Event Reviews

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Volta vulture.

Darkness. Silence. A crowded space. Suddenly, bam, the sound of live trumpets, a flash of light and the brilliant voice that is Bjork.

The crowds shuffled as they tried to catch a glimpse of this distinctive icon. However, stuck behind security barriers a montage of silhouette heads offered no happiness. Massive walls either side of the stage were screenless with no live footage for unfortunate fans stranded at the back.

Those that were fortunate enough got to witness Bjork's mesmerising stage presence watched attentively as fans swayed and jumped to tunes such as Hunter and Oceania. Dancing and singing on stage Bjork and her Icelandic brass band entertained the crowd with their performance.

By the end of the show the crowd didn't want to leave. Fans loitered taking photos of the stage and chatting amongst themselves.

Eaves-dropping on conversations there was disappointment that the sound system had ruined Bjork's performance and their enjoyment of the night.

As they complained others left i-pod in ear not having had enough of the Icelandic songstress.

 Playlist:
 

1.       BRENNID PID VITAR (WALK IN)

2.       EARTH INTRUDERS

3.       HUNTER

4.       JOGA

5.       UNRAVEL

6.       VERTEBRAE

7.       THE PLEASURE IS ALL MINE

8.       ALL IS FULL OF LOVE

9.       DESIRED CONSTELLATION

10.   ARMY OF ME

11.   INNOCENCE

12.   BACHELORETTE

13.   WHO IS IT

14.   COVER ME

15.   WANDERLUST

16.   HYPERBALLAD

17.   PLUTO

 

ENCORE

18.   OCEANIA

19.   DECLARE INDEPENDENCE

Review By Liz W.

And so the journey begins...a libertine excursion, marked by acts of incompletion and random outbursts of ineptitude. All times are 24-hour clock. Shall we begin?
   
I've just finished a 5-hour move, up/down more than a 1000 stairs. These knees aren't made for climbing, but there's brass in pocket and plans are underway to catch the 1430 ferry to Central. Destination: Cyberport for the Clockenflap Multimedia Arts and Music Festival from 1400 hours to 0200 hours, Sunday. Should be a cyberdelic Woodstock (w/out mud, but w/a huge bouncy castle). Strolling down YSW Main Street, against a lot of happy feet traffic, I learn there's a free ferry to Pokfulam leaving in 15 minutes (about 1330). There's just time enough to buy cocktail ingredients, a new notebook and hit the pier (for a 15 minute wait on the boat) Good crowd, lots of familiar, multi-generational Dickstock faces. No pushing. The antithesis of the RFU's shambolic distribution of rugby tickets (but that's a completely different story of rage, impotence, irritated joy, greed and incompetence).

The Bush regime's rain-makers are up to their usual standard. It's a glorious day, thanks to a dazzling performance by Ole Sol, the biggest star in our system. Beaming in good vibes (if we don't get too technical and mutter about melanomas and mutant radiation) from 8 light minutes away he Makes The Day!  I spend the next 20 minutes, sharing cocktails with Hermann, Parksie and Tiff - all of us are working VIP's today.  Hermann gets his 1st significant mention now for exhorting us all to "Flock n' Clap for Clockenflap!" The hired ferry boat (from the same people who did the recent round Lamma tours) gets us there safely. Out of the boat at Cyberport, past the Sculpture Garden, round a big building and down the length of  the Information Circuit. Lucky me, there's about another 150 stairs to clamber to gain entrance. Wiry, young dads bound blithely past me, 2 steps at a time, carrying prams and possibly subharmonising to a rousing chorus of  "hey-ho, hey-ho, it's off to work we go". Reach the top without recourse to oxygen.

Inside, the lovely Maryann (?) with the unshaky hands, signs me in and deftly attaches my Clockenflap media bracelet. Through the doors and wow! Groovy Venue. There's a 4-tiered garden area (very flat) ringed by a moat (no fishing allowed and please don't feed the mosquitos). Lots of tiny tootsies getting soaked though. There's the main bar and a big vidscreen at stage left, a decent sized stage, the ubiquitous iron fence in front. Next is  Ray's Shed, some food stalls and bars and Andy's environmental booth. Andy explains. "I'm on duty. The WWF has a tent and we're talking to people about seafood hunts (I think that's what it reads). There's also a laptop to calculate your carbon footprint. Looking forward to Young Knives too!" The SCMP reports that the organisers will donate 20% of their profits to offset the carbon footprint. Good Work Fellows! Unlike the Dubyahoo and his Cabal. This is a President whose mangled syntax inspired a book "The Bush Dyslexicon". A man who allegedly spent his formative years with a silver shotglass welded to his wrist or a silver spoon up his nose (anecdotes vary). He's now swapped them for a silver foot in his mouth and I hope he gets to the silver sock in his gob before he tells us his Final Solution to Global Warming is...Nuclear Winter. He needs to listen to Meher Baba speak more often. Pete Townsend will vouch for that.

Nice grass at front of stage, more cocktails, casual banter, blah blah blah. Parksie and Tiff have ambled off and Hermann is skulking somewhere. There's a  hint of a wisp of a snippet of a Chinese Whisper saying The Music's Too Loud. Apparently 70 decibels is tolerable to the Authorities. Negotiations are continuing. The main suspect is anonymous from the hotel at stage right. Didn't they know there was a Happening today? The complaint  occurs during Luke Chow's vibrantly pleasant acoustic guitar w/vox opening set. Songs include "Accumulation", "Internally External" and "Becoming a Dentist"  He seems glad when it's over (too much Friday night?) and much prefers playing with his band Hungry Ghost - a 4-piece with Tiffany Love, Paul Lam and Mike. Who plays what is left as an intrigued reader's exercise. Check out www.myspace.com/hungryghostshk. I've told him to unearth "Love Chronicles" by Al Stewart (Jimmy Page on extended lead guitar!)

Clementine is my Sunshine is next on stage. A more ethereal set on acoustic guitar and occasional harmonica. The type of tunes you would hear on Sarah Records. Sorry, dude, gotta go. Just spotted Kulu climbing into Ray's Shed...He spins an interesting mix of nu-funk and offbeat rare groove at Solas and Kee Club. Today's aural offerings include Flow Dynamics w/Diesler, Quantic and the Freestyle All-Stars. Steve Bruce, Ray and Kumi Drum Jam are here too, almost inhaling the sounds of his short set. Someone's shot a snap of me and Kulu - the Battle of the Beards! I wonder what time my mates Karina and Derek will arrive? Recent experience suggests the odds of them seeing the headliners are 60/40.  Meanwhile, Bizali are busting some chops on stage...

This Bristol-based group have been gigging about 2 years. In their own write, they claim to be "inventors of FLUNK music. Boil the copper pot of FOLK, mix with the silky tea-leaves of SOUL, blend with smooth FUNK syrup and serve in a little teapot of SWING".  Long-term Lamma-ites will remember Mothership. Newer arrivals will think of a hornless Nude  and Garoupa's acoustic lead guitar w/FX pedals. (Has Garoupa now gone the way of the cod?) Blythe Pepino is on lead vocals and part time melodeon. She's a twirlyball of energy, floral summer skirt flaring out. Dancing barefoot, she's a minxy mix of Sandie Shaw, Belinda Carlisle and Eddi Reader. Daisy Palmer is a subtle power drummer with some cool changes in pace and tempo. Dave Johnston on bass meshes fluidly with her, providing the solid necessary heartbeat to move the tunes along. Aaron Zahl is the main scribe and his acoustic guitar playing blends rock riffs, wah-wah pedals and ringing powerchords (plus a nifty Hendrix riff. Well spotted, little Nick at the mixer). Marina, a guest photographer says "the show is bizarre. I love the Bizali band playing right now". Tunes include 'UH-HUH", "Shiny Things" and "Broken Chains". The melodeon track was a real Augusto Pablo flashback. More details on www.bizali.co.uk and I'm looking forward to chatting with you...Bodhi is now DJing at Ray's. Gets a little more trancy and then slips in a real gem. Lee Perry doing 3 Blind Mice - a rarity from 1971-74. People in the crowd are having fun. Time for more solicited scribbles and scrawls. Here's Sean and Lauren: "Kid Carpet and Young Knives are gonna kick ASS! Blips and blops forever. Great venue. Great price. Do it Every Year". 

Nick explains that his job is to get the band sounding right (to them) on stage and his feed is sent to the master mixer who makes sure it sounds cleaner and crisper than the original band CD. Bizali are backstage, winding down and we chat for a bit before they go  do some PR and interviews. Like me, they're Young Knives virgins. They wonder why everyone is so laid back. I reassure them that most local audiences don't dance, but they DO enjoy the show or else they wouldn't be there, not dancing. MC's Will and Kinny introduce DP who are preparing to "shock and awe" the front row of grinning gurners and the tv eye. No sign of Karina and Derek.
  
DP is Dave (voxbass/FX) and Paul (drums). That's the simplest acronym. Other more scatalogical versions exist. Enjoy making up your own. Musically, they could be Dub Punk to Dark Prog. Their Demented Playing has led to a Durable Partnership since they graduated from The Academy of hard rock knocks in early 2007. They blast through a 10-tune set which includes crowd pleasers "Supermegadon", "Man Thresher", "Eye of the Eagle" and "Vincent Blackmountain". The sound recalls prime sludgy-Sabs, some Metallica, and bits of more electro NIN when Dave mashes his pedals. Paul's charity Mohawk is growing out and his white suit and matching shades  gives the appearance of a slightly psychotic ice cream vendor, but it's all an act.  He sheds the jacket and his drumming becomes faster, more fluid while his hi-hat cymbal stack is knocked askew about 3 times during the set. Thomas, a visiting drummer, notes "DP rocks, but their cymbal is defective". His mate, Preston, wants everyone to know he's having an awesome birthday. Dave is blending power bass riffs with a rumbling, underlying rhythm. Close your eyes and they could be a trio. Personally, I think they need a mad synth/samples/keyboard player. Someone like Alan Ravenstein (Pere Ubu) over Isao Tomita and samples triggered by Don Letts. They've done some recording/re-mixing w/Dan F. (Yumla) and that's what I want to hear. Embrace Noughty Technology! My viewpoint is not a Damascene moment for Paul. Other fans have said the same thing. You can check DP out on www.myspace.com/dpmetalheads.

DP have finished and the tension is mounting as The Young Knives HK debut draws ever closer. Backstage, Paul has the answer. A large guitar case is put on the table, opened and...it's treble doubles all round. The Guitar Bar is officially open for business! Another choice of Jim Beam, Absolut, Jagermeister, and Bombay Gin.  I spot Bizali up front, having done the PR chores, and motion them round to the back. The Jagermeister sustains heavy damage as everyone swigs and bonds. Hermann has arrived and wants to know if I want to join his press conference with Jay and Mike (the organisers). I say no as The Young Knives are on stage.

You know the story. UK Mercury Music Prize nominees last year. The Post wrote that they "forged a reputation on the back of their live shows" and their debut release "Voices of Animals and Men". Henry Dartnell is on lead guitar/vox. Brother Thomas, aka House of Lords, (who looks like a young Ronnie Barker - think Fletch, pre-"Porridge") is the bassist. Oliver Askew is on drums. They wear suits. Slightly less flashy than early Be Bop Deluxe. Not quite Men in Black-era Madness. More accountants on the razz, so to speak. Thish could be the cocktailsh shpeaking (or Sean Connery), but they are really rather good. Tight songs, fusing the gritty guitar runs of The Ruts. Melodies courtesy of The Only Ones or The Skids. Heroic stances worthy of Pete Townsend or Spinal Tap's Nigel Tuffnell. This is a post-punk v retro-rock amphetamine-fuelled charge through some of the greatest Indie moments of the last 20 years. It's like most of the best acts from "Uurgh! A Music War" all mashed up. The only titles I hear are "Up All Night and "Lightswitch". The encore features Henry falling over, playing a blistering rock guitar finale and leaving his guitar prone on stage feeding back, while he scuttles off, followed by Thomas and Oliver.                                  

The sound is up to 90 decibels for this performance, thanks to the unflappable Alex and her mediation skills. Hermann and Marina are getting some excellent snaps. Manek is here now. Haven't seen him since the Hed Kandi gig. He's videoing the show. Blythe and Daisy are in full-tilt boogie mode at the side of the stage. (Ja, ja, Jagermeister!). Lots of Lamma-ites visible. Tamara is still dancing. Chunny, Sian, John Hutton and Barry are on the periphery. Where the hell are Karina and Derek? I persuade Bizali to make Clockenflap history by becoming the 1st Bristol band to review another Bristol band while the latter are still playing. Here goes: Bizali says: "The Young Knives are brillo pads, like chocolate on our nether bits. Uuuummm, I like". Thanks, Blythe. "Clockenflap rules. The Young Knives rock". Cheers, Daisy. Hermann has the photographic evidence of this mini-moment in history. Don't all surf for it at the same time.
   
Clockenflap by Day is over. Most of the families are leaving, while the unencumbered are heading to the downstairs inside hall for Clockenflap by Night. Ray's abandoned his Shed and is on the Wheels of Steel, just below a stage clustered with equipment for the later acts. The indoor venue has a Cathedral-cum-foyer appearance, set off by huge bay windows. About 600 (?) or so people remain of the nearly 900 (?) who were outdoors. Ray slams out some frenetic grooves  to a wildly delirious crowd (up front, anyway). The final tune features a raucous rock soundbite "you've got a bullet in the head" Sounds familiar? MC Grey Goose enlightens me. "Who else fuses funky 80's electro into Rage Against The Machine" That's some cool shit" Take it away Mr Ray Dollars.
   
While laptop duo Snoblind set up and fine tune, there's an impromptu performance by Hannah. She's Patti Smith meets Joolz, the Punk Poetess. A bravura recital of "Lamma 'til I Die" over an absorbing funky soundscape. She articulates in brief, but telling detail, the joys of being a Lamma resident. 20 years of my life flash by while she performs. A smile of happy recognition plastered across my face. Hannah, please get in touch w/Hermann. He really wants to publish your poem in Lammazine. On with the show. Still no K + D.
   
This is the 2nd time I've had the pleasure of seeing Snoblind live. The previous gig was #34 of the long-running series put on by the local organisation that isn't HK Live. I sent them a review and they REACTED WITH A RATHER ROBUST, ROTTEN, RUDE, RANTING REFUSAL. Never mind, Long may they sporulate in their reeking swamps and rotten copses. No hard feelings. Anyway, with your indulgence, I would like to quote from this previously unpublished piece: "...Snoblind get ready to take us into the Twilight Zone where all is possible and nothing forbidden. They plough a slightly more funkrock path than the ambient electronica of FourTet, the mashed-up dance grooves of Kid 666 or the acid-dubtronix of Sandoz...samples and beats recall the mad Swedish Moogsters EHIF, jamming w/ The Flaming Lips as over-produced by the (homicidal) Phil Specter. There's also a nod to Frank Zappa's "Jazz from Hell". They also show sped-up jerky HK movies with a slight hint of paranoia. A sort of stalker's view of grimy, decaying architecture and late night freak rides along the Oblivion Autobahn. Some of the films are the same tonight. Snoblind use 3 laptops and a couple of magic boxy gizmos and joycontrols. Not quite a typical theremin, but capable of much electro-sorcery.
   
Tonight's set features both Regina and Vincent playing the same stripped down cyberbass(?) at separate times while the other twiddles, tweaks, and sculpts scary soundscapes. The last gig was loungecore compared to this. This set ambles through trip-hop terrain into a final 20 minutes of unparalleled freakout. More dirty/grunge v the sound of terrified prickle-sweat. White noise, bleeding into cosmic debris and background radiation from the birth of the Universe. I can almost hear the quantum foam bubbling in the nano-furnaces, causing the eventual entropic heat-death of the Totality that is our Space Time Continuum. 13.7 billion light years (since tea last Tuesday) and still going strong...
   
Cassady Winston, an American rep. from Solos records in San Francisco who's been in HK for 9 months puts it differently. "I came to see Snoblind, that's why I came. I'm happy when a down-tempo live group can work a dance crowd" His opinion is shared by Ole Grey Goose, who has possibly over-imbibed wisely on his eponymous vodka and is feeling very confessional. Shook's multiple personalities have decided "we love Cyberport". Sarah Swann and boyfriend Pete (both fellow lefties!) say "Great night. I'll be checking out hkclubbing.com" and "love the beard man! Serious cultivation" Finally, a small screed from the man w/no name. "To, Nick the book, who keeps the book. I Clockenflapped and...I got shook. It's all good, but what's it mean (I keep punctuation even in this mood). Check back next week and you'll find what we seek. I've 20 teenagers defining Clockenflap for homework as we SPEAK". Reveal yourself, kind stranger!
   
The Guitar Bar cocktails are working as advertised.Wax Apple are setting up and...(bump) :Hi, Nick" Karina and Derek have made it (it's about 2330) Tom and Adele are urging me to stay the distance and split a sampan back. Hermann is ready to go. Bizali have disappeared back into the throbbing crowd. I think, just a few more minutes. Catch some Waxed Apple and leg it. The Apple are veterans of 2 Rock-it Festivals and always receive a warm welcome. One of them is related to the organisers.No red suits today. What I hear is a breathtaking meld of traditional and electronic instruments. The drummer is frantic. Sounds like Afro-Celt SoundSystem re-mixed by Adrian Sherwood. Dub soundscapes and more swirly tronix at drum-n-bass pace. Wish I could stay. Karina says she has a parcel for me in her car...
  
Outside is chaos. A mini-bus is about to leave. Hermann's inside. I get gazumped. No cabs, hopefully another minibus will come very soon. It's 0010 (Sunday). Last ferry goes in 20 minutes. I wait, see a bus, jump on. It's going to Causeway Bay - via Aberdeen! It's 0028 and I'm stuck on the Aberdeen quay. No sampans, no other customers. A man tells me the single-person fare is $150. Another man repeats the price. It's easier to get a bus back to Central and wait for the 1st Lamma ferry at 0730. Arrive in Central at 0118. I've narrowly missed the next ferry by 6 hours and 12 minutes. Get some scoff at D-bay. Now what? I guess it's time for a long chat to Meher Baba. Pete would approve.      ntb.   

Review by Nick L.

I was talking to Nick W. a week before the Hed Kandi gig (actually I was saying I'd like to cover Shitdisco) and he asked me (somewhat plaintively, methinks) if I was going to come to his Hed Kandi show. Naturally, I said yes. Looking forward to it etc. I know they're popular in HK. This is their 4th appearance in conjunction with hkclubbing. BUT, I'd always thought of their show as rather flamboyant, effete and appealing to the metrosexuals of all persuasions. Hed Kandi are assiduous in their pursuit of the pink pound/buck. They know their market. I thought about this some more and said "So what?" It's going to be a great gig. There's a more interesting group of clubbers at these shows. Clubbers who will try and follow the dress codes, albeit with extra mascara, sky-high beehives and other assorted wigs and head toppings (and that's usually the guys!) Also, I've heard great reports about the headliner, Andy Warburton. And, he's playing with Pav, a live percussionist, straight out of sunny Ibiza. Excluding local skin-basher, Oz, the last time I saw/heard  added drums in a DJ gig was the Sundissential experience back in August 2001. Lisa Lashes got busted in NZ and had to wait another 4 years for her local debut. Way Out West did a live gig (minus Nick Warren) and it's still the only performance here by John Creamer and Stefan K. A top show, and only my 2nd rave.

The gig is in JJ's nightclub, near the Convention Centre. A 4-floor adjunct of the Grand Hyatt, it could soon embark on a new phase of its existence as a half-decent clubbing venue. There's a happy crowd downstairs, awaiting entry. I spot a couple of angels all white and silver wings. A lot of people have made some effort to adapt, but all the colours of the spectrum are on vivid display. There's a tall African with thigh length dreads, which he later wraps up in an oversize beanie. Manek is supervising and chatting to mates. He spots me and gets me my ticket. I'm glad to get inside as the recent cold spell is playing havoc with my knees. It's walk on gilded splinters time as I can hear my patellas cracking. The sound is great over all 4 floors (even in the lift). Only bummer is there's nowhere to sit and take notes so I'm pressed against a temporary wall, about 20 feet opposite the DJ booth. The medication is kicking in and for the first hour or so I can't write a damn thing. Local DJ Arun, who's managed by Nick W., is playing some splendid tunes. The audience seems to know them better than me. One tune I recognise from the Shitdisco gig, but generally the beats aren't so banging. Lots of retro 80's moments, swirly new romantic synths, some spacy bucolic tones, hints of dub, electro, not too much prog. Syndrums whirl and clatter and spin out of the ceiling. Sort of like Mixmaster Morris overhauling classic Pink Floyd. Or some of the mixes that DJ Morpheus puts out of his compilation radio show sets. It's the first time I've seen Arun and I look forward to future sessions.

It's 0100 and Andy has begun his lengthy set. Pav will join him shortly and play ferociously, but intermittently. Andy is a revelation. It's like the 1st time I saw Sasha and was left mouth agape in disbelief. Or seeing Fatboy Slim's 2nd gig in HK when he was arguably at his peak. Worries about a  cheddar landslide never eventuate!  Andy's set appears to cycle through three distinct phases lasting about 20 minutes each. When you're thinking, this is getting a bit cheesy, he's already begun the next cycle a minute earlier. The man has timing. His set takes in highlights of  Tommy Sunshine, DJ Hell and some Paolo Mojo as well. Most of the recent big hits get thoroughly rinsed. There's some freaky progbreaks with vocodorvox, grimy bass, phasing and vintage acid squeals. There's some nods to world beat, underlaid by exotic trancy loungescapes. There's castrato warblings and diabetes-inducing shimmery Italian pianos. Pav is providing live percussion that recalls vintage Santana, Grateful Dead and the bongo/tabla fury of Mickey Hart's Planet Drum Ensemble. (that's a bit sweeping, are you sure it's not the medicine talking?) No, Brady Freeman  and Devon agree with me. They both think Andy is "a great DJ". The crowd is excellent. "Rock and Roll".

My favourite part of the gig comes shortly after Andy drops a remix featuring a snippet of "Bette Davis Eyes" (the old Kim Carnes hit from the 80's) For the next 40 minutes or so, he's  on top of his game. A stunning blend of prog and freak beat with some great breakdowns that cause spontaneous simultaneous spinal shivers. I'm so lost in the music that I don't realise for a moment that I've been propositioned. Twice. By men. Have they got me mixed up with the late Allan Ginsberg? What's wrong with their gaydar? More worrying is what if they don't know it's broken? Nah! For the record, I've been happily married to my Finnish supermodel wife, Lena, since 1995 and am not planning any drastic midlife sex changes. Enjoyed chatting with you hunky studs though, in between the musical mania, and I'm sure we'll meet again, platonically speaking. No offence taken by me at the time and none is meant by these comments. We all enjoyed a great gig together and I hope you got lucky later at the show and didn't waste too much time on me!

What was meant to be a 3-hour set has mutated into a 4-hour set as the following DJ seems keen to let the boys carry on as they're having so much fun. The crowd approves heartily and if the last 30 minutes seems a rehash of the greatest moments of the set, well that's OK by me. I've finally found a stool to sit on and write some more notes, except that Nick W. keeps coming over to wake me up. He tells me later that the show has been recorded, so he'll be listening to it again very soon! Lucky Bastard! It was a fantabulous evening, dahlink!. Thank's so much for giving me (the) Hed Kandi Experience!     ntb. 

Review by Nick L.

This is going to be a truncated review as I've misplaced my notes. Basically, it's John and Darren from Shitdisco doing a DJ set at Volar with Anthony and DJ "X" (I couldn't find out his name, sorry). Anyway, "X" is already playing as I arrive in the club. His set is similar to Anthony's, but more bouncy/bubbly and there are some tunes I remember from the recent Tommy Sunshine/DJ Hell gigs. There's a biggish crowd, the usual reserved table up front. Quite a lot of Europeans present. Big hi to Rae and her mates and also Paul Maclean and his buddies. Also some other people present at the afore-mentioned DJ Hell show. 

Shitdisco are on stage about 0100. Joe is the main mixer, shaping the set and Darren is the sex symbol who intervenes occasionally with some whacky grunge sounds and weird FX. Rae's left the club briefly before realising the show is rather good and so she returns. Paul tells me he saw the full band play in Japan last summer and this piqued his interest for tonight's gig. Basically, they're not too shit and not too disco.There are some unsteady, rather broken down swapovers between Joe and Darren, but these add a rough and ready charm to the show and their enthusiasm and joy is infectious. Rae is up on the catwalk with 4 other girls, including one with her arm in a cast. They're giving it the maximum boogie workout. Full marks for deviating wildly at the end when they played the original "Tainted Love" (by Gloria Jones?), the frat-punk anthem "Louie, Louie" by The Kingsmen and the Nugget-y Beatles pastiche "Liar, Liar" by The Knickerbockers. I think Paul might be the only other audience member who would know all 3 tunes.

Meanwhile, Anthony has been hopping up and down on stage, pulsing with barely-repressed energy. He seems keen to show these upstart headliners how the local boys do it. Sort of Welcome To My Playground! Each time I've heard him play, there's something new to capture my attention. He doesn't coast on the same old hits for weeks on end. I'm just waiting to hear that Layo and Buswhacker car crash track, which he finally drops about 0500. Right, my job here is done. Time to get some food and the ferry. Another cool night at Volar guys. Thanks and see you for the Par-Ici gig and next month's Bloc Party DJ set. ntb.  

Review by Nick L.

Within the location of The Cavern tonight, whoever was lucky enough to be there witnessed the great talents of Hong Kong's live music scene. A full house, or what was certainly close to being so added to the already atmospheric offerings all 4 of the nights bands were a testament to. All played with the fervor and urgency that is a beauty to see in a music scene needing exactly that, to earn the recognition they (as an example of tonight showed) deserve.

The crowd grew, and the temperature rouse, as the first offering under the guise of Take Bad With The Good took the stage. Only assembled since September they have clearly been working hard in that time, or have luckily found a combination that just click, because inexperience was by no means an element attributed to this set. Playing a small number of selected tracks, and leaving on an 8 minute howling whirl of a performance they displayed a strong determination for quality that grew from strength to strength. The only thing that left me a little worried was the leads voice, at times feeling like it was misplaced in these dark sounding tracks, where it would feel more in tune with a lighter, softer area to play in. All round they were, tight, refreshing, and I like to think they may be one of Hong Kong's bands that stick together as they clearly have a combination that works.

Anyone appreciating Cibo-Mato, Portishead and Bjork would almost certainly have found a connection with the next band, Violent Jokes. The lead singer, a temptingly dark and intense songstress with a bitter-sweet voice. She possesses a good vocal range that sounds amazingly versatile, but unsuccessfully hitting some notes, making the performance a bit shaky. This group were unique for Hong Kong, with the second track sounding reminiscent of Roni Size, with the plucky base lines being fed through the high tempo drum loops. While the production was of a good quality at times, it did have a tendency to also sound a little overplayed. I couldn't help but think that I'd love to see this same singer in a band that played with a little more fresh innovation and consistent quality as her look and voice (although as said sounded like it needed more practice in some parts) was deserving of a band that could echo her qualities.

I was greatly anticipating this outfit known as Very Ape, from their reputation I would not have been satisfied for anything less than being blown away, I wasn't let down. Every one of their tunes were catchy, with hooks that ploughed away at the heart of the track. They have an almost Nirvana esc quality, switching between pop sensibility and hard rock carnivorism. The most over-awing element is their magic combination of persistence and playfulness, something overlooked by many bands. It was just a pity that the timid Hong Kong crowd weren't displaying the same energy that was produced by Very Ape who were playing with the precise urgency that knocks you down and leaves you shaking.

Finally stepping onto the carpetted back drop of The Caverns stage was Audiotraffic, who rarely fail in pleasing their fans, and make new comers to the scene surprised in the overall quality of a band esembled in Hong Kong. What can be said except they always give a polished performance of their own tracks, and tonight they gave us a superb cover of The Police's Message In A Bottle. Enjoyable from start to finish, and their drummer looking cooler than ever mounting the drum kit on the raised stage at the back.

Tonight being a celebration of The Underground's achievement in nearly 4 years of live shows and having managed to organize 49 in total, this landmark allowed us to see what quality can be produced when this city is given the impetus to create music in a live setting. I'm sure we can all look forward to another 49 glorious shows, giving us the likes of the quality displayed in the previous 3 hours. Lets hope that all the bands performing tonight stick together and we can look forward to their offerings at The Underground 98... or 99, whichever Chris B feels is more antithetical.

Review by Robin J.

DJ Hell at Volar Review - 2nd November 2007

I'm running a little late for DJ Hell's Hong Kong debut at Volar. No problems getting in thanks to Nick W.and his mighty reach. Downstairs, Anthony is just starting his set and leans over to say hi and have a beer. The table I usually take is occupied. No problem. Move back one table and engage in a spirited conversation with Bobbie and Christian. She's Canadian. He's Swiss and they're new to HK's rave scene. None of us have seen Hell before, but Christian has done the Swiss equivalent of the Berlin Love Parade. They both like Groove Armada and we all agree that the beer prices are rather exorbitant. I've also caught up with Cecile and Pierre, two French friends from last year's Rock-It Festival. They're hosting Par Ici, a French electro party at Volar on 15-11-07 at Volar. I promise to be there. Meanwhile, Anthony's set seems identical to the one he played before Tommy Sunshine last month. It's a bounty of bubbly, bouncing beats. Riffs twanging and meshing and interweaving. There are several dancers strutting their stuff and the visuals are fantastic. There's the same alien teletubbies. Monster cars straight out of American Graffiti. The tumbling laser shapes inviting you through the Star Gate via some Altered States cosmic pulsating neon blobs. All nicely synched... 

Suddenly, I'm jarred out of my conversation as Anthony heads into more prog territory. Very reminiscent of John Digweed and then there's the cartoon squeal of brakes and crashing cars. Yes, it's the same headshredding tune that began Tommy's set last time. Anthony tells me later that it's by Layo and Bushwhacker. Bloody brilliant. It's the downside of Kraftwerk's "Autobahn" and would make a very interesting mashup, The drums sound like chuffing, clackety trains and the melody phaseshifts through the gears. Rotating dancers tumble across the big screeen and the place is heaving. Anthony has entered new sonic terrain. There's a peak of about 30 minutes which is lysergic dub/echo deep prog trance at its finest. My brain's in meltdown. I take my metaphorical headbanger's cap off to you my man!

DJ Hell has been "in da house" for about 20 minutes. His crew are in the VIP seats while he prepares to take over. He's in a black leather jacket and his hair is shorter than in the photo that the SCMP used in it's article on 1-11-07. David Momphard wrote that his set will comprise "...Chicago acid house, Detroit minimalism and some German trance".  I'm writing some garbled notes when suddenly... "can you please move. This table is reserved". Reserved? In the middle of a crowd that would do justice to several squashed MTR carriages at rush hour? I didn't know this was possible, but we are in a night club and not at HITEC. I squeeze down. The other people don't mind and the Veuve Cliquot starts to flow. The big screen has descended and when it rises, all Hell is breaking loose. The opening section of his set is sleazy electronica. Reminds me of Swiss trio Yello as remixed by Adrian Sherwood. A  torrent of weird 'tronics over a 4-D shifting electro-twang. Very similar in style to Peter Hook's gig at Tribeca in 2005(?)

The tunes follow each other in a splendid cacophony. Two lovely ladies are strutting on the catwalk. A very nice man called Damian has slipped me a large vodka/Red Bull. It's nearly impossible to move on the floor as it's so crowded. A vocoder-vox is chanting "this is cocaine speaking" followed by a gruntvox sample intoning "low, low, low, this is how we make techno". All times appear to have merged. I recall that Miss Kitten (who's also played Volar) has recorded on Hell's International Gigolo Label. So in keeping with the feline metaphor I've decided that Tommy Sunshine is Sylvester (and Tweety) while DJ Hell is Fritz the Cat. Cartoon violence versus cartoon sleaze. 

It's some indeterminate moment later and a stunning remix of Depeche Mode's "Everything Counts" is blasting away. I'm flashing back to the Timo gig when he blew a few minds with his remix of DM's "Personal Jesus". These two guys would do a great head to head. Hell's electro-sleaze up against Timo's hard and squelchy style. The floor is writhing. Andy Warhol-type visuals freaking and flashing on the screens. Acid clocks collide with more treated vox as the set winds down. The last song I know is a heavy-on-the-drums  synapse-crunching version of "I Feel Love" - the old Donna Summer/Giorgio Moroder 70's disco classic. Moretts is on stage and he slows it right down to end Hell's set and prepare to start his own. I'm knackered. Bobbie and Christian have left a couple of eons ago. Time enough to thank Mr. Helmut Geier for his stunning performance, get him to sign his latest DJ mix CD for me and slip him something of mine for his listening pleasure. Time to leave, get some midnight munchies and grab the ferry home. Thanks Volar for another fantabulous night! 

Review by Nick L.

Heard the one about the busload of lawyers that drove off a cliff? It's a Good News, Bad News/Mixed Emotions story. The good news is that the driver escaped uninjured. The bad news is that the bus was only half full. Another example. You're at home watching your team in a major cup final. You're mid-climax. You look up and see your team concede the only goal of the game in the dying seconds of extra time. Or, you're on the way to the Airport Arena for Nine Inch Nail's HK debut, and one mega motherhumper of a migraine kicks in on the MTR. Fun eh?

By the time I disembark, walking is causing auditory pain. The colours are bad rave day-glo. The curry I had earlier is rumbling in discontent. An outbreak of Delhi Belly seems imminent. I recognise a few faces in the crowd. Manek's here, with his posse, to shoot some pix. Old mate Martine (who I told about the show some weeks earlier) has made it. Other Lamma acquaintances are dotted around, (hi, Tamara).  I get a bottle of water. The last thing I need is a $50 cup of beer-flavoured froth (which you can't even take inside the hall with you). The opening act Love Song are making one hellacious racket. I've seen them a few times and they are worth listening to, but tonight it sounds to me like murky heavy-metal surf  mixed with seismic rubble-crushers. They're just thanking NIN for the privilege of being the opening act as I stumble inside the darkened hall.

Tickets for this show are one price - $580 - which means everyone can stand/sit where they like. There's a big crowd at the front of the stage. The sound desk is about 50 feet away. I'm sitting extreme-right back where the noise is tolerable and there's some light should I try to write anything. A piano-driven version of Lou Reed's "Satellite of Love" is playing. It ends, Nine Inch Nails amble on stage. A big mesh grid runs half the width of the stage. It's above and behind Trent's keyboards.  A second keyboard stack is to his left, the drum riser is to the right and the guitars are free to ramble on. The lighting is stunning. Shifting blue and orange flickers cut through the steady smoke, blurring and highlighting the on-stage action. "God is dead and no one cares", sings Trent. (least of all, me, thinks Nick)  Most of the new LP "Year Zero" is played over the following 45 minutes or so. The light show looks like 3 milky tubular beakers in which neon-blue shapes distort and fizzle. Sort of like genies in a bottle cross-bred with some of Dr. Moreau's weirder animal mutations or the cyber-Gremlin. As for the music, normally I'm a big fan of space-dub-electro-goth noise and NIN are putting on a show that make Muse sound like weedy folkies and I'm sorry, I've got to exorcise this curry and have a technicolour yawn...

...it's 15 minutes later and I am reborn! As any veteran acid head will tell you, the coming-on-rush can be too intense at times while the brain readjusts and then...Welcome Through The Star Gate! That's how I feel now. Time to stroll around. I bump into Dave and Paul (ex-n-bass-n-drums of The Academy, now doing some far-out d-n-b-fx weird shit under the original name of DP). Paul raves about the drummer (whose name is Josh?) The guitarist is from a band called A Perfect Circle. He seems the youngest member of this entourage. The bass player is the legendary Twiggy Ramirez, formerly with Marilyn Manson. I bet he's got another name for getting through passport control/customs. I'm not sure who the second keyboard player is. Sorry. Anyway, Trent is saying "...would have come here, like, 300 years ago if we knew how cool you people were. This is a song by Joy Division about killing myself". Can't remember the title, but the chorus repeats "...they keep calling me" The song segues into "Bite the hand that feeds you" and the electronic backing storm howls and wails and pulsates in atonal, metronomic fury. Trent, if you get the chance (and ever read this) check out a very cool Japanese collective called Joujouka. They are fucking awesome.
The End Is Nigh! NIN rampage through one of their earliest hits "Head Like A Hole" (with added possible venom towards The (Professional) Widow Cobain) and depart the stage. Trent is left alone, playinga soft keyboard melody. Yellow stars are cascading down the mesh behind him and dripping into oblivion. The last song he plays is "Hurt" and leads nicely into another one of those mixed emotions. How does he feel playing it when he knows in his secret heart that this song can never be his again? The definitive version of "Hurt" was recorded by the late Johnny Cash with Rick Rubin, and although Trent gave his blessing and appreciation, it's not really his song anymore. Mind you, he shouldn't feel too bad. The Man In Black did the same trick with U2's "One" as well! Anyway, gotta go. Missing you already NIN. Please come back again real soon won't you?

Review By Nick L.

I'm outside Volar in Lai Kwai Fong waiting for admission within. The 'Fong is heaving like a bad night in Caligula's Rome, but with worse dress sense. I've been drawn here for my first experience with Tommy Lorello - a 36-year old DJ with "the plat du nom" of Tommy Sunshine. It's his 3rd appearance in HK (and Volar) and the crowd should be heaving. The doors are meant to open at 2200. So, why am I still hanging around outside? Seems, things start slowly in the 'Fong (ha, they should come to my island and try Lamma Time!) The guest  list is being revised and updated. Cut to the chase: I'm on it. Thanx, Nick W. for coming through again! While waiting, I'm chatting with an affable Aussie called Antony Hamilton-Bram. He's a DJ on a leisurely world tour. He knows Tommy from the States and is confident he's on the guest list as well. At about 2230, the mellow Security bring up the book. I spot my name. I see Tony's as well, but the security don't. He has to stump up $200 to get in. Money well spent in a way, coz he gets a free beer ($61 for a Heineken) and I don't.   

There's hardly anyone inside and some rather dreary, mysogynistic rap being played by "the invisible dj". To me, it rather puts the "c" into rap. The place fills up slowly. Antony is here, there and everywhere. He dances slowly, busting some moves that were  way cool in 1973. Another couple are doing the sauciest samba, sans sex, that it has been my pleasure to observe in many a while. The rap has finished and DJ Anthony is up on the small stage, getting the show underway. The crowd is expanding rapidly. My spot up front is good and bad. I've got a table to jot down notes by the light of some floating candles (which are constantly going out as people light cigarettes off them) I'm right in front of the VIP box andthe curtain leading to the stage. Back to Anthony. He's laying down some of the sweetest, smoothest minimal mixes since Timo last came to town. Sounds ping-pong, mesh, coalesce, collide and vanish into each other as the beats get harder and slightly faster. He's showing some fine prog moves as well - enough to convince me he can weave his magic in sundry styles. (and, no I don't know what any of the f**king tunes are!) There's a great light show as well with bits of HK, cartoons, cyber-math graphics, little grey alien Teletubbies, wibbly-wobbly animated bands of light and your basic sensory overload. It's All Too Much as the Beatles used to sing in unhinged splendour. 

It's about 0045 and a sudden rush of anticipation. A bevy of beauties approaches and walks into the VIP stall behind me. Buckets and bottles of Veuve Cliquot arrive. Tommy is here with his #1 femme-fan (I think it's his girl-friend). Antony is spiralling the music into new space dimensions and the crowd are doing the "Wayne's World" not-worthy salaam. A screen comes down in front of the DJ decks. Tommy has disappeared from the booth. Some awesome car-crash/cartoon screech/skids are overlapping the other beats. Is Anthony showing Tommy the (mixing) ropes? When the screen rises, Tommy is alone on stage. Cyber-mirror shades that could deflect laser-beams. Trimmed salt-n-pepper beard and nipple length hair hanging down his chest. His bevy of beauties are bustin' some major moves on the "catwalk" in  front of the decks. It's Robotic aerobics versus Catwoman stretches. Mr. Sunshine has taken the music into harder, faster layers of cartoon dementia. His recent interview with David Momphard in the SCMP tells of his "fortunately-slash-unfortunately...pretty substantial pot addiction. So anything that is pot music is pretty fair game". It's like a day-glo whirlygig of treated beats and noise. Hissing teaketttles, cackles, syndrums from the 80's. His set mixes happy hardcore, helium frenzy, old disco lines, new wave, electronica, Belgian throbbing industrial, acid house, while random voxbites enslave the crowd. Why, the man is nearly as eclectic a DJ as me, although his beats, mixing and production are way more seamless and professional. 

Am meeting some top people here tonight. There's Max and Mark, "big fans of Ministry and Danny Tenaglia" who are sharing a spare bottle of  champagne with me. A special mention to Lucas who is trying to read my notes and writes down "I am Lucas. Just arrived. Nice to meet you. I AM DEAF." A lovely lady who seems to be called Veronica Spalf-Vich (according to my garbled notes) is radiant at tonight's happening. Another gorgeous lady called Dana scrunches up next to my bag and writes "I like his music" before leaving. You are in blessed company tonight, my dear. By the end of Tommy's set, I've had 2 beer bottles broken on my table, been doused in sticky liquor twice and necked a bottle and a half of the Veuve Cliquot. I feel I've made about 150 instant new friends who I hope will keep in touch (I really, really want to adopt all of you right now!) by reading this review. Tommy has played a mindf**k set for about 2 and a half hours. For me, he's put the orange into the Sunshine. He leaves, Morettts takes over (and how do you follow that?). I chat briefly with Mr. Lorello who says he's going to Shanghai next to spread the Sunshine vibe. I give him 2 Nixmixes to while away his time and float, float on, back to the YSW Ferry. Another mission accomplished.  

Review by Nick L.

Adam Freeland – Winter Music Festival 13/10/07

Venue changes meant the night ended up at the Regal, TST. In spite of this Adam Freeland managed to deliver a belter of a set and skillfully connected with the people.
Some UK pop anthem remixes – often huge tunes in the UK and global clubscene -  are a bit slow and laid back for the HK crowd who seem unsure of them.

He seamlessly, fearlessly blended a veritable fruit cocktail of sounds from indie and rock remixes, hip-hop, electro and his own trademark “e-drone”, to electro punk, minimal, bleeps and breaks, a spoonful of Pink Floyd for good measure and a drop of Mignight Oil to wash the ears! A smooth, fresh ride through the land of the free – next time let’s ask for his dirty set!

Review by Oz

Armada Tour with Armin van Buuren - 29th September 2007 

First things first; did the Armada Tour with World No. 2 DJ Armin Van Buuren meet the hype and anticipation preceding it?

Well in my book it sure did.  What a night!  Upon arriving large crowds had already gathered outside the once popular rave venue HITEC.  It seemed that most clubbers had to wait only 30 minutes before entering the halls.

To kick start the event DJ Dicky Lau got the venue rockin’ with some chunky progressive trance.  Next up Jason F and Seven pleased the crowd with a live violin performance over some phatt electro and progressive tunes.  The crowd went crazy especially the usual suspects perched on the front railings.

Armin rocked HITEC for 4 hours playing bangin’ hard trance with occasional electro influences.  The menacingly load speakers filled all corners of Hall B with his seamless mixing skills.  Overall, his musical journey and showmanship pleased most sweaty, gurning clubbers of all ages, even the teenage boy that kept randomly appearing throughout the night.

The only thing that caused mumbles and grumbles was the pathways laid out by metal railings.  It seemed as though routes leading between both halls and even outside kept changing.  Security staff were directing clubbers in different directions throughout the night.  Quite confusing!

Review by JJ.

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