Live performance review from Underground Legends
1. Hanging around the clouds
5. I Believe
6. Questions and doubts
I’d never seen Brothers of Roadkill before, but with a name like that I was expecting a Chainsaw Massacre look-alike bunch of death metallers. So, it was kind of surprising when three smartly dressed young dudes took to the stage. If they had been murdering travellers with power tools they appeared remarkably calm about it.
Singer/pianist Adrian is a real talent, and it was no surprise to learn that he is a favoured Canto-pop songwriter for some big local names (you name-dropper Adrian!), Adrian also launched a solo career a couple of years ago as an artist in his own right. With a sensational voice and great keyboard technique though he exuded total belief in his music and really carried the audience along with him.
The overall vibe was jazzy and funky, with a lovely melodic ballad feel. I heard Elton John, bits of Billy Joel, Steely Dan at jazzier moments and even Barry Manilow (in a good way).
Opener “Hanging Around the Clouds” was pure quality with great vocals, sweet augmented chords and great bass and was almost over before it began. “I Believe” was another standout for me with its atmospheric piano and gradual build up – very cinematic, as well as “If”, with its classic 70s vibe and clever jazzy feel. I couldn’t quite catch the lyrics of “Tits” but a melodic jazz homage to boobs (if that’s what it was)? What’s not to like?
Bass guitarist Jackiz Tsang not only took a couple of great solos but had a superb jazz face which simply doubled the joy, while drummer Blue (yes that’s his name!) was on the beat throughout. Super solid and a great vibe. Joyous.
– Dan Creffield
Live review from Underground 103:
Imagine a lounge singer in the bar of a chain hotel perfoming piano versions of popular songs. As you sit sipping a glass of cheap wine, you find your feet tapping along with the music, despite your wiser judgement. There’s nothing wrong with the performance, but it’s not too inspired either; just a mediocre plodding piano with a safe, bland, soulless voice that extracts all feeling from the song that’s being performed.
But wait, suddenly a drummer has joined the piano player… and he’s INCREDIBLE. He seems to be a rock drummer, more used to blasting out loud hard rock beats along with guitar rather than piano-based music. He injects the music with energy and passion. A bass player joins them and throws out dexterous and inspired bass solos, that add colour and depth.
The hotel bar image dissipates around us, as we find ourselves transported to the Hard Rock Cafe, in LanKwai Fong watching Brothers of Roadkill. The singer/pianist is totally transformed. His gutsy voice jumps out of the mix, thrusting itself out and emoting powerfully. An Elton John-style piano-rock master pounding out the tunes and energetically giving his all.
So why did I invite you to imagine the lounge singer in the hotel bar? Because Brothers of Roadkill walk a fine line. For the most part, they provide high quality exciting piano-based rock that connects with the audience and gets people wanting to dance along. But one false move, and they’re back in the hotel bar playing dull lounge music. When they’re good, they’re absolutely excellent. But if the energy level slips, such as on a quieter song, they’re in danger of being bland.
But let’s not dwell on the negative; let’s celebrate the positive. And with the Brothers, there is much that is positive to celebrate. Passionate vocals with real edge and soul that cut through and ring out from a gutsy vocalist who recalls the sound of Glenn Hughes, or even Huey Lewis.
Some subtle but strong vocal harmonies from the bassist enhance the choruses and lift the songs. Similarly, the drums take this band to another level. One stand-out song saw the bassist playing full chords and imitating a guitar sound. The energy of this track points towards a potential new direction that I’d be intrigued to see explored further.
— Stuart Lennon
Message from Brothers of Roadkill about CD 4 Launch Party A:
Man, what an awesome night it was! Thank you Chris and The Underground for allowing us to be part of this CD launch. For us it was such a great opportunity to play live again, we haven’t done that in months and it was fantastic to perform in front of a crowd. Backstage Live is, as ever, one of THE best venues for bands to play live in Hong Kong, because Abe is the awesomest in awesomeness. He is like a handsome version of the Duracell bunny…feed the man a beer, and he will go all night. Please note, ladies. Our bass player CM also got an erection from the thumping bass amp, which made the sound so much fuller…although it could also be the missus that got him excited. Chi Tung (drums) and I meanwhile were quite aroused (wink) by the warm reception and love that the crowds showed us.The big question now is this: when is CD5 and where do I sign up, coach? Seriously though, thank you Underground…what a great family to be part of.
– Adrian Fu (Brothers of Roadkill)
Live Review from Underground Detour 2010:
2. Hanging Around the Clouds
3. Not Meant to Be
6. Questions and Doubts
7. This is Me
8. There’s a Time [Encore]
If Corey Tam was able to get the crowd’s attention, these squished siblings picked it up and teasingly ran away with it while yelling ‘neener-neener’ (which, incidentally, is something that siblings are prone to do). But, seriously, their set was a lesson in just how fun it can be to see these guys live, even if it wasn’t exactly idyllic. Their drummer appeared to be having a bit of an off day (even I could spot it), but to his credit, he took everything thrown at him with a wide smile. The effects used on the bass that night served to smoothen out the edges, which was a bit of a pity, since this reduced its pop, which goes so perfectly with the upbeat and bright keys. While it’s always fun to listen to something that reminds you of Bootsy Collins, to my ears, it sounds a bit… artificial (if you get my drift). Still, the quality of bass playing was so good (as usual) that this was merely reduced to a background issue (things can nearly always sound better, can’t they?). There’s a phrase in Indian music which talks about “tying up the atmosphere”, presumably referring to having the crowd in your pocket, and this is just what these guys achieved. Their lively pop-rock mix still worked at a high efficiency, and when mixed with the atmosphere (which had built up a remarkable awesomeness through the night) you couldn’t help but enjoy yourself (this effect was boosted a lot by the presence of some non-female fangirls, who were even lucky enough to have a song dedicated to them during the set’s course).
The fun and jazzy Tits accelerated smoothly into Hanging Around the Clouds, which instantly set the mood up. Their unique set up of using the bass as the melodic anchor, and the keys as an accent-creating instrument was highlighted in songs like Not Meant to Be and This is Me. Gayle was apparently written “for Rosa Parks”, and was unconventionally evocative, but still had space for one of the night’s really cool bass solos. Need I say, that singer Adrian’s voice was great, as always? Even if the ol’ voice box sounded in need of a little warming up, his versatile singing really helped diversify the soundscape – from gruff yells to falsettos, it was all covered, and done well at that. This infectious mood had very much spread to Chris B, who promptly called them back on for an encore, and we were treated the charmingly Liszt-esqueThere’s a Time. Not once did the ambience flag right up until the second they stopped playing, and were justly rewarded by a massive outpouring of deserved applause – a perfect way to close a very enjoyable show in such a perfect place.(Even though this is probably a lost cause, I must say this for the record – if anyone who can do something about it reads this in time – don’t sell that compound to some redeveloper…it has tremendous potential as a centre for art. You can’t buy that kind of relaxed and inviting environment, and it was truly wonderful to be watching a live show sitting under a tree.)
Live Review from Underground 97:
Setlist:1. I Believe
2. There’s a Time
4. This is Me
6. Not Meant to Be
7. Sweet Child of Mine (partial Guns ‘n’ Roses cover)
8. Hanging Around the Clouds
9. Questions & Doubts
Think of a rock band with a piano for a melodic lead instrument instead of a guitar, having a singer with an excellentvoice, and some bits of funk and old rock ‘n’ roll, among many other nuances, thrown in by the rhythm section. This very crudely describes what the Brothers of Roadkill sound like. Resting on singer Adrian’s remarkable vocals, supported capably by a highly versatile drummer and very smooth bassist, their songs range from Bo Diddley-esque little ditties to ballads, making their set a very rounded one. There’s tonnes of soul in their sound, and you don’t miss a guitar in the mix because their songs just aren’t composed that way. The eccentricity added by a set of keys is something unique to their sound, and is very fun to listen to. Indeed, it was so much fun that they had surprise help from soundman Zane coming in with the tambourine and bells at multiple times. They began their set with the dramatic, eerie I Believe, atmospheric and ballad-like, with its sadness being enhanced by the military-style drums. Some songs had the bass playing bits that would normally have been played on guitar, like Not Meant to Be, giving the whole thing a fresh twist. A highlight of their set was their reworking of GnR’s Sweet Child of Mine– it used a couple of the verses and the main riff (played on bass, of course) but they added their own feel to it, replete with their own lyrics and melody, gradually moving into the original song. Everything they did was with tremendous enthusiasm, which was thoroughly reciprocated by the crowd, who even coaxed them into doing an encore. A final love song graced us with the gentlest of basslines, which dissolved away in a couple of minutes to end their set.
Live Review from Underground 89:
After watching Brothers of Roadkill at Underground 85 I was looking forward to hearing them again. The set was pretty similar to there last underground, but that’s understandable considering the short space between there two gigs.Personally I feel that this band is one of the few in Hong Kong whose songs I can imagine being played successfully on the radio, with little alteration. The jazzy feel of their songs make them immediately catchy and Adrian’s strong vocals give an endearing and personal quality to the set as a whole. I am only left to wonder whether Brothers of Roadkill find themselves in a difficult position in considering whether to move towards a louder, denser sound which the drums suggest, or tone down the sound so Adrian doesn’t have to enforce his voice to such an extent. It remains to be seen which way they will go.
Click here to watch Brothers of Roadkill playing their original song: Hanging Around The Clouds!
Live Review from Underground 85:
1. Hanging around the clouds
4. Questions & Doubts
6. I believe
7. This is me
With a name like ‘Brothers of Roadkill’ I expected to be blown away by some kind of heavy metal type of music. But was I so wrong! In their bio they claim to be the most exciting band to come out of Hong Kong of late, so I was a little put off before I even started writing my notes for the review. It annoys me when bands talk themselves up so much, especially before I ever heard of them. This was their debut at The Underground and I found out they have had only had a few shows prior to that. But the trio lived up to their bio in the fact that their first song kicked ass. It was so funky! I loved it immediately. All of the guys are Chinese but their style was so Motown. Adrian played the piano while singing, Wong Chi Tung played Drums and CM Groovy played bass. What an awesome combination. I thought that Adrian played the piano better than Elton John. CM was so funky on the bass and Wong was keeping a beat that picked up the pace and the atmosphere of the crowd. Their second song, ‘If’ was slower than the first, but still great. It reminded me of James Blunt. Again I couldn’t help being drawn to vocalist, his voice was so versatile and so pleasing to the ear. I felt like I was in the piano man’s cabaret bar.
By the third song I was starting to feel that their band name was not suitable to the type of music they play. It came across to me as more Blues Funk. Maybe they are influenced by the Blues Brothers? The bass player (CM) jumped around during the song and was generally excited. Wouldn’t you be if you were playing a song called ‘Tits’?Love the song title by the way. Wong played really well on the drums and didn’t overpower the other instruments, but just extenuated them. The fourth song, ‘Question and Doubts’ was so great that I wanted to sing along by adding some oohs and ahs that I thought would compliment the vocals. I am sure when they do a recording of this song that they might think about how to add some extra vocal tracks with my suggestion. The fifth song, ‘Gayle’, was another piano and lyrically driven song. I felt no cares, no worries and that everything just seemed alright. When the song reached the climax I heard everyone scream, it was as if everyone had just came in their pants. Ha ha.
In the song, ‘I believe’, I was greeted again by another lovely drum beat. By this stage I did really think that they were the most exciting thing that Hong Kong has seen of late. They are not rocking, no… wrong genre. But, they are definitely very musically entertaining. These songs were something that you could dance to. This song had the biggest applause of the night so far. And they kept on going, rounding up to their seventh song of the night, ‘This is me’. This was a new song and was supposed to be their last, so I went to the front of the crowd to dance and groove along to the music. I didn’t write anymore notes. What else could I say about these guys. They finished their song and the crowd were not satisfied yet, they screamed for more, and that is just what ‘Brothers of Roadkill’ gave them.
They played one last song. This time this song was so new that they hadn’t even named it yet. I thought this song was actually their best song of their set. It started initially with only the piano and vocals, but in the crescendo it was met with the onset of the bass and the drums. I was hooked on the music. The drummer showed his skills and the bass line cut a chord with my heart. I loved the encore so much, words can’t describe it. ‘Blues’ ‘Brothers of Roadkill’ were definitely a highlight for my night.
Cain (F.B.I. vocalist)
Click here to watch Brothers of Roadkill playing their original song: Hanging Around the Clouds!