Hong Kong live music gets a boost with The Week: seven nights, seven gigs, seven genres
Twenty-five bands will play metal, hip-hop, world music, prog, soul funk and more at six venues around Hong Kong from April 15 to 21 as independent music event returns with a new name
Gig Week might have lost its Gig and become just The Week, but it’s still exactly what it was when it launched last year: a week of seven gigs exclusively featuring Hong Kong bands, with a different genre each night.
This year it’s being held at six different venues from April 15 to 21, showcasing 25 local bands.
Based on an original concept from India, last year’s Gig Week attracted hundreds of people with a diverse line-up that included everything from hip hop to electro to acoustic to punk, and even managed to turn a slim profit, a result that co-founders Elaine Ip and Paul Sedille say far exceeded their expectations.
“We were thrilled for a first event,” says Ip. “A week before it started, we were saying, ‘If this goes how it looks like it’s going to go, how much money are we going to lose?’ But Hong Kong being Hong Kong, I guess lots of people bought tickets at the last minute.”
Adds Sedille: “We lived on ticket sales last year; we didn’t have a big sponsor. That proves it’s sustainable. But it’s still dependent on our voluntary work; bands kind of appreciate that we’re not getting paid.”
Last year the organisers went as far as making a video introducing themselves, just to prove that they weren’t an events company in it solely for the money. In other words, they were in the unusual position of trying to prove that they weren’t professionals.
That event was called Gig Week, but the “Gig” has been ditched after a disagreement with the original organisers in India over control and intellectual property – and after two months going through numerous other options, before returning to the simplest one – although that unfortunately makes the event hardest to find in a Google search.
All but one of the venues are new this year, with an emphasis on places that don’t usually host musical events. There’s also been an evolution in the themes: the “showcase” opening night, “hip hop” and “metal” remain from last year, but “acoustic”, “punk”, “dance rock” and “electro” have been replaced with “world music”, “prog”, “soul funk” and “girls’ night”.
Like last year, the introductory Showcase at The Hub in Wan Chai on April 15 is an opening night without a theme, but this year it has a slightly tighter focus. “Last year I chose the bands for the first night, and we had too many genres: there was hip hop, there was metal and there was a marching band,” says Sedille. “This time we went with more English-language indie rock and dream pop.” Specifically, the line-up features the doomy-pretty shoegaze of Thud; the indie folk rock of Stranded Whale; and the chirpy retro indie dance-rock of Phoon.
World Music Night follows on April 16 at Ping Pong Gintoneria, with African fusion percussion band Afritude; ReOrientate, who are a kind of one-band encapsulation of world music, combining flamenco with Chinese instruments and an Indian singer; and Chaturang, formed for the event by Andre Elias, a professor of music at Baptist University.
April 17 is Hip-Hop Night at This Town Needs, headlined by old-school topical Cantonese-language favourite MastaMic, alongside Matt Force, another old-school rapper, with a ’90s jazz-rap feel; Txmiyama, with smooth flowing English and Japanese language trap; and jazzy English language pop-trap from Squarehead.
Hip Hop was the best attended night last year, with about 250 punters. “One of the bands who were popular last year were The Low Mays; they brought about 50 per cent of the people to that gig,” says Sedille. “They’re funny and self-deprecating, and a symbol of a refusal of the traditional Hong Kong pressure-based lifestyle.”
Metal Night is on April 18, also at This Town Needs, with deathcore from Massacre of Mothman, complete with insane tempos and incomprehensible growling; metalcore from Dagger; electronic metalcore with glam touches from Soul of Ears; and old-school melodic metal from Psycho Skull.
April 19 sees Prog Night at Drummers’ Ark music school: the atmospheric soundscapes of Life Was All Silence feature elements of post-rock, indie rock and jazz; Smoke in Half Note make experimental post-rock with jazz influences; and Milos are twisty-turny math rock.
Girls’ Night, on April 20 at MOM Livehouse, features exclusive female performers: the quirky, emotive indie math rock of GDJYB; the retro indie dreampop of So It Goes, all three of whom are called Emily; the sparky melodic punk of After-After-Party; and the soul-tinged pop ballads of singer and electronic gadget-fiddler Yeung Tung.
The fun ends on April 21 day with Soul Funk Night at the new Lost Stars Livehouse in Tai Kok Tsui. The headliners, smooth funk-pop band Shumking Mansion, are the only act to return from Gig Week last year. They’re joined by The Majestic G, with smoky vintage soul, jazz and funk featuring a suona horn; funk rock from Site Access; and modern jazz from Not to be Missed.
“Having all the different venues is difficult, especially with the venues we use, but if we can convince owners to have concerts there, we can feed into the scene and encourage it,” says Sedille.