It's a relief to escape the virulent outbreaks of "Mad Crowd Disease" that have affected Lamma over the Golden Holiday week as I board a near-empty ferry to Hong Kong for another mini-Rockfest at The Edge. The Academy, who've been touring and playing a lot recently, are supporting Japan's Electric Eel Shock. The Tokyo trio are about to join Sonic Youth and Radiohead on an American tour, according to the SCMP. This is their 3rd gig in HK, following Rock It #1 and a semi-secret stormer at Amnesia in 2003. I arrive at The Edge to find a mini-outbreak of "MCD" (with "Advanced Spontaneous Mania" well in evidence). The bands share a table by the entrance where they're selling CD's, T-shirts and EES badges. There are more people here than for Jaggedy Ann. i spot Manek and Nick W. from HK Clubbing, along with Undina, a Lamma friend and drum-n-bass promoter, killing time before tonight's show with Miss Kitten at Volar. I'm chatting with Murray, the HK 7"s cameraman when Clare She-Ra rushes by to join the rapidly expanding moshpit.
The Academy blast through a seven song set which starts slow and builds up pace. Tom, the singer, modestly admits that "tonight, we're the second best band in HK"..The set list includes "Take It Back", "Never Loved You" and "Long Division". They're all hard-rocking, foot-stomping crowd pleasers, The music is the usual (to me) gritty mix of Wishbone Ash (the quieter bits) interspersed with classic Stones and Black Crowes grunge riffs, plus a smattering of No Doubt. There's great drum and bass interplay between Paul and Dave. Paul seems to be channeling the late Keith Moon as he leaves no part of his drum kit unhammered. I'm half-expecting to see him emulate Mick Shrimpton (of Spinal Tap) and explode mid-set. Tom swaggers round the stage, playing to the audience and invoking memories of Jim Morrison, the Lizard King himself. Justin S. is tripping out on freak beat guitar, both together and apart from his bandmates, while Justin C. keeps the hooks a-rolling along. All too soon, they've finished their set and the anticipation meter goes to eleven.
Electric Eel Shock soundcheck/tune-up with a near perfect run through the Sabs "Iron Man" and then play it again at the start of the show. Aki, the guitarist, is pacing the width of the stage, hoisting his red flying vee guitar in the air at every opportunity. He reminds me of Ronaldinho, all happy bug eyes and cheeky grins. The musical maestro to Ronaldinho's soccer supremo. Kazu, the bassist, is equally nimble, climbing on the stacks and running through a gamut of heroic stances. He looks like Ian Brown (ex-Stone Roses) with Johnny Ramones haircut. Drummer Gian radiates effortless cool like Beat Takeshi. His metronomic drumming is interspersed with furious flurries of paraddidles and crashing rolls round his set, but he's intermittently explosive. Overall, I reckon Paul just takes the skinmeister honours of the night, but that's not a dis to Gian. The sound verges from Black Sabbath to live Blue Oyster Cult (w/out keys) to vintage Scorpions. Aki has the crowd chanting "you bastards' early on before another blast of unhinged guitarnoise erupts and he bellows "I want to vomit and I love you all". Kazu provides some Link Wray rumble bass before the amps fail and roadies rush around for 5 minutes fixing equipment. Songs after the re-start recall early Queen and Free as a brief outbreak of crowd diving/surfing provokes panic among the security on stage. Nick W. is there, snapping away happily, as EES play on through the madness. The encore is "Scream for me, Baby" and people oblige. Tom comes back on, saying "Isn't that the best fucking shit you ever heard?". Their final show is at Amnesia on Sunday the 7th. It's gonna be a riot. Maybe see you there?
Review by Nick L.