Global Battle of the Bands Hong Kong 2010 Finalists
Live review from GBOB HK Final 2010
Speaking of bands that can entertain, not many local bands put up as much of a show as do F.B.I. With their usual uniform of FBI tees (except for bassist Jerald, whose attire of choice that night was, a suit (SHOCK! Surprise!) – a major step up from his skeleton-inspired veritable Halloween costume from their Heat) their set was really charged. As expected, we got major commitment from each member to the performance (basically involving them going apeshit on stage), which was solid and interesting. They clearly were loved by most of the audience, who almost mirrored singer Cain’s groove. Not being their biggest fan myself, it must be admited that they sounded tight, and the songs made a very good case for why they should win (and why they have been runners-up before). Their brand of Noughties rock, combined with their stage-presence certainly made for a very enjoyable 8 minutes.
Hard-working F.B.I. is a local favourite. They don’t seem to lack performance invitations. On an average month you can catch them in three or four separate shows. And Cain, lead vocals, never lets up on his delivery, unless he is either very sick, or lost his voice completely. So, after more than a year of playing together, they have put out an EP of six songs. Not tired of giving more, they also included two bonus tracks, which were previously published in Underground’s compilation double-CD “Something Alternative”. The EP was recorded at K-Town Studios, which is closely associated with Soler, the brothers duo. Still, it maintains all the necessary independent components. The production is “directed” by F.B.I. themselves, and the EP release is self-published, even though we’re reaching a stage where there are no shortage of indie labels in Hong Kong. It’s important to also point out that Soler made friends with them first, which led to this production benefit.
F.B.I. is a live band first and foremost; they wear matching T-shirts, and both guitarist Archvictor and bassist Jerald print “F.B.I.” boldly on their guitar straps; all four of them have incredible stage presence; they communicate endlessly with the audience; some of the members stare constantly at their girlfriends. Still, the EP captures their live essence successfully, whereas some bands can lose their power when recorded. Put it this way, play their EP at a party, and you don’t have to worry that you can’t put a live band in your living room for your own anniversary party (whatever it is you want to celebrate).
And true to the party spirit, the EP plays like a good party. It starts with the hit “Man Love! (not in a gay way)“, moves onto the adrenaline pumping metal number “The Masquerade“, then, yeah, yeah, a breather and time to look into a gal’s eyes, a ballad of all ballads “Loneliness“, and, afterwards, sure, we’re “Gonna Make Love“, which features Chris B in a play even her husband probably would envy. Cain shows us some more loving through “Haunted“, and the main portion of the EP ends with “Ghouls ‘n’ Ghosts“, an energy-lifting graveyard rocker. Two bonus tracks “Man Love!” and “Don’t Quit Your Day Job” completes the CD. A friend said, “Listening to F.B.I. is like listening to a mixed tape.” Now you should understand.
In an interview (probably in all their interviews), F.B.I. explained that their strength is in four guys bringing along their stuff and everyone contributing to make that into a collection of great pop tunes. In fact, the EP itself should serve as an invitation to their live shows, where you could hear even more musical styles they have not included (like – rap?), and experience their incessant love for cover songs. And have I mentioned the incredible live performances? Not just one guy. All four of them.
Reviewed by Bun Ng
Live Review from http://www.undergroundhk.com/v2/2010/03/06/underground-95/
1. Don’t Quit Your Day Job
2. Lan Kwai Fong
3. Gonna Make Love
5. Man Love
7. The Masquerade
8. Ghouls and Ghosts
9. F.B.I. (or F.B.I. Theme Song)
Playing the Underground for the 6th time, their tuning up featured some tantalising, mean-sounding slap-bass. An epitome of the Noughties’ rock sound, Don’t Quit Your Day Job featured a very lostprophets’ attitude combined with Hillel Slovak-era RHCP guitars ripping through screamed vocals. Lan Kwai Fong, undoubtedly meant to be the party-goers’ anthem, positively reeked of the Stooges’ 1969 and LedZep’s Black Dog, along with the crowd-participative chorus of “When I say LK, You say” – “F!” . With the bass up to bone-rattling levels, there was heavy use of delay and wah, and semi-military beats in the songs. Loneliness being their slower song, featured the almost-sparkling guitars of 3rd-wave punk, and moved into double speed with its’ leading bassline; in fact, the bass got so fast towards the end that you could scarcely see bassist Jerald’s fretting fingers- always a good sign. Evidently the crowd felt this as well, as the crowd was well into every song as was the band.
Man Love caused some of their more Rancid (and other 3rd-wave punk) roots to show, suddenly changing direction mid-song to a more Noughties’ feel. The screamed opening of Fu was followed by some classic punk chord progressions. With the crowd definitely on their side, they proceeded into The Masquerade, with some some stop-start Iron Maiden influences and a melodic coordination between the vocals and guitars. The crowd actually began headbanging to the single-strummed bits of the chorus – a classic hardcore ruse, which worked very well for F.B.I. in Ghouls and Ghosts, which also had some classic solos that reminded one of Tony Iommi, if he had played in the Noughties. With an mock-offhand comment to the guitarist about not needing his guitar since he couldn’t “sing and play at the same time”, their set closer had a bass-line reminiscent of Paranoid, and it was a song in the spirit of RHCP’s What it Is. Despite the lack of melodic accompaniment, the crowd really got going to the Bootsy Collin-like, insanely-wahed bass, and singer Cain’s encouragement to join in with the “When I say FB, You say” – “I!” They ended the night in the best possible way- with a long, flourish to heavy applause and a very tired but fully satiated crowd.