Live Review from Underground Rocks 2023!
1. Head Electronica
2. Pretty Shot Up
3. Transit Casino
5. Neon Crush
6. Far From Home
Extra: Boiler Girl
To end the night, a veteran vanguard of the Underground – Diamond 6 – the band that promised to play only one gig in 2017, then promptly broke that promise with six years of performances and 17 singles on Spotify. Despite only having three members, their solid compositions, polished performance and spectacular stage presence made the band seem twice their size. I was honestly shocked and had to double take when I saw the band having only three members.
Their first song Head Electronica woke up the sleepy 12am crowd (or maybe it was just me sleepy). Usually the crowd starts to politely change venues, but not this time! A catchy, singable melody well balanced with lots of drum and bass, layered with Kurt Colbain-esque vocals from Gavin. The singing was at times a little sharp and a bit too much mic but it didn’t detract from the overall experience. Head Electronica then seamlessly transitioned into their next song Pretty Shot Up, one of their best performances of the evening. The verses flowed into choruses, and into the guitar solo smoothly with no sudden movements or missteps. And Pete’s scream! The best scream of the evening and we had a few pretenders. The rawness of their performance came through despite being clearly rehearsed down to a minute level. The crowd had not been this wild all night – a hard trick to pull off as the final act at Rula.
This was then followed by Transit Casino which featured complex counterrhythms between the drum and bass. Then with a spotlight on Gavin’s bass, he whipped out an exciting exotic bass solo – very refreshing to see the bass being showcased front and centre. If one were to find the same track on Spotify (which I did very soon after seeing them), you’d find a pretty different track with synthesizers and lots of layered harmonies. Some bands attempt to imitate their studio tracks exactly on stage; this is something I’ve seen many times at Underground shows. But Diamond 6 did not do that. There is often no need to do that especially if your band is small but tight – trying to recreate something virtual live often leads to confused soundscapes.
Wonder, their most recent* single came next. A much slower yet equally invigorating piece that showed off the band’s more sensitive side. The harmonies gradually went flatter and flatter – clearly on purpose – and although there were times when the harmonies sounded not quite right, when everything came together, there was a gloriously gorgeous murky panorama of sound. In my notes I wrote “this would sound better on drugs. They are illegal”. Just as the song should be. Because it was like drugs.
With only a few songs left, it almost seemed like there was nowhere left to go, but Diamond 6 had 6 diamond songs. Next up was Neon Crush. Even more so than Wonder, Neon Crush’s vocal harmonies was a mosaic counterpoint that sounded pretty hard to pull off – drummer Matt’s bass vocal part was an octave lower than Gavin’s main melody but never felt disjointed or distant. And for the musicians reading this – they weren’t parallels either. Impressive! Nonetheless, this gets a 1/10 for me because Gavin asked if anyone was old enough to remember the 80s and I am not old enough to remember the 80s.
The night ended* with Far From Home, an explosive headbanger that summarised all that was great about the band: raw, exciting, unpretentious music.
A word of praise has to go to the organisation of their set list. They knew how to get the crowd roused and excited, then calmed down with a few slower melodic pieces before driving the audience back on their feet to end the night. An oft underappreciated aspect of performance, flawlessly executed.
*I lied, they planned (planned!) an encore: Boiler Girl, which was supposed to debut on Spotify while they were playing but it doesn’t seem like it’s up yet. Starting with a march on the drums before going into a new and exciting piece of hard rock. Something about the song was just a perfect encore piece – not too explosive, not too calm. The show is over but the crowd continues to dance.
– Cyril Ma
Live Review from Underground Rocks!
1. Roll ’til the brink of dawn
2. It’s on my mind
3. Mouth of the juggernauts
6. Title Fight
7. Head Electronica
雖然這次也是 佢哋首次係underground嘅演出, 但已經表現出成熟的台風。即使和觀眾交流唔多都能以音樂 吸引不少觀眾選擇佢哋當晚最有印象的樂隊，主音在結尾 大吼 嘅聲音更讓我 聯想起某些gun n roses既歌，完show後更 貫徹以音樂說話嘅作風，沒有什麼後續話便離開了，但仍給筆者留下不少深刻的印象。其中更是讓我驚豔到兩位主和音的聲音之相夾
– Danice Yan
It is easy to think that they might have called themselves Diamond 6 because they are like diamonds in the rough in the Hong Kong music scene. Peter (guitar), Gavin (bass) and Matt (drums) team up to form the next Grunge sensation.
‘Roll ’til the brink of dawn‘ is a very aptly named song which brings you back to the good ole days of Grunge. Peter’s vocals combined with the dirty rock made me reminisce about a good Australian band, Grinspoon. "Dead Cat!"
The next song ‘It’s on my mind‘ was nicely built up by the drums, adding bass, then guitar. It was a rocking riff that had everyone’s head bopping. This song made good use of guitar effects and wahs. It takes you to this trippy moment with some ‘oohs and ahhs’ that leaves your ears feeling satisfied.
Loving the names of these songs… ‘Mouth of the juggernauts‘ was exactly that. It was a rock encounter that I could imagine being the soundtrack of a fight scene in X-men. This was another chunky riff which was so beefy. It was an all-out war on the dancefloor as the audience could feel the intensity and acted accordingly. Phew…
‘Lotus‘ started off very similar to the previous song that I had to wonder whether it was an actual song change. The riff was similar and actually all the songs kept the same mood which reminded me of the album "And Justice For All…" which the songs meld into one and some riffs resurface during the album. This made me feel like watching Diamond 6 was more of an experience than just listening to one single song. It felt arranged in this way to bring us on a journey and it did a great job.
You could’ve thought ‘Tonight‘ started off with some kind of piano accompaniment if you weren’t paying attention, but it was actually Peter plucking the guitar strings which created this mesmerizing sound which begins to warp your mind. Then… ‘add oil’ the song gets that grunt you have been expecting and waiting for. You are out on a date and things are about to go down, yeah, you know what I am talking about. The harmony of Peter and Gavin in this song is perfect, they really complement each other well. At this stage, I am starting to regret writing this review as I just want to be an audience member free from writing notes about everything I see and hear (because I will forget later!).
Their best song of the night for me was ‘Title Fight‘ which had an uptempo explosive start. This song was great for me because it went through many different stages. While it had a similar grunty riff in the verse, the chorus brought my mind images of Mission Impossible and Tom Cruise attempting to get onto a moving aeroplane. People were noticeably moving and rocking to the beat, whether they liked it or not. It was contagious.
Diamond 6 finished with ‘Head Electronica‘ which had a different feel to the other songs they played and was maybe more suited to earlier on in their set. One thing I did notice in this song and others was that Matt was so super relaxed on the drums. The songs had the right amount of percussion in it, he didn’t overplay the drums which helped keep him and the band in time. As he told me himself, he was so calm because, "Practice makes perfect."
D6 were great! Great harmonies and rocking riffs which bring you back to the Grunge era. There is definitely really good synergy between these guys, who also have been in other bands including: Gong Wu (Gavin), Papa Jack (Gavin), This is Ammunition (Peter), The Dragon Army (Peter), and CHRANG! (Matt)… just to name a few. As with the previous band on tonight these guys are really on the ball and they never drop it. Grunge isn’t dead! ‘Like a D6!’
– Cain McInerney