Funkee Tung

Live Review from Wild Boar Music Festival 野豬音樂節:

1. Swaggerbones
2. Warwolf
3. Let’s Do The Lockdown
4. Judge of Me
5. Roaring 20s

The six-piece swagger filled funk-rock band plays third in the night, giving everyone a smooth mid-evening dance party. With band members and influence from all across the world, Funkee Tung is the self-proclaimed ‘Hong Kong’s premier funk band’. They’ve played previously at the Wanch and at other Underground shows to great feedback and while it was a great time, I found it more chill than exciting and spent most of my time tapping my foot while laid back with a beer and tater tots.

Seems like most of the audience agreed; during the first song Swaggerbones, singer Alan Francis asked the audience to rise…but very few did. Why though? They weren’t bad. They had funk, they had swing, they had rhythm. In my opinion, they were too perfect. Such was the case with Swaggerbones which felt so perfect that certain parts of their performance felt over-rehearsed and so at times lost soul. This was despite the song actually being quite a good rockout!

A highlight of the night was a performance of their newest single Let’s do the Lockdown (another reviewer sitting with me cringed at the name, but I thought it was pretty cool). Much like Swaggerbones, I felt the overall vibe to be a bit off but that the song itself and its performance to be pretty much top notch. On their social media, they marketed the song to be ‘epic sax solos’ and ‘awkward dancing’. Check on both points! And to top it off, great tongue in cheek humour from the lyrics (oh my, oh my we’re all gonna die!) performed with Alan’s brilliantly charismatic facial expressions which really tell you how no one’s going to die and we should all get outside and enjoy the rest of the music festival.

Their later songs picked up the pace, and by that I mean slowed down till everything matched. Alan Francis has a great singing voice; it’s smooth and melodic, suited brilliantly to soulful ballads such as Judge of Me, a beautiful, emotional song with sax duets and George Harrison style guitar solos. Personally one of my highlights, not only for their performance, but the whole evening.

All in all, I found Funkee Tung to be a musically strong band with pretty good stage presence. Their songs were pretty catchy, but I find the recordings a little more ‘full’ than their stage performance. The stage wasn’t commanded as much as I had hoped from a ‘premier funk band’, but it was a damn good time.
– Cyril Ma

Live Review from Funk Ska Nation:

1. Use Me (Cover)
2. Swaggerbones
3. Warwolf
4. Bodyshot
5. Dragon Eyed Girl
6. Judge of Me
7. Let’s do the Lockdown
8. Disco Fantasy
9. Speakeasy
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.
-Jasmine Gould-Wilson

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Performances by Funkee Tung: