The Merriweather Deer

U_Pairs_004.jpg Live Review from Pairs (Shanghai 上海) Live in Hong Kong!


  1. All Will Fall
  2. Cities
  3. Keep it to a Minimal
  4. She Comes to Me as Mystery
  5. Different Light
  6. I, Destroyer
  7. Of Bricks and Interior [Encore]

Once more came a night when Chris B had control of the smoke machine – methinks it’s going to be a permanent fixture, seeing how much she, I, the performers and the audience enjoy the pointlessly fascinating wads of smoke emanating noisily from the machine. It was even more fitting when you consider that it was the first time that all four bands were Underground debutantes – a real rarity. With Milkteeth having pulled out earlier that week due to illness within the band, TMD was a hurried, but excellent, replacement for them. And their set was evidence of why I say “excellent” – from song to song, it was tight, well arranged, and competently performed. They have two understated guitars, a smooth yet popping bass, and a keyboard and laptop as well, to top off the sound, with driving drumwork to wrap them all up. They clearly also had a lot of friends in the audience, so they also had the advantage of playing to a home crowd. All Will Fall began with a soft rock feel, but then accelerated suddenly when the drums moved in, changing the feel completely. There was lots of delay and reverb on the guitars, which, when combined with the top-of-the-throat-pitched vocals went directly to your head – you couldn’t ignore this fantastic sound that they produced.

They used a variety of different sounds, taking full advantage of the electronic resources available to them, without going overboard. There were a remarkable number of changes of pace for a band that’s not metal, and a lot of clean, bottom-of-the-fretboard, simple lick-oriented solos, played to the eternal-crashdown backbeat of the drums – this was most ably demonstrated on Keep it to a Minimal, which even had an almost atonal piano bit further adding to their quirky, Noughties-rock sound. The bassist seemed almost to adopt the firm bass style of Krist Novoselic, being the grounding melodic influence that counteracted the various different directions into which the other instruments went. She Comes to Me as Mystery had a more relaxed, country/folk feel, while I, Destroyer was a kind of Radiohead reinterpretation. This one was particularly good in showing the many moods that their music could take, going from light to pensive in a matter of seconds.

They did so well, in fact, that they were persuaded by the crowd to do an encore (of course, this may have been helped by the singer’s announcing that he was going to be leaving HK soon). Of Bricks…was more of a post-grunge ditty, with more plaintive-sounding guitars and more nimble fretwork on the lead, and more jazzy rhythms. Throughout the set, they all maintained a very dedicated stage presence, which made for compulsive viewing. Encores at Underground shows are rarities, but this one was thoroughly deserved, even if the signer were not leaving soon, for the sonic boom of a start they provided to the night.

– Shashwati

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Performances by The Merriweather Deer: