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Sunday, December 7, 2008

Taiwan Explosion in Hong Kong

Local band Zarahn played a solid set with passionate vocals from and some kickass guitar to open the show followed by punk band Climax.

Once again I was impressed by the quality of our local bands and ,even more so, the Taiwanese headliners.

Judging by this show,it's no surprise that Endy and his band Zarahn have picked up a lot of awards and already recorded two albums.They play hard-edged indie rock with lots of melodic hooks.
Zarahn @ Taiwan Explosion 2

Hong Kong bands may label thememselves as punk but their outfits are usually designer chic light years away from the original punk second hand clothes ethos.The sound is more garage band and a little like some of the original new wave bands like Bow Wow Wow,Adam and The Ants.

Climax @ Taiwan Explosion 2

FiFitwo play fun-filled,sunshiny indiepop designed to give you a feelgood glow and get you moving.For a 3 piece combo with guitar ,bass and drums they have a big sound and the songs are jangly and melodic with lots of hooks.

FiFitwo @ Taiwan Explosion 2
White Eyes have won lots of awards and it's easy to see why.The band took the Fringe Club by storm with their rocking,slightly retro,punk-garage style.Definitely one of the best bands to visit Hong Kong this year and the club was packed to see them The band played songs from their EP "Got My Body If You Want It',kicking off their set with the high tempo 'No!No!No!'Xiao Gao's vocals can range from a whisper to a shout on songs like 'Narcissistic Personality Disorder' and the rhythm section is tight and rocking with some driving lead guitar from Telecat that takes the band to ecstatic sonic levels .It's not surprising that the band have The Yeah Yeah Yeahs on their friendspace as both bands play a similar garage style postpunk and Xiao Gao's vocal style and Karen O's have a lot in common.At the moment there's a lot of expectation about this band.On this showing they really are a band worth checking out .

White Eyes @ Taiwan Explosion 2

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Indiepop meets Neo Postpunk

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Timeout Hong Kong and Crazy young Master gave us a punchy combination of indiepop and postpunk with this double bill.First Retros strutted their dark,angular postpunk then Hedgehog soothed with more melodic pop.
Re-TROS opened their set with a brooding electronic number reminiscent of Bauhaus at their bleakest before kicking it up a notch with a faster version of 'Death Bed Song' and then
pushed up the excitement levels higher with 'Boys in Cage'.The band were'nt afraid to challenge their audience with songs like 'Bela Lugosi' and it's easy to see why Brian Eno was attracted to work with them on their debut EP 'Cut Off'.Vocalist Hua Dong's excitable,agitated vocal style is perfect for their sound ,complemented by the vocals of bassist Liu Min and the frenetic percussion of Ma Hui.The band's defiantly post-punk roots made for a great evening of magnificently doomy Beijing indie ,ending their set with the downbeat 'Die in 1997'.
Re-TROS 'Die in 1997'
Hedgehog ,at the opposite end of the Beijing indie spectrum,playing aggressively uptempo indie rock that compelled the audience to jump around more and more wildly.having seen the band last year in the Fringe club,I was impressed how much tighter their sound was in this larger spaceThe band is powered by the amazing drumming of Atom and they stormed their through some new material and songs from their
debut 'Noise Hit World'like 'Toy & 61 Festival','Pumpkin'.and 'Noise Hit World'.By the close of their set the whole place was jumping.Sounds like a particularly energetic cross between New Order with Box's thumping bass and Blondie with X.O.'s ringing guitar.Could be Beijing;s Franz Ferdinand.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Listen Up! @ The Fringe Club

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Another Hong Live show but with an unexpected twist.Taiwan band Hair City couldn't come because one of the band had visa problems so the Amazing Koya of Mark 1 who does so much on the local scene stepped up with one of his bands,Sea Monsters.Searing jazz punk style guitar,amp-shredding bass and crashing drums.Follow that if you can.

Hula with a punk ethic could describe the literate songs of Harry,Angus and June,collectively known as Born to Hula and becoming increasingly poular on the local Hong Kong indie scene.Harry's almost art-rock vocals always have a sense of fun that is nicely balanced by the driving punk backing of June on drums and Angus on bass.This band's gigs just keep getting better with some new songs to their set of favourites like 'Goner','Satellites' and 'We Tigers'.Even after playing their set,it wasn't enough for the crowd so the band had to find one more song to please the crowd.
Yanyan Pang and Chochuckmo got the biggest cheers of the night with their melodic pop punk ,tearing through songs like Number One and 'Head To Toe' and finishing their set in such an ecstatic uproar that an encore was mandatory.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

White Noise:Hong Kong Indie Heaven

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For indie music fans White Noise is the best thing in Hong Kong.While there's no doubt about the talent of the local music scene.The release of a double album compilation by the Underground shows that this city has upcoming indie bands by the score but if we want to see world-class new indie bands at a reasonable cost in an intimate setting then the White Noise gigs organised by Gary Ieong are a must.The label's last event ,the New Sentimentality Asia Tour set the bar pretty high with blistering postrock from local favourites The Lovesong and the awesome Japanese instrumental band Toe but for
the National Day event,Notch08,at Hitec you really had to reach for superlatives,especially for the headliners,Efertklang from Denmark.
The festival is a celebration of music and art from Scandinavia and China with the emphasis on experimental indie.As well as some video and art display we had some leftfield indie. The first act may have got off to a slow start but after that things got a lot more interesting with local act Kung Chi Shing ,folowed by the intricate electronica of Swedish band Tape.

Tape Live @ Notch 08
Headliners Efertklang really do stand comparison with indie bands like the Arcade Fire in their dynamic,multi-instrumental live sets and composers like Sufjan Stevens in their super-complex melodies..
From their album 'Parades'it was obvious that they had outstanding compositional skills but it was an electric experience to see their live performance of songs like'Mirador' where the gentle keyboard intro and solo vocals give way to crashing drums ,strings and heavenly harmonies to send the song to stratospheric levels and an exultant climax.By the close of their set when they boldly strode offstage into the audience still playing they had shown Hong Kong that experimental indie can be full of harmonies and still rock.A small venue but it was love at first sight for the Asian audience and the Nordic indie band.A magical night full of  the inspirational sounds of  Europe and Asia.
Efertklang @ Notch08 'Mirador'

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Hong Kong Live!

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Hong Kong Live @ the Fringe Club was a crazy,exhilirating mix of postpunk,electro and powerpop from local band The Lovesong,Dr Eggs and Manila's The Dorques.

Local favourites The Lovesong kicked the show to life with their agitated postpunk set in a blizzard of energized drumming,pounding bass and thundering guitars with punk style shouty vocals reminiscent of the 80s.The band are Nic and Ben Tse(guitar,bass and Ephraim(vocals,guitar )and Lee Yat Ding (drums).They stormed their way through a great set with 'Eastern Moments,Western Skies''Worlds Collided','Holding on is Losing' from their debut 'Deux Mille Sept'.

The Lovesong @ HK LIVE!

Dr Eggs played high-energy,playful rock with a touch of electro,with the help of Ng Ka Wing (bass,vocals) and Yanyan Pang of Hard Candy ,(guitar,vocals) with lots of leaping about from Joul.A fun set but a little ragged at the edges with covers of Ah Ha and The Doors.Check them out live or look out for their Cds 'Chinese Democracy' or 'Peepshow'.

Dr Eggs @ The Fringe Club

The Dorques @ HK LIVE!

Manila band The Dorques were headliners with a set that showed influences of hip hop,punk and French pop.With songs like 'Sparks','Le Metronome' and 'Lovin'n'Pumpin' they play guitar and synth-based indie pop -not exactly perfect harmonious pop but the Fringe Club seemed to enjoy their style.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Underground 62 at The Cavern

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Underground 62.
Lots of new music for Hong Kong and a guest appearance by promoter Chris B's band.As well as organising all these great gigs for local indie fans Chris also takes time out to play in her own band,Thinking Out Loud.
Monogel play catchy,Cantonese indie-rock with a bluesy feel but it looks like they need to work on their material to create a more distinctive sound.It's great to see so many new bands on the hk scene but it also means that the standard has to be higher to attract attention.
Monogel live at Club Cixi

Commanches(Commanchas?) were a revelation with their original take on folk rock..They have a big sound and are even (a little) like the Arcade Fire with their intense vocal style and switching of instruments and the massive line-up of three guitarists,keyboards and tambourine gives the band an epic, distinctive sound.and they also have a slightly improvisatory feel .The songs 'Darling' and 'Eliza' and 'Boats' were about relationships and families and had a gentle,catchy jangle rock appeal.I really enjoyed watching this band with their modern,country rock sound.

Commanches live at The Underground

F.T.T. is one of the best new bands in Hong Kong with their blend of fast-paced garage rock popularised in the last few years by American new wave bands like The Strokes.They kicked off their set with 'Sunday Morning' a fast-paced rocker with lively bass and guitar riffs.continued with tyhe uptempo 'KFS' and only slowed down a little mid-set on their new song 'Standing Where I Belong '.As vocalist Keith gets most of the attention but Jonathan on lead guitar and Donald on bass deserve a lot of the credit for the band's tight,rocking sound.The band really came together on the remaining songs of their set 'I Feel Fine' and 'Ride with Me'with their driving riffs and catchy hooks.

F.T.T. live at Club Cixi

Everyone should try Thinking Out Loud.It's quite a noisy activity that may make you get up and dance or at least move your body rhythmically.The band is fronted by Chris B(formerly of Sisters of Sharon) and they play in an easygoing ,slightly retro style that may remind you of The Pretenders or Blondie or some of the early New York punk bands.They eased into their set with 'People',then got progressively rockier with''Stranger',the tongue-in-cheek 'Gonna Be Famous' before slowing the pace and darkening the tone with 'Moving On',before picking up pace.The band switched vocals for The Fratelli's 'Whistle for the Choir',giving the bass player a chance to grab the spotlight.Chris was back on vocals for 'Song For Lovers',a mainly guitar and sax- based bluesy rock number (whose image of 'the bride walking down the aisle' inexplicably made me think of the bloodbath wedding scene in 'Kill Bill)'before bringing the set to a suitably rocking conclusion with 'Rock'n'roll Machine'.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Underground 61


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Underground 61 show featured Harry Hula,Spodac,Tai Tai Alibi,Spodac,and an epic Battle of the bands betwen Ignite the Hope and Innisfallen.
Harry Hula is the singer /songwriter of the better known local trio Born to Hula.I enjoyed the set but it's difficult not to compare this folk rock set to his more uptempo incarnation as the frontman for BTH.The songs are reflective,introspective and more Nick Drake than Nick Cave. I think the material just needs a lighter touch in song structure.Still a great set despite some sound difficulties at Club Cixi.My favourite song?'Satellites'.

Spodac tried to fool us in their intro into thinking that they play some kind of gentle ,jangly indiepop but their sound is really more like the Foo Fighters or Stone Temple Pilots,classic rock played at volume.The band blasted their way through a hard rock set which included crowd favourites 'Gravity','Scaffold' 'madam I'm adam','Breathtaker' and 'WTF?".
So what is a Tai tai Alibi?Apparently it's a blues-based Hong Kong indie band with some good songs and an excellent lead guitarist that seemed to go down well with the local crowd,although the sound was a little too generic to make a great impact.
Headlining were Ignite the Hope and Innisfallen.Both bands have deservedly large fanbases in Hong Kong on the strength of their material and live performances.Ignite the Hope began their set with Nicky the vocalist in gentle fashion before building their songs with crashing drums ,bass ,excellent guitar into post punk discords that blew away the audience.It's easy to see that the band have great audience rapport.It's great to see local bands like this that keep alive the DIY spirit of punk and taking music to the fans.Plus they also have great song titles like'We Thrive on Your Nonsense'!

Innnisfallen kicked off their set gently with Eric on keyboards and with a new song but next song was a rocking version of 'Hours of Rain',another new song with a Radioheadish feel ,then a great version of 'Beautiful Soul','No Reply','Sounds Behind the Wall',before closing the set with 'Butterfly Effect'.This band just keeps getting better.So who is best live,Ignite the Hope or Innisfallen?Go and see them both ,together if you can and make up your mind.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Take Back The Noise

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If you're a hong kong indie fan and bored with indie bands that all sound the same then check out Take Back the Noise. Kissing on the Dancefloor started their set in fairly britpop style with an edgy guitar sound and a good vocal range a little like Brett of Suede and then gave us some jangly pop before the effects-laden guitar took over and on the next song the band were more downbeat and angsty almost shoegaze in tone.
Kissing on the Dancefloor

Next up were The Fragile who play a delicate,haunting postrock that's closer to Sigur Ros than Explosions in the Sky.In their set they included 'Venus' and 'Glacier' from their debut EP as well as some new songs which I liked a lot.Hopefully the band will be seen a lot more frequently on the Hong Kong indie scene.
The Fragile live at take Back the Noise

Sea Monsters are a phenomenon powered mainly by the Bjork- on- adrenaline vocals and stage performance of the female vocalist and crazily chaotic rhythm section.Sounds like?A jam between Captain Beefheart and Youi Say Party!We Say Die!Very experimental and freestyle!I guess it's hard to compare this type of band since it's a mix of funk,prog and jazz.

Headliners were The Yours,a local band who have already built a big fanbase ,recorded an great debut album and are already recording their eagerly awaited follow-up.Hopefully it will capture some of the energy of the band live.There's always a sense of excitement in their sets and this was another good one with new songs like 'Artpiece' along with favourites from the first album like 'Tasteless' and 'Missed Call'.
Hong Kong shoegaze band The Yours


Sunday, May 25, 2008

Rock for Sichuan

Helter Skelter (with HK's youngest rocker!)

My little airport .The Pancakes...

Edmond Tong
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Hong Kong Fringe Club was packed on Sunday 25th May to be part of a special concert organised to raise funds for the victims of the Sichuan. earthquake.In this city we're normally so time -conscious but today everyone freely gave their time and support.

The gig was a six-hour marathon event and in that space of time there were no less than 10 local artists playing all shades of music from cool jazz to postpunk rock.First band on at the early hour of 4.00 p.m. were A For with some jazz grooves,our blissful Sunday afternoon calm then shattered by the arrival of Gong Wu with their 'in-your-face'rock.Next up were Consent ,a young hip hop band,who are starting to gig regularly on the local scene,followed by So What with some medium tempo rock.

On a day when most people's thoughts were with the families in Sichuan,it seemed appropriate that Helter Skelter not only morphed from the wild blues rockers that they usually appear as into a gentler,acoustic sound and provided the evening with its most cute and youngest rocker (something to share with his kindergarten classmates-My First Gig!).

Edmond Tong maintained the chilled-out vibe of the afternoon with his gentle rock covers of classic songs like 'You've Got a Friend'.

Next on was The amazing Dejay Choi or The Pancakes.The innocent,tweepop style of this DIY performer just fitted the mood of the gig and showed another facet of the Hong Kong indie scene.

For serious indie addicts ,though,the evening was just getting into a rockier groove with the arrival of My Liitle Airport who opened their set with a track from their last album'J'ai Peur'The band played a set of refreshingly downbeat songs in their own eclectic style with a version of 'Stephanie Says' by The Velvet Underground and their own material including great versions of 'Victor ,Fly Me To Stafford','Dee,It may All End Tomorrow'.

Born To Hula are a great new britpop style outfit with lots of passion,energy and some great upbeat songs in the style of Vampire Weekend and other new wave bands.The sound is an intriguing blend of the passionate vocals of Harry Thompson,the pounding double bass of Angus leung and the crashing drums of June Ng.They played a blistering set rounded off with a great version of 'We Tigers'.
Born To Hula

Next on were The lovesong.Don't let the name fool you..the band are a torrent of energized drumming,pounding bass and thundering guitars with punk style vocals.The band are Nic and Ben Tse(guitar,bass and backing vocals),Ibraihim(vocals,guitar )and Stephen Suhail (drums).They stormed their way through a great set with'Worlds Collided','Eastern Moments,Western Skies','Starlight Shine Us So Bright'and 'Take Another Year To Rise'.
The lovesong live at The Fringe

Just when we thought it couldn't get much louder,onto the stage stormed the phenomenon that is DP.Just two guys but they can really rock! paul the drummer is well known for his sessions with local shoegazers The Yours.
The Fringe Club should be thanked for their generosity in supporting the event.Lets have more gigs like this where we can see good indie bands and help others!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Underground 58 at Club Cixi

The Fragile...Hungry Ghosts ...Gong Wu...Consent...Killersoap.....TheSinister Left....all at the Underground with videos...

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The show powered up with Killersoap,a young band who kicked off with an upbeat number before slowing the pace with their next song.By the next song which was an upbeat rock pop song with a big and catchy chorus,everyone seemed to be relaxing more and they finished their set on a high.The vocalist has an expressive voice and the band played well but look as if they're still finding their sound.

Killersoap at Club Cixi

The Fragile have definitely found their own unique's a haunting post rock that shows influences of shoegaze,especially the aetherial vocals and fuzzy guitar sounds of My Bloody Valentine and Slowdive.They are a 5 piece outfit who play emotionally expressive indie that takes you far away.It's wistful,dreamy and beautifully played.You must check out their EP listen on myspace.
The Fragile at underground 58

Gong Wu 's arrival ensured that we would all leave our sheltered postrock haven with a bang as they set about deranging our senses with some rhythnic,intense crashing tunes.
Hungry Ghosts live at Club Cixi

Consent sound like their influences are more from the USA,hip hop and R&B.

The Sinister Left are an experimental indie band.their sound is a little like the heavier rock we associate with The Editors and Interpol.

The Sinister Left at the Underground show

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Underground 57 at The Cavern Hong Kong

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The Underground lineup is never predictable and on this show we had everything from poppunk to Chicago blues with a runaway Train and The FBI throwing in an appearance.The poppunk element was provided by Senseless,who are Raymond(vocals),Kenny (guitar),Yuren (guitar)and Silim(drums).They are a young band still trying to find their sound.They started the set in jangly indiepop style but then changed direction on their next song to a more intense,upbeat emo style.The band played a good opening set and I wish the red rain hadn't deterred more people from showing up to give them some support.

Senseless at Underground 57

FBI live at Underground 57
F.B.I.Firebirdinternational are an explosive mixture of high energy,classic rock and punk.Cain on vocals has an excellent voice for the material and he also won over the local audience with his Cantonese, although almost upstaged by the extrovert bass player,Jerald!
FBI have definitely found their soun and it's it's a kickass one!By the end of the set ,the whole of the Cavern was jumping !

The Train are an excellent local band who don't indulge in onstage craziness but just let the music speak.They play an exciting,fast -paced blues-based rock .I just feel that they need to work on the songs more,get a better balance between vocals and instruments and they could be much stronger live.

Henry Chung All Stars Blues Band was almost too polished for an indie venue.Henry is an engaging front man who plays a mean blues harmonica and is also the bandleader.The lineup features not one but two awesomely good lead guitars ,bass,drums,and saxophone.Henry introduced us blues newbies into the secrets of Chicago blues and by the end of his set I think most people were on the floor jumping around ,including some of the other band members in the audience!My favourite song was 'Hong Kong Blues''!

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Underground 56 at Club Cixi

Kissing on the Dancefloor


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The Underground shows are never predictable and this one managed to cover most bases in terms of indie music genres from britpop with Audiotraffic to metalcore with Eve of Sin,with some Canadian experimentalism and Nepalese acoustic protest rock as well!In fact the show was so noisy and exciting that there was a police 'raid'!
First on were Gaze ,a young band with rock /shoegaze influences.they kicked off with 'Spoiled Kids', a fairly rocky number but on 'After 7 Years ' the guitar sounds became increasingly fuzzy and shoegazy much to my liking.We need more hk bands prepared to follow in the trails blazed by Ride,Slowdive and other great bands of the 90s pre Britpop and to give it their own special hong kong twist!

I'd say that Kissing on The Dancefloor have a lot of potential and are just as exciting as the name suggests with their mix of britpop and shoegaze!

Fusilli Project are an experimental,electronic duo based in Hong Kong and Canada.Their sound is an amazing blend of electronica,all kinds of weird percussion,wooden flute and erhu,mixed with some otherwordly vocals, a little like a chill out session in a buddhist monastery.

My favourite song was 'A Thousand Mile Journey'.

I guess that most local fans came to see Audiotraffic,one of Hong Kong's best indie bands.The band played mainly songs well known to their fans like 'Better?','Lost City' and 'Way too Long'. This band just get better every time.They have one of the best vocalists on the Hong Kong indie band scene,warm but with an edge that takes it out of the realms of 'pop'.On this set ,the band loked quite relaxed and like they were soaking up the warm vibes from the audience.

Eve of Sin are a metalcore core band.Their set was so loud that it even attracted the attention of the cops who surreally made an entrance during their set!

Queen Sea Big Shark live in Hong Kong

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Around 200 Hong Kong indie music fans erwe packed into the Fringe Club's intimate venue on friday night for a chance to see the much raved about Beijing band QueenSea Big Shark.

Queen Sea Big Shark at the Fringe

The band's set showcased their new album and showed just why QSBS are considered one of Beijing's best bands.

The band play a spiky,hook-laden garage rock with pounding drums from Xiao Wu,infectious guitar riffs from Cao Pu,strident bass from Wang Jinghan and of course in Wu han,the band have one of the current scene's most appealing vocalists,giving a great performance and taking time between songs to communicate with the audience-she even made a foray into the crowd in her enthusiasm!
'Get Away' by Queen Sea Big Shark

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Underground 55 at The Cavern

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Review with videos ..........

Underground 55 was a mix of jazz from Topao,poprock from Chochukmo and Thinking Out Loud and and postpunk shoegaze from The Yours.
I guess most indie music fans wouldn't expect jazz to be a form of alternative music although at one time it certainly was.Anyway ,it was an interesting opening set from Topao with some excellent big band numbers played in a classic style.

This was my second chance to se Chochukmo and I like them more and more.They started off in a blitz of jagged yet melodic guitar and vocals.Guitar riffs are jagged and energetic but swiftly blen into harmious interludes.Their songs are written in a freeflowing style,with excellent harmonies but this high-energy,jangly indie band seem happiest when they're rocking out.
noisy ,melodic indie along the lines of The Fratellis.I loved the whole set but my favourite was 'Strawberry'.
The band have an EP scheduled for this year 'God save Chairman Mao'-No, God save Chochukmo!

Thinking Out Loud almost put too much into their set and look as if they're still finding their style.The band play raw and gritty rock with a jazzy feel and some flowing lead guitar.Chris leads the band well on vocals and rhythm guitar Songs like 'Moving On ' and 'People' were classic rock while 'Rock and Roll Machine'with the sax player's anguished vocals hinted at something darker followed by 'Fire' a cover of the classic Jimi Hendrix song .The band finished their set with the upbeat indiepop of 'I'm Gonna Be Famous' and the more garage rock sounds of 'sex Junkie.'

The Yours are one of the best young bands on the Hong Kong indie music scene.
Their sets are always different,intriguing and apart from Jack (vocals,guitar) and Nic (vocals,bass),there may be a variety of band members from show to show. Their music is rooted in the shoegaze sounds of Creation label bands like Ride and My Bloody Valentine,although its easy to detect influences from 80s bands like The Cure and Joy Division. Just like those band's The Yours are dark and introspective .Tonight's set was excellent with lots of moody vocals and a new version of 'Black Curse' by Nic.However experimental the songs were ,the band always have a tight,rhythmic core in their sound and the songs always build to a climax.The band never play the same set on any gigs so it's always exciting to see their shows.You must check out this band live if you love the darker side of indie especially 80s bands like The Cure,My Bloody Valentine..

Another great set from the band and some signs of the new,more experimental direction the band are taking.