Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Battle of the Bands – Hooley Pub GZ

Over the last 2 weeks Hooleys Pub in Guangzhou has been hosting a ‘Battle of the Bands’ which gives local performers a chance to compete against each other for some juicy prize money. But more importantly it was an opportunity for people living in Guangzhou to rock out with some of the local performers and gain more exposure to some of the art that is available in the city these days. At least I think that is what the proprietors of Hooleys hoped for. I was not here for the first weekend of performances but I did catch the final round of the battle last Saturday night and it was awesome. The judges had passed 5 bands on to the final round, The Hooligans, The Downtown Monks, The Eclectics, Fyodor, and The Whiskey Priests. There are not too many musicians in the international scene so some of the members of the bands were in the other bands too. But like I said, the whole competition was more about the music so no one really bitched about it. Each band got to play 5 songs, and most of them played a few covers and some originals. It was an awesome night with a full house of people totally rocking out to the music and I am pretty sure this is an event that will repeat itself. In the end there can be only one, and the winners were The Downtown Monks. I did not have a camera on me or else I would have loads of pics and clips to post here. I have managed to grab a few off of facebook though.

The Hooligans

These guys are the original band that first started jamming at Hooleys when the pub first opened 2 years ago. I know the drummer Jon personally and he is pretty good on the skins when it comes to classic rock beats. He has an awesome attitude and style as well that really gets the crowd going. They play all the right songs at the right times to keep patrons involved. As a band these guys play really well together, but as far as I know this is not a full time gig for any of them and this reflects in their performance. But for a pub band, they are awesome, and maybe if they were not the Hooleys band they might have actually taken the win.

The Eclectics

This 3 man band consisting of a bass player, a Brazilian drummer playing on a wooden box, and an acoustic guitarist is probably my favorite performance. I have seen these guys play as a duo (without the bass player) a number of times at C Union and they blow me away. The singer who also plays guitar has a really mellow voice and he sings in French, Spanish, and Portuguese. This obviously means a lot of people cannot really sing along with him or connect with his lyrics but their performances are awesome. The drummer is extremely passionate and I love the raw sound of his instrument. In their set the only song I knew was a cover of Respect by Aretha Franklin which they did in English and Portuguese, I loved it. But in a competition featuring bands with so much more diversity, I can understand why they would not win.


I was really disappointed with the performance o0f this band. Firstly because Jon is a member of this band and I have great respect for his taste in music so expected really good things. Plus all my mates said they were the most performance from the week before. From the first song they jammed I really liked their style. They seemed extremely in tune with one another, professional, and the lead singer has this really unique style. I was literally sitting there watching him with my mouth open. But after the first song things just went south. I am not sure if the band felt it, but they were just not hitting their groove. You got good days, and you got bad days, I guess they just had a bad one at a really long time.

The Downtown Monks

Like I said, these guys deserved to win. All the guys in this band are local Guangdong boys, and they rock. They do excellent covers of the classics and they even have a few really great original tracks. They have been playing together longer than any of the other bands in the show and that reflects in their performance. And from what I know, these guys are all full time musicians. Hats off to these guys.

The Whiskey Priests

Out of all the performances or bands I have ever seen at Hooleys or any other bar in Gunagzhou, these guys are my favorite. I know Adam, who is one of the front runners in the band. He is a sax player as well as a singer. The first time I saw him play was 2 years ago with a straight edge jazz band. Since then I have seen him experimenting with DJ’s, electronic music, tribal Chinese music, and various other mediums. In this band they have taken a turn towards punk rock and their show was full of energy. The bass player Kid is a skinny little Chinese dude who does a lot of the vocals in Cantonese. I really enjoyed the fact that they were using local lyrics as opposed to playing in plain old English. Their sound was very edgy and it made some of the people in the bar uncomfortable while others were standing on their chairs screaming for more. If there was any band in the show that I would like to see recorded or actually pay money to see, it would have to be these guys.

Visit the Official Hooleys Website for more information about the bar and upcoming events. It is an awesome place to hang out and meet the local crews when you are passing through the GZ.

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