Our last show of April 2016 and it was a good one. Thanks to the bands who performed with huge passion & giving it 200%. Big BIG thanks to Chloe Wong for MC duties, and to the rest of the wonderful Underground team: Angus, Semi & Sophie for running this event. Thanks to Carr for the great sound & Orange Peel for hosting the event.
我地The Underground 喺2016年4月嘅最後一場show的確唔弱！所有樂隊都用盡200%能力去玩同演出。好多謝Chloe Wong幫我地做左一晚MC重有其餘嘅隊員：Angus , Semi, Sophie! 好多謝丫Carr同Orange Peel!
Love Chris B xx
League of Gentlemen
1. The Late Night Streetcar Line
2. Dr Fu Manchu
3. Absolute Friends
4. Getaway Car
5. Baby Run
6. Rock The Shack
7. Unconditional Love
In a very varied night – genre and quality-wise – opening act League of Gentlemen set the gold standard and delivered an act that was difficult to follow. Leading the trio, singer and guitarist Philip Emond was a sharp and charismatic front man, who would leap off the stage mid-performance to play among the audience. The band’s self-described “pop ‘n’ roll” proved an infectious, optimistic blend of sun-soaked Californian rock and more pensive indie ballads. A quick flick of a busy pedalboard saw angular indie riffs transformed into beefy, All-American chords.
The most energetic performance of the evening, first song The Late Night Streetcar Line could have been a nineties kids’ TV show intro, opening in a burst of frenzied revving. The joyful energy fed into older track Dr Fu Manchu, a bluesy melding of Jack White’s guitar shrieks, funk bass, and Prince vocals. “I’m coming to your funky rescue,” crooned Emond, dedicating the track to the “Purple One”.
The fleeting, quickly-picked strings of Getaway Car hinted at sadness, with Emond’s voice taking on a mournful Chris Martin quality. Last track Unconditional Love showed off each member at their best – Gavin Ho’s intricate basslines sparkled amid crisp guitar-work, catchy vocal hooks and Patrick Neundorfer’s sunny, cymbal-led beats. The tight and professional-sounding group deserved a higher billing, but met their first-act slot with gusto and set spirits high for the whole night.
– El Jay
EDITOR (aka Chris B): Please note, League of Gentlemen stepped in at the last minute to replace LOGO who could not perform (LOGO had asked for opening slot for the showcase). Thank you LOG!
2. My Propeller
3. You and Your Cravings
4. That’s You
5. Rock ‘n’ Roll Queen
6. Grow Up
In just a few months, Jaded have come a long way. Shows at a January Shazza, Picnic in the Park and Lion Rock Festival have given the four-piece chance to hone their sound and fill out their live sets with a strong mix of covers and originals. Part of an exciting crop of new punk bands, Jaded revives the grunge ethos of the nineties with a late-teen angst and influences spanning Green Day, Nirvana and The 1975.
After recent school hall and park shows, Jaded looked far more at home playing in the late hours at Orange Peel, and delivered eight, electrically raw songs. Energetic guitarists Adam Sinclair and Zaine Dada shared vocal responsibilities, while drummer Jose Urbano and bassist Patrick Agabon held the ship together with tight rhythms. The set was scattered, out of tune and messy at times, but a mischievous, DIY punk spirit is what defines this close-knit group.
A heavier take on Arctic Monkeys’ brooding My Propeller allowed respite from breakneck guitar onslaught, while stand out song Grow Up’s fuzz riffs, fast-paced drumming, and cat wail backing vocals hid trenchant lyrics grappling with adolescence and adulthood.
Since early shows, the group has moved away from a purely grunge sound to incorporate a more pop punk and emo direction, evoking a La Dispute vein of open-hearted songwriting. The set revealed a band unafraid to unearth emotion; as told through the fraught, almost drunkenly slurred lyrics of You and Your Cravings, and a cover of the 1975’s longing, almost bitter Sex.
For the last song, Urge, all three guitar straps went down comically low for a hurricane of frantic guitar shrieks, sinister bass and hoarsely yelled lyrics. Sinclair’s guitar strap fell off but he continued singing while friends pulled him back together. An apt metaphor for the city’s close and burgeoning punk scene.
– El Jay
1. Lingering (Part 2)
2. Lingering (Part 1)
3. 800 Dollar
4. Soul Return Night
6. Do You Understand
7. Unburden ***Cut from set***
“Our music is inspired by everything bad around us,” shouted The Glareless’s Daniel Kiva, Hong Kong’s answer to Yes wizard Rick Wakeman for the synthpop generation. “Most of these bad feelings come from my fucking boss,” he adds with a chuckle. From the glove-wearing bassist Billy to the bizarre sounds tumbling from the stage like dry ice, everything about The Glareless is unexpected. Kiva turns out to be the incongruously profane mouthpiece of an intricate and technically-minded line-up, which puts its talented keyboard player Fat Wong and bass player at the fore.
It was music to get lost in. With the punchy, cutting bass, galactic synth oscillations and classical-inspired piano, in many ways it seemed the band was going for “Muse without guitar” at first. But as the genre-shifting sound blossomed and snaked down increasingly disparate avenues, reference points became harder to draw.
Two-part opener Lingering was a neatly-orchestrated instrumental ode to the same three chords. Brisk drums, chirping synths and undulating piano exemplified the first half, while a flurry of cymbals introduced Part 2, a more windswept, obscure version of its predecessor. The entire, immaculately-constructed set was like a Magic Eye game of shifting textures and colours; with cheesy, jazz lounge piano nestled alongside squeaky, pitch-shifted effects and tightly wound drums.
Fifth song Voodoo, dedicated to that “fucking boss”, was the most rock-driven performance – omitting the guitar for blissful bursts of synth arpeggios. Kiva conjured up some evil shaman madness, puncturing the air with hearty middle finger thrusts, while drummer Lego’s snares sped up like a round of gunshots before a simmering finish.
“This is our fucking last song!” bellowed Kiva, introducing Do You Understand. After all the menace, it seemed sweet and upbeat, with shimmering synths and almost Vanessa Carlton-like piano chords. A perfect example of the hidden treasures to be unearthed in Hong Kong’s deceptively rich music scene.
– El Jay
1. Grannies Retreat
2. Somebody Else
3. You Sing The Grass
4. One More Day
5. Mother Psycho
Where do they get these names … seriously?! (A quick Google tells us it’s a Tony Hawk skater move) “Name your band after a body part and it’ll be ripe for metaphors,” should be day one at Rock School. And unfortunately, all the possible Nose Manual puns you can think of probably applied here: no song stood out in a fairly loose and at times lacklustre set.
When the newly-formed rockers assembled on stage, something about their workmanlike demeanour made them look like they’d be pretty heavy, but they were more Weezer in sound, with sunny melodies and jolly guitar. Vocalist Billy Wong (also of “Amino Shower”) wasn’t the best singer, but just about held the set together with thoughtful lyrics and an ebullient stage presence, leaping on top of a piano stool and running around. It was surf rock for the slacker generation, but it could have been pulled a lot tighter.
There were signs of promise: after the angular opening riff of Somebody Else, the guitarist let rip with an effortless and impressive solo, while One More Day had Red Hot Chili Pepper’s funky surf shack chords. Last song Mother Psycho saw the night out with scattered drums and a jangly, indie rock riff. Altogether it was very garage band – like the audience had stumbled upon the early rehearsals of a new group. All the right components were there, but it’ll take a little more polish before Nose Manual will be fit for another headline slot.
– El Jay
Photos by Angus Leung.
Poster by Angus Leung.