Live review from Planetrox China Final 2019


3.01 am
100% Efficiency

The evening’s entertainment is kicked off in a positive way by Virt, a young bunch of local guys who boast some seriously impressive chops. Track one Protocol begins with a slow dreamy intro, before funky bass moves into an epic feel that is Muse and Dream Theater in equal quantities, along with obligatory atmospheric keys and all very post-rock. A super guitar solo demonstrating the player’s virtuosity is followed by a quirky piano solo that then develops into a screamo part. Wearing their influences on their collective sleeves perhaps, but with well thought-out parts and spot-on timing it’s nevertheless very accomplished. And that’s just the first track! Track two Weirdo also offers a slow build-up, before kicking into a higher gear with another excellent Matt Bellamy inspired solo. I love the way these guys create a microverse within each song. 3.01 am is jazzy and funky with a cool, smooth feel. Impressive stuff, as is the way they gel as such a tight unit. Quirky and spiky, it washes over the audience before ending on piano. Last track 100% Efficiency is another funky workout, very tight rhythmically if less distinctive vocally, with piano, guitar and drums blending nicely. There’s a long fusion-esque solo which leads to a math-rock mid-8 which is again very accomplished. Nice electric piano and the drummer gives it loads before bringing the set to an end. Good stuff, boys.
Dan Creffield


PLA00125 (1).JPG Live Review from Planetrox China Final 2018

1. Hyperspace
2. 100% Efficiency
3. Weirdo
4. Protocol 332

The second band of the night is Hong Kong five-piece VIRT. They don’t get off to the greatest start with a bit of a sound check outside of the rules. You get 20 minutes to play your songs and that is it! Hyperspace is their first song which really vibe of this crowd up a notch. This song though has an interesting balance between its strong driving rhythm and the brevity of the piano break, leading into a milky warm guitar solo. It’s a bit like heavy rock hotel lobby music.

On 100% Efficiency the higher pitched shouts of lead singer Harley, who seems to mess a lot with his beanie, perhaps it’s made from that itchy wool, seem a bit off to me. The song definitely has something special in it; a real clash of genres. The middle-eighth has an obvious Queen inspiration. I do however feel the guitar solo is hampered by the keys, like their fighting each other for the limelight. The break at the end to near silence is awesome and the building of the guitar strumming sends the drummer into a frenzy before bringing it to an abrupt end.

Third song Weirdo starts off with a delicate acoustic guitar and Harley has finally found the itchy beanie too much to bear and has discarded it. I love the percussive style guitarist Danny is playing but he’s missing the beat slightly for me. He has a whole drum kit for percussion behind him for keeping the beat. The keys switch to synth and it brings an awesome sense of anticipation to the song.
The mood of VIRT’s songs has been pretty melancholic, so when Harley tells us the next song is going to be darker, I’m thinking we’re going to be in near darkness shortly.

Danny starts us off again on the acoustic and Harley’s vocal is bang on and the strongest it’s been the whole set. Did he warm up before? Bassist Sunny takes us into a crazy bass line before, yes you guessed it, another slowed down quiet bit with some gentle keys. It then kicks off and speeds up so they’re all totally rocking it out, with cackles of laughter from Harley giving this song a theatrical feeling. A bit like the bit where the main bad guy is telling us how he’s going to catch the show’s main protagonist, be prepared Simba!

VIRT have given a totally varied set of predictability and unpredictability all at once, which in itself is unpredictable. They don’t have one hand on the prize, but watch out for these guys, I predict they’ll be back and they’ll be even more unpredictable.
Simon Donald Jones

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