New York City Musicians “Rock for Hope!”

Torpid May. Photo credit Vincent Chih-Chieh Chin

By Xi Lu

Rock For Hope, a concert was held Saturday May 31 at Santos Party House, to benefit the Little Fir Foundation. This time the show featured THE RiCECOOKERS, Mr. Cake, Torpid May, and Late Cambrian. Also, the concert featured children’s art works for guests to purchase in order to raise funds for the underprivileged children in China to support the kids’ future for a better life.

Mr. Cake

The Rock for Hope concert invited several talented independent artists to perform and every band had its own style and sound. First band to open the show, Mr. Cake, a band from NYC , was formed by five cool Chinese guys and one talented girl in 2013. In the beginning, the group started the sound of a loose jam session, alternating emphasis on different instruments, while the lead and harmony vocal passed back as if the singer was making up on the spot. In retrospect, especially as the lyrics sank in, the arrangements seemed far more considered to support melodies that took family, faith, and real life experience as their subjects and proceeded to imbue their values with love.

Lead Vocal of Mr. Cake-Xi Chen

Mr. Cake made their triumphant return to their debut song “ Hero ”—which was composed by gathering stories and family pictures of moms around the world. Without doubt, the emotion is accumulated by the lyrics and the rhythm of the song, which brings us memories, happiness and also appreciation to our mothers. The lead singer has a smooth voice that matches perfectly with the soul of the song. Moreover, Mr. Cake has transformed the song into a timeless music that owed nothing but evoking psychical emotions and love.


Another outstanding band is called THE RICECOOKERS and they are a group of talented Japanese rockers born in America with originality and rock spirit. The band was formed in 2004 in Boston, Massachusetts by Tomomi Hiroishi (Vocals/ Guitar), Kota Fujii (Lead Guitar), Daisuke Wakabayashi (Bass) and Sohei Oyama (Drums) while studying at the Berklee College of Music. Tomomi was born and raised in Mexico City while the rest of the band grew up in Japan.

Leader Singer of THE RICECOOKERS: Tomomi

After their dramatic debut, THE RICECOOKERS quickly climbed the charts and became one of the most talked about rock bands in Asia and the #1 Indie Artist on the Billboard JAPAN Charts, as well as winning a nomination for the “Best Independent Artist of the Year” (2011) from Billboard Japan Music Awards. The singer is a talented musician who has a distinguished voice and uses the discreet funk and soul influences somehow woven into his fingers and passes to the guitar. The band’s guitarists and drummer nail play the music and are able to play the music in sync with every song. The band really catches up rock with harmony vocals, and lyrics that tell the stories of life in New York City.

Torpid May. Photo credit Vincent Chih-Chieh Chin

Later on, the band Torpid May turns up with a warming welcome of the audience. The band is composed by Frank Chen, David Jiang and Jackie Jack. Progressive ambient collage from New York City that is delicate and coarse, somber and affecting, dreamy and stern. Packed with suspense and twists, Torpid May creates a brand of melodic rock that unravels tired assumptions for unexpected sonic musings. 

The band’s post-rock style takes the listeners on an emotional roller coaster. This results in songs are episodic and progressive, delicate, somber, affecting, dreamy and stern. Like an act of collage making, overlaying audiences senses.

Late Cambrian

Last but not at least, the concert concludes with the excellent performance of Late Cambrian band. It is a Brooklyn Indie Alternative Rock band. If The Strokes and Phoenix adopted a rock baby from Elliot Smith and The Arctic Monkeys the baby’s name would be Late Cambrian. They have won numerous awards on Ourstage, Sonicbids, and Reverbnation and have had their music placed in The Real World, Married To Jonas and other popular TV shows. Late Cambrian have brought their brand of clever indie alternative to us.

Since Little Fir Foundation launched “Rock For Hope” concert series in 2010, the concert has not only raised funds for the foundation’s education programs, it also has brought awareness to many people about the education situations in poor Chinese areas. Meanwhile, it provides a performing stage for local Asian/Chinese musicians, who often happen to be in similar financially distressed situations but are still pursuing their dreams diligently. Bravo!

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