Live Review from Underground 56:
The Gaze had drawn a big crowd, despite being first in night’s line-up of what was going to quite diverse offerings. Looking reminiscent of U.K. mods – sharp black jackets, pork-pie hats and a bass guitar with UK red Tube symbol reading ‘Way Out’ on it, this 4-piece band demonstrated a broad range of repertoire extremely competently. A more ‘out-there’ post-punk sound influenced by bands like the Jesus and Mary Chain, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Ride and My Bloody Valentine, these are very accomplished musicians – and really nice guys.
The band’s set offered everything from slower contemplative melodic numbers to psychedelic sounds and some very loud, offbeat, likeable creations. Theirs is a distinctive sound with a confident depth about it. They have a real style and savvy about them. There’s isn’t any arrogance or bravado as they just don’t need it. They work very nicely with their self-possessed, genuine talent jumping out at you.
Although influenced by Brit pop, many of their songs are not typically short and sharp as you have come to expect from UK indie pop fare. Instead they have a meatier sound with lengthy compositions featuring screaming guitar forays and unexpected twists and turns in their song bridges along the way. The coda of their final song, in particular, culminated in a wild orgy of guitars. Frenzied but still masterfully crafted, complex and emotional.
After playing an excellent set, The Gaze made the disturbing announcement that this gig would be their last. On further investigation and after some persistent arm-twisting, I found out they are disbanding because a couple of the guys will soon be becoming fathers for the first time and according to them, they have to go get ‘proper jobs’. Well, firstly congratulations on the stork bringing your goochy-goo baby bundles, but secondly, that’s such a blow for our indie music scene. Hong Kong’s super-capitalistic environment isn’t kind to people who want to live more diverse lifestyles than just the 9-5 (or more like 8-6) brow-beaten, office-based wage slave. The pointy-sharp fangs and claws of the menacing work monster continually ensnares and eats away at most people’s souls and dreams – and I guess the poor old musos from Gaze have now fallen victim to it.
This is regrettable stuff because a few short years back the general complaint heard around the alternative arts and music scene was that there wasn’t enough talent about. Now there is – an abundance of it, yet Hong Kong entrepreneurs aren’t doing all they could to capitalize on this talent going wanting. Clubs are springing up and requiring bands but they’re obviously not paying enough to allow the musicians to make a professional full-time living from it.
Hey, don’t stay away too long, fellas! We look forward to The Gaze reforming or its band members returning in different incarnations soon.
Isobel S. Saunders