We had so much fun at our third Rustic event at Morrison Cafe & Bar in Sheung Wan. Thanks sooooo much to the performers for really entertaining the audience with their music and their professionalism. Big shout out to Jon Lee & This Music Studio for sponsoring the music equipment. Big thanks to Sherman and Kai for managing the sound. Thanks to Angus for taking the photos. Thanks to ALL our amazing reviewers for taking the time to watch, listen and write about the performers. Thanks to Susanna & Prada on door duties Thanks to Aneesh and all at Morrisons, see you all next month for Heavy Unplugged!
我地喺上環Morrison’s Café & Bar搞嘅第三場Rustic真係好好玩﹗好多謝所有參與演出的樂手帶來專業嘅音樂俾觀眾真正嘅娛樂享受。多謝Jon Lee 同埋This Music Studio贊助提供音響設備。感激Sherman同Kai搞好場地音效。多謝Angus幫手影相。仲有感謝所有好正嘅reviewers抽空黎睇，為表演者寫評語。多謝守住門口賣飛嘅Susanna同Prada。多謝Aneesh同所有在場喺Morrisons嘅各位，我地下個月Heavy Unplugged再見﹗
❤️ Chris B xx
Ewan Ho 何英瑋
Putting on an Irish flat hat and armed with a set of Cantonese songs, Ewan Ho made his Underground debut at Rustic #3 by impressing the audience with a series of songs that went from heartfelt to melancholic, soothing to humorously vernacular. For the first half of the set, it dived into a rather deep and heavy mood as it revolved around the theme of tiring city life (although lyrically they all tried to maintain a positive outlook of life). Starting with an easy breezy tune of 為什麼, Ho instantly established his cityfolk music style with a philosophical intervention. A sympathetic and honest voice spells out the existential questions in the minds of every hardworking citizens, asking for reasons why we suffer. But somehow the soothing acoustic strumming managed to wash away our weariness from life and work. Following however the second song 給你唱一首歌took an even more sentimental approach to enticed the audience. This Mandarin lullaby created an incredibly comforting mood and induced a familiar feeling that one can almost name its influences from some Taiwanese folk singers.
The minor chord progression and vocal variations of捨給你 seemed to remark a strain of melancholic struggle too. But moving on to the next half of the set, things got more upbeat and spiced up, especially in Donkepele and 痴線. Even though the song could be singing about the sorrow of being a Hong Konger, plus the fact that Ho was performing in front of a non-Cantonese speaking group; he nonetheless successfully caught their attention with the funky elements of not only its jumpy rhythm that brings the crowd to clap along, but also the Guangzhou dialect (Donkepele which means take it easy) and the mild swearing in痴線that intrigued and humored everyone in the room.
Lastly, Ewan wrapped up the set with another meaningful and moving song called 等待 which was written as a tribute to all suffering African people. He surprised the crowd by pulling out a very special Yunnan musical instrument hulusi and accompanied it with a steadfast djembe layer. The occasional Afrikaans phrases and instruments’ timbre immediately made the song sounds like an African folktale that conveys a certain helplessness and homesick sensation, causing the crowd to wave along with their cellphones’ light on. One couldn’t help but realize its similarities with Beyond’s famous song光輝歲月 which also has a similar theme. The urge for inner freedom and easiness from this country style wandering musician somehow gives him a mixed vibe reminiscent of deceased former vocalist 黃家駒from Beyond and the Hong Kong cityfolk/ country singer Albert Au歐瑞強. Despite some technical issues such as feedbacks and a bit of a gloomy start, it was still a charismatic set to start the night.
– Prada Leung
1. Nothing More
3. Hurrican Sydney
5. My Wreckage
Rustic #3 proved to be quite the variety of tunes at Sheung Wan on a warm Saturday night. The 4 piece known as Esimorp (their lead singer’s name spelt backwards) provided an infinitely danceable set of upbeat and anthemic folk pop against the comfortably packed backdrop of Morrison Café and Bar’s neon paint encrusted mirror, and a stage presence that was hard to miss.
Running through a set of 6 songs, the pop influences were clear, and I’d even venture to say their performance departed into the realms of alt-rock, allowing them to stand out from the folk based theme of the night. They opened up with Nothing More, a hard strumming, distorted lead of a tune that set listener’s feet amoving. Their music is that of balmy summer nights spent sitting by the ocean as the salty air licks the sweat off your shoulders, all while the city stands shimmering like a desert mirage behind you. Even with only a Cajón at his disposal that can often be drowned out by amped instruments, Esimorp’s drummer Julian performed admirably. A shame that a full drum set wasn’t available to balance out Ric’s pleasantly airy reverbed lead that features in so many of their songs. Paris, their next song was again unmistakeably danceable, drawing comparisons to such artists as Coasts, Kings of Leon, or even the more well-known Amber Run in their youthful energy. Lead singer Promise’s vocals were well controlled in the highs and lows, with a strength that provided a solid counterpoint to Paul’s understated bass.
Much the same can be said for the rest of their set, with the minor key of Bias acting as a springboard into which they sleeked seamlessly into My Wreckage. And of course Apostasy, a tune that saw them win Volkswagen x Underground earlier this year, and also a recent single release. A light-hearted tune backed by heavy words of “I built an altar to her, apostasy was not enough” and stuttered rhythm in the second verse that was really quite impressive. One minor gripe was a slight difficulty in hearing their undoubtedly well written lyrics, making it fall just short of perfect.
Esimorp’s music firmly places itself amongst a host of rousing summer rockers and was an excellent listen as the sunniest season of the year comes to a close. The next time they’re playing, make sure you’re there for a night of foot tapping and body swaying memories.
– Weihan Tang
The Pineapple Jam
1. St James Infirmary Blues
3. Hard Times Come and Go
4. Young Billy
6. Smokey Bandits
7. Leave Her Johnny
The five-piece folk blues band from Sai Kung bring their unique and colourful sound to Rustic #3 and light the place up in a blaze of bluegrass glory. They’re a proper bona fide band, and clearly have been gigging a while, showing in their relaxed stage manner.
Our first spread of Pineapple Jam is their rendition of the old American folk song St James Infirmary Blues. George De Risley’s bluesy harmonica the driving force of this Yo Yo Ma-esque version. I love how every member of the band seems to have a turn taking centre stage, it’s like we don’t know what’s coming next. We are on our toes! Singer Kira Albarus really brings the song home along with this band’s tight harmonies. She has a bit of Florence Welch about her voice and a hell of a presence. For a five-piece they’re making so many sounds, they’re more like a bluegrass orchestra – banjo, guitar, tambourine, harmonica, and seemingly endless voices. All separate and on the same team.
The in-between song banter isn’t bad either, apparently they don’t leave Sai Kung much and that they’re country pumpkins. Could have fooled me, they look perfectly at home in the big city on this hot Saturday night. Hard Times Come and Go is a cracker of a song. Bit of a gypsy vibe going on, reminding me of a favourite band of mine from Ireland called The Eskies. It’s got such energy. Suddenly George pops up with a mandolin! Has he been playing that the whole time? Oh and now there is a kazoo solo! I’ve died and gone to bluegrass heaven!
Fifth song of the night, Typhoon was written by banjo-player Simon Thomson, who has given me near fatal beard envy. An original song, with such a bluesy harmonica it feels like we’re in Chicago for a moment. Just as I’m thinking I love the source material but it’s not quite got the same intensity as their previous songs, it roars into life with George’s harmonica solo. This is cowboy music. Befitting of a scene where an “ain’t nuttin but trouble” cowboy has just walked into a saloon looking for the guy who stole his horse.
Smokey Bandits is another song I’ve not heard before, so I’m not sure if it’s a bluegrass standard or an original. But it’s got what now seems to be their trademark energy with a driving rhythm you can’t help but tap your foot to.
We are gifted with the sea shanty song Leave Her Johnny as The Pineapple Jam conclude what has been a truly remarkable set tonight. The very epitome of what Rustic is all about. A fitting farewell from what is by far the sweetest pineapple in all the land.
– Simon Donald Jones
1. Carry Me Away
2. Coffee and Sleeping Pills
3. Perfect In Her Way
5. Back In Time
Following on from her interview in last Sunday’s South China Morning Post and her performance on RTHK Radio 3, there was some real anticipation for Olga Chung’s set tonight as our final act of Rustic #3.
She’s comes across truly grateful to be here and just happy to share her music with us. She kicks off her set with a song called Carry Me Away. Straightaway I’m loving the simple percussive style she plays on guitar, perfectly understated, carrying the song along. I’m not sure the keys work for me here, but other than that it has a sweet and joyful sound like it should be in a Disney film. Perhaps when the main character goes into the mountains and has some kind of epiphany which changes the direction of the whole movie.
She talks about her songs like a true artist and songwriter. Taking real experiences and feelings and putting them into her songs. Just like on Coffee and Sleeping Pills which has a wonderful message in that we should make the most of our time. The keys now sound bang on. She’s got the perfect arrangement here for me. Silas on electric adds little plucks here and there which gives a bit of weight and variation to the song.
The Disney theme surfaces heavily on Perfect In Her Way. Wonderfully uplifting and heart breaking all at the same time. She comes over a little quiet in places here though, I don’t know if that’s the sound levels perhaps. The slow break type middle eighth before the last verse and chorus feels exactly what the song needs. Olga switches over to keyboard for Bonfire, the verses of which come over very understated and the song comes to life for the chorus. The contrast between the verse and chorus is brilliant, a cool switch-up in intensity. Back In Time is her last song of the night, which includes a bit of mouth-keyboard. This gives the song a bit of a folky flavour to it.
I’d love to see Olga in a cool chilled out coffee shop on a rainy day. The madness of a packed bar on a Saturday night may not have been her ideal setting, but the warmth of her songs left me with a smile and a spring in my step.
– Simon Donald Jones
Photos by Angus Leung.
Poster by Angus Leung