Live review from Underground Legends
1. One More Time
3. Perfect Life
4. Out of the Body (出竅)
6. Close Your Eyes
Returning to The Underground stage for their seventh appearance and first time since 2012, rock outfit AirTub quickly made up for their seven year absence with a highly polished set.
Despite their name sounding like some sort of kitchen gadget you’d buy from a catalogue in the 80s, AirTub proved themselves deft entertainers and rewarded gig-goers who had made it to The Hub on time with an energetic and tight seven songs.
On opener One More Time, a sitar-sounding synth melody gave way to hard rock leaden with guitar distortion. The song’s thrash drums and rapped vocals sounded like Metallica crossed with Alien Ant Farm – with a sprinkling of their own personality shining through.
Self-assured frontman Kenny gave a confident performance, leading a tight set of musicians through a setlist that drew heavily from late-90s and early-00s rock. From the husky vocals and sunny chords of Confusion, the band turned things up a notch with Perfect Life, which drew from the revving grunge guitar of Smashing Pumpkins and had the children in the audience dancing along to a perky drum beat.
For Out of the Body, the band drew from Beyond’s playbook, using theatrical piano and emotive singing to powerful effect as the song built to a characteristically huge rock chorus. Next, a stomp-along beat was joined by distorted chords on Close Your Eyes, which recalled the 00s soft rock of Stereophonics. On this track in particular, the band showed what they meant by their self-described genre name “morphing rock”, mixing in cleanly picked guitar sections, high synths and a tempo that quickened to a climactic, cymbal-crashing rumbling finale.
Opening acts are rarely as strong as AirTub, and it showed as the crowd bellowed for an encore. After a nod from Chris B, the band duly obliged with Breakaway. An articulated thrash riff, a drum and bass marching in lockstep and interesting synth effects made for a dark song dripping with Alice in Chains’ insouciance and a triumphant sign-off. Let’s hope the band don’t leave it another seven years before gracing The Underground stage once more.
– El Jay
Live review from Compilation CD 5 Launch Party A:
1. One More Time
3. This Time
4. Perfect Life
6. Running Behind
What can one say about a band that has been around for more than a decade and whose highlights includes playing a long the likes of Eason Chan? AirTub’s set at the Underground CD 5 release party was interesting if for no other reason than that the audience was treated to a compressed version of the band’s development over the last 11 years, with a combination of new and old songs, much to the delight of their fans. What was common among the songs, was the “expansive” sound that I would call the hallmark of the band, achieved by a relatively clean guitar and keyboard, wrapped around by a strong, tight rhythm section – this music was written for a big stage in a big hall! Another aspect that caught my attention was that, despite having their lives increasingly taken over by career, family and other variables associated with “growing up”, they delivered their set with a passion that has not lost its lustre over the years. I wish them luck with their forthcoming full length album.
Live review from Underground 100:
2. Running Behind
3. Perfect Life
4. This Time
6. One More Time
7. Wonder World
I s’pose there was no more fitting way to have started the 100th-iest Underground show than with the band that seems to have hitched their trailer of momentous events with the Underground itself. I say this because the last time they played together was at the 5th anniversary show, and even then they’d specially reformed for the purpose. This performance of theirs made it 12 years since they first got together, and they don’t seem to be much worse for the wear. They’re clearly still capable of getting a good gambol going when they play, and while it would be disingenuous of me to say that their music is groundbreaking or very gripping, the atmosphere and crowd rapport they managed to create was a good as any I’ve experienced. If you accept that they compose poppy ditties (which you may well not) there is quite an interesting trove of versatility to be found. Their set touched on many different styles of song ranging from the typical (the classic polished Bryan Adams-style love song) to the quite unexpected (a pop metal number with a surprising amount of groove, and a (presumably) Arabic-influenced melody). Like most poppy bands, they don’t run the risk of overusing an approach (unlike, say, the unlistenably long metal solo), as things are polished and sleek. The downside is that the music can be predictable to the point of being tedious (but that’s not really the band’s fault), and is full of glib truisms and platitudes that grate on the mind’s ear. Also, I must pull them up for doing exactly what I hate with their synthesisers – using the kind of horn effects whose timbre I can only accurately describe as “douchey” (though, in all honesty, I’ve never heard a synthesised horn sound that wasn’t so). But, they are enjoyable to listen to nonetheless, made even more admirable by the fact that they haven’t played together for three whole years.
After the massive intro by Chris B and Wu So Lui, they opened with the tingling creepy Breakway, which vaguely resembled the Cranberries’ Zombie. The combination of husky voice, aggressive guitars contrasted with the rather bright keyboards made for an interesting soundscape, made better by the fact that they didn’t go for a needless solo. The rhythm combo fit in much better with the song, and the choice is noteworthy. This isn’t for lack of ability, though, because the very next song (and several thereafter) had a quite blisteringly shreddy solo. The very sugary 摸索 while being very standard pop fare, was really well-done, and the mood created is similar that created by bands like Keane. Actually, that’s probably the best illustrative comparison I can make; the floaty pleasantness of AirTub’s music is very similar to Keane’s. One More Time started off almost sounding like a slow version of Run to the Hills, and had more of the sonically interesting rhythm combo instead of a solo, making the song a real thumper. They ended with the very rousing and anthemic Wonder World, which had an oddly nursery-rhyme-like melody. The feel of the song even made up for the lame horns, attested to by headbanging people, and they finished off with grandiose finesse. In all, a very good way to start the show, and a definite testament to the band’s competence.
— Shashwati Kala
Live Review from 5th Year Anniversary Party:
A much heralded return for Airtub, recently lapsed, but one of the bands on the bill for the very first Underground, held at the Barren Rock club in those heady days of April 1841. Not really.
Showing the confidence of a group that’s played together for more than nine months, the set began with a couple of numbers that came straight from US radio, all drama and angst. Well put-together songs but not quite loud or angry enough for my liking.
A slightly surprising detour then took us into a much more local and poppy sound, which, again, was done very well. Then the closing song was more interesting still, venturing into new ground, somewhere between the very different influences on display earlier. They should go there more often.
Live Review from Underground 38:
Industrial beats meets hard rocking musicians. I thoroughly enjoyed Airtub’s set. Kenny (great vocalist/rapper with charisma) fronts the band with fluid skill. I have a copy of their EP (Re-ignition) and found myself singing along to “Confusion”. Marcus (keyboards) brings a richness to Airtub or maybe it’s Airtub that brings a richness to his symphonic sounds. Airtub is definitely one of the best HK bands and I highly recommend you watch them live and listen to their EP.
Live Review from Underground 15:
This morphing rock band headlining tonight are sounding like a great Seventies progressive rock band (“Camel” with keyboards meets some vintage “Groundhogs” and a little bit of “Linkin Park”). The songs are entwined with dreamy keyboards. The power ballads are very Nineties style with the singer emoting like Journey’s Steve Perry, and the music very”Barclay James Harvest sounding like Moody Blues”. The fourth track has shades of Alien Ant Farm. Overall the buzz about this band is justified. The crowd adore them, their performance is tight. The audience cry for more and leave satisfied. Airtub – one of Hong Kong’s better bands.
Live Review from Underground 1:
AIRTUB are Kenny Ngai (vocals and guitar), Derek To (guitar), Edwin Cheung (bass) and David Mak (drums). They played Underground 1 and were up against the formidable Audiotraffic and PNS and came off very well. A melodic mixture of aggressive punk and pop, some of heir songs are already classic..
The band admit they owe a debt of gratitude to HK legendary rockers BEYOND, and that influence can be heard in some of their earlier music.. The band debuted at Rock On 2001 and have since performed in high profile gigs like the Global Chinese Rock Concert, Wanchai Live VII and a recent fund-raising concert for Amnesty International. They’ve also recorded a ballad for the soundtrack of Moonlight Express starring Leslie Cheung and the feature song fors and tones are more flexible than in their native language. It has been said that AirTub are inaccessible. These people must be living in space. AirTub…start to pogo!
“As for the first gig in Joe Bananas, it was a great experience for us, we’re so glad to see an event that is dedicated to showcasing the best local bands and musicians in Hong Kong, and we were totally thrilled to be a part of the first ever Underground gig! We’re so happy to see that Underground has continued to thrive and attracting great crowds each time! We’re very excited to be back and playing at the Edge! We look forward to it! Edwin (Airtub) “