Huge thank you to Jon Lee, Parsons & the Hub for helping us to host this unique event. Big thank you to the bands that night and to the wonderful audience who cheered & danced through the night. Love to The Underground team who worked really hard and enjoyed the music at the same time – Angus, Cordelia, Harmeet & Dixie. Thanks also to Sherman for sound duties & to Sam Sam for his amazing visuals. Thanks always to our amazing reviewers El Jay, Chris & Elson.
首先多謝Jon Lee，柏斯琴行及The Hub協助我們舉辦這個節目。非常感謝5個演出單位。帶給我們整晚的好音樂，還有一班很投入的觀眾。;)
我至愛的The Underground團隊不但是音樂愛好者，而且非常努力籌備這個活動 ––– Angus, Cordelia, Harmeet 及 Dixie。
感謝Sherman負責音響的部分和Sam Sam設計的視覺影像。還有寫樂評的 El Jay, Chris和Elson。
❤️ Chris B xx
4. Dirty Little Secret (cover)
Props to Zero Displacement: the first band of the night may have played the shortest set, but they brought an army of fans who greeted the young rockers like Oasis at Knebworth. There was no trace of irony in frontman Ashwin Nair’s voice when he introduced the first song as, “this song is called Untitled…” The nameless new track drew upon the laidback alt-rock melodies of Stereophonics, but the lyrics were lost behind overly loud guitar. It was less a sound desk issue, and more a case of the singer not projecting his voice enough. Towards the end of the song, guitarist Leo Garcia took the opportunity to perform a neat solo, showing off his skill and lending some rockstar theatrics.
On Rush, drummer Sophia Young Rogers swapped instruments with Leo, and began playing a low, aggressive, rattling punk riff channeling Joan Jett and the Blackhearts’ Bad Education. During this song, Sophia outshone her bandmates, bringing an infectious energy and freshness that stayed with the crowd. She brought the track to a close with a rousing “oooowaaaaaohhhh” call-and-response that had the whole crowd singing.
Stay was a song that needed a lot of work. Ashwin has a soulful voice, but his singing just wasn’t audible, despite the sound desk’s best efforts to turn him up. Leo broke through again with a simple solo, but his guitar was badly out of tune and had a jarring effect.
The band ended their set on a high, with Ashwin and bassist Miguel Raymund Yusay switched their guitars for a heavy cover of All American Rejects’ Dirty Little Secret. As soon as Miguel began playing that instantly-recognisable pop rock riff, the crowd went wild. After hiding behind unobtrusive basslines for the previous three songs, he finally stole the spotlight with a joyful and energetic rendition of a classic, alongside Sophia’s effervescent rhythms.
Zero Displacement’s set wasn’t the most polished or musically-accomplished, but the up-and-coming rockers showed there’s more to star power than pitch-perfect playing. All four members looked overjoyed at the love radiated back at them on The Hub stage, and it was a pleasure to watch this nascent group taking pride in their sound, having fun playing together, and delighting a deafening roomful of fans.
– El Jay
對筆者而言，The Underground嘅Sub Terra新系列有d似英皇佐治五世學校嘅Lion Rock、Hidden Agenda嘅Newbie Agenda、再加上幾隊老牌香港地下樂隊嘅混合音樂表演。繼Sub Terra 1嘅Asyndeton後，主辦單位再次邀請咗一隊年輕有為嘅樂壇新手—Zero Displacement—展開當晚嘅演出。上台時，佢地每人披上咗自己嘅國旗，一共有四個國家，既刻考起咗筆者：答案好似係菲律賓、印度、南韓、以及巴拉圭……好似係。問一問隔離朋友先知道，原來，佢地來自李寶椿聯合世界書院。喺香港，恐怕只有香港管弦樂團比佢地更加國際。
Zero Displacement出道無耐，原創歌曲唔多，所以當晚只不過簡短地玩咗四首歌，而結尾一首選擇咗翻唱All-American Rejects嘅Dirty Little Secret。佢地風格以典型二千年代嘅流行搖滾、流行龐克音樂為主，寫作上唔算特別突出。最突出嘅，反而係結他手Leo源源不絕嘅結他solo，雖然似乎凌駕咗其他樂器（單係「Rush」一首裡面就有三段solo），但係次次都獲得現場觀眾嘅喝彩，係全場嘅精華。
– Elson Tong
0. Soundcheck Song
1. Gotta Get it Back
2. Son of Sam
3. Growing Pains
4. The Pique Song
6. See You Hell
7. In The Woods
8. Pretty Please
9. Last Night in Hong Kong
After a few years’ hiatus, Say Mosquito made a grand and welcome return to The Underground at Sub Terra. The ska-punk sound can be gratingly unoriginal at times, but Say Mosquito avoids being pigeonholed by drawing from eclectic influences, writing songs close to Hong Kong’s heart, and delivering dance-able fun – with thankfully no brass instruments in sight.
From the off, first song Gotta Get It Back showed that the band’s sound is much more diverse than one genre. Lead singer and guitarist Steve’s creative and subtle use of effects pedals evoked early REM, while Maggie’s effortlessly intricate and creative basslines made it hard to look away. She nailed the bobbly ska riff sound on the fast and shouty Son of Sam, while Steve amped it up alongside Red’s frenzied drumming.
By Growing Pains, it was clear that the band was enjoying being back. Steve’s vocal tone took on a theatrically prog feel, while the breathless tempo and rattling chords closely recalled Arctic Monkeys’ mid-noughties work, or The Fratellis’ Creepin’ Up The Backstairs.
Then came the rumbling rhythms and offbeat, Less Than Jake styling of Pique Song and Hamster, with its rapid-fire basslines and ska motifs blossoming into rock chords. Between the two high-energy tracks, the crowd began moving (some even tried out a bit of skanking) to the sound of Red’s door-slamming snare and high hat combo.
On songs like See You In Hell, excessively loud and jangly chords made it impossible to hear what Steve was singing about, apart from the end refrain of “I’ll see you in hell”. Things would have been much clearer had the amps been turned down a notch.
“For this next song we’re going to go on a camping trip,” said Steve, who then tested out his Cantonese on the young crowd and was met with tumbleweed. The country-infused In The Woods had a completely different sound to the rest of the set, with thoughtfully-picked chords and a mid-section reminiscent of Franz Ferdinand’s Stand On The Horizon.
The frontman then channeled The Strokes’ clean, angular, indie guitarwork for the intro of Pretty Please, before he hit the distortion for an almost metal chorus. As the set wore on, the singer’s voice took on a grand, fruity quality – like a classic Shakespearean actor crossed with Dead Kennedys’ Jello Biafra. This combined with his versatile playing style and appearance – a prog David Byrne-meets-Weird Al Yankovic – made for an electric and original stage presence.
As the band went into Last Night in Hong Kong, he blasted a few power chords, then veered towards rapid ska strumming, and even a bit of shredding too. As the song ended, Steve explained that Say Mosquito’s drummer Ah Wah couldn’t play, so “Red” had stepped in instead, before he tried out a bit more of his Canto skills.
Perhaps the most impressive guitarwork came on the last song, Plane. To the sound of a whirly, helicopter effect, the performance to a cacophonous close. Calls for an encore went unfulfilled, though it’s clear they’ll be back on Chris B’s stage again in no time.
– El Jay
講玩ska嘅三人組合，就即刻會諗起Sublime，而當晚第二隊Say Mosquito試音試咗半分鐘「Soundcheck Song」後，的確畀咗筆者咁嘅感覺：輕鬆、精簡、超快。但係接住落黎嘅，原來係十首變幻無窮嘅作品。
老土d講句，Say Mosquito嘅音樂真係好難分類。佢地上次同The Underground演出嘅時候，已經被比喻為Pearl Jam溝Mojo Nixon再溝Dead Kennedys，今次嘅演出無異，筆者只想喺度稍作補充，因為佢地嘅靈感彷彿來自搖滾樂以外嘅音樂。有時候畀我嘅感覺，係一個飲咗十杯咖啡嘅爵士結他手Django Reinhardt：「Son of Sam」呢首歌，正正係玩吉普賽爵士拍子，特顯出低音結他手嘅walking bass，不同之處就係用嘅chords十分之奇怪，冇一樣野會跟規矩做。有時候，佢地嘅音樂又會似進行曲：例如最後一首歌「Plane」，結構聽落甚至似兒曲，但係節奏嘅轉變以及chromatic chords，可能會嚇親小朋友。
– Elson Tong
2. Do i
3. Till I found you
4, Sad song
5. Too many times
6. Give it all away
7. All the time
Main support act Still Minds began their set with ‘Why’ – a Bluesy/American Rock number with smooth licks by Tony Lee and a low anchoring bass from Noriko Watanabe. Instrumentally, this track had elements of John Mayer about it, but once Adrian Da Silva’s falsetto cut through in the chorus, it added a Counting Crows flavour, taken straight out of the mid-90’s.
‘Do I’ clearly channelled Led Zeppelin with low distorted riffs in unison on both guitars and bass, meanwhile Masaki Heung boomed out his inner John Bonham with splashy hi-hats and loose backbeat. Sadly, the vocals were clouded by Lee’s lead guitar, but his pentatonic-based slow bends and subtle whammy bar served well in the solo.
‘Till I Found You’ started with a funk rock riff reminiscent of Red Hot Chilli Peppers ‘Get Up and Jump’ but with far less angst. This swiftly changed in the verses with interesting chord shapes on top of Watanabe’s low rumbling bass, creating an Afghan Whigs/heavy Doves hybrid. Da Silva’s soft tones cut through the mix a little better with the repetition of “So out of line” over a solid ascending progression.
‘Sad song’ and ‘Too Many Times’ brought the tempo down with their undeniable 90’s American Rock sound. Da Silva inflected Josh Homme vocal lines over augmented chords making ‘Sad Song’ sound like a sophomore Queens of the Stone Age track, whilst ‘Too Many Times’ had a similar feel to Seal’s ‘Kiss From A Rose’ with its swung 6/8 rhythm. Lee impressed the crowd with his effortless volume swells, slides and pull-offs, which blended with the song nicely.
Penultimate track ‘Give It All Away’ was tightly played, with its jagged Maximo Park style riff over straight drums, before once again returning to the 90’s American Rock sound – this time echoing a laid back Foo Fighters.
Still Minds closed their set with a Hendrix-inspired ‘All The Time’ paired with a soulful Alicia Keys feel which was helped along nicely by Heung’s shuffling drums. Whilst the band played impressively and held the public’s attention, they lacked stage presence and had no interaction with the audience throughout the 30 minute set. Nevertheless, they showcased their abilities well as individuals and collectively, as well as a level of professionalism that many aspiring musicians could look up to.
– Chris Gillett
Sub Terra 2當晚第三隊演出嘅Still Minds係一隊主打九十年代另類搖滾嘅組合，受到Pearl Jam、Foo Fighters等樂隊影響，風格比較主流。無論音樂上定係氣氛上，都同之前一隊節奏極快嘅實驗性ska組合Say Mosquito形成強烈嘅對比。
Still Minds呢隊四人組合喺台上動作唔多，演出氣氛比較冷靜、克制，筆者甚至覺得佢地歌曲嘅錄音版可能會比現場版更加好聽。編曲係佢地嘅強項，玩到較為緩慢嘅歌曲「Till I Found You」同「Sad Song」嘅時候，特顯出好多其他樂隊會忽略嘅細節。歌手Adrian da Silva嘅聲線，非常溫柔動聽，而低音結他每一次轉chord，都會令聽眾有唔同嘅感覺。但係歌曲最重要嘅元素，無疑係結他手Tony Lee一支stratocaster濃厚而懷舊嘅音調，當進入藍調結他solo時，彷彿會見到少少Eric Clapton嘅影子。
2. I love what kind of song that I am playing
5. We are not wrong
Sugar Bro closed the night fresh from their Yamaha Asian Beat 2016 victory 2 weeks prior. ‘524321’ excitedly kicked off their set with ever-changing drum rhythms from Ronny Yeung, arpeggiated bass lines from Kirk Wong, and alternate picking, off beat and palm-muted guitar work from Kan Lo and Gordon Kwong. Despite the inclusion of so many ideas, the overall sum ended up sounding very similar to an early Fall Out Boy track.
The pop-punk continued with the drum intro to ‘I Love What Kind Of Song That I Am Playing’ before a ‘Hysteria’-induced drone riff came to the forefront. The song was bouncing with energy throughout, with the chorus unashamedly soaring like that of Punk veterans Green Day. The mid section drums crashed creating an unhinged juggernaut effect, with a whirlwind of string bends which somehow tied altogether again for one final chorus.
‘Cool’ portrayed a nice range of styles and dynamics, such as funky guitars, dancey drum beats, volume fades, and a bouncing bass line. The vocals were unfortunately lost in the mix, making any lyrics close to inaudible throughout, but the highlight of the track came with a tastefully melodic guitar tapping line from Lo, before Kwong added a clever harmony part, also tapped gracefully. As this became reminiscent of early Foals interplay, Wong steered the direction further with double tapping on the bass.
Fourth track ‘自由渴望’ included a dry guitar riff in the ilk of Arcade Fire’s ‘Normal Person’ over descending scuzzy chords, and root note bass lines. The song seemed relatively nondescript rock music in comparison to previous numbers, until the outro exploded with a low metal riff and slapped bass, in the vain of Muse at the end of a show.
The metal vibe continued into closer ‘We Are Not Wrong’ with a clear nod to Rage Against The Machine’s ‘Bulls On Parade’ in the intro, an Alien Ant Farm tinged verse with palm muted guitars, and slightly forced Paramore-esque chorus. Kwong concluded to utilise Tom Morello tricks in the guitar solo, with a wavering octave pedal over tremolo picked runs high up the neck.
Despite the quiet vocals, Sugar Bro certainly did enough musically to convince the audience why they’re one of the hottest bands in Hong Kong right now. While they clearly work well together melding styles and performing with confidence, it’s bassist Kirk Wong who steals the show with his infectious enjoyment on display which constantly draws the most attention.
– Chris Gillett
Sugar Bro係一隊流（頗）長髮嘅流行搖滾樂隊，當晚演出嘅每首歌都編得好壯觀，有anthem嘅感覺。雖然頭兩首歌曲「524321」同「I love…」節奏快、易入耳，但係聽落去會發覺，佢地風格其實好多元化，添加咗一d重金屬嘅元素，兩名結他手技巧高超。第三首歌「Cool」特別有創意，圍繞住兩支結他一齊玩tapping嘅和音riff，聽落有d似懷舊手機遊戲嘅背景音樂。而第四首歌「自由渴望」就將演出帶到hardcore嘅領域，結他調低咗幾個音，台上台下一齊fing頭。
由佢地嘅Facebook專頁可見，Sugar Bro呢隊組合其實贏過無數嘅樂隊比賽，亦都已經習慣咗西九自由野等大場面，所以男高音歌手Kan Lo當晚不斷呼籲觀眾吶喊助威，一齊合唱。唯一可惜嘅就係作為最後一隊樂隊，到咗十二點幾嘅時候，部分觀眾已經離場，大家有d尷尬，無奈有少少影響到氣氛。
Photos by Angus Leung.
Poster by Angus Leung.