’s – 90’s rock, fused together with a taste of 1960’s psychedelic overtones. And if that weren’t enough, the song compositions sometimes felt like Bob Dylan.
(1) SHE’S THE DEVIL
They opened the set with the song She’s the Devil which really was a strong mixture of 1960’s psychedelic with the feel of British rock from the 2000’s. Really got the point across that she’s really a devil.
(2) DARK EARLY
Dark Early had a haunting underlying dark feel that clearly expressed the subject matter of the song. I really this song.
(3) TWO WAY MIRROR
Two Way Mirror had some nice hooks reminiscent of Tears for Fears, again with a very Brit feel.
(4) EAR POISON
Ear Poison came across as a more rocking, loud song than all the others. Heavier guitars, drums and bass. Enter smoke machines.
Miracle was a really wonderful composition that really felt like the early days of Bob Dylan. More of a folk feel than the other songs, it really was a nice piece of work.
Home again had a really strong mixture of 1960’s psychedelic with the feel of British rock from the 2000’s, with very personalized subject matter exposing the composer’s inner feelings.
Neon was not only the best, but my favourite song off their set. What a cool, great, wonderful feel. This should be the first single from their album. Or if they have already did a CD release, RE-RELEASE this one as a single.
Evergreen had a very happy, peppy, poppy feel. Something akin to the theme song from the American TV sitcom “Friends”. Good song to finish the set very upbeat.
In closing, the most important thing that I can say about OPERATOR is that they are very true to their art. Consistent style that has a message and statement with style. Thank you OPERATOR for a great set, and for all the times you played at ROCKSCHOOL.
– Gregory Tancer
5. Peter 2
6. Mark (film)
Nowhere Boys flaunt a dapper style befitting their ‘cinematic pop’ label, with sharp suits a la Guys ‘n’ Dolls, Cantopop-worthy hairdos and ostentatious rock moves. Their polished all-round performance overcame the carnival-goers’ natural apathy, drawing a sizeable crowd to the astroturf, and we were kept guessing by the wide array of musical styles on show – from synth pop to blues rock, rap to cantopop, and noir soundtrack to cartoon theme.
-The Carnival Rat
1. Turnspit Dog
2. Miss Pinky
3. Asian Fusion
5. Black House
Tri-Accident在上年的Battle of the Band 未能入圍決賽實在可惜，但是有實力之人必定會得到別人賞識。他們早已在Underground的Jägershow演出，今次重回AIA冬日嘉年華的場地演出而非比賽，心情應該輕鬆不少。發揮可能都因為心情而有所提升，所以技驚四座絕對能夠形容當晚Tri-Accident當晚的演出。無論是由Funk的Magnetized或是Hard Rock的Transp，成員都會在Fill in的位置加入花巧的技術，不斷的給觀眾驚喜。由其是結尾曲《Black House》傳統的Hard rock 風格配上bass手Zing和結他手Johnny快速的taping，令整個Tri-Accident的演出都看得令人目定口呆。
– Dicky Kwong
With a very sweet, declaration that they are going to warm the audience on a rather cold January night, Tri-Accident Launch into their first track with an anything but warm hard rock sound. More so, it’s dark and hard but great.
Part Rage Against the Machine, Part Godsmack and a bit of Audioslave, Tri-Accident’s first song was pretty much exactly what that sounds like. Rocking licks, some hard drumming and a pretty badass guitar solo.
Their second, Miss Pinky, was dedicated to the ladies in the house, but I wasn’t sure what kind of ladies they’re into cause the songs was a cross between Led Zeppelin and Lenny Kravitz. If you could have only been there, cause it sounded awesome.
At this point, I have to give props to the sound guys because they really nailed this stage, which wasn’t an easy place to mix.
Asian Fusion, continued the guitar onslaught, but the verse, was definitely much groovier than their first two tracks. It definitely had a bit of Bon Jovi’s Keep the Faith’s bass line but the feel of an early Chilli Peppers song too. The rhythm section really drove this song, and it was as much a pleasure to watch them interact with their instruments as it was to listen.
Magnetized opens with a cool little drum fill, and then it goes into familiar territory. It gave off a very heavy Soundgarden and Creed vibe. The crushing guitar riffs really drove this penultimate of songs. Again the interplay of the musicians was key to making this song work, especially at the bridge where everyone seems to have a small moment to shine.
They closed the show with Black House, which started like Dream Theater and then jumped into a Green Day type verse, but with the bastard love child Led Zeppelin. It is the Jon Snow of Rock music for you Game of Thrones fans.
Tri-Accident have been a band on my radar for a year now, and it has been cool to see their progression as a band. In the last year, they have refined their sound and gotten tighter. Their song writing, has improved since I last saw them and I look forward to any show they will play in the future.
– Jon Lee
1. Tidal Wave
2. Yi Yang
3. Tears In Your Hands
4. So Alive
6. Sut Wun
8. Season Of Wind
今天在Underground: Back To Roots Festival演出的他們帥氣不減，亦多了一份滄桑。 第一首歌曲《Tidal Wave》充滿濃濃的西部風情，是我未曾想像Soler的風格。第二首是近年新曲《不同》。普通話的歌曲演繹時沒有英文歌的自如，但輕快的節奏亦令觀眾受落。之後的《Tears In Yours Hands 》曲風的迷幻又有美式公路搖滾味道，非常配合雙子成熟滄桑的面龐。之後的《So Alive》和《Blue》都是流行曲作品。老實說，對Soler的歌曲不算太熟識。當我和友人在想他們會否玩一些較出名的歌曲時，他們就唱起了《失魂》的前奏。上次聽這首歌時應該還是中二左右的時間，一時聽起，實在令人懷念。興奮過後，《Raindrops》是一首慢版的Ballad，很容易就上口可以和他們一起唱到結尾。可惜最完場曲翻唱小鳳姐的《風的季節》時就出了點亂子，Dino忘掉了部份歌詞，失去了一個和觀眾大合唱的機會。最後，Chris B為他們定了2016年的計劃就是：多創作新曲。希望Soler亦可時在這個樂隊風氣遠比十年前好的時間，再次在地下和主流樂壇發展。
– Dicky Kwong
If the Back to its Roots Festival was about The Underground celebrating the acts that have made its events great over the years, and holding a door open to emerging talent, HK-Macau trio Soler’s set was a grand homecoming by a formidable local act. Let’s put it this way: they’re one of the few acts on the bill with their own Wikipedia page.
In an evening of adolescent themes, this was grown-up rock and roll with a country/blues sway, executed with precision and warmth. Bilingual lyrics dipped from the poetic pools of both English and Mandarin, performed in atmospheric harmony by brothers Dino and Julio Acconci.
The whistling intro of Life Is Beautiful was perfectly complemented by kaleidoscopic background visuals, before Blue’s compressed strumming blossomed into a beefy, sun-dried riff and harmonised vocals. A gorgeous reverb-laden blues solo accompanied the simple motif, “When it’s blue, it’s blue, it’s blue.”
It’s a tight set with professional feel, but certainly not one without soul. “This one’s for all of you,” says Dino, introducing Raindrops. “With your pretty smiles. Yes we see you too.” As if by magic, the background visuals transition to a glimmering galaxy of stars and crowd are held enraptured by a slow, sentimental, lovelorn ballad.
For the eighth and final song, there is a special dedication. “Chris B is a lone rider galloping along in a desert. What she didn’t realise is that there’d be a whole army riding behind her … an army of musicians.” It was the weekend’s best Chris B tribute – of which there were many. Season of Wind is a steady Western canter held at the reins by tight guitar played sul ponticello for extra lasso-whirling effect.
Goals: write new songs.
– El Jay
– Dicky Kwong
It’s a peculiar quirk of Canto bands to punctuate a set list with lengthy speeches musing upon life’s trials, discussing the band’s musical journey, and thanking everyone under the sun. The carnival was the fourth Underground outing for long time supporters Kolor, so needless to say the speeches ran on.
At face value, the HK rockers appeared to be trying a little too hard to rebel – smoking where it was forbidden; lead singer Sammy wearing a T shirt that reads “Diu” (fuck, in Cantonese) when asked not to swear; and adopting swaggering power stances while locked in metal riffing. It was a tacky, 1980s brand of rock ‘n’ roll … and the crowd ate out of their hands.
Guitars snarled to life like Harleys from the first song 天地會 and barely let up throughout the set, which was soaked in west coast, classic rock optimism. Kolor’s show was full of theatrical bravado – think Airborne, Bon Jovi , Imagine Dragons and Beyond all rolled into emphatic ballads picking from the great buffet of rock, with high-pitched arpeggiation, muscular drumming, and questionable singing.
It was a fun and energetic set, performed by a popular local group that’s adept at connecting with fans, and also touchingly grateful for every break they get. The set – and Back to the Roots Festival – closed on a high with the pop punk 了不起, and the echoes of a crowd singing “na na na na” all the way home.
Their goals? Write new songs; they’ve an album out in June.
– El Jay
Photos by Angus Leung.
Poster by Angus Leung