Bamboo Star

AUG01303.JPG Live review from Heavy Unplugged #1:

1. Movie Star
2. Don’t Turn Around
3. 50 Years
4. Breaking Limits
5. Crawling (Linkin Park cover)
6. Ivory Tower
7. Believe in Our Memory

If you think acoustic music must always be mellow and sounds mostly the same, then you must have missed out Bamboo Star’s performance last Saturday at Heavy Unplugged at Morrisons where they demonstrated how a rock band can rock on an acoustic set without any problems. Having seen their shows before (both Sub Terra and Lan Kwai Fong Music & Beer Festival), I was in awe to find out how their music can put on a different mask without losing their real voice.

Coming up as the last band of the show and probably the most anticipated one, they kicked off their set amidst the loudest crowd cheer with an unusual but striking vocal harmony in Movie Star. Stripped from all the electric elements, Wolf’s vocal power became even more outstanding while the strings were easing in and trying to get everyone ready for their next song. Don’t Turn Around hit us right away with the unbelievably cool slap bass by their new bassist Jasmine whilst Lawrence’s cajon kept up with all that. This arrangement totally blew me away. Somehow going from heavy rock to acoustic, the bass unquestionably retains some heaviness to it and stole the spotlight especially in this one. The guitar solo that came in later in the song was just beautiful as if it was trying to outthrow the bass but it went down swinging. 50 Years is said to be about an old friend. Sung in Cantonese with its depressing lyrics, it is hard for one to not imagine its underlying association with Hong Kong’s political environment. The slow tempo effortlessly put the audience into an emotional state while the chord strumming on the guitar proceeded to reassure their vocalist’s tremendously melancholic delivery.

Entering the latter half of their set, they broke out their popular song from their first album Breaking Limits. If they blew a long high-pitch whistle before they began to sing, that would definitely take us all hostage of a Western gun fight scene (even the song mentions “got the rattle of the drums like a quick draw gun”). It was one of their songs that blended surprisingly well into the acoustic realm as if heavy rock has been grinded into smooth sand and tasting like dark country. Their frontman deliberately tuned down to his lower range and continuously sending the grooves with the help of the minimalistic guitar part. Gradually escalating to the wicked blast in the chorus causing everybody to clap along, Wolf’s iconic roar simply marked the climax of the song. Crawling on the other hand set a rather eerie tone to commemorate the deceased singer of Linkin Park (Chester Bennington). The unsettling harmony agitates all the insecure spirits in the crowd and putting forth a moving tribute that would have made Chester proud. Then Ivory Tower was yet another brilliant upbeat original that has its essence extracted and disguised itself underneath the steady cajon and the separate but equally impressive bass and guitar riff. Although personally, I think it sounds more liberating in metal. Being the one of the most sentimental songs in their album, Believe in Our Memory perfectly summarized their set and the show in a peaceful and gentle melody where the romantic guitar solo bidding all a merry night.

Bamboo Star totally nailed this unplugged challenge. They successfully touched the spectrum of emotions within this half hour tight and truly fantastic set. No wonder the crowd yelled Encore for more. Like Chris B says, it is uncertain if heavy unplugged will happen again. But if it does, you should make sure you are not going to miss it again.
– Prada Leung

DSC00486.JPG Live review from Sub Terra #6:

1. Ivory Tower
2. Movie Star
3. Wait For You
4. Bad Romance
5. Breaking Limits
Encore: Ready to Roll

Thundering forward headlong into a vicious down picking chug, Bamboo Star races through the beginning of Ivory Tower with as much power as could be conjured from their leather bound and blacken figures. Head banging and guitar waving followed, with the almost punk structure of the song not straying away from the original few chords of its manic assault on the audience. The excitement it seemed lent to the listener primarily by the bombastic stage prescience of the leader singer Wolf Red… Yes… Wolf.

A black megaphone emerged from out of nowhere, yelling the first distorted lines of Ivory Tower into the distressed microphone, drums crashing in the background of the other instruments as the song progressed. Even to the skeptical, it seemed almost subconscious to nod along to the striking forced that was put into the strings, a bass somewhere inside the mix jutting out at odd moments, absorbing into the walls and floors and making them tremble. The volume and output that launched itself from the stage was a sound to behold, covering up whatever misgiving were present and established the bands attitude early on.

Movie Star kept much the same tempo as the previous song, relying much more on the vocals as a pivot point for the melody, having the guitar and bass follow along with the drums keeping time. Take a Poison instrumental and sped it up by 1.25th, then have Chad Kroeger write the lyrics and vocal melody, and you’ve attained this song. I couldn’t help but admire the performance here, especially the beating Lawrence Wong inflicted on the drums, adding more low end then the bass at times as the other member jumped around on stage. Its similarities to the first song again show up as they broke down at the bridge, slowly knitting together harmonies to slow down the rapid-fire delivery of the last couple of minutes, calling back towards a more Post-Grunge sound. Then, building with a powerful release, they flung back into the tempo, highlighting the best part of the song, Wolf’s performance on vocals. Understanding the importance of having control of the microphone as well as your section of the stage, Wolf punctuates every vocal melody with an air tight pitch control and feel, floating above the rest of the carnage and allowing for a precise delivery, and resolution. 

Taking a break from the high energy and breakneck pace of the first two songs, Wait For You opens slowly and with a much more serious tone surrounding it. Expanding on the Post-Grunge style of Movie Star’s bridge, the band uses much more feedback and slower tempos on the guitar and bass, creating a much more commanding feel to the song. Here the drums are forced out into the open, as before they were hidden behind a wall of sonic frequency. Now exposed, it becomes Lawrence’s job to push forward the timing and keep it in check as the bass continues to lay the foundation that the guitar tiptoes across at a high gain, creating waves of feedback between chords. The lyrics may have a cheesiness to them, but the vocals again prove to have a confident showman’s quality to allow the words to pass. The Staind effect is so evident here, as the band sounds very akin to Staind with more up-tuned guitars. Not adding flashy solo’s or any pomp, it’s becoming far more solid and passionate rather than theatrical. A solid transition song to the next half of the set.

The next song I will admit took me by surprise, as up until the famous beginning melody started, I wasn’t aware it was indeed of a cover of Lady GaGa’s Bad Romance. It was quite a trip listing to a bonafide dirty pop track from yesteryears radio circulation receive the treatment of a hard rock band. The pinch harmonic chimed as they would in an 80s hair metal band, with the vibrato sounding like sputtering battery would on a distortion pedal. The chorus came in with a damn blast beat on a Lady Gaga song, leaving the foundation of the pop song and hauling it into the realm of Metal in one move. The vocals continue to impress on the following verse, as a sweeping guitar solo ties the bow around this solid cover. 

Wolf yelled aloud “Come to the front; We aren’t starting until you all come forward!”, jumping off the stage and racing into the crowd, bringing the audience forward towards the stage. With this movement of the people forward towards the band, the structure of the song begin to shape behind him with a slowed down jam of Breaking Limit’s chorus, the words “Faster, Faster” Being repeated over and over again steadily. Suddenly the guitar began to pick up speed, using the high tempo of previous songs in the set, before falling backward into the advancing sound of the drums and bass. The speed in which the song is played didn’t take away from its clarity, as the words come across clear as any track previously. This isn’t new territory the band is treading on, but by far it’s the best executed and performed song during the whole set. The chorus with those words “Faster, Faster" now sung by the audience as well as the band lifted the enjoyment up further as people began to dance and jump. Next came the bridge, giving more room to Wolf’s vocals and concluding the bridge with an almighty scream followed swiftly by a robust and fast solo from the guitar, launching back into the chorus. Heavier and quicker than anything I had heard that night and perfect conclusion to a already fantastic set. 

An encore call was bound to happen, now that the crowd was insisting for more to dance to, so with a whisper the words Ready to Roll were said, and the song began without pause. The Guns and Roses influence was far more evident than usual on this track, with a call and response added to its intro, drawing the crowd further forward. The bass here was more grounded and heavy in the mix than anytime before, and the rattling of the metal chairs stacked in the back was evidence of its effect on the listeners. The chorus came as a release from the beatdown, with its vocal harmonies taking centre stage away from the guitar and adding a much-needed dose of clarity. It was a crime, in my opinion, to omit this song from the regular setlist, as it would have fit perfectly and logically right after Wait For You, but this thrasher was here, and it left an impression as the band rapped up the set, leaving behind a plethora of yells and applause as they bid the audience goodbye. 
– John Glenn

IMG_4486.jpg Live review from The Underground Summer Festival 夏季音樂節:
1. Ready to Roll
2. Don’t Turn Around
3. Electric Love
4. Bad Romance (cover)
5. Breaking Limits

Hard Rock heroes Bamboo Star makes an appearance at the Underground Summer Festival at the Attic in Kwun Tong – a venue that I’ve not heard of before, but seemed pretty cool. Some tables and chairs to chill out on at the back accompanied a nice open space in front of the stage; the venue was a clean space for the band to rile up the audience. The crowd of 20 strong hard rock fans were riled up and ready for Bamboo Star, starting their set with “Ready to Roll”, their American style blend of straight up hard rock blasted into the audience. The crowd was soon moving to “Don’t Turn Around”, a song that got heads banging and people jumping about, giving the audience a good dose of breakdown action. After a bit of banter from frontman Wolf Red, “Electric Love” came into play and again barraged the crowd with good old American style hard rock riffs. Next, their cover of “Bad Romance” got people singing along, whilst their ending song “Breaking Limits” gave the audience a hair metal finish.

Wolf has some very great showmanship on stage, mustering crowd reactions where he can and baring his teeth into the audience as he works those golden pipes of his. Diving to and fro on stage, Bamboo Star never fails to bring a hard rocking to whatever venue they play.

Sherman Leung

IMG_1130.jpg Live review from Planetrox China Final 2016:

Special Guest band: Bamboo Star (winners of Planetrox China 2015)
特別嘉賓: Bamboo Star (Planetrox 中國 2015年冠軍得主)
1. Ready To Roll
2. Don’t Turn Around
3. Believe In Our Memory
4. Breaking Limits

On Saturday, Underground HK hosted the Planterox finals in China. After five fantastic performances by the participating bands, Bamboo Star, last year’s winner of the contest, topped the night off with their set. They performed four songs from their latest EP. They started out with Ready To Roll and Don’t Turn Around, which immediately got me interested. The songs were pounding and loud. They got the audience excited and held it for two solid songs. Believe In Our Memory slowed the show down a bit, but did give some variety to their set. Personally I feel Believe In Our Memory is the band’s weakest song but the audience seemed to really enjoy it. They ended the night off with a roaring performance of their Breaking Limits. The drumming was consistent and ear-wormy. Their set as a whole was loud, fast, and extremely enjoyable, closing out a night of excellent musicianship.
– Joshua Ellis-Einhorn


Live review from Heavy #13:

1. Ready to Roll
2. Don’t Turn Around
3. Believe in our Memory
4. Bad Romance
5. Breaking Limits

By far one of the most fun shows Hong Kong has seen for a while, Bamboo Star’s set was a hair metal wet dream of crazy fretwork and high-pitched histrionics. The HK rockers played songs from their heavy metal debut (Broken Hearts & Bleeding Parts), plus Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance; a perfectly theatrical choice for this high energy quartet.

A hilarious and dizzying performance of whirled hair and riffs as tight as the trousers side-stepped towards the more serious when the band dedicated the slower, sombre Believe in our Memory to the late Orange Peel manager Victor Cheung. The crowd became reflective and many bowed their head in respect or raised their glasses to this poignant Cemetery Gates moment.

In the true spirit of rock ‘n’ roll, the energy bounced back with signature BS tune, Breaking Limits, a cheesy ode to ’80s hair metal and decibel-pushing stadium rockers X Japan. It was a tremendously fun show and made the case for Bamboo Star as one of the city’s most capable live bands.

– El Jay


Live review from Planetrox China Final 2015:

1. Ready to Roll
2. Don’t Turn Around
3. Believe In Our Memory
4. Breaking Limits

勇奪Planetrox中國區決賽的冠軍寶座,準備踏上加拿大最大型音樂節之一的樂隊就是Bamboo Star(竹星)。Bamboo Star是本地新晉年輕樂隊,曲風受硬式搖滾及Classic Metal的影響。主音率直並具爆發力的聲線和舞台感;結他手技巧精湛熟練,擅於運用Guitar Riff來強調旋律;貝斯和鼓點則豐富及帶出樂曲刺激熱情的節奏,營造出屬於Bamboo Star的澎湃氣勢。〈Ready to Roll〉一開始主音用擴音器配合結他飆音,煽動全場氣氛,一瞬間已與台下觀眾打成一片,反應熱烈。觀眾們亦萬分投入, 隨著節拍甩頭搖擺。〈Don’t Turn Around〉貝斯和結他互相呼應,結他精彩萬分的Solo令人目不轉睛。舒情緩板的〈Believe In Our Memory〉情感細膩,讓觀眾們欣賞到他們熱血搖滾的另外一面。在柔情過後,鼓聲一起,樂手們立即再次煽動觀眾,不停以最後一曲〈Breaking Limits〉歌詞中的一句 ”All I wanna do is go Faster! Faster! Faster! Faster! Faster!” 跟台下互動,一唱一和,場面熱鬧亦將氣勢秒速重現。為樂迷熟悉的〈Breaking Limits〉 當中緊湊的鼓點,主音熱情的演唱,令人情不自禁地搖擺起來的旋律編曲及刺激的結他solo,將現場氣氛推向最高潮,直到最後一顆音符結束。惟現場咪高峰的接收不太理想,當中有小部分時間難以聽到主音的歌聲,影響演出欣賞。
Jacqueline Tang

These guys have been kicking around Hong Kong for the past two years or so, working and honing their craft. One of the only real traditional style rock / hard rock bands coming out of Hong Kong (FINALLY!), and I am delighted to see it. Focus is on cool songs, great musicianship and vocals, a lot of attitude and lots of HAIR!

They opened the set with Ready to Roll. This song immediately sets the tone of what would be the next 20 minute mini set. Very straight forward, very cool catchy hooks, and very 1980’s/90’s style great American rock. It felt a lot like Stone Temple Pilots. A really perfect song to open the set.

Next they ripped into Don’t Turn Around. Very heavy solid bottom end holding things, and again really interesting hooks with very cool pulling off guitar patterns and shapes. Believe in our Memory was a little bit leaning towards a slightly slower almost ballad. Again, in the traditional STP, there were passages where they cut the time in half giving more of a chugging, little more laid back type feel. Really loved it.

Finishing the set up with Breaking Limits. Very aggressive, traditional style hard rock, with more of those very cool, great sounding, great feeling guitar hooks. The song did have a slight punk feel, but I wouldn’t go as far as calling it “punk”.

Overall, the bass tone and drums sounded awesome. Driving heavy low end bottoms. The guitar sounded just great with a slightly thick, slightly over driven sound and thankfully not too many effects and just the right amount of delay. And the vocals, just right on, very cool. A little clean, but there is a balance that needs to be struck. And for a singer, with a short 20 minute set, you are just barely getting warmed up and the set is over…

Lots of STAR fans in the crowd for support. And overall, they really rocked the whole house. They were very well received by the crowd.
– Gregory Tancer

IMG_1004.JPG Live Review from Planetrox China Final 2014

1. Don’t Turn Around
2. Electric Love
3. Believe in Our Memory
4. Breaking Limits
While waiting for the heavy metal group ‘Bamboo Star’ to appear, it was at first unclear who exactly was to walk on stage due to a swarming mass of ‘Bamboo Star’ shirts. There isn’t nearly enough metal in Hong Kong, so it was pleasing to see the diehard fans up front waving their fists and flying the flag. As the four members emerged, clad in black and with long hair flying, no mistakes could be made as to what lay ahead.

A steady chugging of muted guitar tied to a tribal drumbeat set the scene. In a booming voice, lead vocalist Wolf Red introduced the band: “LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, WE ARE… BAMBOO STAR!” Coupling this Mötley Crüe-style showmanship with the band’s self-aware take on classic rock seemed to work in their favour, as the crowd geared up for more.

Immediately apparent from opener ‘Don’t Turn Around’ was the standout vocals of these modern-day thrashers. Calling to mind the controlled highs of 80s doom-metallers Candlemass, you could forgive the at times clichéd lyrics to appreciate the sheer power and range of BS’s lead singer. Amid the variations on classic bass and guitar riffs came a scorching solo from guitarist Terrish, with lightning-fast hands and the crowd excitedly tried to keep pace.

Things soon heated up with second track ‘Electric Love’. A riff reminiscent of Heart’s ‘Barracuda’ had the audience headbanging along. A slightly underwhelming chorus did little to sway an audience eager to mirror the words “Give me your electric love”, as a blistering solo of sweep picking gave the song a much-needed lift.

The group clearly wears their influences proudly on their sleeves. Though mid-point song ‘Believe in Our Memory’ served as a refreshing break from tradition, as slow, wistful picking akin to Pantera’s ‘Cemetary Gates’ unfolded a brooding slow burner. The influence of Axl Rose was never far behind however, as Red’s impressive yelps returned along with a catchy chorus that had the entire audience swaying from side to side.

With the audience in the palm of their hands, BS began a rousing shoutback, teaching the lyrics of the last song ‘Breaking Limits’. With echoes of Thin Lizzy and ‘Motorhead, the driving bass and guitar conjured up visions of speed and danger, as they charged up for the singalong chorus. Cries of “I’m a rock n roll bastard, all I wanna do is go faster, faster, faster, faster, faster!” rocked the room, bolstered by the voices from the audience. An ear-piercingly high cry from the Red closed out their impressive set, as an exhilarated crowd screamed for more.
– Jon Billinge

Bamboo Star,由四名「竹升仔」所組成,成立短短兩年已有豐富的演出經驗。他們的演出充滿氣勢,亦使觀眾進入瘋狂的狀態。主唱的具爆發力的高亢嗓音和結他剛烈狂躁的音色,為classic rock注入了新鮮感和活力,聽著有一點點Gun N’ Roses的感覺。他們一開始便成功以Don’t Turn Around一曲推高觀眾的情緒,主唱的高音穩定性非常高,也很搶耳。而他們整晚的setlist安排得相當不錯,歌曲的build up 亦做得很不錯,歌曲本身甚至整個演出都相當有層次感。同時或由於當晚他們有不少支持者現身打氣,他們和觀眾的互動氣氛非常好,台上台下均很投入,帶動唱環節的觀眾反應亦非常活躍,非常有大將之風。
– Sidick ​Lam

Live Review from The Underground Festival @ Fanzone

1. Don’t Turn Around
2. Breaking Limits
3. Sweet Child O’ Mine (Guns ‘N’ Roses cover)
4. Careless Whispers (George Michael cover)
5. Bad Romance

The rock got heavier still with Bamboo Star, as they came on stage with their slick Noughties-style rock. If Galaxy Express were Bowie-esque, then Bamboo Star are Guns ‘N’ Roses-like. Theirs is a sound that has the high, screaming solos of Guns ‘N’ Roses, with the arrangements of Rage Against the Machine, and just a little bit of Jane’s Addiction style bluesiness thrown in there (as on Breaking Limits). Fittingly enough, they did do a GNR cover, and it was solid; they changed the drums’ arrangement a little, which was a nice touch. Not-so-fittingly, they unexpectedly started playing the tune to Careless Whispers as a riff, managing to confuse nearly everyone there initially. But, the audience seemed to go along with it and enjoy themselves. They even played a sing-along game with the audience, which also seemed to be appreciated. One major beef I had with them was how derivative their songs were; they sounded like any random band on alternative radio in the late 90s/early Noughties, and in those terms they really need to develop their own sound. They’ve got the crowd-pleasing guitar tones and stage-presence down already, but it would be nice to hear something a little less like standard-fare rock. Still, they did entertain the crowd and didn’t let the energy of the show go down, which was well-appreciated.
— Shashwati Kala

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