What an amazing gig to round up 2017 for The Underground! Thanks sooooo much to Jules and Logo for coming along to play a great show with UK band Zurich – who flew 8000 miles to be at our showcase!! What a great night of music it was indeed. Thanks to ALL our amazing reviewers for taking the time to watch, listen and write about the performers. Thanks to Sherman for managing the sound. Big shout out to This Music Studio for sponsoring the music equipment. Huge thanks to Leon for taking the photos. Thank you to Polaroid for their cool headphones which we gave out in the lucky draw. Thanks to Susanna on door duties. And of course thanks to everyone at Morrisons! 多麼精彩的演出，這正是The Underground 2017年的總結。好感謝Jules和Logo的光臨，來與遠自8,000哩外的英倫的Zurich一起演出。真個是一個悅耳悅目的音樂會。謝謝全部的樂評人抽時間來看，聽和寫出對這個演出的觀後感。感謝Sherman控制音響。熱烈感謝This Music Studio提供樂器。深深感謝Leon為演出拍照。多謝寶麗來贊助抽獎的有型耳機。謝謝Susanna幫忙處理門票。當然必須感謝Morrisons的每一人！❤️ Chris B xx
Jules O’Brien (England 英國)
2. In Between
3. Love Affair
5. Bad One For A Friend
7. This Town
8. You Won’t Be Down Forever
9. We Both Look Back
Jules O’Brien has now found herself a mainstay of the Hong Kong music scene, having graced numerous Underground gigs as well as recently playing over on Lamma for their Fun Day festival and supporting Pineapple Jam at Lamma Grill.
Tonight for London Calling, she’s been up front with us that she’s been battling a cold and we may be getting a husky-voiced version of her rootsy, folk-tinged, acoustic pop.
Her first song Paperwork really is a very classic Jules song with her signature finger picking style mixed in with a beautiful percussive, stripped back middle eight. In Between has a sort of lullaby feel to it and I love how she comes down the fretboard for a couple of harmonic type sounding notes which seem to push the song structure beyond what we were expecting. So far, we’re not seeing any of this flu she’s supposed to be fighting off. A very convincing brave face.
There’s lots of Kate Nash’s influence all over Chopstick – a comparison I’m sure she’s heard before. She squeezes her lyrics into bars and then drags them out, nicely mixing up her rhythm and form.
Easily my favourite song of hers is Bad One For A Friend which feels very Arctic Monkeys inspired. Its story is surely a well-trodden path of dating someone who was a “nice guy, but a bad boyfriend”. Even so, I’ve not heard it in a song before and it’s a beautiful observation of the human condition I feel.
Gold typifies Jules style with a mix of rhythm, finger-picking and percussive guitar, but stepping away from her usual angsty themes towards a more mature one with passionate desire and unrequited love. With wonderful variation on this song again, I feel the box she writes her songs in is much bigger than the average bear, if you get my drift.
She loses her way a bit on This Town, a newer song that perhaps she hasn’t quite got as comfortable with as the rest of her set. Despite this, it sounded good and the high notes really seemed unaffected to me by her cold. I enjoyed the simpler arrangement; easier for the ear to latch on to. She turns up the reverb on You Won’t Be Down Forever, sonically creating a dreamy quality; one which would be interesting if she pursued more intently. The super-sweet humming outro gently wakes Morrison Café from our dreamlike trance.
She concludes her set with We’ll Both Look Back which returns us to her acoustic-roots style for a final tale of misplaced love and broken hearts. There’s no question her Hong Kong star is rising. I hope she does another gig with a cold. I’ll be there.
– Simon Donald Jones
1. Hello Purple.
2. Lilac Sky
3. Tidal Waves
4. Nonstop Paradise
6. I Saw Your Eye
7. My Last Vanity
8. Illegal Brain
9. Enemy of the Stars
Logo’s appearance at London Calling was a treat for newer Underground gig-goers, who might not have had chance to catch the local scene stalwarts – their last show hosted by Chris B was in 2012. While their music drew inspiration from 70s mod culture and 60s psychedelia, Kylie, Chris and James channelled a timelessly cool vibe, clad in leather jackets and shades.
The three piece kicked off their set with the smooth, atmospheric and jazz-inflected Hello Purple, which introduced the smoky vocals of singer-drummer James, who managed the impressive feat of holding down a beat while singing. As the band segued into Lilac Sky, guitarist Chris’s picking built in intensity before he stomped on his phaser pedal to wash the mix in a heady, psychedelic sound. The song’s minimalist, retro feel worked well; guitars swirled over snaking basslines and hi-hat drumming.
Tidal Waves made use of jazzy, experimental arpeggios, which gave the song a prog rock feel, with bossa nova elements to the time signature and barre chord strumming pattern. Although James’s vocals aligned more closely with Paul Weller’s during the set, there was a touch of Morrissey’s tone in the singer’s lovelorn lyrics and defiant drumming, and he even managed to maintain an in-tune whistle while drumming. Logo then sped it up for Nonstop Paradise, which employed ska-style guitar and shouty singing to invoke The Specials with a touch of proto-punk attitude. Feeling the energy emanating from the trio, the crowd began bopping in time to Kylie’s bobbly basslines.
The set took a turn for the shaky at midpoint song Oligarko, on which James began a kind of incoherent rhythmic chanting while Chris laid down more psydedelic-sounding riffs and Kylie took care of backing vocal harmonies while playing a simple bass motif. However, her instrument was so loud in the mix that it was distorting – to wince-inducing effect. In the first obvious clash between James’s singing and drumming duties, the tempo was all over the place. His wild, dissonant, hoarse shouts had an almost trance-like effect on the audience. The song didn’t really have an end; it just faded away.
“Get the dancing started!” yelled James, awaking punters from their daze. Chris zoomed in while uptempo, disco guitar that recalled Nile Rodgers’ style, while the drummer redeemed himself with a catchy chorus channelling Paul Weller. Despite the strong hooks, I Saw Your Eye ended up feeling repetitive and niggling tempo issues resurfaced.
Similarly, My Last Vanity, which evoked The Police in its new wave-meets-reggae styling, felt samey and unoriginal, halting just as it seemed the band were building some variation into the song. Illegal Brain, a Logo live favourite, was introduced by James as a song about going through customs and feeling guilty – highly relatable for every jet-setting Hongkonger. Kylie adopted an aggressive stance to deliver rapid scales, while James bashed on a piece of sheet metal for a gritty snare effect, and Chris offered up more neat arpeggios.
The high point of Logo’s performance came in Enemy of the Stars, the final song of the set. Lovely vocal harmonies and Tame Impala, nu-psychedelia-style guitar was reminiscent of Pink Floyd’s deeper trips into noodling territory; a kind of free form freakout. The song’s fadeout felt somewhat anticlimactic, but the band left the audience with the feeling they had just witnessed a truly unique performance rarely found among the usual singer-songwriters and soft rock bands of Hong Kong’s musical landscape. Their psychedelic-mod music drew from some of the 20th centuries most exciting sounds, while bringing in a fresh, futuristic feel to create an enthralling impression.
– El Jay
ZURICH (England 英國)
2. Invisible Man
4. While You Sleep
5. My Protocol
6. Where You’ve Been
8. Small Wars
Zurich always puts on a good show and last week they flew all the way from the United Kingdom to show us. Saturday night’s set started off with Runners, showcasing exactly why they’re eager to bring their music to new audiences around Asia. The indie rock-esque vocals combined with drum sounds reminiscent of Fall Out Boy and pop-punk made for a very distinct sound, with ambient delay and soothing vocals perfectly layered between.
Invisible Man caught my attention, with the use of an electronic backing track throughout the song. Not often seen with bands of this genre, we almost immediately caught a U2 vibe, with guitar sounds from ambient delays all the way to killer riffs, all whilst the drummer Leigh showcases complex drum parts that just fit perfectly with Adrian’s vocals – speaking to you and making you want more.
Jules O’Brien, who opened tonight with her soulful singing, was invited on stage by the band to accompany them on Where You’ve Been. While starting off quietly with just Jules, Adrian and a tight rhythm section, the chorus explodes open with massive guitar playing. The mix of a punk-rock singer and the softness of folk doesn’t seem like the ideal combo but it was perfect for the night – my personal favorite.
Then a quick throwback to their first EP with Chemical, showing just how far the band has come in such a short time. Each song is distinct in its own way yet so “Zurich”-y – something every band should strive for. Songs like Small Wars are a perfect encapsulation of who they are – gritty punk vocals, grooving bass lines, with echoed guitar and crazy riffs everywhere in between.
Lastly, the post-punk outfit closed the night with their debut single titled Alone – the song starts out with a unique feel, almost as if it isn’t Zurich – but once the chorus kicks in we’re treated to the sound we’ve grown to love.
The UK rockers are no strangers to gigging, having played at numerous venues of all sizes around Europe before. This was their second ever show in Hong Kong (the first being a few days prior at The Wanch), and even despite technical/monitoring issues (possibly even jet lag!) they never failed to impress, bringing a solid performance to end the night with. I’m looking forward to see what else they have up their sleeves.
– Aaron de Guzman
Photos by Leon Che’ Clark. 由Leon Che’ Clark攝影。Poster by Angus Leung. 海報由Angus Leung.