Strangely Arousing & Funkacybin – Bodega November 11, 2016

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Strangely Arousing & Funkacybin – Bodega November 11, 2016

Funkacybin, a loose but deft delivery with equal measures of funky fusion and grinding rock, the band lived up to their promise as a ‘high-octane funk metal’ act.  Although their audience was small, mainly friends, supporters, workmates and an assorted group of Friday drifters the band’s output was consistent.  Their set of originals swung wildly between West Coast grunge and James Brown soul.  At over 7-foot-tall, lead singer George Rutherford cut an imposing figure.  All smile and wild lion-mane, he was the rock version of Steven Adams, even sporting the singlet and basketball shorts. 

The band’s engine room – Blain Fitzpatrick (Bass) and Felix Nesbitt (Drums) -held everything together pretty well, particularly when Fitzpatrick showed off his slap-bass skills on his brand-new copper toned instrument.  But the MVP award surely has to go to Jackson Kyle – lead guitar – who totally shredded, funked-up and performed other wah-fuzz magic with explosive aptitude.  As a unit, this band were playing more for fun.  This was not a job interview, so they enjoyed throwing cliché’rock shapes in vivid coloured stage smoke but you got the feeling if they really knuckled down they could totally make it to a big stage one day.  I couldn’t help thinking this band were very much like 80’s alt-funk/rock crew Fishbone.  Take that as a compliment.

Between acts, the room filled a little bit more but never managed more than 1/3 full.  Shame, much of Wellington have missed a great opener.  Rotorua’s Strangely Arousing is a welcome return, having not been here for quite some time.  They are a pretty gnarly, specialising in bending boundaries between genres and creating an electric yet lovable atmosphere.  Over the night their repertoire moved like a kid on a greasy mud slid from the punk-funk of Red Hot Chili Peppers to the Balkan knees-up of the Wedding Present, which is where they finished up on their encore number, leading the room in rousing ‘yah! Yah!’ sing-a-long.

These guys have been working pretty hard over the past 5 years to make an impression on the New Zealand Music scene, touring the country, opening for bands and landing slots at festivals headlined by the likes of Damian Marley, Fat Freddy’s Drop and Sticky Fingers.  All that is starting to show results, grooving it up with a collection of self penned tunes and covers played with gusto by Lukas Wharekura (vocals, lead guitar); Shaun Loper (Bass) and Oliver Prendergast (Drums), bolstered by a big, meaty sound from the brass section – Forrest Thorp (Trumpet, Keys) and Liam Rolfe (Trombone, Vocals).

Getting sweaty was the ultimate goal – although the band won that one by stripping off their shirts progressively through the night until they were all bare-chested and hyper pumped on funk-testosterone by the end.  I’m sure there were a few ladies amongst the youthful and enthusiastic crowd that appreciated it!  No doubt about it – these guys are young, fit and talented.  They should try out for WOMAD, they’d be a real hit with their cross-pollinated world music and festival vibe.

With Bodega closing down at the end of the year, these smaller, multi-functional rooms will be in greater demand, especially by bands like these because this is ground-up roots music and something we need to nurture and promote.  Here’s hoping a new place will rise from Bodega’s embers.

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