Developer-sponsored music festival set for July 1

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 18 June, 2013, 8:33pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 18 June, 2013, 9:17pm

Two Hong Kong bands are facing calls to boycott a music festival on July 1 amid criticism from pro-democracy march internet users who say the festival is aimed at drawing participants from the annual protest.

The Hong Kong Dome Festival will feature Canto pop-rock bands Rubberband and Mr. as well as five Korean pop groups. It will be staged between 2pm and 6pm on July 1 at the former Kai Tak airport runway.

The show will coincide with the July 1 pro-democracy march that draws tens of thousands of participants annually. The march is to start at 2.30pm from Victoria Park and work its way to Central.

Internet users raised questions about the concert’s purpose. A Facebook group set up on Monday accused concert organisers of trying to divert people – especially youngsters – from attending the pro-democracy rally with the new show.

“[The organisers] offer a special low price of HK$99 [for the concert] and provide coaches for viewers to commute,” the group said. “We are concerned the purpose of the concert is not that pure.”

“It is reminiscent of the three large-scale free concerts during the Malaysian presidential election,” it said on the Facebook page. “Music should not be used as a political tool.”

The Facebook group called for all the participating bands and singers, both local and foreign ones, to boycott the show. “The Korean version of our appeal is in the making,” it added.

The organisers of the music festival – the Hong Kong Performing Industry Association – say the festival’s purpose is to raise awareness about the need to build a new giant domed stadium for large shows.

The festival is sponsored by 10 property developers, including Cheung Kong, Sun Hung Kai Properties, New World Development and Henderson Land. Organisers expect a turnout of 18,000.

Commercial Radio talk show host Leo Chim Chi-man, a friend of Rubberband drummer Lai Man-wang, quoted Lai as saying on Tuesday the band had not been aware of the show’s nature “until it was too late”.

Chim also said Lai pledged to join the pro-democracy march after the concert.

As well, a pro-government group announced on Monday that shoppers would get special deals on July 1 at 1,000 shops and restaurants to celebrate the July 1 handover anniversary, but the deals are only good between 2pm and 5pm.  July 1 march organisers see this as one more effort by the government friendly camp to divert people from the march.