Live review from Planetrox China Final 2019
Second time Planetrox finalists Sagas ply a knowing line between classic Canto-pop and indie – a recipe always sure to find favour in a city weaned on a diet of Anita Mui and Alan Tam yet keen to savour a wider menu of more sophisticated musical dishes (OK enough of the food metaphors). With strong stage presence they explode into first track Black Sheep which immediately gets the audience’s attention, boasting strong beats, memorable singalong bilingual chorus and plenty of attitude. Nice. Second track Oh Why is equally catchy, heartfelt with some great lead guitar playing. Third song Paradise Falls starts as a piano ballad but quickly develops a cinematic feel, which makes sense when you learn it was apparently inspired by the Pixar animated film “Up”, and the band end on All Alone, a spiky, funky well-orchestrated piece again incorporating flowing melodies and their favourite themes of love and redemption. You can see why these guys have now appeared twice at this event – they definitely have something distinctive and special. Keep at it boys, I sense that your time will come.
– Dan Creffield
Live Review from Planetrox China Final 2018
1. Black Sheep
2. Oh Why
3. Paradise Falls
Next up tonight are Underground virgins and local Hong Kong rockers SAGAS. They’re a cool looking 5-piece outfit and band leader Cyrill has the natural swagger of rock band front man. Black Sheep is their first song with a really nice simple arrangement and driving rhythm. A dead catchy bilingual chorus, which is followed up by a string of ‘oh oh, oh ohs’ totally borrowed from Beyonce and Jay Z. My favourite song of the night and I have a feeling we’ve just found the band to take a step towards the chance to go to Canada. They’re doing the simple things well here, this probably being the most well written song I’ve heard this evening. Even if it’s basically Crazy In Love.
Oh wow is what I say to their second song Oh Why. A super catchy chorus which you really struggle not to singalong to. This is a strong showing from this band. There’s no denying Cyril’s charisma, and when he encourages a crowd clap everyone jumps at the chance to join him. I feel like they have some strong punk roots in their playing swagger. Jerry plays a 6-string bass guitar, not something you see every day; what I’d call a bit string greedy.
I’m forced to eat my words on the punk roots reference, as Cyrill gives probably the cheesiest and most un-rock n roll between-song chat ever, dedicating the next song, Paradise Falls, to “anyone who has a dream”. Urgh, God.
Saying that, it’s a sweet song, really emotional and with a perfectly delicate lead guitar piece. I’m feeling some elements of Travis circa The Man Who coming through here.
Cyrill has more to say to the Underground crowd before SAGAS play us their final song of the night – 88. This could all very well be a ploy to try to keep as close to the 20-minute limit. Bands lose points tonight depending on how far from it they are.
The drums on 88 have a bit of a marching band theme to it. SAGAS’ set in a way feels the wrong way around. Starting off with high intensity and then slowing it down with each song. Perhaps another game plan to not leave the crowd pumped for the next band? Who knows. It’s an unusual song, which takes the mood down a bit. It leads into a bit of a rap section which doesn’t quite work for me.
Despite that, this is the strongest showing out of the night’s first three bands. It’s all to play for.
– Simon Donald Jones