One of our most popular theme events and what a great night to show why! Thanks so much to the bands & musicians on stage. Big thanks to Carr for the amazing sound & Orange Peel for hosting this event. Love to The Underground team for all the work both on site and off site. Thanks to Singha Beer for keeping everyone refreshed! BIGGEST thanks to the audience who cheered and made their enjoyment so obvious. Here’s to many more Girls with Guitars events in the future.
我地其中一個最受歡迎嘅節目Girls With Guitars 又一成功嘅晩上！好多謝所有樂隊為大家演出。最重要多謝Carr為我地tunesound同Orange Peel嘅場地！好多謝The Underground所有嘅同事！當晚要多謝Singha 啤酒為大家送上解渴飮品！最最最多謝就係各位觀眾朋友嘅歡呼聲同支持！希望來年更多Girls With Guitars活動！
love Chris B xx
(Failed first song)
2. We’ll Both Look Back
5. You Won’t Be Down Forever
7. Love Affair
“I’m giving this song three goes before I give up,” said Jules O’Brien after fumbling the opening to her first song. A second attempt proved more successful, but her faith faltered mid-way through and she gave up. Not only was it incredibly brave – the first song of a busy Girls With Guitars night – but also hugely endearing. It led into a set of similarly intimate, emotionally wrought songs offering a window into the British singer-songwriter’s mind, upon which themes of change, life’s crossroads and complications of the heart lie heavy.
Shaky at first, O’Brien’s distinctive and powerful voice grew to fill the room as she gained confidence; lyrics tumbling like the narrated pages of a diary. Any embarrassment was fleeting, as she went straight into “a song I actually know how to play”, We’ll Both Look Back. On the tango-led Chopsick – O’Brien’s voice simmered with passion and chagrin, evoking the searing intensity of Anna Calvi. On several occasions, her soft, almost spoken-word delivery echoed Laura Marling’s, while meandering, pondering lyrics had Joni Mitchell’s influence woven through.
Four relatively reigned-in, gently-picked songs culminated in Paperwork and Love Affair; the former a gradually building, stunningly executed ballad recalling the guitar flourishes of Marling’s Sophia. Meanwhile the latter was sweetly-picked with a tear-jerking chorus – a reconciliatory coda completing a collection of songs that seemed to chart leaving a native country for adventure abroad, and the inevitable accompanying emotional turmoil. An astute and captivating performer, O’Brien and her laid-bare demeanour will linger in the memory for some time.
– El Jay
1. New Romantic
2. Wa Jeng
3. Book of Face
5. Trash From Your Heart
6. She Sleeps Around
7. Driving in a Nice Car
If you have anything to say about Teenage Riot being a pastiche, they’re already way ahead of you. Performing a style of music heavily indebted to 90s guitar bands – a sound they’ve self-dubbed “copy rock” – the highly self-aware band makes no apologies for sounding like a tasting menu of overt influences. Though there’s no need to apologise: their Girls With Guitars set was one of the most uplifting shows Hong Kong has seen this year.
In a group formed of multiple other HK bands, the equally unassuming singers PorPor Channel and Freakiyo Yiu Wai Tung share vocal responsibilities. Seven members isn’t an easy number of musicians to coordinate live, but the show was tight and well-rehearsed. The guitars were fuzzy and haphazard when they needed to be, while the rhythms and synths sliced through to skin-tingling effect. The male and female voices – hers high and expressive, his flat and monotone – evoked the same duality heard in Asobi Seksu’s career, particularly when layered over walls of distorted sound. The sunny riff of Book of Face gave the track a Fleetwood Mac quality, while Trash From Your Heart had more of the happy melody/sad lyrics dichotomy of Travis.
Keyboardist Sabina Wong was the band’s secret weapon. She remained stoically and unobtrusively focused on the keys throughout the show, yet her shrill synth melodies formed the indelible backbone of each song. Together, guitarists Lam Hood and Ling Ling Ling would pull the starter rope to create tidal waves of shoegaze noise, before reigning in the MBV-scale fuzz with rambling, cleanly-picked melodies. Yanyan Pang’s basslines were beautifully intricate, while Samuel Cheung’s thoughtful drums gave the delicate songs room to breathe.
An impressive attention to stage craft culminated with both singers dropping their mics on last song Driving in A Nice Car and hopping off the stage to watch the other players reach a blistering crescendo finale. Rumbling rhythms, roaring guitars and screaming synths gave the ending the kind of end-of-the-world feel as Radiohead’s Blow Out. Arty and articulate, Teenage Riot owe a lot to their stateside namesake, yet ironically they’re one of the most exciting, refreshing bands HK currently has to offer.
– El Jay
1. Push and bounce
2 . 愛回家
3 . The End Is The Beginning Is The End
4 . Feed me
6 . Kowloon Hong Kong
Chillbeat. A misnomer for a band that deals in caustic nu-metal. With a sound fitting loosely into the post-hardcore genre, the guitar-heavy quartet delivered a blisteringly fast set that allowed no space for breathers. Frontman Jimmy had all the derisory snarls of Daryl Palumbo, while the band’s range spanned Glassjaw’s tight punk towards more metal influences like Drowning Pool and Faith No More.
Opener Push and Bounce was almost industrial in its thumping metallic opening, echoing Nine Inch Nails with its jagged riff blasts and rasping vocals. An unexpected cover of Smashing Pumpkins’ The End Is The Beginning Is The End draped the stage in a spine-tingling theatrical melancholy. Rather than copy the original, Chillbeat went in hard to give a punchier version of the original, which worked fantastically thanks to KC’s relentless drumming. At one point, he and bassist Norelle held the spotlight for a ruthless rhythmic duet session.
Songs like 愛回家 and 小那星大文青 dabbled in a Coal Chamber-inspired lyrical psychosis with guitarist Siam’s distorted, staccato riffing making for mass head-banging throughout the room. After creatively using a megaphone to give his voice an eerie Mike Patton drawl, Jimmy the dragged his vocal cords through the mud for Feed Me, a song with all the freakiness of early Korn.
With its unimaginative lyrics, the utterly creepy closer Kowloon Hong Kong focused on building an unsettling Deftones atmosphere of whispers and gloomy, drop-tuned chords. Rather than a celebration of the HK mainland, the delightfully evil-sounding song sounded like more of a threat: “Kowloon Hong Kong…” Chillbeat is coming for you!
– El Jay
Photos by Angus Leung.
Poster by Sally Chan.