ADOGA: Rocking Taiwan

By Phillip Charlier for The Wild East

Adoga band members‘Adoga’ may be a mysterious word to people residing in the Wild West. The current number one result when you Google the word is American Dehydrated Onion and Garlic Association. In Taiwan, it has a very different meaning. It is the Hoklo Taiwanese word for a certain kind of foreigner and it refers specifically to the nose-structure of Caucasians.

While controversy has raged about the use of this term (also written as adogah, adoah, 阿兜仔) in both the Chinese and English language press , one group of professional musicians has taken the word and made it their own. ADOGA, the band, has racked up some serious success in the fields of corporate and public entertainment.

ADOGA specializes in covering classic hits that span almost a half century of Rock and Pop music, and their playlist is also packed with the latest hits you can hear on any popular, contemporary music radio station in Taiwan or the west.

“ADOGA audiences love dancing to the high energy hits from Western bands (such as the Rolling Stones, The Beatles and Guns’n’Roses) as well as Chinese (WuBai, Cape No.7 Soundtrack). This versatile act plays music styles ranging from classic rock to R&B to funk and blues. ADOGA also features hit songs from contemporary artists such as Maroon 5, Bon Jovi and more.”

But what makes ADOGA exceptional is that they can perform in English, Chinese, and even Taiwanese. So while many people in Taiwan will refer to them as a ‘foreign’ band, they are really a local band made up of foreign performers. As Taiwanese bass player Maxx Ta says: “As soon as I met ADOGA, I realized right away, that even though they are foreigners they have a love for Taiwan that you can hear every time we play in front of an audience.” His favorite song is WuBai’s hit “Flower”, where his pulsating bass gets people dancing right away.

Lead vocalist, Brandon Thompson, a native of Toronto, Canada, is an accomplished performer with over 12 years of experience hosting many different types of live entertainment shows. He has performed at festivals across the island such as Spring Scream, PeaceFest and Blues Fest. His energetic personality and ability to involve the audience in performances are exceptional and his Taiwanese version of “Dancing Girl” is legendary. When you come to ADOGA’s gig, you can’t help but clap and sing with them!

Roberto Esswein grew up in Brazil and was influenced by the great British and American rock guitarists of the 1960s and 70s. At the age of 28 he moved to England. Six years ago he moved to Taiwan, where he has been rocking the entire island. He has been in several different foreign bands but finally found a band with a vision, the talent and the drive to succeed. One of his many famous guitar-tricks is to use the neck of a bottle to play the intro for one of the most popular Chinese songs “I Love Summer”.

A rock band without a drummer is like a car without a motor and this band’s rhythmic engine is Slawek Kolodziej from Poland. He says his biggest influence is Dream Theater drummer Mike Portnoy. At every show, he invites somebody from the audience to perform a song with him (if you can’t play drums, he will teach you right away!) Slawek is a recent graduate of IMBA program at National Chengchi University in Taipei.

Besides music, the band is also involved in the KIVA project (“Loans that change lives”), which lends money to microfinance entrepreneurs and small businesses in developing countries. They believe this is the best way to help those who want to help themselves, creating jobs and a better future by investing in people who are willing to take their future into their own hands.

The band has performed at most of Taipei’s top venues, pubs and hotels. They have been invited to countless weddings, corporate events and year-end parties as their amazing mixture of Eastern and Western music is simply irresistible. They perform at least once a week, and their latest info for upcoming shows can be found on their website. You definitely have to check them out!

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