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Saturday, January 26, 2008

Me..... We at The Fringe Club Hong Kong

A-Day ..Tonick and Grin at The Fringe Club
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At the start of the show Jenny of local band GRIN told us that this was the last 'Me....We' show at the Fringe because of the lack of support for indie music locally.If that's the case then I suggest they should look to local promoters The Underground who are now increasing their monthly shows.What's their secret?I think it's at least in part due to the fact that they realise that with such a small target audience ,bands will do better with an expat as well as a local fan base and that means using a more international language.Even looking further afield to Beijing we can see that most of the best known bands like Snapline,Carsick Cars,Hedgehog, use at least some English in their songs and use English or American 80s or 90s bands as inspiration.
Grin opened their well received set with a fast paced number with a retro feel followed by a more downbeat ,blues based song.The band have a powerful rhythm section and they upped the tempo for the next song which was more upbeat with a big chorus.The band then played one song in English ,a cover of 'You're Just Too Good to be True',an unlikely choice for an indie band but well received by the crowd.The band's last song for me was the best as it had a more complex structure and more emotional intensity,bringing out more of the band's strengths of Jenny's vocals and a tight rhythm section.

GRIN at The Fringe Club

Now for the good news-punk is back!Tonick play in a neo-punk style that really got the audience moving.It may be difficult to make out the words but the band play with such energy and intensity that it really didn't matter.
Tonick live at 'Me...We...'

A-Day are a local indie outfit with Angus on vocals and some great playing by Day on guitar.The band play a mix of upbeat indiepop and more downbeat,emo songs.While Angus has a good voice for both types of material,I'd say that in live gigs,the upbeat material is better.

A-Day live at The Fringe Club

Next review.....Underground 52 coming soon.....

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Underground 51 at The Cavern

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Underground 51 at the Cavern Hong Kong

Underground 51 at the Cavern Hong Kong .......

Gray @ Dream 5 live at the cavern

Underground 51 opened with some melodic ,upbeat indie from Gray @ Dream 5.The band members are Samson(drums),Kristal(bass) and Chris(guitar,vocals)of Gray@Dream 5.The band eased us into the evening with some upbeat ,britpop -tinged r&b on songs like'Riding with the radio' and slower more soulful numbers on 'Island Girl'(HK island?)...The band has a tight,blues -based sound a little like the classic bands of this genre.

Frozen Matches played a good set despite losing their vocalist 2 days before the gig! They bravely decided to play their set and even dedicated a song 'Shoot them down'to their ex-singer!The band are Bonnie(guitar),Karen(keyboard),Eunice(bass) and Kapo(drums).They played mainly their own material and one cover by The Killers.There were understandably some rough edges without their lead singer but I look forward to seeing this band again with a new lead vocalist.I think their best songs are mainly the upbeat electro pop that made me think of 80s bands like Erasure,Soft Cell and also the upbeat,indiepop style of Canadian duo Tegan and Sara.

Spodac are quite well known on the local scene.They are a band in the modern rock style and play tight, no nonsense rock with a punch.As usual they were a big hit with the crowd with songs like'Breathtaker' and 'Gravity'and my favourite,a new song the palindromic 'Madam,I'm Adam'.The band are Nick(vocals),Bryant(guitar),Tommi (bass)and Jason (drums).Sounds a bit like Foo Fighters.Powerful,accomplished sound and a big hit with the crowd.

It looked like lots of indie music fans were there mainly to see Innisfallen.They have established a reputation as a great live act and gained lots of new fans since the release of their debut 'REALlusion' at the end of 2007. The band opened their set with 'Hours of rain' from that album with its intricate guitar riffs and haunting lyrics,followed by 'Winter'and 'Of a Beautiful Soul'.Innisfallen have a great lead vocalist in Eric Cheung but the band's popularity owes just as much to the other band members,Sam(lead guitar),Chun Lung (bass) and Sui Cheong (drums).The band have some great material,well crafted indie with shades of light and darkness,all delivered with style and lots of jangly guitars.THere are lots of good up and coming bands in Hong Kong but Innisfallen are one of the best.The band finished their set with a storming version of 'Butterfly Effect' and a huge response from the crowd.Definitely one of Hong Kong's best indie bands and I wished their set was longer.If you haven't bought their album 'REALlusion' then look out for it.

Up Dharma Down was for me the most interesting of the night's bands because their music is so freestyle and difficult to categorise moving from soul through rock to jazz.The band have been featured as one of Asia's most promising bands in Time magazine and also featured on MTV. The band are Armi (vocals,keyboards),Carlos (lead guitar),Paul (bass) and Ean (drums)The singer Ami has a great,soulful Amy Winehouse style,voice and the and the band behind her,especially Carlos on lead guitar,can really kick up a sonic storm.Most of their material was medium -paced but they can also rock it out.Highlights for me were 'Only for a Second' ,'We Give in Sometimes' and 'I Apologise'.This is one band I'd love to see again.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Beijing Explosion at The Fringe Club Hong Kong with Snapline,Carsick Cars and Dreamlike

Snapline at The Fringe Club

Carsick Cars live in Hong Kong

Dreamlike debut at Beijing Explosion 2

The Fringe Club,Hong Kong was packed on Sunday night to check out the latest new indie bands from Beijing and to see how they compare with our local bands.First time round , last year Beijing Explosion gave us indie pop in the form of New Pants and Hedgehog and new punk with PK 14.

This time round the sound was totally different although Yang Haisong,vocalist of PK14 was the producer of Carsick Cars' album.We had 3 upcoming bands Dreamlike ,Carsick Cars and Snapline with a much more art-rock,edgy sound..
First band on was Dreamlike who made a promising start with their set.
The band are Johnny (guitar,lead vocals),Wang Zhe (bass,vocals) and
Chou Yun (drums).The band's sound was a mixture of punk and the classic blues guitar fuelled by the energy of the excellent Chou Yun on drums but became closer to a lighter, Brit-pop tempo on their final songs.I think the sound balance wasn't perfect for their set but I look forward to seeing more of the band.

Dreamlike live at The Fringe Club

Carsick Cars at The Fringe Club

Carsick Cars are one of the leading bands of Beijing's indie scene.They are gaining recognition outside of their native city and were asked to support Sonic Youth on their last world tour.The band members are Jeff Shouwang(vocals,guitar),Levis(bass) and Li Qing(drums and guitar).In this set the band more than lived up to expectations.From the opening song "Zhe yuan de ren ' to the closing 'Zhong nan hai' the band impressed.They are challenging but in Jeff Shouwang ,they have an outstanding guitarist and they know how to craft songs with big hooks.There's distortion and feedback galore on songs like 'Gum' and 'Hui shou' but more than enough massive guitar riffs to keep the audience involved in 'Hou dao','Xiong mao' and many others.The band finished their impressive set with 'Zhong nan hai' one of their best known songs.

Carsick Cars at The Fringe Club

There's a great buzz about this band and it's not surprising.Like the best classic indie bands they make a sound that is both exciting and challenging.Although sharing 2 band members Li Qing and Li Weisi with Carsick Cars,Snapline's sound is completely different,much darker and more introspective and brooding with a more synthesised avant-garde feel.Songs deal with topics as wide ranging as the origins of the universe on S*2 to pornography on 'Pornostar'.The band is fronted by vocalist Chen Xi,with his jerky,eccentric dance moves and passionate vocals and the sound is strongly reminiscent of early Joy Division and The Fall.
Snapline at Beijing Explosion

The band kicked off their set with agitated,synthesised rhythms and simple (but impenetrable) lyrics before launching into the more upbeat 's*1'('-Snapline 1)you need an explanation /that I can't tell' with its massive,anthemic guitar,followed bythe more downbeat 's*2'-Snapline 2 (every circle is a door to the end of the world).After 'Close your cold eyes' the band played their only love song,'Hey Jenny'.The sound became again more upbeat when Li Qing exchanged guitar for synthesiser on the next few songs before the band brought the set to an almost rocking finish with 'Holy comments'.Fascinating,intriguing,complex but above all ,challenging new music from Beijing and you can even dance to it too!

Beijing bands,please come back soon to Hong Kong!
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