Christmas show was SO MUCH FUN! Thanks to The Hub, Parsons & Jon Lee for making these showcases happen. Lots of thank yous to Polaroid for supplying such great prizes for the audience. Big shout to the wonderful members of The Underground team: Angus, Kei, Desmond, Abe & Susanna. Thanks to the reviewers and thanks to Sam Sam for the visuals.
聖誕節的表演真是非常有趣！感謝The Hub，Parsons＆Jon Lee的協助讓整個表現順利進行。非常感謝寶麗來提供極好的獎品給觀眾，還有The Underground團隊成員：安格斯、基安、德斯蒙德、安倍與蘇珊娜。亦感謝樂評人同Sam的視覺效果。
❤️ Chris B xx
4. 今天應該很高興 (達明一派 Cover)
6. Disco Queen
7. Do they it’s Christmas?’ (band aid 1984 Cover)
ReLaxpose kicked off the Underground’s Christmas Show with ‘跑跑跑’, a guitar and bass centred riff around a simple and straight 70’s rock beat by ar-Ku. The track had elements of Led Zeppelin and The Black Keys about it, whilst singer Yipjai ordered his short dry vocals down the microphone. Despite the promising rock-tinged start, the ending felt a little overcomplicated and sticky for the members.
Follow up ‘老土迷幻歌’ began with a low gurning riff and a heavy vibrato, whilst ar-Wai on the other guitar was building up a wall of feedback. As the rest of the band entered, the drum beat appeared to be very similar to the previous track in pattern and tempo. The Britpop major chords helped differentiate it a little more though. ‘電視中的你’ was introduced as ‘being angry about some tv presenters’, but the music didn’t appear to mirror that sentiment, sounding far more optimistic and no real dynamic changes. The only notable moment was a Bernard Sumner/Post-punk guitar solo which meandered around the middle of the neck, struggling to be heard above the other instruments.
The most interesting sonic sound was present in ‘今天應該很高興’ (達明一派 cover), where Yipjai used an octave pedal on is guitar nicely to create a haunting organ sound, which certainly grabbed the audience’s attention. The track also featured a mellow folksy beginning, a bigger lift in the choruses, and a marching drum at the end – like a softer interpretation of U2’s ‘Sunday Bloody Sunday’.
‘讓我睡兩睡’ turns up the psychedelic funk, with the exact same chord progression and key signature as ‘Purple Haze’, as Yipjai was bending strings aggressively, creating a counterpart riff. They moved away from the bluesy guitar work in the choruses, and included a low rumbling pedal bass by Maxi, with higher notes added sparingly. Yipjai also sang in a much higher register than in the previous songs. ‘Disco Queen’ however saw a return to the straight drums and guitar/bass unison, this time with a slightly grungier Jet vibe, and a touch of funk guitar in the choruses. Although the open hi hats were added, as well as the Blur-ish octave bass, the tempo felt a little too sluggish to fully capture the dancey nature.
The opening set was rounded off with toms, and bright Razorlight style guitar strikes, before bursting into an unexpected cover of Band Aid’s ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas?’. The palm muted guitars made the song feel far more energetic than the original, and vocally moved away from the Anthony Kiedis mannerisms towards a more melodic delivery, adding a hint Jarvis Cocker to the performance. Although Relaxpose’s set had some minor flaws, their energy transferred to the crowd by the end of their set, getting everyone into the Christmas spirit.
– Chris Gillett
Ignite the Hope
1. We Wish You A Merry Christmas
2. You Reap What You Sow
3. Honey, Shall We Dance Again?
4. Can’t Stop My Crush On You
5. This Is Resolution
6. Stab Me Alive
Of all the bands playing at The Underground’s first-ever Christmas show, Ignite The Hope drew the largest crowd. The room filled with excited chatter as the band tuned up – or should we say tuned down. All signs pointed towards a heavy and energetic show – the band’s first UG appearance in eight years. The band threw themselves into the festive theme by kicking off with a post-hardcore-style rendition of Merry Christmas.
Vocalist Henry wasn’t the best singer, but he instilled a lot of passion and showmanship into his exuberant performance. His lyrically-dense sing-shouting approach made him sound a bit like Fall Out Boy’s Patrick Stump, which matched the pop punk elements of second song You Reap What You Sow. As the guitars revved up, whoever was on the sound desk got a bit overexcited with the light show, showering the band in a headache-inducing strobe effect that didn’t really go with the song. Nevertheless, the crowd fed off the party atmosphere, with hands waving as the band segued into a Linkin Park-influenced backing track and vocal interlude. The band gave off the angsty emo flavour of Taking Back Sunday, but the lightweight growled sections brought to mind Bullet For My Valentine’s Matt Tuck.
By third song Honey, Shall We Dance Again, a huge crowd had formed. There was a slightly awkward long pause while the guitarists tuned up again. Henry leaped off the stage enthusiastically, as both guitarists and bassist Hei played a driving riff in sync. The song evoked The 1975 in its pop sentimentality, and guitarist Calvin applied an organ effect to play a waltzy-Stranglers-esque section that gave the performance a camp, gothic feel. Playing up to the song’s theatrics, a la Panic! At The Disco, Henry strained his voice as he reached the upper register.
Fuzzed-out noodling took off like a swarm of bees on Can’t Stop My Crush On You, before vocals and guitars chimed in sharp melody. Guitarist Kin and Hei ran on the spot, while Henry’s meandering falsetto echoed Chochukmo’s Jan Curious. In a classic Hong Kong band style, there was quite a lot of talking and explaining in between songs. Henry revealed the song was about a guy trying to get a girl’s attention in a lot of different ways, and that he’d put the lyrics on Facebook for fans to sing along to.
Final track This Is Resolution began softly, but the PA began buzzing just as the song started. A skittering, echoey drum track kicked in as Henry started singing rather off-key. As Kin’s tremolo picking gained speed and volume, the vocalist became strained and difficult to listen to. He was so busy running around and working the crowd that his vocal power and consistency suffered as a result. The track recalled newer Bring Me The Horizon in its slickly-produced synth/screamo melding. The song peaked when Kin stepped forward for a rapid shredding solo.
There were elements of Sugar Bro in the band’s encore, Stab Me Alive, which wrapped heavier sections with pop punk warbling. Calvin showed himself as the most talented player onstage: unpretentious yet effective, his smooth technique held the show together. With a punch of classic rock riffing and a long shout, the show was finished. The band may have slipped up a few times in execution, and the vocals could have been more polished, but the band radiated fun throughout their set, and drew the most adoring crowd of the night.
1. Jesse was a boy
3. I got u
4. Spastic donkey
5. El cazanarez
6. Santa Claus
7. Trapped at lunch
8. King been
9. Green wave
There can’t be many bands knocking around Hong Kong who can claim to have a bona fide rock God as their front man. Müchell are a real throw back to the rock bands of old and Manu is their driving force. Him and his eye liner.
This three-piece have a strong punk influence. With Motorhead, The Vines and perhaps Judas Priest present at the birth. Whilst bassist Samson and Max on drums don’t really look the part, they sure as hell sound like it. Manu’s filthy guitar rips through you like a rusty knife. It’s the engine that powers their sound.
This is effortless, pent-up rage but not in your face. They arrive like a gale force wind out of nowhere, leaving everything dishevelled in its wake. This is music to lose your shit to. You don’t care what Manu is singing about but you feel it in your chest. Whatever you’ve got on your plate at the moment, after ten minutes with Müchell you won’t care. They’re here to help you blow off steam and lose your mind for a bit. Such is the gift of rock music.
Samson lived up to his name on stand out song “El Cazanarez” where his bass lines really arrive at the party. Next we’re treated to their own Christmas song, written especially for this gig – with the oh so very rock n roll lyric “well fuck you Santa Claus”.
Unlike other unsigned bands which haven’t been together very long, these guys know what their sound is. All the while not taking themselves too seriously. Their song “Spastic Donkey” epitomising this. It’s much more rock n roll to not give a fuck than to give too much of a fuck and these guys have that balance, with excellent manners. Müchell are monstrous, and for a band only formed in 2016 they will only get better and better.
– Simon Donald Jones
1. Brink of war
4. Christmas time (cover of The Darkness)
6. Way to die
7. Invisible enemy
Other Theories are no strangers to the Hong Kong rock scene and it shows in the obvious comfort this band has on stage. They kick off with a serving of “Brink Of War” with extra oomph on the side.
Their sound is a little hard to nail down. I’m feeling they’ve got a lot of influences and perhaps don’t aim towards a particular genre of rock. Vocalist Kyle Haynes certainly has a touch of the Jon Bon Jovi about him. You’d do well to find a better lead guitarist up this close than Reinhard Adick. There is nothing the guy cannot do and his relaxed demeanour only makes his talent all the more obvious.
Do we like to know who the leader of a band is? Do we care? I don’t know, but these guys give us the feeling they run their band with a democracy rather than a dictatorship. Even the drummer gets a chance to wax lyrical for the Underground crowd. Bassist Eric Ferreira really shows us what he can do with some ridiculously funky bass riffs on the band’s penultimate offering “Way To Die”.
This band’s infectious spirit is a pleasure to be a part of. They clearly love playing together and are thrilled to be here playing for us. On the whole, it’s a good set with a real mix of rock genres on display with awesome spirit.
The Underground Christmas Show just wouldn’t have felt right without a bit of The Darkness, and Other Theories gave us just that with an cracking cover of “Christmas Time”. No need to do anything fancy with it, they just let the song do the work and were fine ambassadors of the long and loving marriage between rock music and the festive season.
– Simon Donald Jones
Photos by Angus Leung.
Poster by Angus Leung.