We had a lot of fun at our first Rustic event at Morrisons Cafe & Bar in Sheung Wan. Thanks sooooo much to the performers for really entertaining the audience with their music and their professionalism. Big thanks to Sherman and Desmond for managing the sound. Thanks to Leon for taking the photos. Thanks to ALL our amazing reviewers for taking the time to watch, listen and write about the performers. Thanks to Aneesh and all at Morrisons, see you all in May for our second Rustic event.
第一場在上環Morrisons Café & Bar 舉行的Rustic氣氛真得很棒，大家都聽得很投入。非常感謝所有表演者傾力且專業的演出，讓觀眾都聽得如痴如醉。多謝Sherman同Desmond負責的音效。多謝Leon為當晚拍攝。多謝所有樂評人抽空出席活動並為樂手寫稿。還有感謝Aneesh和所有來臨Morrisons的觀眾，下一場5月的Rustic中再見。
❤️ Chris B xx
Ronnie Lynn (Shenzhen 深圳)
1. Different Worlds (Jess Hudak cover)
2. My Path
3. Little Talks (Of Monsters And Men cover)
4. Stay Live
6. I’ll Follow You Into The Dark (Death Cab For Cutie cover)
「我爸爸曾揶揄說我不會自己寫作歌曲，所以我寫了這首歌，叫My Path。」Rustic #1第一位表演者就是只不過17歲Ronnie Lynn。她是一位自彈自唱的女高音，擁有一把稍害羞但甜美、悅耳的聲線。一開始時唱的Different Worlds以及13歲時創作的My Path，作為acoustic歌曲，風格比較保守、平淡。然而後半段Stay Alive和Jaded兩首原創曲改變了當晚的氣氛，前者的節奏由輕鬆突然變得浮躁，後者的旋律更有點Lana Del Rey的味道。當晚六首歌的表演，彷彿紀錄著這位年輕歌手風格日漸成熟，自信心增強的歷程。
– Elson Tong
For a lot of musicians, success is something aspirational and subjective. For Ronnie Lynn, it seems to be a matter of when rather than if. And it will be the objective kind. Her first song, a cover of Different Worlds by Jes Hudak is a perfect couple of steps away from the original that it shows us straightaway what she’s all about. Sweet, delicate folky pop with nice simple arpeggio finger picking runs. That’s Travis Picking to you guitar nerds.
At such an intimate venue, it would be normal for someone so young to be intimidated and avert her eyes from the crowd. But Ronnie epitomises calmness, like she’s been in this setting many times before. These days it feels like countless bands are covering Little Talks by Of Monsters And Men, but I have to say Ronnie nails it better than most. She slows down the tempo and gives it a simple picking pattern which really changes the dynamic of the song. The original is pretty busy with lots going on, so the sound of such a stripped down version is refreshing. A few tweaks here and bent notes there and suddenly the song seems to mean something else.
She tells us her own song Stay Live is for anyone who has been through a tough time. A reminder that life can be hard no matter if you’re aged 17 or 70. Her song Jaded is a heart-breaking story of loneliness and hope and I’m blown away by the content of her songs for someone so young. The crowd want more of Ronnie and beg for an encore and so she indulges us with a cover of Death Cab For Cutie’s I’ll Follow You Into The Dark. A song I didn’t know, but sounds just like it could be one of her own.
She obviously sees the darkness in this world, but she takes that darkness, sticks it in a major key and sings it sweetly with a smile. Ronnie is a living, breathing message to us all that everything is going to be alright.
– Simon Donald Jones
Time Though 睇唔到
2. Not Now
3. When The Tracks Roll In
4. People Mountain People Sea
5. Back To The Beginning (Swtichfoot cover)
6. Durian What What What (GDJYB 雞蛋蒸肉餅 cover)
四人組合Time Though（睇唔到）凝聚了非常多種音樂風格，筆者實在不知道他們除了在Rustic #1之外，應該去爵士樂酒吧還是去工廈Hidden Agenda表演比較合適。第一首歌Aroma是另類搖滾，然後Not Now引用了Knights of Cydonia（Muse）的旋律，When The Tracks Roll In是爵士樂，People Mountain People Sea將觀眾帶到了Bob Dylan的民謠地帶，最後還要向本地樂隊雞蛋蒸肉餅致敬。Time Though涉足這麼多不同的風格，可能是皆因每名成員（結他、bass、琴以及鼓）都技術高超，要找機會個人獨奏表演。總括半小時的演出，觀眾沒有一刻會覺得沈悶，每首原創歌曲都是驚喜。
– Elson Tong
Apparently, Time Though is the latest in a long list of band names for these boys. Jonathan Chan is the band’s leader, front man and song writer. A bit of a comedian too, making it clear his drummer is on the look-out for love. I’m always a sucker for harmonica and on opening song Aroma it dances back and forth with the bass drum. John Lo on keyboard give us a jazzy solo around the middle eighth and they finish with perhaps one too many repeats of the chorus line.
The beginning of Not Now seems to suggest the Kinks to me, but whatever it says to the crowd they like it. Jonathan is a super front man in this setting, at times though it seems he’s a bit more accustomed to playing solo. Here he plays his guitar with a bit of percussion, which you might find slightly odd with a whole drum kit behind him, but it works. He’s a showman that’s for sure – funny and self-assured. Just as I’m thinking I need to order another beer, suddenly we’re hearing a sample of Knights of Cydonia by Muse! Did that just happen? These guys are keeping us guessing. If anyone in the crowd wasn’t paying attention, they are now.
People Mountain People Sea is strong pop song, with a cracking middle eighth to it. It’s got a nostalgia to it too. Aroma was about home and this has a wistful theme to it – longing for something lost. Stuff we can all relate to.
Jonathan tells us their cover of Back To The Beginning by Switchfoot is in an odd timing, but it doesn’t come across especially unusual to me. They really nail this song and John’s keys are nothing short of just lovely. Jonathan delivers his vocals with a little less strength in the lower register; when he’s up top he’s perfect. He seems to have much more confidence when he’s really busting it out.
The crowd once again demand an encore, not something I’ve seen too much of at Underground gigs. They give us a serving of local indie band GDJYB with 榴槤乜乜乜 (Durian What What What). The drums on this are really tight and I don’t know why but I’m getting a Green Day vibe from them on this song. The crowd are clapping along and loving this. Solid boys.
– Simon Donald Jones
William Elvin and the Circus Tour
1. Tomorrow’s Left Behind
2. Miss Elizabeth
3. How’s The Bed, Sandy?
4. Bubblegum Blues
6. On My Way To Calvary
7. Encore: The Circus Is In Town
在風格上，四人組合William Elvin and The Circus Tour充分展現了美國九十年代另類搖滾的瘋狂。當晚，筆者覺得自己彷彿正在觀看Foo Fighters、Smashing Pumpkins光輝歲月的MTV Unplugged表演：雖然使用木結他，但是一點也不acoustic，在小小的酒吧內，聲音反而有點混濁。然而，來自菲律賓主音William Elvin是一名出色的作曲家，最值得欣賞的是兩首節奏較慢的情歌Miss Elizabeth和10/23，歌曲表露出思鄉、抑鬱的情緒。而他樂隊的The Circus Tour，只能說是一隊十分專業的組合，在半個小時的表演中，筆者實在找不出任何一拍、任何一個音符出現瑕疵。
– Elson Tong
True to the band’s name, William Elvin and the Circus Tour performed an entertaining and colourful show. Optimistic opener Tomorrow’s Left Behind included the uplifting lines “It’s time to dream again" from lead singer William Elvin Manzano as his voice soared, bringing a sense of joy to the Hong Kong-based Filipino band.
“We’re singing some new songs,” Manzano told the crowd, before launching into fresh track Miss Elizabeth. The sun-soaked opening chords and warmth to the singer’s voice recalled Van Morrison crossed with Snow Patrol’s Gary Lightbody, while the influence of Stereophonics could also be heard in the bright acoustic early 00s guitar playing.
The song was full of allusions to god and destiny, bringing a slight religious edge to the songwriting.
A falsetto chorus paired with Rico Cristobal Jr’s soft and sumptuous bass line on How’s The Bed, Sandy?, before Bubblegum Blues segued into a big, bluesy showtune with the husky vocal intonation of Elvis over a lolloping beat. It was clear Manzano’s forte was the blues: his voice oozed soulfulness and showmanship. Meanwhile, the drummer was cucumber cool, leading the group into a crashing crescendo with shouts of "Hoh!"
Then, Manzano announced, "We’re gonna play a love song, you’ll probably think of me as a smooshy romantic after this!" to the sound of cheering and whistles. The song, 10/23, lived up to his promise, its falsetto-laden verses giving a ballad feel. Guitarist Andrea Charity Battad played major chord rhythms while Manzano picked his way through a starry-eyed melody, while singing about how some people build walls, yet others choose to love. Topical stuff, brilliantly composed.
Penultimate track On My Way To Calvary was a coiled spring of tension and energy, beginning with heavy strumming that recalled The Rolling Stones’ Street Fighting Man. The drums snapped and rattled as the song built in intensity and Manzano’s guitar took on a more aggressive punk tone. "Now I stand before my God, I hope I don’t die in vain," he sang amid the cacophony. After calls for an encore, Battad swapped out with another player, and The Circus Tour rounded off the set with a Kinks-style guitar jangle. A jolly finale to a very solid show that left the audience wanting more.
– El Jay
1. I Tried & I Failed
2. Save The Whales
3. Only for Family
5. When She Comes
6. Spill Your Guts
8. Couch Surfing
9. Sting Like A Bee
10. Coffee Stains
11. Heart Of Gold
12. Shot Gun
13. Conversation Stalls
14. Last Time I Saw You
Rustic #1當晚最後一位歌手Ziad Samman在表演前被標榜為outlaw country鄉村音樂，筆者不同意。不論形象有多反叛，鄉村音樂家在chord結構上都比較傳統、保守。然而Ziad Samman的音樂較簡化、傾覆，結他的每個音都會有些微不穩定不和諧的感覺，反而更像早期龐克，只不過他是單人彈唱，沒有其他成員而已。這位歌手一時讓人聯想起The Clash的Joe Strummer，聲線勇猛、沙啞，但一時亦會像Sex Pistols解散後的Sid Vicious，咬字不清晰，聲線突然會破裂。就這樣，他奔波唱了足足十四首變化不大的短歌曲，讓觀眾回到了虛無主義的七十年代。
– Elson Tong
In a night of mixed acoustic sounds, it was fitting that the tattooed “outlaw” punk Ziad Samman closed the show. Achieving a lot with just his guitar, voice, and desperado charm, the rocker played a raucous set full of whisky-soaked wit and rambling narratives. Opener I Tried & I Failed introduced the boyish troubadour’s gritty vocals and harsh delivery to those who hadn’t previously seen him perform with Tango and Snatch or The Side Burns.
Samman channelled a stripped-back punk sound, creating an acoustic take on the Celtic rock revelry of bands like Dropkick Murphys or Flogging Molly. With an occasionally slipshod style, it seemed like Samman was playing a caricature at times, blurring the lines between sincerity and mockery. In trying to make his voice sound as characterfully grizzly and intoxicated as possible, his vocal power and consistency suffered, which distracted from the overall strength of his performance.
Only For Family had a more country, southern gothic feel with ominous and theatrical chords, perfect for the crowning act of a night dedicated to “Rustic” music. On When She Comes, the guitar plucking took on an almost banjo-like quality, before Samman slipped into a melancholic key for Spill Your Guts. As the performance unfurled, Samman’s guitar playing became more interesting and complex. He exuded a natural and casual stage presence and charisma befitting the laidback rock ‘n’ roll bar venue.
For better or worse, Ursula “The Sea Witch” was the most memorable song of the set – inspired by a boss who is “really nasty” and “a cruel, hard and calculated bitch.” Samman rallied the crowd to join in belting out the chorus, which gave him a visibly manic glee. Sting Like A Bee recalled Florence and the Machine’s Kiss With A Fist in its blow-by-blow retaliatory fight lyrics, while Samman’s voice dipped low for comic effect.
But from Coffee Stains, the songs began to blur into each another. Samman’s tried-and-tested formula of barked lyrics and low key guitar rhythms began to wear thin, and some variation would have been welcome at this stage. Channelling The Offspring’s Dexter Holland in his delivery, Samman rumbled through lyrics about a “good-time girl”, giving a post-hardcore confessional angle to the song. The heavier Shot Gun had some strong hooks: from its rapid strumming to a big, singalong “woah woah woahhh” chorus.
There was a definite scent of The White Stripes’ Effect and Cause in Samman’s approach to songwriting – revealing, confessional narratives hidden beneath tongue-in-cheek lyrics. Heart of Gold played like the final drunken ditty at the end of a long night’s drinking, evoking the inebriated raconteurial flow of The Pogues’ Shane MacGowan. In the same fried, rumbling tone, Samman growled his way through stark and heart-worn, yet defiant and passionate lines.
By Conversation Stalls, the songs were virtually indistinguishable. It was 11.30pm, the crowd was dwindling, and Samman was ready for his final song. Last Time I Saw You had a softer bite than the preceding tracks, with an almost Jack Johnson-meets-Plain White T’s warmth and wistfulness to the simple, sunny chords to signing off the night on a contemplative note. Samman’s set may have felt long and verging on repetitive at times, but there’s no doubt that the multi-talented live regular brought a show that had personality, spark and mischief in spades.
– El Jay
Photos by Leon Che’ Clark.
由Leon Che’ Clark攝影。
Poster by Ching LUK.