Hong Kong indie-pop duo The Anello’s farewell show will be more celebration than goodbye

With Michal Garcia leaving Hong Kong and Jeff Anello staying put, the band will no longer be a full-time duo, but neither will leave music or creativity behind

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 18 May, 2016, 12:56pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 18 May, 2016, 3:17pm

Everyone knows the peculiar, bittersweet cocktail of emotions that accompanies a loved one leaving town. It’s a symptom of life in Hong Kong, where regular farewell parties is one of this exhilarating city’s downsides. The music scene also experiences this relentless turnover, but when a band’s philosophy is as optimistic as The Anello’s, a departure can only mean the start of something new.

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The indie-pop band will celebrate their final Hong Kong show as a duo this Saturday at PMQ.

Michal Garcia, trumpet player and keyboardist, is getting married, becoming a father (a daughter is on the way!) and moving to Toronto. It’s his farewell to the city, but it’s not the end of The Anello, or the musical careers of the two passionate, likeable members. They’ll head out on a North American tour this summer, taking in Toronto and New York, before Garcia settles into family life.

Singer Jeff Anello will continue to perform as a solo act under the same moniker in Hong Kong, and the pair will “advise each other creatively on respective projects” in different time zones. The focus is on fresh horizons, not least for Anello. He’ll channel his efforts into POP (“power of performance”) presentations – hosting TED talk-style events to share the entrepreneurial wisdom he has gained from ventures such as fronting the band. There might be new music and shows eventually, but it would be “two solo projects joining forces”, Garcia explains.

He plans to keep making music too, as the native Texan has his whole life. He moved to Hong Kong in search of musical opportunities and met New Yorker Anello through saxophonist Oscar Azahar in 2012. Garcia, with his multi-instrumental background and eclectic musical tastes, hit it off with Anello, a singer with a background in theatre. Much of the band’s success amid an often challenging musical landscape came down to the clarity of their brand and innate understanding of how to market their music. The Anello arrived fully formed, with a slick logo, business cards and social media-savvy approach to nurturing their fanbase.

Of course, none of that would have worked had the band not delivered musically. In a sea of Cantopop and garage bands, The Anello’s smoothly packaged sound – rooted in R&B, with electronic embellishments and soulful vocal hooks – stood out. A collection of clever, catchy tunes got them radio play and comparisons to Maroon 5, Magic!, Jamiroquai and Justin Timberlake, while a positive approach to new opportunities saw them opening last year’s Clockenflap, playing and speaking at TEDx and taking over the Post’s Tai Po office to kick off Young Post’s Live@YP series.

Countless gigs performed in every corner of the city earned them a loyal following of dedicated fans, who’ll no doubt be sad to see the duo part.

Ahead of the big move, the two have parting messages for their local fanbase. “Go to all the shows you can and bring your friends,” says Garcia. “Don’t just be our fan; support the growth of the whole Hong Kong music scene, especially original music.”

Anello adds: “Live your dreams and make them reality. Keep pushing for what you believe in and find the people who support your passion. Together we can achieve anything. The Anello will be back.”

This weekend’s final blow-out at the Beef & Liberty PMQ pop-up shop promises to be as lively and inclusive as all of their previous gigs. Fans can also expect a few surprises, including “a fun freestyle with a twist” and merchandise giveaways. But mainly it’ll be a chance to shake some limbs, belt out those choruses, and gather together one last time for one big Anello selfie.

The Anello, May 21, 8pm, Beef & Liberty PMQ pop-up, PMQ, 35 Aberdeen St, Central, free.