An indie gig that gives as good as it gets: water swell idea
Samantha Kwok Ching-yi is an unlikely concert promoter. But the 17-year-old pupil from Tuen Mun Government Secondary School has banded together with three friends to hold a charity gig this weekend featuring some of Hong Kong's best young musical talent.
Kwok and friend Suki So Hoi-ki, 17, a student at Hang Sang School of Commerce, decided to hold the night at a venue in the industrial heartland of San Po Kong, Kowloon, to support her favourite bands and also in response to a story she read in the Post last year about the Ryan's Well Foundation, a water charity started by a Canadian schoolboy.
'The story was touching,' says Kwok. 'I told my friends about the foundation and they suggested we hold a charity event for it.' Kwok, So, Ivan Lee Cho-fung and Madness Leung Ho-kwong has lined up an eclectic mix of punk, rock and screamo acts for the fund-raiser.
The foundation is a small non-governmental organisation founded by Ryan Hreljac, then 15, that delivers clean water in developing countries by building wells in remote communities. To date, it has built more than 200 wells in 12 countries.
'We hope to support the Ryan's Well Foundation, not only with money, but in spirit,' says Kwok. 'Through the show, we hope to remind people that all of us have the ability to make a difference to our planet. The only question is if you're willing to do it,' says Kwok, who became involved in the local music scene four years ago.
Her inspiration for the gig is twofold: she says there are many talented musicians in town who deserve a chance to be heard. 'Most people's impression is that the scene is still very underground - that's if they have any impression at all,' she says.
'However, in some ways it's getting better. There are more organisers holding regular gigs, such as the Underground, which means more chances for bands to get on stage,' she says, referring to a popular local band night. 'We think many bands in Hong Kong are high quality. What they need are chances.'
Artists on the bill include Slash!SAKURA!Slash! - an Australian acoustic guitarist otherwise known as Benson Looi, whose roots are as a musician in a hardcore metal band in Sydney - and screamo band Exit on Twelve, who have been together since 2004, despite several lineup changes. Also on stage will be Franz Ferdinand-esque post-punk outfit ChoChukMo, dapper in their pink shirts and skinny white ties, indie rockers Homeless Alien and experimental band Spermatic Chord, whose instruments range from didgeridoos to Chinese flutes and cowbells.
'We invited bands playing different styles in order to attract a diverse audience,' says Kwok. 'There's more variety on the scene now. A few years ago, bands playing heavy music were more popular and got more chances to play live because people thought hardcore, metal and punk shows had a good atmosphere. But that has changed. People also like other good bands that are softer, like Slash!SAKURA!Slash!.'
The event is being held at IMnet, a 5,000sqft venue run by a non-profit-making group of local music-lovers. IMnet runs music lessons, provides a platform to share music and holds monthly gigs, most of which Kwok attends. 'We go to places where there are gigs,' says Kwok, lamenting the lack of local music venues.
Although Kwok and So are in a band and fellow organisers Lee and Leung in another, they have no plans to take to the stage. 'We're not good enough to perform,' says Kwok. She's more concerned that the event will raise much-needed funds for the Ryan's Well Foundation.
'We dare not expect to raise too much,' she says. 'But of course the more the better, so we need your support.'
Rock Too Well, Sun, 8pm, IMnet, Flat C-D, 4/F Lee Ka Industrial Bldg, 8 Ng Fong St,
San Po Kong, Kowloon, HK$60. Inquiries: 9326 4625. For more information about the gig, go to www.mouth-watering.net/rocktoowell