Live Review from London Calling
1. Hello Purple.
2. Lilac Sky
3. Tidal Waves
4. Nonstop Paradise
6. I Saw Your Eye
7. My Last Vanity
8. Illegal Brain
9. Enemy of the Stars
Logo’s appearance at London Calling was a treat for newer Underground gig-goers, who might not have had chance to catch the local scene stalwarts – their last show hosted by Chris B was in 2012. While their music drew inspiration from 70s mod culture and 60s psychedelia, Kylie, Chris and James channelled a timelessly cool vibe, clad in leather jackets and shades.
The three piece kicked off their set with the smooth, atmospheric and jazz-inflected Hello Purple, which introduced the smoky vocals of singer-drummer James, who managed the impressive feat of holding down a beat while singing. As the band segued into Lilac Sky, guitarist Chris’s picking built in intensity before he stomped on his phaser pedal to wash the mix in a heady, psychedelic sound. The song’s minimalist, retro feel worked well; guitars swirled over snaking basslines and hi-hat drumming.
Tidal Waves made use of jazzy, experimental arpeggios, which gave the song a prog rock feel, with bossa nova elements to the time signature and barre chord strumming pattern. Although James’s vocals aligned more closely with Paul Weller’s during the set, there was a touch of Morrissey’s tone in the singer’s lovelorn lyrics and defiant drumming, and he even managed to maintain an in-tune whistle while drumming. Logo then sped it up for Nonstop Paradise, which employed ska-style guitar and shouty singing to invoke The Specials with a touch of proto-punk attitude. Feeling the energy emanating from the trio, the crowd began bopping in time to Kylie’s bobbly basslines.
The set took a turn for the shaky at midpoint song Oligarko, on which James began a kind of incoherent rhythmic chanting while Chris laid down more psydedelic-sounding riffs and Kylie took care of backing vocal harmonies while playing a simple bass motif. However, her instrument was so loud in the mix that it was distorting – to wince-inducing effect. In the first obvious clash between James’s singing and drumming duties, the tempo was all over the place. His wild, dissonant, hoarse shouts had an almost trance-like effect on the audience. The song didn’t really have an end; it just faded away.
“Get the dancing started!” yelled James, awaking punters from their daze. Chris zoomed in while uptempo, disco guitar that recalled Nile Rodgers’ style, while the drummer redeemed himself with a catchy chorus channelling Paul Weller. Despite the strong hooks, I Saw Your Eye ended up feeling repetitive and niggling tempo issues resurfaced.
Similarly, My Last Vanity, which evoked The Police in its new wave-meets-reggae styling, felt samey and unoriginal, halting just as it seemed the band were building some variation into the song. Illegal Brain, a Logo live favourite, was introduced by James as a song about going through customs and feeling guilty – highly relatable for every jet-setting Hongkonger. Kylie adopted an aggressive stance to deliver rapid scales, while James bashed on a piece of sheet metal for a gritty snare effect, and Chris offered up more neat arpeggios.
The high point of Logo’s performance came in Enemy of the Stars, the final song of the set. Lovely vocal harmonies and Tame Impala, nu-psychedelia-style guitar was reminiscent of Pink Floyd’s deeper trips into noodling territory; a kind of free form freakout. The song’s fadeout felt somewhat anticlimactic, but the band left the audience with the feeling they had just witnessed a truly unique performance rarely found among the usual singer-songwriters and soft rock bands of Hong Kong’s musical landscape. Their psychedelic-mod music drew from some of the 20th centuries most exciting sounds, while bringing in a fresh, futuristic feel to create an enthralling impression.
– El Jay
Live review from Capitan Tifus @ Backstage:
2. Non-Stop Paradise
3. Tidal Wave
4. I Saw Your Eye
5. Love Hotel
6. Theme Park
Logo is no stranger to the Underground, having played many a shows and has even committed itself to the Underground Compilation CD3 for posterity. Indeed I have seen the band many times both at Underground shows as well as other gigs, and it is always a pleasure to catch its sets, finding its music to be very… therapeutic!
Admittedly I was a bit surprised to find Logo opening for Capitan Tifus, the rather high energy band from Argentina. I mentioned “therapeutic” earlier, as the band’s music, described as “future retro” (I believe by Chris B), to me is pretty chillout… there’s an air of relaxed intensity about its songs which, I find, while relaxing, has a tendency to draw the listener into a bit of a void, and the members’ calm and collectedness on stage, all come together to create that state of blissful abyss – I don’t think describing their music as ‘psychedelic’ would be entirely inappropriate… it is a kind of a fusion between mod revival, white reggae and… psychedelic. So, after a long day’s work on a Friday, Logo was the perfect prescription to help the audience put the week behind them, cleanse their minds and prepare them for the weekend.
Live review from Underground 101:
1. I Saw Your Eye
2. Chicken Factory
3. Project Yourself
4. In Another Life
5. Lilac Sky
6. Pink Flamingo
7. Non-Stop Paradise
8. Karaoke Lounge
9. Taxi to Wanchai [Encore]
Logo is one of the most exciting live bands I’ve seen in HK, and one of the main reasons for that (aside from their songs) is that they seem to be teetering on the verge of chaos. They tend to go faster as songs progress, including ones that they started off at breakneck speed. This night, was not like that – their performance was perfectly paced and well-controlled, which, surprisingly enough, made for an equally cool set, which allowed the songs to sort of float in the atmosphere and into your mind. It really helped that the sound in the Live House was just about perfect for them. The crunchy reverb of the guitars with their various effects, the calm bass, self-assured drums and eerie vocals all seemed to meld perfectly even at the slower pace. This was a very different side of their music that was on display, and it was great to hear.
Another potential problem that Logo was facing was one that typically faces a band that releases a great first album – the second rarely matches up, mainly because the incubation time of the second lot tends to be much shorter. However, without meaning to jinx them, I’d say Logo are well on their way to bucking this trend. Their set this night was mostly new songs, and they all have that same incisive yet spry character that their earlier songs did. The Ray Davies-style observational lyrics that simultaneously work at conflicting levels of annoyance and attachment to the same thing are still very much there. How it all turns out remains to be seen, but the signs are promising.
The brass sheet that drummer James uses is one of the most distinctive sounds you’ll here in the music scene here, and it was the bellwether this night too. The sinister I Miss Your Voice was much slower than they usually play it, and took on an air of seriousness that was nicely broken by the guitar. Chicken Factory is a striding funky song, with a bass line much like one Larry Klein would’ve played. In Another Life was a much faster song, and one that I cannot describe using any references but Logo. It’s in a similar vein to their Temple of Smoke, but the Arabic lilts are replaced by a shade of hurried melancholy. They played almost unbelievably catchy Non-Stop Paradise, and surely enough the crowd couldn’t resist nodding along. Their encore was, as usual, a romping-stomping rendition of Taxi to Wanchai, which was the perfect chaser to their reserved, measured set. I would go so far as to say that this may be the most perfect set I’ve seen them play. In many ways, this set has convinced me that they would make a perfect neo-hipster band, and I don’t mean that pejoratively; come on hipsters, support Logo.
— Shashwati Kala
Live Review from Girls with Guitars #3
This review starts with a question: What the fuck is “Future Retro”? This was the description for Logo’s music as described on the flyer for the Girls with Guitars show and, if one is honest, is intriguing.
Logo consists of the basic guitar, bass and drums combo, with the drummer also providing the lead vocals. Initially, as they kicked into their opening song (“Miss Your Voice”), this reviewer noted a lack of stage presence from the bassist and lead guitarist – admittedly, eyes (and ears) turn to the drummer as he starts singing. A lack of band interraction was noted too, but I personally put it down to being opening song jitters – getting a feel of the audience and the venue. This could possibly explain the lack of audience interaction between the band and audience between the first and second song. However, it was during said second song (“Project”) that the musicians themselves, possibly at ease with themselves, began to show life, instead of standing blankly like hired sessions musicians – and in turn, the audience responded with more animations.
Musically, Logo’s songs are catchy and provide an eclectic mix of genres – at times they can sound like the Beatles, other times I was reminded of the Style Council all the way to the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Lyrically, the band are also interesting. Logo do show a maturity in their lyrics without going to the extremes, as seen with many local bands who use lyrics to raise concerns or awareness about their feelings and/or what they believe in, but end up mostly sounding like teenagers having a sulk (even when they’re in their 30s). However, I did note that throughout their performance, the beat and drumming riffs were almost entirely the same, just adjusted to match the pace of each song. An old rock saying goes “a band can only be as good as it’s drummer”, and in Logo’s case, this is unfortunately true. It can be argued that having to sing as well as drum is difficult in itself but one can only think of people such as Phil Collins and Levon Helm who successfully mixed the two.
Overall, though, I thought it was a relatively good performance and to go back to my opening question (What the fuck is Future Retro?), based on Logo, Future Retro is just good old fashioned rock with a bit of mature and sensible fun thrown in.
– Joey Griffin
Live Review from Prins Nitram in Hong Kong:
It is wet, soaking wet, in terms of the reverberation of all instruments through the whole venue, even the drumsticks hitting one another can be heard with much reverb. The riff of “Love Hotel”, my personal favourite, reminds me of the 70’s UK detective/spy dramas like “The Zoo Gang” (The Wings). There is also a sense of vintage bassline like the retro-rock bands like The Coral. Maybe it is because of the fact that James need to sing, the drumming is stable yet never boring, since a drumming singer is already something interesting to see. There are few of them, to the best of my knowledge, including Don, Phil, Ringo and Roger. The pink blazer of Chris adds up the charm to the band. The riffs and tone of the guitar with the spring reverberation undoubtedly draw me to the dancing floor with the Shadows. So there I go, stop writing and have a good time with Logo.
Message from Logo about CD3 Release Party B:
Logo fully supports the huge effort by The Underground in organising parties and bringing the best of Hong Kong’s independent musicians to the attention of a wider audience. These parties are fabulous and we encourage everyone to attend in the future. Party B was of course attended by Logo along with much of HK’s glitteratti and the order of the day was very much enjoy yourself.
Live Review from Underground 95:
1. Tidal Waves
2. I Saw Your Eye
3. Miss Your Voice
4. Lights Are Out
7. Non-Stop Paradise
8. Temple of Smoke
The all-sunglassed Logo proceeded to take the stage, and the coy intro to Tidal Waves was played, with a wonderfully strange mix of delays, funky bass and Television-esque guitars that Alan Parsons would have been proud of. The eclectic minimalism of the guitars was rounded off by some catchy riffing, and was topped off with singer-drummer James’ vocals being remarkably reminiscent of Joe Strummer. I Saw Your Eye featured a winding bassline, and 2nd-gen Hendrix influence, combined with the more contemporary tendencies of bands to use a Kinks-ish sound (especially in terms of beats) with more diverse arrangements. The lyrics, indeed, were in the spirit of Ray Davies, with their tongue-in-cheek tone set against honest conversational speech-patterns. A very middle-eastern feel was typical of Miss Your Voice, a trippy little ditty with lots of modification to the guitar and near-atonal chords in the bridge, followed by the cold-open into Lights Are Out, strongly reminiscent of the Replacements.
Escalator featured some remarkably trippy lyrics, along with a very early-Smashing Pumpkins-style drum-bass combination. The structure of most of Logo’s songs seemed to be to have an anchoring rhythm section, with consistent vocals, allowing the guitars to be as moody as they like, combining the glibness of shoegaze with the confident groundedness of David Byrne/Talking Heads. Non-Stop Paradise featured some Dylan-esque sociak commentary, and a penchant for memorable phrases, not unlike the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band. The closer was Temple of Smoke, with the guitars mimicking the bass, and almost-metal feel to the song, and having some chords that are rarely touched in the regular course of pop music, hearkening back to MC5’s Fred Smith’s guitarwork, certainly leaving the foot-tapping crowd asking for more.
Live Review from Underground 84:
I was feeling a touch of deja-vu as Logo kicked off Underground 84. I thought it was pretty trippy that my second attempt at reviewing would be of a band who were doing their second underground show. I thought that maybe the planets were aligned in some weird way, somehow drawing us together. What could I do to make this review different from the first one? Well, for me I wanted to concentrate on the development of the band. And so that’s where we start…
As always, James (aka Wolfe) continued to have the same pull and presence as in his previous show. He banged away on the drums, so hard at times that the bass drum nearly escaped him. He played awesomely despite the drum kit nearly falling apart underneath him. I started to think, is this the most fragile drum kit I have seen in Hong Kong? Despite the small hiccups James plugged away without missing a beat and he even impressed the audience by slapping the tambourine onto the snare drum. He continues to amaze me with his effortless singing, sometimes stretching his voice to the limit which reminded me of Eddie Vedder (from Pearl Jam) when he screams and shouts.
I looked to the two guitarists , Mysterioso Akiko and Chris Derrida, to see how they had improved. Akiko wasn’t sporting the pink rimmed glasses from the previous time and I kind of missed them. Maybe she should of worn them still because they had some pull and I could see her eyes falling to her fingers as she plucked away at the bass strings. I wanted her to look up from her bass and look me in the eyes. Just as I made that thought she did just that as she was probably wondering what I was scribbling down. Oops. Chris maintained his cool look with his dark sunglasses and he swayed side to side as he strummed on his instrument of love. It seems that both Chris and Akiko’s skills had improved greatly. They were generally tighter and didn’t make too many mistakes.
The great thing about this band is that their songs create a lot of imagery. For example, in their song called ‘Non-stop Paradise’ I could imagine being on a deserted island with the soundtrack in the background. The scene plays out with myself and my loved one having fun on the beach, surrounded by palm trees, white sand and clear blue water. The song ended with chimes, as if we were waking up from a dream and being brought back to reality. The second last song they played, and I forget the name of it, was really trippy. I immediately thought, the Prince of Persia is here. The room turned into a harem with sexy belly dancers dancing all around. The guests of the room were high off smoking opium and in a trance brought on by the psychedelic tunes. This song was followed by ‘The Temple of Smoke’ which also had an Arabian feeling. I felt like sitting back and smoking a shisha.
Other songs that they played were ‘Eye for an Eye’, ‘Love Thief’ and ‘The Love Motel’. The last song I mentioned had a very infectious guitar riff in the chorus that I thought would stay in my mind for the rest of the night. Actually, I still can’t get this song out of my head. All in all, watching Logo again was an enjoyable experience. It was like going on a trip to exotic places without leaving my seat and accompanied by a great soundtrack. I look forward to what else these guys have got to offer.
Cain (F.B.I. vocalist)
Live Review from Underground 76:
1. I Saw Your Eye
2. Concrete Sky
3. I Miss Your Voice
4. Love Hotel
5. Ferris Wheel
6. Lights Are Out
9. Temple Of Smoke
Logo consisted of two guys (James and Chris) and a cute Japanese girl named Akiko. Chris was on guitar and Akiko played bass, while James led from behind on the drums. The two front men, Chris and Akiko, came onto the stage wearing dark sunglasses. Akiko’s sunglasses really drew my attention with their pink rims. I expected one of these two to start singing, but next thing I know, they start playing their first song, ‘I Saw Your Eye‘, and James begins singing from behind. We were told that this was a love song from Glasgow. Their music sounds like British 80’s rock, filled with catchy riffs and bass lines. Though, James was using some kind of distortion to his voice that made it sound retro ‘80s. I was told by other people that they thought Logo sounded like the “Buzz-cocks” and “The Clash” because of James’ super heavy British accent.
Their second song, ‘Concrete Sky‘ started abit slower and was more psychedelic. I thought that James’ first song would be his only one on vocals, but he amazed us by continuing to sing and lead his troupe from behind. He had support with some back-up vocals from Chris, but only a few oohs and ahs. It seemed like the guitarist and bassist just stood there and played their instruments while the drummer held all of the stage presence way at the back there.The third song, ‘I miss your voice‘, was more upbeat and continued to be psychedelic. It was very trippy music. I was wondering by this stage… what this would be like on mushrooms? It set me in a trance with their music. I could almost imagine seeing spirals and swirls in the background with girls dressed in hippy style clothing dancing seductively as James sang middle-eastern scales. Were they going even further back than the ‘80s, heading into the ‘70s? I could almost imagine Austin Powers jumping into the scene and doing a silly dance. Their music went on like this for another few songs. I was starting to think… when is this trip going to end?
Their sixth song, ‘Lights are out‘, got my attention back with its fast paced riffs and loud music. I was convinced I was getting the intended vibe when James said in one of his lyrics, “picking magic mushrooms, and all the stems turned to giraffes”. Or something like that. Really trippy man! The next song, ‘Escalator‘, brought us back to a lighter side of Logo. I felt like I was in a field skipping merrily hand in hand with my loved one.Their last song, ‘Temple of Smoke‘, which I misheard for ‘Sample of Smoke‘, had me thinking that these guys must really like their drugs until James pointed out that this song was about evaporating beliefs, not evaporating leaves. For this song, Austin Powers was back on the scene. This time he was on a mission, snooping around for clues and doing what he does best, being groovy.All in all Logo gave us a good performance for their debut at the Underground. A little bit rusty and not altogether in some parts, but they definitely can set the mood and give us a feeling of deep enlightenment. If they get a little bit tighter I can really see their music being used as soundtrack for Austin Powers, or something in that genre. Groovy man!
Cain (F.B.I. vocalist)