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PostPosted: Fri Feb 03, 2012 10:45 am 
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Location: Pak Kok Village
Yuck and The Yours. 26/1/2012

by Nick the Bookman

The itch in my music pleasure spot is certainly getting a thoroughly good scratching of late. I've had a massive dub step night out recently at Fly with Skream and Benga - two of the world's top performers in this wildly expansive and bass heavy genre. Now it's time to turn to Songs For Children who are providing some of the hippest alternative folk/dreampop/noise-cum-art rock gigs that Hong Kong has had the privilege of hosting. I've been to a few of the gigs and they are a great complement to the shows organised by The People's Party group. So, praise for everyone and if I can find a way to stick the Robot/Clockenflap crew in this sentence, be sure I will. Oh, also a nod to Underground who've been hosting local gigs for nigh on a decade. Right, that's everyone's egos massaged and soothed. Good work fellas!

As I was saying, it's SFC's turn on the wheel. And about time. I've been a bit tardy in getting my reviews out, so let's not waste any more time. SFC's latest show featured nu-shoegaze/fuzzy'tronic/artrock band Yuck and some time dandy dressing bad boys of the local scene The Yours at The Hangout in Sai Wan Ho. Easy access, being right by Exit B of the MTR and the gigs all finish about 2230, so time enough to get the last ferry home.

The venue opens at 1930 and there's a sizeable queue waiting patiently to get in. Jane Blondel and Mike Munday, the family duo who are SFC, are going to be happy tonight. The gig is their best yet. All tickets sold (well, at least the best attended of the gigs I've gone to). Mike and Jane are gracious enough to put me on the guest list each time, which is much appreciated. I say thanks and hi to Jane and Alok - the producer and mentor of The Yours. He's also one of the leading lights of the dark electronic underbelly of the underground scene. Although I haven't seen him perform since the Time Out gig at Grappas about two years ago(?). I leave them chatting and wander inside the crowded music arena. Which doubles as a basketball court in it's normal day time job.

"Freak Scene" by Dinosaur Jr. is playing as I wend my way to my favourite corner of the stage. Extreme left where there's room to move and groove and scrawl my usual near illegible notes. Dennis the well dressed bouncer kindly lets me by. Thanks, mate. Hope you enjoyed the show. This is an animated and excited, but not aggressive, audience. Everyone here for a new musical trip and community vibe. To savour the sounds of one fine up-and-coming band. But first, The Yours are ready to take the stage.

The band has been around since Rock-It Festival days. They were over-exuberant at that Time Out gig, doing an unplanned encore and semi-trashing the equipment in a display that recalled vintage Who excesses. But nothing got broken and no one was hurt. Except maybe their feelings when they were asked to leave the venue. Alok and his band later covered one of their songs in his set. It was the great spontaneous moment of that show. The talking point aside from the range of the many excellent performances by the other bands. Anyway, that was another review printed elsewhere. This is now.

The Yours are a quartet, dressed casually for the cold. Drummer and three guitars. No bass which I find out later. After spending some time trying to see which six-stringed guitar was it. They tell me they don't need it. They've had some personnel changes since I last saw them at Time Out. Jack and Nick on guitars and vocals are the mainstays. Tim is the new third guitarist. In fact, it's his live debut. And he breaks a string on the first tune which sort of limits his contribution. And there I was thinking, he was in full shoe gazing mode, spanking out the melody. It's good to see them again. I've got their first album Abraham, but don't recognise any songs from it in this set. Alok slips me the set list. It's all new material. A new album is forthcoming. Jane can't wait to hear it. Watch this space.

The music is fine. More mellow than I'm accustomed to. But there are hints of darkness. Keening guitar lines. A bit of chainsaw riffage. Some ferocious drumming at times. I think it's safe to say that later familiarity with the songs will not breed contempt. They play just shy of 30 minutes. Eight songs rattled out. The Ramones rushed through their punk rock repertoire at a more rapid rate. The Jesus And Mary Chain finished their shows in about 20 minutes. Usually in a welter of feedback and fisticuffs and showers of beer. The Yours are amused by my observation. They know it's a compliment. They also sign my copy of Abraham.
And join the crowd by me. Singing lustily along to "Cut My Hair" by Pavement.

It's shortly after 2100 and Yuck have taken the stage. They're also a quartet. Here's where some fun stuff starts. Before leaving home, I grabbed an old Mojo music magazine to read on the ferry. Issue 199 from June 2010. On page 22 there's a squib of a paragraph of information about Yuck. Basically guitarist Max Bloom and singer guitarist Dan Blumberg left their old band Cajun Dance Party to follow the different sounds in their heads. They recruited Japanese bassist Mariko Doi. The line up was complete when Dan met the mighty Afro'd drummer Jonny Rogoff on a kibbutz. Jonny was wearing g an Animal Collective t-shirt. Dan was in a Daniel Johnson t-shirt. Each approved highly of the other's choice of apparel. Bingo! A band is born. A band that plays "reflective guitar-pop melding the fuzzy guitars of Sonic Youth and Dinosaur Jr ("Freak Scene", see above) with a good dose of shoe gaze". Thanks to Elisa Bray for writing the said squib and saving me oodles of research time. Incidentally, Issue 199 also had a long article about Pavement and one of the tracks on the cover mount CD "Highway To Hell - a compendium of the Devil's best tunes" had the track "Satan" by Deerhoof. Who were the headliners of the previous SFC gig on 7/12/2011. Deerhoof also have a Japanese lady bassist. Who also sings. The final touch is that this splendid show by the three American men/one Japanese lady (which I still have to write up) took place on the 70th anniversary of Pearl Harbour. Not quite in the Robert Anton Wilson or Arthur Koestler league of coincidental heavy shit, but I like spotting these little pooh balls. Wasn't it V.I. Lenin who once remarked "Everything is connected". Anyway...

Yuck play a mostly pleasant and melodies set interspersed with little bits of bonkers electronics. That's the stuff I like. My notes mention that the 3rd number is "a lovely song". Instant appreciation by me. Tim tells me that it's called "Georgia" which is their debut single. Their eponymous LP was named "one of the best debuts of 2011" by NME and is equally popular with HK Magazine staff, making it into their Top Ten Albums of the year. The audience seems to be in agreement, cheering and rocking out in a laid back frenzy (that's not too oxymoronic is it?). I'm enjoying the sounds, but can't differentiate too much. Need to hear the LP I guess.

Yuck are having a good night. They're very happy to be in Hong Kong and very appreciative of Jane and Mike's efforts to bring them here and look after them. They also enjoyed meeting Max, the couple's eight year old son. Their gracious attitude is not lost on the crowd. It's a bit of a mutual love fest in a way. Earlier, Mike had thanked the audience for making it one of their best shows and promised basically that we will bring the best bands that we can to HK as long as you are happy to keep supporting our endeavours. Basically, it's the "Field of Dreams" scenario where they (i.e. we) will come if you (i.e. SFC) will build it. The audience roars its approval.

The final tune of an hourish long set is called "Rubber". It has a slow growing majesty. Reminds me of an old song called "Is this where you live? by Kiwi band The Church. From the very early 80's. "Rubber" concludes in a welter of feedback, drone and electronic squealage by Max and Dan. Mariko and Jonny have left the stage. Fucking brilliant!. Beauty amid dissonance. Brings back memories of Sonic Youth in HK in Easter 1995. Thurston and Lee conducting an electronic threnody that blew the minds of everyone watching the show at the Queen Elizabeth Stadium. They were the filling in a sandwich comprising The Foo Fighters of "This is a call"-era fame and The Beastie Boys who were fighting for our right to party. Make no mistake. The Youth were the top dogs, but they were happy not to go on last. Earlier in the week, Mickey Smith had put on a mind-melting show with Lee "Scratch" Perry, backed by 2-Bad Card and Adrian Sherwood doing the live concert mix. Attended by everyone who was anyone on Lamma. Apparently all the bands got together for a summit-cum-musical appreciation night while in Hong Kong. Golden days or should that be Acapulco Gold-en days in tribute to Lee?

Sorry, road tripping away there. Where am I? Oh, right Sonic Youth testing the equipment to the point of electrical breakdown. The 60's psychedelic blues band The Misunderstood (who were one of the earliest bands championed by John Peel) used to do the same. End their shows with the guitars pulsing cyclical waves and beats of feedback while the audience left. I suppose bands like Earth and (((Sunn O))) do the same these days. Anyway, time to introduce to the lovely lady Eva. She's going to get her own paragraph.

Eva was standing by me before Yuck came on stage. I offered to watch her bag for me. We got chatting after the sonic squalls had subsided. She and her beau (sorry dude, I forgot your name. Didn't write it down in time.) both prepared for the gig by listening to the album. Didn't completely register, but they both loved the live show. I mention that I'm going to do a piece for the Lamma website. She's familiar with it. In fact, she tells me that she read my Clockenflap review. Said it was long. I didn't get the impression that she hated it. And that's why she gets her own paragraph. I go the extra wordage for my fans, I do. Hope you get a chance to make it over for DickStock today (28/1/2012) If it's on. I don't know yet.

Time to wind down. In quick succession I meet Max. He likes the beard. I give him a card and some Nixmixes containing Kraftwerk tunes, dance music, psychedelia, dub, rock samples and voices. The usual bollocks. He strikes me as a fellow traveller who will enjoy them. And hopefully spreads them around the band. Also chat to Jonny about the show. Loved the end song. Mariko is allowed to fondle the beard and chats briefly in Japanese with Simon Pinder, guitar maker to the stars. She tips me off about a side project of hers called Parakeet. Drum and bass stuff in a rock style. Not dance. Just come out. Check it out on the web or somewhere. Get a photo taken by Mike with Louis, the tour manager. Is it Louis as in Joe (the boxer) or Lewis as in Shari (the ventriloquist puppeteer and mainstay of kiddie tv in the late 50's and early 60's)? Hopefully Mike can post the picture at some point. Finally, an affable chat with Dan who told me he saw "the beard" as he was coming off stage and hoped we'd get a chance to chat. They've all signed the concert flyer for me. Gotta collect the paraphernalia and the tickets. An aid to memory. Yuck are probably in Australia by now as I type this. Then, New Zealand. Buy some Church LP's. They're great dream pop and have been for yonks. My special LP is "Of Skin and Heart" - the one with "Is this where you live?" on it. Finally, a short trip to Taiwan and a festival in Singapore. In conclusion, it was a pleasure to meet you all. Hear your music. Hope you can return some time. A massive thanks to SFC for another exemplary night.

Last, but not least. Big tip of the hat to Divine for taking a photo of me with the band. I hope you can send over a few of the concert snaps to Lamma-Gung to enhance the story. You'll get full credit. Thanks, mate. Here's to the next time. ntb

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