Sunday, December 27, 2009
I sadly however am going to be putting a hold on running this blog for the time being. Time sadly is the reason. The real occupation is getting busier, and I'd like to focus any excess time into playing/writing with my band.
I have enjoyed doing this however and would like to come back to it one day.
If in the mean time anyone wants to continue writing for konghongrock, and is willing to do it for nothing but passion and a place to chat shit, then let me know.
Till next time friend.
When one thinks of music /musical activities around Christmas time, the common man would probably not think about an assortment of metal/hardcore bands to go and watch, but that is just what we had on the 19th of December, when Underground introduced it's new series : Underground Heavy. A move that I think is a smart one. There have been many times that I have been at an Underground and when the heavier then most acts come on, it is clear that there is always a fraction of the room who are either confused/bemused or downright unhappy. This is a shame, because although yes, these bands can be painfully loud and or aggressive to those not used to such genres, they are still quite skillful, even more so then some of our favourite rock'n'roll acts. There's thrashing about and making noise, but then theres the art to harnessing the brutal energy into structured interesting and most importantly tight songs. The first UG Heavy, no doubt offered such examples. On the bill were In Love & Pain, Protoss, Mensheng, Maniac and, lets not lie, the reason why most of the crowd had showed up (band members included) King Ly Chee.
In Love & Pain:
So this is my attempt to write a none biased review about In Love & Pain. These guys are my boys, and I love their work, every time I watch them (which I'm sure I can count on two hands now). This Screamo/Punk group, are in my opinion, the hardest working act in town. If you have these guys on your Facebook, you see basically a post a week from them promoting their latest gig. IL&P are a four piece act that interestingly all share the vocal duties. The best thing about them, is their ability to perform a high energy show and spread this onto those who come out to see them. On this particular evening, IL&P struggled a tad with their general sound. Whether this was out of their hands or not I am not sure, but they will probably agree that they didn't sound as powerful as they usually do. Most bands, would probably be dejected by this, and thus merely 'go through the motions' for the rest of the set. Not an industrious band like IL&P though. They powered through and still rocked out as if they were playing at Wembley. Their six song set contained many great sing-a-long anthems, that all get the blood rising. They go in and out of melodic and heavy moments. All their songs with have just the right balance of both. Check these guys out.
The next beast to take to the Rock School stage was the 5 piece Metal crew known as Protoss. Which of course is a race in the popular video game: “Starcraft”. Not the broom broom kind, but the people-identefier-er-thingy. You know what I'm talking about. The Protoss, are known for their advanced technology and their strict religious code of conduct. I'm guessing what the band took from the name, was the 'take no prisoners' in war time policy. And thus play some pretty brutal music. Good 'fuck you' screams were bellowed by their front man. They work best during their real sludgy cut tempo breakdowns. Recommended for those who are after an ideal head banging opportunity and those with an interest in badass riffing. The guys are very tight and also started the evenings first Circle Pit, which means they do their job in getting the crowd going. Kudos! The Protoss legion (referring to the band here) have interesting song structures and go places sometimes one would not expect. Dare I say , advanced, Protoss? See what I did there?
Another 5 man strong group who are making their Underground debut appearance. I bet they were over the moon when they found out who else was going to be on the bill for their first UG outing. They took to the stage like seasoned veterans, well they have after all been going since 2004. They play a fairly straight forward mix of metal core, complete with all the expected tastes and trimmings. Good guitarists in this band who trade off quirky lead parts which is exciting to watch and hear. These guys have a good front man who is constantly bouncing round the stage and hyping up the crowd. Their songs are long in length and also move around in an interesting fashion. Everyone is completely engaged the whole time, and look to be having a real good time. During the outro stages of their finale, the singer switches from screaming to Thom Yorke trademarked soprano wailing. Which of course was a surprise, a pleasant one, which worked very well and rounded off a good set.
So it's looking like the average players for a metalcore bands is 5, as confirmed by the 5 men of Maniac who are next to continue XmasMetalFest09. The start of their set had caught everybody by surprise. They kick off with an electronic song being blasted through the house sound system. For a moment, we could very well be at a hidden rave party! Just when you're about to run to the closest 7-11 to get your value pack of glow sticks however, the distorted axes and beatings of the double kick riot through and we're back to moshing and slam dancing. Well not me of course, I'm naturally at the back of the room tucking into Chris B's Cajun French Fries. Which are amazing by the way. I'm constantly in fact waiting for Chris to go on another Cosmopolitan run so that I may jam a fistful down me. But no one wants to hear me go on about my barbaric feeding rituals. Speaking of barbaric however, Maniac are the first band of the evening to get the famous 'wall of death' going. If you are unfamiliar with such a feat, I highly recommend that you youtube it immediately. Not much to say about the music though. It is of course played very well, and you can tell the band have done a lot of work to get it tight, but it's pretty much everything you expect. No real surprises. Maniac perform a good show, and I've realised that if you are to play real heavy music, you need to sell it, and each band tonight has done just that.
King Ly Chee:
From the very start of the night, their was a buzz about the room and I have a feeling it was largely due to the fact KLC were at some point going to unleash hell amongst the Rockschool sanctuary. All the other bands would mention King Ly Chee's name at least thrice during their set and everyone would applaud with great enthusiasm. When the hour finally arrives, there is even a crew who take to the stage to help the guys set up and suddenly the room is quite packed. We are all informed that it is the bands 10 year anniversary, which is an amazing accomplishment for a band from this neck of the woods. The players, and roles within have changed, but the ideals and music have stayed pretty constant. To play heavy as possible, and have people captivated by it. KLC have a strong following, and its their fans which make it a complete package to watch, It is just as interesting to watch the musicians as it is watching some guy nearly breaking the lighting fixtures due to his crowd surfing participation. The guys must be the only band in HK who refer to their audience constantly as mother fuckers, and they lap it up. Riz is constantly running round the stage making sure everyone in the crowd is going nuts. True story here, I once had a guinea pig called Riz, and when the KLC singer is running round the stage, it would remind me of my once furry pet running round his cage. Pretty random I know, but that's what was going through my head. The music follows a simple pattern of, head banging beats, then a freak out section, then repeating, with an occasional breakdown thrown in. It's nothing special but KLC do it well. Very well. They also sound good, which is amazing. It's no secret that the sound system at Rock School isn't currently the greatest, but for some reason KLC sound real crisp and clear, whilst still being heavy as hell. Everyone is singing along to the songs and getting well and truly involved. For me it's an awesome sight to see a band in HK have such a dedicated following. It's like we're watching an international headliner. During the last song, Kevin from Hardpack who has been drumming in this town for ages takes to the stage, and rips out the ending with the band, while a massive circle pit is taking place. What a set, hail to the King!
Looking back on this night, I remember it being actually a lot more fun then I anticipated. The musicianship of all the bands was much more then I expected. Although not my main cup of tea, I truly had a good time. I may even be at the next Underground Heavy.
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Our maiden act are a five piece that play songs that are distinctively of a Brit pop variety. They work well with dynamics, starting off the set quietly with a single instrument being heard, then slowly the rest start layering riffs on top until they all join together, and introduce the band. A nice sly way of doing a quick levels check as well ;) Yes , I read through your plan FAD. This smartly turned out act, have interesting titled songs that do well at capturing emotions. The singer would indicate before the start of a song that 'This one will bring you down' or 'This is a simple, naive and happy song' and they were exactly that. The other thing these guys do well, is the interplay between the bassist and the lead guitar. Their riffs feed and play off each other very well. I would strongly encourage the singer to do vocal warm ups before taking the stage, as there were times that the falsetto notes he were reaching for, were, well clearly being reached for. Work on it my friend. On the whole though, a good start to the evening. A good way to judge a band is to look at the audience. For a while they seemed a little disengaged but for the most they were locked on. Well done.
A four piece act that I need to apologise to, as I wasn't able to hang around for more than three songs of their set. I had to instruct a friend how to get to the difficult-to-explain-where venue. For your information, 'Near a 7-11 opposite a roadside eatery' is apparently not considered good guidance. Anyway, back to Cycle. They started with a cover, SHOCK HORROR! but! it was a Beatles medley, going in and out of songs such as Twist'n'shout and I Wanna Hold Your Hand. Actually I can't really remember if there were other songs, so it may just have been some interesting blend of these two. It was good, which it would of had to have been if you were ballsy enough to cover the Beatles outside of a band room. The originals I got to catch, had a true canto-pop/rock sound, that seem to build up to the moment the lead guitarist ripped out a killer solo. Very good guitar work bud. Sadly that's all I have down on my notes before having to go outside. Sorry once again Cycle.
Another 5 piece that you can tell listen to a lot of Radiohead and Pink Floyd. Then again I guess everyone sort of does. Although here in HK , a lot of musicians seem to feel very connected to the works of Thom Yorke and co. whether it can clearly be heard in the music or if songs are straight up dedicated to the man (as earlier band FAD did). Homeless Alien are a bit of a fan favourite, as everyone seemed very happy to be there listening to them to play their songs. Homeless Alien who of course were on one of the UG compilation CD's. I KNEW I had heard them before! Very tight instrumentation with a guitarist who has great control over his sound, choosing and tuning his effects wisely. Some of the tunes are dreamy with flanged guitar lines, and some are funky with a leading bass line that makes you want to get down. They play a song which was very similar sounding to Becks 'Loser' when it came to the chorus. This to me was their best song. Sadly though, there are times when the tight musicianship is let down by a lack of performance and a pitch finding vocalist. Nevertheless an Encore was being asked for, so job done.
A 3 piece with a guitarist who could have been the Hong Kong Kurt Cobain. I swear the sweater he was wearing was identical to the famous one that Cobain wears in the highly documented Unplugged show. What I liked about Amino Shower, was their explosive start, it was sort of like, "yes, the bands before us were good, but Hi, we're here to start the rock." A lot of their songs make you think of bigger names, and their music seems to be one big blend of all these names. For a quick example, their first song sounded like a mash up of Muse and The Black Rebel Motorcyle club. Amino Shower, have a song that everyone seem to know called My Facebook Hero, where the crowd sang along to. That's always nice to see. Versatility is one of the top virtues this band have, as every single song was very different. We had a generic punkballad (Think Simple Plans 'I'm just a Kid') then a song where we hear reggae type upstrokes on the guitar. These guys put on a good performance as well, that kept the audience focused and entertained. Nicely done.
THE DAVID BOWIE KNIVES
No seriously. I've had the pleasure of watching many a DBK show, and they have always been nothing short of great. On this particular night, they somehow managed to outdo their own high standards. Maybe it was due to the late starting time allowing for more beers to be had, pure speculation , but they were really on form. With no disrespect to the other bands, the difference between the DBK and the other acts, was night and day. In fact, I'm sure if you asked the other acts, they would honestly agree. For those of you who aren't familiar with the music the Knives play, it's good old rock'n'roll that makes you shake your hips and let your hair loose. All the songs tell interesting, VERY interesting stories. My favourite song, is surprisingly their slowest one called Money. I have no idea why as well. I think it's because I'm always hella broke. What the Knives do is, play all the small things very well, making their greater sound , tight as hell. Some may say, it's all very simple, but dear reader, simplicity is the hardest thing to achieve. I feel like I've said that too many times before. One of the pinnacles of the mammoth set, was when the Sound Engineer came onstage with his Saxophone and played an amazing little solo. It just added to the fun and good vibe that the Knives always bring, and it can be seen in the audience. My buddy and I were watching this beautiful Chinese girl who was smiling from ear to ear dancing along to the tunes. Her boyfriend was behind her also enjoying the music, and trying from time to time to dance with her, but she wasn't having ANY of it. I think now I truly understand why they call themselves Sex Rock. In a nutshell, The Knives are the only band in HK who can sing "I'm gonna fuck your sister", "Don't suck the dick of that gastropod" and chant 'Bukake"several times, and not only get away with it. Everyone laps it up. Ku-fuckin'-dos.
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
Saturday, October 24, 2009
I predicted they would be in the top 3, so woohoo!
Runners up were: FBI
2nd Runner up: Tai Tai Alibi
Gonna be a cliche American sports movie here and say: 'HK indie music was the real winner on the night'
Friday, October 23, 2009
So tonight, once again is the GBOB HK final. A massive night for the HK indie scene. You best come out kiddies.
The hard working crew for GBOB have recently released edited versions of all the finalists 'Heat' attempt.
The youtube channel can be found here.
Konghongrocks prediction for top 3:
Runner Up: Gong Wu
2nd Runner Up: Qui Hong
See ya all there!
Thursday, October 22, 2009
So without further delay:
Of Moths & Stars:
Chris and Nate make up the total number of band members for this act. An acoustic rock duo who somehow manage to put on more of an energetic show than a lot of bands that I have seen with twice the personnel. The lads have quite a unique sound, it drives like some 'The Maccabees' songs while having the flow of 'Radiohead' melodies. Chris is efficient on the guitar and the whole time I was watching him , waiting for a string to snap. The guy must use picks made out of feather, 'cuz he sure strums the expletive out of that thing! Because vocal parts are shared quite evenly, there are times when Nate isn't involved with the music. Yet instead of standing there like a fruit, he valiantly rises to the challenge and is seen constantly dancing or constantly dancing + playing the tambourine. My favourite thing about OM&S is the contrasting vocals being heard at the same time. Nate's voice is a lot more 'clean' whilst Chris's is quite raspy. Together they compliment each other quite well. Songs were interesting to listen to, with tales being told and even an odd homage to The Beatles' A day in the Life'. There are moments you want to sing a long to, and moments you listen intently to the story. It's no wonder these guys came out of nowhere and are now in the GBOB HK final. Never a dull moment, nice one chaps!
Next up were the four piece of Halycon. A guitarist, bassist, keys player and drummer. Vocal duties were the responsibility of the guitarist with the keys player adding good harmonies. I'm a big fan of female harmonies (the keyboardist is in fact a lady) in rock music. The tunes fall into the genre of Powerpop or Pop Punk if you will. They are quite light on the cheese though so that's a good thing! It kinda makes you want to run at 1000MPH. Whether or not my avg top speed is 5milimeters a minute has anything to do with this imagery is a complete other discussion! All the musicians play with the tightness that comes from being in a band for a while. My only criticism would be the delivery. If they upped the stage presence and showmanship a bit, these guys could be a great reason for leaving your house!
Ah, good old Transnoodle. I wonder if it's difficult being in band where people expect nothing short of solid gold from you. I don't know if it's just me, but these guys are great. There's the HK indie music scene, and then there is Transnoodle. On first glance they probably couldn't look anything less like a band, but thank god appearances don't me jack. I've reviewed 'the noodle' a couple of times now so don't really want to go over any old news. Briefly though, its 'Latin ska folk' sounding. What they do well is capture moods/atmospheres. One minute you're in a pirate tavern sipping rum, the next minute you're wanting to shout 'Mazel Tov' at a 'Barmitzva'. One of the many reasons why I think this band is great, is how, in their tunes, they go in and out of more familiar/famous songs. On this night we heard glimpses of Michael Jackson/The Beatles (yet again!) and George Michael. I'm sure those names have never been associated with 'Latin ska folk' before. Stellar performance once again, you can't go wrong when you wear a great hat!
At this point it was time to get the ear protectors in. These guys are HELLA loud. On another night when I wasn't awfully fatigued I would have really digged this 5 piece nu-metal outfit. Yet I was still able to point out what worked for these guys. If you like bands like 'Disturbed'/'Godsmack'/'Linkin Park' (circa 2002) you would really like these guys. Their set was well thought out from start to finish. It included air raid sirens being played as an intro and programmed drum loops for an outro. In terms of song writing, its sacrificing flashiness for good/interesting songs that move to different places. Thank god. When I saw them setting up , I was expecting instrument jerking off. If instrument jerking off is your thing, I apologise for any upset caused (sorta). The lead singer carried the band well and involved the audience a number of times. One quick word of advice here. Dude, good work with the vocal pedal, but make sure when you check the levels, you make sure you don't feedback when the volume pedal is pressed fully down, as feedback is exactly what happened. And thats not fun for anyone! Guitars both had the great tones you'd expect from a band who brings their own gear. Kudos goes to the drummer here who absolutely slays it behind the kit! Included in the set was Zoundz own arrangement of Beat It. You couldn't moonwalk to it, but it was still great nonetheless. What was with all the homages this evening! Coincidence or conspiracy?
To take it home was 5 piece glam act Paranoid. I loved it, as soon as this crew took to the stage, everyone in the room was trying to work out the sexes of each of the band members. I can honestly say, to this moment, I am just as clueless as I was on the night. They all looked very glamourous regardless. I wonder what takes more time, re-stringing a guitar, or getting the hair spot on for show time? The songs are all very dramatic and dark with occasional 'hope' sounding moments shining through. I naturally didn't understand what was being sung, but I felt that I still got the idea/mood of the songs, which means that they do a good job in song writing. Unless of course, their songs are about a bunch of rabbits having a picnic in the Garden of Eden. In which case they would be completely off the money. Best thing about the songs, are the control of their dynamics. At one moment it can be near silent with the vocalist singing in an almost Siren-esque voice. Then the next ,the world is ending with thunderous happenings. All in all, they were fun to listen to and intriguing to look act. Job done I would say!
And then that was it! Rockschool has its pros and cons, but overall I'm pretty sure we'll see some great shows come out of it as it solidifies its place on the HK indie circuit. Shows that are coming sooner than you may think. For example a little ordeal some may call the Global Battle of the Bands -HK Final ;).
Till next time dear reader!
Pictures and other reviews available at: