Rockafellas has already chalked up a reputation as a fine music venue. We popped in on a Saturday night to see what all the fuss was about, but were greeted by a rather quiet bar – an anomaly, as it’s usually packed from Thursdays to Sundays, says owner Russell Curtis.
A musician and former recording artist, Russell is the brains and driver behind all the live shows here, and has worked with names like Jaclyn Victor and Elvira Arul. In the bar’s defense, we did turn up pretty early and it did have a je ne sais quoi about it; it was unassuming, non-threatening, and unpretentious – all the right ingredients for an evening over pints or house pours and good music. Indeed, expect the usual suspects in the drinks department, and on tap, you can pick from Tiger, Kilkenny and Guinness. The nett prices here are a boon but if you’re really lucky – or rather, if Russell is feeling generous – there’ll be the ad hoc announcement of all-night Happy Hours.
As the waiter raised a stern eyebrow when we enquired about house cocktails, we settled for beers and popped ourselves by the bar, which was an attraction in itself; lit from within, its changing colours gave the room a swanky glow. Prefer a table for your mates and you to huddle over? The bar is filled with tall tables fashioned from large wooden barrels, and there are also open booths at the back.
For the peepers, there is a wall mural with a rock theme, and a photograph of John Lennon positioned next to the mural’s figure of Satan rocking out. Bizarre, but it might make sense after a few rounds. We didn’t attempt this illusory trick by way of the liver but we did spot the television channels fixed on the sports channels and a pool table.
Still, sports isn’t Rockafellas’ main attraction. Music is, and their live bands are what pull the punters in. The night we visited, threepiece Sharin Band opened with a brilliant cover of The Beatles’ ‘Here Comes The Sun’ and suddenly, the room sprung to life, and more people began to stream in through Rockafellas’ doors.
The folks here clearly come in for the tunes and Russell confirms this, saying that unlike other bars where live music is treated as a side order, it’s the main course here. Expect a regular crowd in their early twenties to late forties.
If you’re a music buff, their schedule goes a little something like this: Russell and his band play on Fridays, Saturdays see a different act each week, and well-known 12-piece funk band, Junkofunc, are also known to make a regular appearance. Want a more contemplative evening? Head there on a Tuesday or Wednesday when acoustic acts take to the stage. Also, this year will see the return of Rockafellas’ King of the Hill, a weekly knock-out competition for bands, with cash prizes and the promise of a good show.
Rockafellas’ other plus point is its location. It’s a satellite bar – if there is such a word – where the Damansara and PJ folks flock to ease the weekday blues. Just a stone’s throw away from Hotel Armada, you now know where to go if the Federal Highway threatens to bring your blood to a boil. Rockafellas, an unpretentious modern-day saloon, where the beers are cold and the music is excellent. Just don’t you be trying to order a fancy cocktail now. Rachel Jena