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.