Let's Get Serious | Sound Stories & Interviews | Bend | The Source Weekly - Bend, Oregon
The Source Weekly’s reporting is made possible by the power of your support. Be a part of it!
Search
Settings
Pin It
Favorite

Let's Get Serious 

Portland rock band Hong Kong Banana is what happens when silly becomes earnest

On the ridiculousness spectrum, a scale of 1-10 measuring absurdity, Portland garage soul band Hong Kong Banana should score an 11. The band name alone is worth seven points. But there's a lot more to them than a goofy name and silly alter egos.

Their lead singer goes by Nigel Bubblesworth, clearly a made up name and not the only one in the band: points eight and nine. And in press photos, Bubblesworth sure does look like a contrived cross between James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem and Andrew Dice Clay with perfectly messy salt and pepper hair and a cigarette dangling from his lip: point ten. He's also surrounded by obviously posed cohorts (band mates) listening to his heart with a stethoscope, taking an antique photo, and in another shot even admonishing him with an erect index finger: point 11.

But one simple fact renders that rating useless.

With unshakably rebellious guitar licks and unevenly ripped vocal laments from Bubblesworth and crew, Hong Kong Banana is in fact a blazing tribute to early Rolling Stones and Ramones, meaning these guys rock. Mick Jagger may not be dead, but his spirit—circa 1965—is getting an early start on reincarnation from HKB.

The evolution of silly names and self-promotion into aggressive lo-fi vintage rock and roll that would blow the doors off of any garage rehearsal space—which is probably why the band actually started in a basement—gets an explanation on the band's bio page for Fluff and Gravy Records. Award ridiculous points as you will for that label name: "What had originally started out as a joke, and a knee jerk reaction to musicians taking themselves far too seriously, was now growing the balls to take itself seriously."

And it's so much better for the dingy rock clubs around Portland that it did.

Fresh off the release of their debut EP, Now, But Not Now Now (that title gets the band a few extra silly-points) Hong Kong Banana's transmutation of frivolous to serious is taking the Rose City by storm. Their shows are more like one-night-stands; hook-ups where jilted lovers wake to find they've been abandoned sometime during the night—but feel satisfied nonetheless. Each fiery song gives it to audiences rough and over before anyone knows what happened.

Vocals are a big part of that; the band couples male and female with Bubblesworth (aka Michael Wills) and Amora Pooley. But there is no juxtaposition of grit and pretty here. Pooley's scorching if-Grace-Slick-sang-soul-music voice is just as stout as Bubblesworth's gravelly back-of-the-throat crooning.

So while Hong Kong Banana may have started as something a little flippant, ultimately the musicianship and undeterred rock attitudes of its members have won out and the band now is a legitimate contender for one of Portland's best rock and roll outfits.

Hong Kong Banana

6 pm. Friday, March 7

Crow's Feet Commons

875 N.W. Brooks St.

FREE.

About The Author

Ethan Maffey

Both a writer and a fan of vinyl records since age 5, it wasn't until nearly three decades later that Oregon Native Ethan Maffey derived a plan to marry the two passions by writing about music. From blogging on MySpace in 2007 and then Blogspot, to launching his own website, 83Music, and eventually freelancing...
Pin It
Favorite

Speaking of Crow's Feet Commons, Hong Kong Banana

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Readers also liked…

  • Artist Fact Sheet: Keith Harkin

    Artist Fact Sheet: Keith Harkin

    The Irishman brings his well-rounded abilities to Bend
    • Sep 11, 2019
  • Triple Whammy

    Triple Whammy

    Eric Leadbetter helps bring joy to the music scene, food industry and hospital workers with the St. Charles Meal Mission
    • Jun 1, 2020
Today | Wed | Thu | Fri | Sat | Sun | Mon
Central Oregon Locavore Holiday Gift Faire

Central Oregon Locavore Holiday Gift Faire - Unitarian Universalist Fellowship

Through Dec. 8
Submitting an event is free and easy.

Newsletter Signup

Get Central Oregon daily news
directly in your inbox

Get Social


Latest in Sound Stories & Interviews

  • Pete Kartsounes Steps into New Age

    • Nov 18, 2020
    The Bend artist's second album of the year will help relax mind, body and soul More »
  • Modern-Day Payola?

    • Nov 11, 2020
    Local artists say Spotify's recent announcement to give artist and labels paid promotion isn't a cool feature; it's harmful to the industry and those listening More »
  • New on the Bend-Block

    • Nov 4, 2020
    Faded Rituals makes its electronic-music debut with "Summertime Forever" More »
  • More »

More by Ethan Maffey

Want to advertise with us?

For info on print and digital advertising, >> Click Here

© 2020 LAY IT OUT INC | 704 NW GEORGIA AVE, BEND, OREGON 97703  |   Privacy Policy

Website powered by Foundation