UNDERGROUND HK OFFICIAL SITE
Herro Hong Kong
A wet humid Saturday night found me sheltered in the depths of Hollywood. Well Hollywood RD, namely “The Melting Pot”. It has suddenly occurred to me that most of the reviews I do on the Underground, happen at that melting pot. Interrrrrestting.
Yes, back at the Melting Pot, this time for concert 79 of the Underground series. Four bands are signed on to provide the soundtrack to the event. Pop Rock act Loudspeaker, the Pop Punkers Senseless, the Shenzan Americana (I know, that was my reaction) trio The Three Represents and finally, the band that can create and control the ambiance, The Sinister Left. Something for everyone hopefully then. Except for you cool “hardcore” kids.
Ok then ... first up! LOUDSPEAKER!
Now apologies to Loudspeaker as I missed your epic introduction. I was told it was akin to the start of a Star Wars movie. Thats no bad thing at all! When I arrive, I see four guys on stage (Smallpo, Hung, Ringo and Paul) at the conclusion of their opening number, and they ACTUALLY look to be enjoying themselves. In doing so it proves the ancient saying “thou shall entertain if thou ist entertained” No really it's written in stone. Due to these guys singing in Cantonese, I understood nothing, but I was later told that they were a funny bunch of dudes who sang funny songs. So horray for Loudspeaker for keeping it merry, EVEN in these times of economic hardship. One such joyful tune had the audience involved in a spot of crowd participation. Everyone was required to sing a long to what I thought sounded like Hallelujah! But apparently it was a call to arms...to go to the beach! Who doesn't like going to beaches? Clever clever boys. Their four song set also included free merchandise give away and a harmonica solo. Short and sweet. Nice job lads.
SENSELESS, were next to take the cozy melting pot stage. I'm pretty sure I've said this before, but the melting pot's décor and the mood it creates really does merit another mention. I'm gonna admit at this juncture that I was extremely hung over when turning up and turned down a shocked Chris B's Asahi coupons. Where I was standing was a good level to hear the music clearly yet not be sonically beaten up by drum kits and guitars. I found myself happy at this, then slightly concerned as surely only old men find joy in such things. I soon snapped out of it when Senseless (Raymond, Kenny, Yuren, Elliot and Sailim) strike up their opening song, which had classic pop punk stamped all over it. When the guitars signaled the song was kicking in, the audience also took the cue to begin bopping their heads. I'm having difficulty making out what the singer is singing, but silly hungover me didn't realise it was in Cantonese when the delayed brain finally processed it. Note to self, stop being lazy and make an effort to learn the damn lingo. Although I once again wasn't able to enjoy their song topics, I was happy enough to appreciate the uplifting melodies and the backing vocals spot on harmonies. Now the main problem I have with Pop Punk, is that, you maybe have 4/5 different grooves and bands tend to use all. Basically what I'm saying is, I was hoping Senseless wouldn't put on a cliché set. All credit to them as this was not the case. Their second song started off with a great little groove showing the bands versatility. One of their songs even contained a country music style break down. Suddenly I was at a ho-down and was tempted to start line dancing, which nobody wants to see. What I really liked about Senseless was that their songs went through different phases which always kept it interesting. Again only a short 4 song set, but I found myself surprisingly impressed. Kudos.
I'm on my 3rd can of Redbull in an attempt to fix this alcohol damaged body as THE THREE REPRESENTS (Pete, Frank and Uncle Jeffro) are setting up on stage. This trio (clever name by the way) have come ALL the way from Shenzhen. What do you do when you are a traveling band from Shenzhen? Bring all your friends of course! I was amazed at the support for “The3'sents” (thank me for that one later) These guys were taking a while to set up so I decided to scope out their bio on the fliers. “Shenzhen Rustic Americana” was what they put for their genre... colour me intrigued... Activity on stage soon came to a stand still and Chris B was up sporting a Cosmopolitan happy induced smile. She let us know that the trousers on her very person hailed from Shenzhen and thus the Shenz..Shenzhanites? Hailed her. Shortly after, my education on 'Shenticana' music began. Then it made sense, it's like what most people associate as country music. It's mellow, it bops along and it tells stories. Just like the first song the band played. “Written for a girl” we are told by the bassist singer. A few years ago I was in Singapore at their annual music festival “Baybeats”. They had an indie band called Brandston headlining the festival. The point of this useful bit of information, is that it sounds very much like The3sents. I picture myself driving on a rainy day, letting the songs distract me from the misery that is traffic. The lyrics aren't embedded amongst metaphors. Instead it's straight forward ala “playing my guitar getting drunk in the city.” Not all songs were about bitchy broads though. The fourth was about beer! Usually a worthy cause for celebration, but not for poor old me tonight. More Redbull needed. As I tried to find my wings, the band had started to come out of their shell a bit more. They were slowly beginning to loose me. Even though it had taken them half a set, I was finding myself entertained by the guys. There was banter in between songs, (topics including under garments of ladies) cigarettes on stage and bonus synth parts. When I met the singer later he gave me a free CD of some of their songs that they were handing out. Great thinking. No one turns down free anything.
THE SINISTER LEFT seem to be doing something right. After finishing my notes from the last band, I look up to find the room suddenly more crowded than I remember. The band of four (Nathan, Alejandro, Stu and Chi) have an EP out called “Red Eye Effect” and as it so happens, it landed in my mailbox last week for reviewing. So be sure to check back for that. Please? The only band on the night of which I have had prior listening time. I had heard their two tracks that appeared on the Underground #1 compilation CD. I was impressed then so found myself eager to hear their set for the night. 3 out of 4 are dressed in black, not sure if this was deliberate or guys in ambient bands just happen to love wearing black. Don't worry no fab 5 comments this time. If I had to sum up the sound of TSL in one word...it would have to be “warm.” It's poetically sad yet ironically motivating. The music plays out like a mini opus moving through various phases of reverb and beats. Despite being in awe of every note I heard, I didn't find myself at all excited about how it was being offered. I understand that the complexity in music may mean having to sacrifice high energy performances, but at times it was none existent. Luckily for The Sinister Left, their live sound is THAT special that they make my “bands you must see” list. My hat goes off to the drummer who had great control of the dynamics. Like a conductor the bands volume level would sweep up and down to the bang of the drums. Also he has a wicked name. Chi.
Gig done. There's a nice little buzz about the place, maybe thats just due to the caffeine onslaught that took place over the past few hours. Seriously though, that can't be to healthy. Everyone seems to be in a good mood and I would be too. I would have paid the admission price (if I wasn't such a cheap bastard who demands his name on the list.) Yet another good evening out for local ,well, regional in this case, music. No... “shithouse”... bands here tonight.