Finally, after five postponed events we were thrilled that we could finally go ahead with Funk Ska Nation. Thanks so much to Funkee Tung, that stepped in, on the day of the event, with their willingness to perform with masks on. Thanks also to The Funkaphones and R.I.D.D.E.M who have been waiting a long time to perform at the Underground events. Thanks to Bun for stage management and to Leon for taking heaps of great photos. Thanks to Ally for filming all night long. Thanks to Jack, the outstanding soundman at Rula Live. Big thanks to Dicky & Jasmine K on door duties. Huge thanks to Chi who made the original artwork and to Keita for updating the artwork throughout 2020. High Five to Jack Daniels, Inedit DAMM craft beer and Leo Beer for keeping the bands refreshed. Big thanks to Jasmine, our dedicated reviewer, who came to listen and write. MOST OF ALL thank you soooo much to the audience who came and danced with us, the bands really really appreciate you guys! We look forward to bringing you more great shows in the future. Stay safe and healthy!
我們很高興經過五個月的延期終於可以舉行Funk Ska Nation。非常感謝Funkee Tung當日願意加入並戴上口罩出演；亦都非常感謝Funkaphones和R.I.D.D.E.M，他們勁力十足，一直十分期待與一眾觀眾重聚。多謝Bun的舞台管理，Leon拍了很多很好的照片，和Ally整晚不停的錄影。 多謝Jack，Rula Live確實有一個出色的音響工程司。好多謝Dicky和Jasmine K處理入場事宜，
非常愛Chi的海報設計，謝謝Keita在今年不停幫忙更新海報。Jack Daniels，多謝你支持吖！DAMM craft beer和Leo Beer也幫忙提供飲品慰勞樂手們。超級多謝Jasmine，堅守崗位的樂評人，整晚聽著、寫著。 最少不了是謝謝、再謝謝來看演出的觀眾們（你們有些還由香港邊邊遠道而來！）。你們來到跟我們一起跳舞，樂隊們都感受到你們來臨的重要。我們期待為你們帶來更多的精彩音樂會。大家記得要注重安全，保持身體健康啊！
❤️ Chris B xx
1. Use Me (Cover)
5. Dragon Eyed Girl
6. Judge of Me
7. Let’s do the Lockdown
8. Disco Fantasy
Encore: Sundown Years
Tapped for the show in the nick of time, swing rock troupe Funkee Tung kicked Funk Ska Nation off with a hell of a bang. Boasting two saxophone players, guitarists, drummer, and bassist- who was sadly tucked way in the back, hidden by his amp for safety and sound purposes I take it- Funkee Tung’s six-man-strong outfit had the crowd up and grooving in minutes.
(Something has to be said about their commitment to the facemask rule imposed by the government; if saxophone players can wear masks over their noses, we can all wear our masks on the MTR!)
Opening with a cover song, Use Me introduced us to the hallmarks of Funkee Tung- namely, loud, funky basslines, smooth crooning vocals, and sexy guitar licks which channel midcentury American radio jams. Hot on its heels, Swaggerbones was a masterclass in running a tight onstage ship. From guitar solos to the beautiful sax harmonies, this number’s technical precision was unmistakable.
Warwolf, with its swaggering rockabilly vibes, proved a suitable dance break for two gents in the crowd who couldn’t wait for the lengthy musical interlude. It proved an ample warmup for the ridiculously catchy Bodyshot, punctuated by almost conversational saxophone melodies. Vocalist and rhythm guitarist Alan Francis was definitely feeling the heat (or just really spitting those words out), as he took an opportunity to call out for his backup mask as they wrapped the song. Now that’s dedication.
Dragon Eyed Girl continued the party, brimming to the teeth with smooth sax and winding guitars to soothe the funk rockers in the house. Things were pared back a notch with Judge of Me, its slower tempo allowing for a beautiful buildup which lands perfectly when that crescendo hits. A funk rock power ballad of sorts, this performance was the proverbial jewel in Funkee Tung’s crown that night.
Let’s do the Lockdown puts the guitars in the crosshairs, delivering some funk rock rhythms with a mellow 80s touch that perfectly blends the modern and the nostalgic. Our journey to simpler times- or perhaps just different ones- continued with Disco Fantasy, with thrumming bass and saxophones acting as a foil to the vocals, punching in on the offbeat as if in reply.
Speakeasy would have made a formidable closing number- funky, cheeky, loud, and showcasing the best of all members of the sextet. However, Sundown Years with its relaxed, chilled out musicality, is the equivalent of a cold beer on a warm summer night: the perfect palate cleanser to bookend a fantastic forty minutes of music.
1. Before You Woke Up
2. Half Asleep
3. Another Christmas
5. Wrong (Charlie’s Song)
6. The New Millennial
7. Summer Vibes
8. She’s Such a Pain
Middle child of the evening, The Funkaphones impressed with their fizzy funk-pop anthems and infectiously warm personalities.
Face masks posed no threat to the quartet, bright smiles reaching their eyes and palpable in their music as they kicked off the set with Before You Woke Up. A catchy, toe-tappable tune, it made for the perfect introduction to The Funkaphones’ unique energy and sound. Think 90s alt rock with a smattering of soulful funk flair- and keyboards galore.
Strong vocals from the lead singer-keyboardist in Half Asleep and Another Christmas truly made an impression, the richness and rasp of his higher register falling somewhere between classic rock and contemporary emo (Remington Leith of Palaye Royale comes to mind). It’s a specific tone which refines the sound of the band as a whole, elevating them from fun and funky to something with prominence, flair, and intention. Pushing the boundaries of genres is always compelling when done properly, and these guys blew right past them!
Thief wound down with an almost lullaby feel to it before resurfacing with Wrong (Charlie’s Song), hyping the energy up in time for a rousing audience singalong in the effervescent The New Millennial.
Closing out the show with She’s Such a Pain, the boys truly let loose. Working against a rapidly approaching closing time of midnight, strictly enforced as part of social distancing laws, The Funkaphones made the most of their stage time. Bassist Sebastian, the newest member of the lineup, shone especially bright as the frenetic cacophony of sound made way for an equally dynamic dancefloor. With the singer’s too-big mask ending up covering his entire face, The Funkaphones are the perfect blend of technical prowess and genuine fun; they never take themselves or their space too seriously, and the result is a jam-packed show which is a joy to watch, listen, and groove to.
– Jasmine Gould-Wilson
2. My, Myself and Yu
5. In Debt
6. I Wanna Be Loved By You
If you yearn for the days of sultry, husky-voiced jazz lounge singers, standing by a piano whilst decked to the nines and crooning to a room of cigar smoke and hushed conversation, R.I.D.D.E.M can offer you one of those things. Trade cigar smoke and muffled chatter for bottles of Jack Daniels cola, beaming smiles, and dancing feet, and you have yourself a truly jubilant R.I.D.D.E.M gig.
Warming us up with some off-the-cuff improv, R.I.D.D.E.M introduced their intoxicating blend of bluesy, psychedelic hiphop. An energetic glitterbomb donning a tye-dye shirt, flavours of Lady Antebellum came to mind as Reggie’s vocal riffs bridged that ephemeral gap between lounge singer and RNB sensation.
This seems to be the vein the band tapped leading into Me, Myself, and Yu, loud synth guitars cutting playfully behind a soft but prevalent keyboard melody. With the curse of late night COVID-19 social distancing laws looming overhead, it is understandable that Reggie’s vocals were muffled or drowned out at times beneath the volume of the band itself. However, that never stopped her from putting her all into each performance, dancing the night away with the audience.
Careening into Spice-Verb, the jazz and blues touches were discernible above all others, highlighting all the technical strengths of the bassist in particular who stood out beautifully in contrast to his bandmates.
Earwig of the night, I still have Rihanna on repeat in my head. An all-out RNB masterclass, Reggie’s vocals simply soared here as the standout performance of the evening. Her honey-smooth vocals are so enchanting that you almost miss the provocative lyrics being sung- “When you f*** me, do you think of Rihanna?” is countered cleverly by a clapback of “Next time we’re f******, I’ll be thinking of Rihanna.” Suffice to say, the entire room was singing along by the second chorus, the song’s nostalgic arrangement of the song harkening back to times where the worst of our concerns were slow Motorola Razr flip phones and a boyfriends who refused to look away when Disturbia came up on MTV.
The group rounded off the night with In Debt and I Wanna Be Loved By You, ensuring that the last evening of live music in 2020 went off with pitch-perfect melodies and a room full of dancing (socially distant!) bodies. A pure amalgamation of the quiet sophistication of blues, the relentless danceability of funk, and the bubblegum badass feminine power of the early 00s, R.I.D.D.E.M is one to watch- next year, the year after, and perhaps even last year.
– Jasmine Gould-Wilson
Photos by Leon Che’ Clark.
由Leon Che’ Clark攝影。
Poster by Chi & Keita.
海報由 Chi & Keita。