What an awesome night! THE FRINGE CLUB was filled with eager live music fans ready to watch four enthusiastic bands. Thank you to Johnny, the sound engineer and to the wonderful staff of the Fringe Club. Thanks to @thejunechild.photography for the photos. Thanks to our reviewers: Cyril & Sherman. Thanks to Bay for the awesome artwork. BIG round of applause for the team members working so hard that night: Raven and Sunny. I couldn’t have done it without all of you guys.
嗰晚真係好開心！THE FRINGE CLUB 現場填滿咗好多準備好睇四隊滿懷熱誠嘅樂隊表演嘅熱情音樂迷。多謝Johnny，我哋嘅音響工程師兄，多謝@thejunechild.photography為我哋影相，多謝我哋嘅評論家Cyril同Sherman。多謝Bay嘅出色藝術設計。要大力鼓掌俾當晚好努力嘅團隊成員：Raven同Sunny。冇你哋，我哋一定唔可以咁順利完成呢個活動。
❤️ Chris B xx
AFTER AFTER PARTY
Punk Rock Kid
Hong Kong with its tall buildings and world class financial institutions often makes us seem like a very serious place. And of course it is a serious place. You don’t get your national bank to becoming the world’s national bank without being serious. But what really drives the city? What is at the core of our HKer identity? Is it being real good at numbers? Is it having no work-life balance?
No, it’s just stupid dumb sh*t.
And After After Party is Stupid Dumb Shit a’la Hong Kong: The Musical.
This is not a description lost on them, even Time Out gives them the moniker of ‘local comedy band’. Cory and Yanyan, as soon as they got on stage brought this up “we often get called ‘Comedy Rock’, that’s not true” they said “we’re a bit of a joke but…we are quite serious”.
With numbers like Pee Properly, Google and their all time best-not-seller Hell Taxi, After After Party is definitely one of Hong Kong’s most serious bands. Case in point, their opening, Thinking About number was about the NSL. How do we know? They said it loudly. The repeated yelling of “thinking about” throughout the song reminds you to think about the things you should think about. Performance-wise, it started off a little weak but very quickly picked up momentum and slingshotted us into “Pee Properly” which was a 30 second ditty reminding those in the audience with appendages to their groins to please aim their water pistols accurately. Cory then reminded us that the Fringe Club does not have that many toilets. The discussion of snakes and pussies was had far more than expected, when Yanyan brought up the fact that their drummer Jayden was featured on a ViuTV show about girl drummers. “Penis or Vagina! Who cares! Just play!”
All the songs were bantery. Google for instance was a bunch of questions followed by the very serious refrain “Let me Google that shit!”. The harmonies on ‘Google’ were also very perfectly flat, reflecting exactly how one feels when you get asked a question because your friend did not first, as they say, ‘google that shit’. Did I mention that the song ended with the line “shitty shitty shitty shitty so shitty”? I love bands that are confident enough to not be worried about saying shit like that.
Moving swiftly into traffic, Hell Taxi is probably their best well known and most popular song and for good reason. I live in Kowloon but spend most of my time on the Island. The number of taxi drivers that refuse to take me home after getting far too pissed watching bands like this on a weekday evening is far too many. Don’t tell me you can’t get to Mong Kok – what taxi driver possibly cannot get to Mong Kok?? “Welcome to Hong Kong, we fight for a taxi” the lyrics go, “I lose my shit as I watch you take my bloody taxi”, it continues. Relatable local humour served hard.
The banter was lovely and the music never took itself too seriously – think They Might Be Giants but local, or conversely Nanyang Pai Dui (南洋派對) but with a girl drummer and a white guy. But as the band says themselves, penis or vagina, and I guess also white and…not white…who cares! Just play!
– Cyril Ma
1.You such a flirt
3.Tell me where you wanna be
5. I see
A few weeks ago, I dropped by Shazza Music Showcase #129 at the Wanch for a quick pint and a bit of music when Chris B stopped me and said I simply HAD to stay for Clover’s solo. I had no idea who Clover was but ‘rock ballad queen’ sounded pretty exciting. Clover walked on stage without much fanfare dressed simply in a t-shirt and skirt. Although she had done nothing at this point, anticipation hung in the air and at the drop of her pick onto the strings of her guitar, it was clear what the tension was for. Clover sang of relationships, love and family with such a refined raw vigour it was impossible not to become obsessed with her musical stories.
Normally, Clover is part of the post-punk rock-ballad band Shiver Shadow (or ‘三文珊豆’, Sandwich Beans’ in Chinese). It was surprisingly hard to find any information about them online even in Chinese, let alone English, because as it turns out they were only formed this year which is almost unbelievable considering their comradery and sophistication. That’s not to say anything about their experience – guitarist and backing vox Anan has played in the “random rock” band 心杂音 (Murmurs of the heart) since at least 2022.
心杂音 shares a lot of similarities with her sister band, Shiver Shadow, they’re both very soundscape driven. That is, the focus of their songs isn’t necessarily to excite or drive, it’s to create an atmosphere, although in this regard Shiver Shadow is far more lyrical (Morgan, lead singer for 心杂音 said in an interview that he doesn’t fully write his songs, and they deliberately practise less to truly experience the music – Shiver Shadow, clearly, is rehearsed). The themes are similar as well with a combination of glitzy girl gossip, social commentary, trauma, and sometimes just ironic sounding music – like Shy Cat, whose lyrics are largely just “shy cat”.
But the biggest similarity between the two is that they’re both hard to fully pin down musically, yet the effect is tight. The four members of Shiver Shadow were a clear unit, with stoic demeanours, emo-rebel-can’t-give-a-shit attitudes and matching black outfits. Well, except the drummer 鲍鱼胜 who showed up in blue, which, as with many bands, provided a much needed happy juxtaposition to the rest – kind of like Jerry and the three girls in Totally Spies…if Jerry were an infectiously good drummer.
The band, as Clover introduced, are from Guangzhou. The difference between the Mainland’s musical scene and the local scene is pretty pronounced. While most of the bands (at least English speaking ones) are pop-rock driven and largely structural with songs, Shiver Shadow’s pieces were free-flowing outpours of musical expression. One piece tonight 墨鏡男孩 had a mix of harmonies commonly head in mainland pop but with disco rhythms and hints of modern American pop. The result is an interesting combination with tons of layers – how does only four people make so many layers? I don’t know. Even their more structured songs like “You such a flirt” and “Shy Cat” still have half-sung half-yelled sometimes-wailing grunge melodies more fluid than settled. Their other pieces such as “I See” are bone fide love songs with crooning and angelic harmonies, perfectly and executed on stage. 鮟鱇魚 (anglerfish) in particular had some truly impressive musically sensitive counterpoints between the vocals. Their final number 自由落體 (free falling body) was the polar opposite with loud screeching guitars; Clover out of control and a (metaphorical) mosh-pit forming in front of the stage. And in complete character, their encore number was a great multi sectional endless flow of guitar sirens and lots of aiyah! Being yelled into the microphone.
Now, it wouldn’t be a review if I didn’t review the performance critically and make some suggestions for how they could improve. I’m not going to nit-pick every single mistake, because as a whole the effect was great and that warrants far more praise. However, there were times in which the performance felt like ‘Clover and friends’; I was left almost consistently hungry for more backing vocals, maybe even a solo from one of the other band members would’ve given some interesting variety. But this is a small issue. After all, Shiver Shadow is more than the sum of its parts. The influence of Anan’s ‘random’ atmospheric soundscape and Clover’s own Mitski-esque ballads are clear and effective. One of the most promising new bands to grace the Underground stage this year!
– Cyril Ma
WHAT THEY DO
See you in hell
Nothing’s gonna go my way
Beneath the surface
A Buttdial is not a booty call
Getting into the second half of The Underground’s Rock For All gig and having the stage already warmed up by the likes of After After Party and Shiver Shadow, the crowd are already excited, whooping and hollering as the highly anticipated What They Do prepares on stage.
After a bold introduction from Chris B, the band started off with the jumpy and playful bass line of See you in hell, a punky and thrashy song that featured fun shouty choruses, which got some fans at the front jumping about – surprising that they are not tired out from jumping around to the last bands! Next was the ballad-y song Climb, a reverb-y song that was slow and atmospheric at the start, the crowd swaying along to vocalist Josephine’s croon-y soulful tones wash the stage whilst guitarist Bay’s shining solos come into play. After that, the band starts their iconic song Melancholic Fantasy, at this point a couple more fans have fathered at the front, immediately bobbing along to Ferdie’s heavy drums at the start, and Bay once again tearing into face melting solos that gets the crowd whistling for more – not before giving the stage to a killer drum solo by Ferdie, you could feel the band chose this song to showcase their talents. Next song featured an intricate guitar riff to Beneath the Surface, which builds up into a chugging metal riff not unlike system of a down, getting the crowd jumping along again with some furious headbanging during the heavier parts.
The next song Amazing was different from the other songs, a more angrier song (supposedly about Jeff Bezos and Capitalism, according to their intro), and way more show-y guitar solos with the crowd rocking along to Bay’s wah pedal solos. The last song, hilariously named A Buttdial is not A Booty Call, featured a funky hook with heavy interludes that kept the crowd on their toes, and roaring for more of Rusty’s jazzy and smooth bass solos.
What They Do certainly did the venue justice with their set, Josephine driving the band forward with the rest of the musicians being the engine, they certainly satisfied gig goes with face melting guitar solos, complex bass riffs, thrashy drums and awesome vocals, the band definitely knows how to take the crowd through soulful and heavy parts of their set alike.
– Sherman Leung
KVYLE, the 2 piece, noisy, erratic, angsty and brash punk outfit has just finished their German tour and band members Kelsey and Underdog show no signs of tiring or nervousness for their first time playing The Fringe.
A grungy noisy loop plays for their first song “nb”, the crowd whistles and hollers to the angry riff and beat, overbearing vocals and gnarly distorted bass tone, giving first time listeners a taste of what’s to come. The second song “burn”, a song not featured on their online catalogue, gave a vibe similar to nine inch nails, had great energy carried by the main riff, and the song worked surprisingly well for live drums and bass and guitar backing track. After this song Kelsey introduced themselves as they say it – “Kaylee”, apparently one of the four ways to pronounce the band’s name. The third song “hiding” had a bit more of an indie rock feel to it compared to the other songs. The prominent melodic bass riff in “hiding” has been stuck in my head since the gig, it seemed to emit a certain power that really pierces into your soul. As Kelsey was stamping around quite a bit, their neck strap broke as they was playing “abitoflove”, they ended up playing whilst supporting their bass on one knee and keeling over the microphone; the whole thing felt very art-house. At the end of the song, the guitarist from Shiver Shadow saved the day and lent Kelsey their guitar strap.
“ambition”, the next song and their signature song on bandcamp, gave way to pumping drum beats and fierce screams, had almost the whole crowd jumping around, including Kelsey who was thanking everyone in between breaths afterwards before launching into “headache”, apparently a cover of “a certain noise punk band from Canada, although I’m not sure which band, it had everyone jumping around again including What They Do Members, almost forming a mosh pit but not quite. Showing no signs of slowing down, Kelsey announces the last song “lies” introducing it saying “it’s a crazy one”, Kelsey starts the song off with a chaotic riff, screamy verse segue-ing into a melodic chorus, it reminded me of refused’s shape of punk to come, with heavy chaotic moments and melodic, yet noise driven parts, Kelsey finishes the song in style, leaving the guitar down for a feedback loop while they take group photos with the fans on stage.
KVYLE has a very intense aura on stage, as the dissonant and frantic backing gives them energy, the punching bass sound is really something that’s better seen live then heard through a recording, with Kelsey and Underdog’s spirit complimenting the stage and wistfully guiding the crowd during the expressive, melodic parts. KVYLE is definitely a sight to behold and a band you should be on the lookout for.
– Sherman Leung
Photos by @thejunechild.photography.
Poster by Bay Leung.