Live review from 19th Anniversary Party:
– Las barricadas
– Bella Ciao
– Sweet Dreams
– Take on me
– Femmes des années 80
– Titine/Les yeux noirs/Tetris
19 glorious years of the Underground working hard to bring the best and most delightful of Hong Kong’s unsigned music acts to the stage, and what better group to intro the anniversary than the regal themed, party raising, brass marching band Le Groupe Electrogène Fanfare Club. With their snazzy outfits, 17 members managed to fit on the stage of the Wanch, bringing it alive with colour changing lit up shoes and a multitude of brass instruments stealing the eyes of the audience, the band starts with their first song, “Momo”, with a groovy Jazzy vibe at first, the singer clapping to get the crowd worked up. Halfway into the song, a member comes round to the front of the audience with light up juggling batons to wow and impress the audience to a rapidly intensifying beat, the crowd roaring and clapping at approval of the spectacle. Leading on to the second song “Las barricadas”, a swing like and very soulful start to the song got the audience swaying along, with everyone going crazy when the song abruptly erupts with energy halfway through.
In the next song, “Gnossienne”, featuring a polka type beat, everyone was twisting along to the rhythm, during the song the french horn player rushed into the audience and encouraged the audience to sing along with the very memorable “la la la” melody lines, while the two singers were waltzing on the stage with swinging ballroom dancing. After a chilled-out boogie, the band kept the crowd work up with “Bella Ciao”, with the singer crooning the titular words Bella Ciao and motioning the crowd to join in as the song’s energy ebbs and flows.
Following that, the band captivated the audience with two very recognizable and memorable renditions of “Sweet Dreams” and “Take On Me” respectively, the crowd joining in pretty much immediately, and most predictably the crowd reaching their loudest singing the high note in Take On Me. The band decided to give the audience some room to breathe with the slow starting “Femmes des années 80”, During this time the “Party guy” (juggler and general crowd worker) flew into the crowd handing out noodle balloons for everyone to hold (I made mine into a hat), with the song ramping up in intensity and speeding up, making the crowd wave their balloons around ecstatically.
With balloons in hand, the crowd’s energy was kept adrift as the band hit them with a triple melody mashup of “Titine/Les yeux noirs/Tetris”, this time the party guy bringing out a bubble-blowing hat and rushing around the dance floor turning it into an extravaganza of colourful balloons and bubbles waving around the venue. After this song the crowd chanted “One More Song!” enthusiastically, which they happily obliged with their last song “Pinnochio”, featuring intense trumpet solos and more bubble blowing around the venue from the party guy.
Le Groupe Electrogène Fanfare Club was the perfect band to start off the night, hyping the crowd up for a fantastic night and bringing the party vibe to full effect so high spirits could be kept throughout the night.
– Sherman Leung
Live review from 16th Anniversary Party:
2. Les amants de St Jean
3. Le poinconneur
4. La Carioca
6. Femme des années 80
8. Take on me (prend sur moi)
9. Sweet Dreams (reve doux)
10.Les Copains d’abord
I tell people I like being fashionably late, but the real reason for my lateness is that I’m bad at timekeeping. My lack of ability to read a watch properly is made worse when the band starts playing early which means that instead of watching some twenty band members set up, I was hearing oompah tubas from afar.
Interesting. A brass band was not what I expected. Unique doesn’t even come close to describing Le Groupe Electrogene. In a city where street marches (for celebration) and marching bands are essentially non-existent; knowing that a group of fun loving, dancing tuba players exists makes me more than happy.
Le Groupe was formed a couple of years ago and originally branded themselves as “the ultimate side project of a pack of homesick Frenchies who longed for their homeland’s ‘ferias’, or festivals, with their boisterous atmosphere and their famous marching bands.” In true Hong Kong fashion “Frenchies” doesn’t just describe moustached men in berets; but all of the ethnicities and cultures considered ‘French’. White, Black, Latino, Asians – Fraternity among all races put on stage playing trumpets, wearing purple wigs and strumming Hello Kitty Guitars.
The band is not without its problems, though the problems by no means outweigh the massive amount of fun to be had with that many performers in the room! The instrumental balance is odd; far too few saxophones to properly balance the trumpets and there are five percussionists but not many percussion instruments. The singer also looked a bit stressed, but he was working the audience, nonetheless.
To tell you the truth, Le Groupe made me incredibly nostalgic. Seeing a bunch of musicians enjoying themselves playing jazzy tunes on stage, running around the audience and generally having a good time made me remember the impromptu jazz jam nights I used to take part in. That sort of musical comradery is sorely missing in Hong Kong; rock bands are very set in their numbers – you can’t have too many guitars (why not? Just cause), but with a brass/marching band? As many as you want! Percussion, going briefly back to that, is great for including more musicians who just want to have fun because you can double up, and double up, and double up without any problems!
Ultimately, music is something to be shared and enjoyed and what better way to start the evening than a massive brass band playing roaring sing-along French, English and Italian songs?
As they say in (French) Louisiana – Laissez Le Bon Temps Rouler!
– Cyril Ma