Hong Kong gigs

Hidden Agenda photo book celebrates Hong Kong indie music movement’s past eight years

Hidden Agenda The Book, filled with 120 images captured at the venue’s live gigs, belongs on the coffee tables of all serious fans of indie music

PUBLISHED : Friday, 28 July, 2017, 8:02am
UPDATED : Friday, 28 July, 2017, 8:02am

Controversial Hong Kong live music venue Hidden Agenda has released a photo book that celebrates its eight years of live shows in all their sweaty, unbridled glory.

Hidden Agenda The Book features more than 120 photos taken at its live gigs by nine local photographers, including Bob Wan, Phey Palma and Enzo Cheung. Apart from a brief introduction in Chinese, the book features very little text. The energetic images – full of pumping fists, smoke machine fog and raised hands making the devil horn sign – are intended to speak for themselves.

The Kwun Tong club has been in the news repeatedly this year due to police raids over licensing issues and most notably the arrests of two overseas bands for performing without work visas. It is now operating out of its fourth venue since opening in 2009 and its owner has warned it may be forced to close if the government licensing crackdown continues.

Perhaps the most poignant image in Hidden Agenda The Book is a photo spread over two pages showing a group of police inside the club earlier this year – their uniforms only just visible in the dim light. It’s a scene that the Hidden Agenda owners and club regulars must have become used to over the years.

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But if anything, this police activity has only brought those involved with Hidden Agenda – the bands, the owners, the audiences – closer together, as a great sense of camaraderie emanates from the images: a naked singer crowd-surfing atop a sea of smiling faces, a singer refilling a fan’s cup from his own can of beer.

The book provides a visual who’s who of the Hong Kong indie music scene, including shots of bands from My Little Airport and Chochukmo to King Ly Chee and Shepherds the Weak. There’s also no shortage of images of acclaimed overseas acts performing in the intimate venue, such as US punk bands Sick of it All and Anti-Flag.

Concluding the book is a five-page spread featuring almost 500 Hidden Agenda gig posters, which serves as a powerful illustration of just how much this little venue has contributed to Hong Kong’s independent music movement.

Hidden Agenda The Book has been printed in hardback and is limited to 500 copies. It’s being launched at the club on August 5 with a gig featuring local bands including An Id Signal, The Squawk and Topsy-Wave – all of whom appear in the book.

It’s a volume that belongs on the coffee tables of all serious local fans of indie music.