Thursday, October 22, 2009

Underground 87 review

I recently wanted to check out what Rockschool was like as venue for gigs, as it seems to be part of a lot of upcoming events. When looking at the gig calender, I saw that there was an Underground show taking place, the 87th one to be exact. After not reviewing something for a while, I decided I may as well go along to this, suss out the venue and offer my two cents on each of the bands performance that night.

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!

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