Thursday, November 19, 2009

Underground 88 Review

The lucky Underground! Numero 88, took place at the venue with the best sound 'The Melting Pot'. A bill which was heavily influenced by sounds coming out of Her Majesty's Great Britain, included: FAD, CYCLE, HOMELESS ALIEN, AMINO SHOWER and THE DAVID BOWIE KNIVES. What I've come to notice about going to shows here, is that it's like one big Fraternity/Clubhouse. Those in the audience and those who take the stage regularly swap places from show to show. You end up knowing or at least recognising most of the faces and it just makes for a chilled atmosphere. A lot of people criticize the fact that, the only people who actually go watch the shows , are indeed those who play in bands themselves. Yes this is mostly (MOSTLY) true, but I think that's a testament to the scene rather than something bad. At least we're all supporting each other right? Food for thought, on with the review:

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.

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.

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