An awesome way to kick start 2017 with a brilliant line-up of Hong Kong bands, Thank you sooooo much to The Hub, Parsons Music, This Music Studio and Jon Lee for continuing to make these events possible. Thanks to Sam Sam for providing us with those awesome visuals. Biggest thanks to Sherman + Harmeet (and of course Jon) for making it sound so good. Always grateful to Angus for his brilliant live band photos. Shout out to Susanna on the door! Lastly thanks to Polaroid who donated cool headphones + earphones for us to give away. See you at a future Underground event!
衷心感謝The Hub、 柏斯琴行、 This Music Studio 同 Jon Lee一直支持，令2017年由出色嘅香港樂隊line-up打好頭陣，並且令活動得以順利進行。多謝Sam Sam為我地帶來精彩奪目嘅視覺藝術效果。 最重要感謝Sherman + Harmeet (當然仲有Jon) 帶來優質音效。感激一向為樂隊現場表演拍攝精彩照片嘅Angus。仲有幫忙接待嘅Susanna! 最後多謝Polaroid捐贈耳機俾我地送出。期望將來可以喺Underground嘅活動中再見!
❤️ Chris B xx
1. Little Talks (Of Monsters And Men cover)
2. My Darling Girl
3. Red In The Sky
4. Ho Hey (Lumineers cover)
6. Snake Charmer
7. How Long
Ryan and Jasmine return to the Underground after playing the KEF Stage at Clockenflap last year. They get Sub Terra #4 started with a cover of Little Talks by Of Monsters and Men. They don’t do anything too radical with it, staying close to the original all the while bringing their own minimalist style – driven by Shelby the kick drum and uncomplicated, rhythmic acoustic guitar. Ryan’s deep baritone works nicely with Jasmine’s sweet, wispy vocals.
There’s a good helping of Nick Cave about Ryan’s voice on Red In The Sky, a song all about murder, graveyards and getting stabbed. I look around the room and, despite the theme, realise it’s near impossible not to smile while watching these guys. Most of the faces are wearing a nice warm grin; a testament to the good vibes this duo bring.
With their cover of the Lumineers song Ho Hey, they give it The Folk Ups treatment and even for a moment make me wonder if the original actually has a female vocal on it. Such is the conviction with which they deliver. Once again, not changing it too much at all, the two guitars work nice and simply together. Their laid back stage presence really comes through here, it’s like they’re equally at home on stage or with sand under their feet.
There’s a lovely hummed middle eighth on Tempest, which is one of the songs from their new EP. A lovely folk song which pushes the normal structures of songwriting with the multiple layers it has going on. I also all of a sudden feel like we should be sitting on hay bales.
The whole duet style folk flavour they have going on is a real throw back. They seem to have a very clear vision for their music and approach to their songs. What’s scary is how young they both are. With the more gigs they play and songs they write, we may not get such an intimate setting next time. We’ll need to arrive early to get a good place in the queue. While it’s free, I better also download that EP when I get home.
– Simon Donald Jones
筆者錯過咗民謠二人組合The Folk-Ups喺Clockenflap嘅表演，Sub Terra 4之前根本唔清楚佢地係乜野來頭，只見佢地台上放置咗唔同嘅樂器，包括banjo、Bob Dylan式戴喺頸上嘅口琴、及用行李箱自製出黎嘅鼓。今時今日，可能因為Taylor Swift等歌手嘅緣故，所謂民謠風格已經過份接近大眾流行樂，失去咗自身有少少粗糙嘅特色。但係七首歌之後，我對The Folk-Ups完全係刮目相看，因為佢地將好多新晉樂隊會做嘅野都完完全全地傾倒。
The Folk-Ups喺表演前十分之低調，但係一開聲，你會發覺只不過十五歲嘅Ryan，係一名難得一遇嘅男低音。民謠巨星Johnny Cash細個嘅時候，佢嘅老師發覺佢聲線太過獨特，唔肯收佢做學生，只可以祝福佢以後能闖出一番事業。當晚，Ryan就係俾咗我一樣嘅感覺。再加上女主音Jasmine亦係一名聲線較低嘅歌手，兩人主攻低音，唱起黎有種和暖、成熟嘅味道。
最令筆者拍爛手掌嘅，無疑係佢地嘅編曲技巧。佢地嘅能力已經遠遠拋離verse-chorus-verse或者二人合唱呢種標準嘅玩法，反而會完全就歌曲嘅氣氛、色調而決定下一步，唔會介意扼殺一首正常流行歌曲應有嘅野。就「Red in the Sky」一首歌而言，觀眾唔會聽到高潮，只會聽到低潮。總括黎講，筆者覺得The Folk-Ups嘅風格可以跟當年美國創作歌手Tim／Jeff Buckley兩父子相比，每一首歌就此成為一個故事或者一場對話。
– Elson Tong
3. Fraction of Time
4. Matter of Love
5. Rock and Bling
6. Under My Skin
Opium’s love letter to Wanchai gets their set into gear. A sultry, French and English number which straight away shows us that French lead singer Ingrid is the band’s beating heart. Their dark, seductive sound weirdly matches her gesticulation-heavy stage presence.
On Shadow, lead guitarist Bernard plays a constant riff on his top strings which gives it a cool hum throughout, like a car engine running. Parked. Ready to put the foot down. The nice uncomplicated drum rhythms work well with Stephanie’s bass, driving the song. Ingrid gives absolute feeling and emotion to each word she sings. Bernard now comes down the lower frets for the solo, giving this song a healthy sprinkle of the White Stripes.
Ingrid tells us we’re now in for a little trip hop and we welcome Yee to the stage to join the band on keyboard. His gentle keys really change the dynamic of the band, there’s now a delicate, dreaminess which creates an interesting contrast to Ingrid’s sort of brash vocals on Fraction Of Time. There’s a clear sense of melancholy. I can picture it in a film, perhaps a scene where two lovers are walking away from each other – bringing romantic ambiguity. It feels more like dream pop rather than trip hop, echoing a bit of Julia Holter. And the guitar solo is a real sweet piece of magic.
A lot of love from the house for the reggae vibes on Rock and Bling along with it’s Pink Panther-esque intro. I’ll go as far to say as this is where the band clicks. Stand out song for me. Things get theatrical on Under My Skin, like that bit in a musical where we first meet the bad guy and he tells us how he’s going to catch the good guy and mess his world up.
They finish off with Regrets and this takes a bit of time to come together, but happens with a bang on the chorus. The simple set up of the band coupled with Ingrid’s intensity really works and grabs the room. I’d love to see what this band could do with a bigger crowd giving them more to feed off. I get the feeling it would light these guys up. But despite that, they’ve managed to burn pretty brightly tonight.
– Simon Donald Jones
作為Sub Terra 4嘅第二隊，Opium跟首隊樂隊The Folk-Ups低調嘅作風截然不同。呢隊組合嘅女主音係來自法國嘅舞蹈家Ingrid，擔當著四個樂隊成員之中嘅前台frontwoman角色，一舉一動都有種忘我嘅感覺，半說半唱嘅高音風格亦有少少Janis Joplin嘅影子。
Opium當晚嘅表演基本上可以分為三場：第一場係重搖滾、第二場係九十年代英式trip-hop、第三場係reggae。無論以乜野風格演繹，佢地歌曲嘅基礎結構都十分簡單，可能只不過不停重覆同一個chord progression。但係仔細聆聽後，就會發覺佢地嘅音樂其實非常精緻。聽開band嘅人會知道，一支結他、一支bass同埋一套鼓製造出黎嘅音樂，聲音可以好空曠，但又可以好擠擁。就如頭兩首歌「Wanchai」同「Shadow」而言，三樣樂器重疊彈一個riff，彷彿成為主音Ingrid自我發揮嘅平台，感覺有少少似聽緊Patti Smith。到咗Trip-hop嘅一段，結他、bass同埋電子琴反而各自發揮，互相穿插，增添咗少少Portishead／爵士樂即興演出嘅味道。Opium俾筆者嘅感覺唔係「歌手加伴奏」，而係堂堂正正嘅「樂隊」。
– Elson Tong
崩口碗 Bang Hau Wun
Bang Hau Wun is a band that are impossible to categorise or pigeonhole. With a sound incorporating elements of metal, jazz, ska, post-rock and funk, the band dipped into practically every genre to create a colourful and at times confusing picture.
The performance began with reverb-laden ska guitar and theatrical, almost spoken word verses from frontman Lun Cheng. As fuzzed-out chords kicked in for metal vibe, Lun began to growl and squawk into the mic, emulating the death metal style. The whole combination had the offbeat, aggressive quality of The Fall, and signalled to the crowd that this wasn’t going to be your average show.
The sound morphed from metal to avant-garde jazz rock and Lun’s voice became almost cartoonishly sweet. There was a definite Chochukmo vibe in the indie guitar and pop melodies. Until! More growling began amid descending single notes. Lun made a cacophonous “grawwwww!” death-rooster noise. It was weird, but good.
The jingly guitar intro by Hugo referenced And So I Watch You From Afar’s Tip of the Hat on 採花拆大宅, before slipping back into that retro ska territory as the song progressed into something smoother and more typically rock. It became clear that Lun wasn’t the world’s most tuneful singer, which is probably one of the reasons he opts to experiment with his voice so much. The song sped up to noughties dance indie rock and Lun began chattering incoherently. With the gritty, spiky guitar and IDGAF delivery, Bang Hau Wun drew from the modern, spit-in-yer-face punk of Slaves and Savages.
For 并底脂蛙, the tone changed to a kind of dark jazz, oozing with vaudevillian theatrics. It was easy to imagine Lun as some kind of tragic mime performing at the Moulin Rouge. Hugo tried out a spot of soloing, before delivering a big, shimmering rock chord to finish.
Hugo the guitarist then shook the neck of their guitar for extra reverb at the start of 糟糠髮妻. Lun’s voice was low and foreboding, then the drums sprang to life and were soon joined by an amazing slap bassline. There was a definite Mars Volta tone to Lun’s frantic vocals and the progressive nature of the track. The lead singer adopted a goofy voice for a few lines, and began screaming as the band noodled into a prog-metal breakdown.
Then it was time for a soapbox moment. “Fuck China, I’m not Chinese … call me Hongkongese,” Lun shouted. “You’re crazy,” a punter yelled back. “Duh,” came the reply. Luckily, the band curtailed things by breaking into a bossa nova-style number, complete with rim-tapped percussion. As Lun sang softly, the song, 北京事變, took on an early Radiohead sound in its layered guitar fuzz and ascending wailing, before melting away with a heartbeat bass.
The show culminated in final song 兵長退役鎮魂曲, which showed off the impressive musicianship of the players and proved the most memorable track. In the days following Sub Terra, it was hard to remember much from Bang Hau Wun’s sound apart from Lun’s growling and the unsettling weirdness of the arrangements.
– El Jay
筆者第一次睇崩口碗演出係喺2016年中秋嘅一場遊擊show，同場嘅係David Boring、murmur、花等香港比較「前衛」、「實驗性」嘅樂隊，可想而知佢地同Sub Terra 4頭兩隊嘅方向甚至社交圈子會係南轅北轍。
– Elson Tong
1. Sesame = Pinball Number Count
2. My Name Is Glen
3. My House
4. Matzo Ball Soup
6. 8 Bit Killah
7. I Remember
8. Fuck City
9. Muthaphukka I Will Stab You
10. Fuck You You Fucking Fuck
11. Never Gunna Give You Up (Rick Astley cover)
12. Nothing Compares 2 U (Sinead O’Connor cover)
Draped in a sparkling silver sequin gown, matching suit, shoes, skinny tie and black sunglasses, not unlike an exaggerated James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem, JUNK! took to The Hub stage to both headline Sub Terra #4 and celebrate his 99th show, while cartoon visuals of a ‘Pinball Number Count’ lit the crowd, increasing anticipation levels.
‘My Name Is Glen’ began with a minimal beat and a Daft Punk-esque vocal, while visual projections of Glen from childhood to adulthood captivated the audience comedically, before the song abruptly finished with “My name is JUNK!”. This moved swiftly into ‘My House’, a swaggering nod to Kraftwerk over a simple two-note bluesy riff. The keytar provided piercing industrial drum sounds which continued to build the hype, despite it slightly dwarfing the mix.
‘Matzo Ball Soup’ switched it up again to self-described Australian hip-hop. The song began with distinctive violins over a subdued 90s pop breakbeat. JUNK! then broke out into a rap about the ingredients for his Grandma’s soup in a heavy Aussie accent, ahead of a brash drum’n’bass section, and Jewish folk song-influenced string lines. The performance and delivery was comparable to Flight of the Conchords, but with far more bravado.
Arguably the highlight of the entire night was ‘Fertiliza’, an R-rated Soft Hair-esque squelch funk track, with highly graphic images which may linger long in the memory. The song depicted how he accidentally got his wife pregnant, and included a cartoon sex sequence of “how babies are made”. Sperm, bizarre multi-coloured dancing babies and nude Simpsons-inspired characters dominated the screens, whilst JUNK! walked out into the crowd playing soft pad chords and high octave vibrato synth stabs with incessant baby noises growing louder with each beat. JUNK’s wife also appeared in the song, rapping with the couple’s baby, and raising the bar to laugh out loud moments.
Throughout the set, JUNK! had been having a few issues with microphones cutting out, but allowed it to play into part of the show. Before ‘8 Bit Killah’, he had trouble fixing the microphone back into place. The lengthy fumbling felt like a musical version of a Stewart Lee sketch, garnering sporadic chuckles. The song itself was bit-crushed to the max with 80’s and 90’s arcade game sounds building the beat. More samples were added on top from a gaming controller, and classic games, most notably Pac-Man, featured behind him.
‘I Remember’ took a left-turn into love song territory, layering xylophone over “oohs” and a tribal beat. Lyrics had been included on screen to create a group karaoke as JUNK sang in falsetto. The sing-along refrain of “I’m gonna learn from my mistakes” repeated to the end, with it’s emotive frankness reminiscent of The Street’s ‘Dry Your Eyes’. Meanwhile ‘Fuck City’ brought the tempo back up, as a Vengaboys/Hot Butter’s ‘Popcorn’ synth line danced over an electronic 80’s backing and female harmonising vocals. The song sounded familiar, then quickly burst into the Haddaway classic ‘What Is Love?’, with the crowd equally bursting into song.
JUNK began a beat boxing loop before cutting it off abruptly for “not having the patience”, and moved onto ‘Muthaphukka I’ll Stab You In The Face’. He was out in the crowd once again, this time with a toy knife and shouting down the mic, delivered vaguely like Zack De La Rocha. The song culminated in him playfully stabbing an audience member, and eerie Halloween footage created a perfect backdrop for the theatrics and intense Prodigy sonics.
‘Fuck You You Fucking Fuck’ also proved to be highly memorable, with guest samples of Arnold Schwarzenegger cleverly triggered by an X-Box controller. His voice was being warped and pitch shifted with the various buttons, before the verses vocally hinted towards David Byrne. The chorus was carefree, jumping around the stage shouting the song title repeatedly. And the middle section simply went “blah blah blah, blah blah blah” adding to the obscure hilarity. Again, JUNK! got the crowd involved in the show, giving a controller to an audience member and essentially having a ‘Fuck’-off battle with Arnie’s voice as the weapon.
The crowd had to choose one song from a selection for JUNK! to cover for his closing track, and Rick Astley’s ‘Never Gonna Give You Up’ won by a landslide. He handed out lots of tambourines, and danced into the crowd, invoking call and response sing-alongs in the middle section. Following a raucous response, the encore was a heavily sped up version of Sinead O’Connor’s ‘Nothing Compares 2 U’, sending the crowd off buzzing, talking about their favourite moments from the set.
– Chris Gillett
聽完三隊嚴肅嘅樂隊之後，Sub Terra 4嘅觀眾迫切需要接觸一d真正嘅純娛樂，而當晚嘅最後一場表演，正正達到呢個要求，令到場地即時變成舞場。Junk玩咗一set派對電子音樂，但係神奇嘅係，裡面幾乎所有拍子／節奏嘅聲音，都係由電子遊戲摘取出黎。當時我睇唔清楚，但係佢所使用嘅樂器好似正正係一個xbox嘅控制器。JUNK!又為自己每一首歌都製作咗一個音樂影片，以快速剪接、二次創作為主，好似提示緊大家，影片先係藝術上嘅主角，音樂只不過係配角。到最後，觀眾未夠皮，為佢點咗兩首hit歌翻唱：竟然係Rick Astley嘅Never Gonna Give You Up同埋Sinead O’Connor嘅Nothing Compares To You…
– Elson Tong
Photos by Angus Leung.
Poster by Angus Leung.