It doesn’t really matter what you were planning on doing this weekend because what you should be doing is checking out “Friday Night Rocks” (aka The Underground Festival). After 10 years of providing wicked independent music for the lovely people of Hong Kong, The Underground has decided that it’s high time they hosted an outdoor music festival. A really cool music festival. With lights and bands and amps and stuff. The line up boasts a wide range of artists with acts ranging from indie folk to garage rock and punk, so no matter what your taste something there is going to appeal.
Talent ranges from the young and energetic “Hey Joe Trio” to the veteran performers “Galaxy Express” and “Supper Moment”. Whether you are hoping to enjoy the best of the Asian independent music scene, or discover something new and rad, this festival will provide. It’s accessible, it’s affordable (especially if you’re clever and book in advanced), and it’s just about the best thing happening in Hong Kong at the moment, so there’s really no reason you shouldn’t go. This is the festival’s very first year and with two stages and five hours of music it promises to be one of the best showcases of local talent in years.
Seeing as “Friday Night Rocks” is hosted by Chris B of The Underground, it’s sure to showcase the best that Hong Kong has to offer in terms of performance, entertainment, and originality. This woman’s been promoting for years and couldn’t be better qualified to organize an amazing night of music with exceptional talent. Curious as to how this all got started, and what it’s been like promoting independent music in Hong Kong, BOOM caught up with Chris for an interview. Check it out below, and be sure to save the date, book your tickets for this Friday night (March 28th), and pick out a snappy outfit. This is a night you won’t want to miss.
What is the inspiration behind this festival?
We are lucky enough to have been around for 10 years (this year is our 10 year anniversary!) and when the overall organizers of Fan zone were looking for something more suitable for a “Friday Night Rock Show” I was the first person they called on.
Who should we be looking out for this year?
I believe we’ve picked some really good representations of what is happening in the Hong Kong music scene. If you meant the HK live music scene in general, the standard has gone higher and more genres are appearing and local musicians are more creative. Besides the festival this Friday, we have a Heavy #10 show on 12 April and a show called “Songs without Words” on 26 April which have some bands who are vastly different to what you will see this Friday.
You have quite the mix of performers. What was important to you when selecting acts?
Festival performance standard, entertainment value plus a balance of old & new acts. We want people to go “Damn! There are some great bands right here in Hong Kong!” Hey Joe Trio are a trio of 19-year-old university students who play Hendrix-like music with a passion and I only discovered them in February and we wanted to ensure there is always a young newly discovered band playing at these big events that we organize. Supper Moment and ToNick were unknown bands when they first played at The Underground many years ago and we’re so delighted they are involved in this festival. We have given lots of other (now famous) bands their first show. With over 400 bands to choose from, it wasn’t all that easy to select for this Friday’s line-up…!
What are the challenges with promoting independent music in Hong Kong?
I personally don’t see huge challenges! There are interesting challenges and I think it’s not just for somewhere like Hong Kong. Some bands are better at promoting, some bands are more organized, sometimes they are not necessarily the better bands. In some ways, Hong Kong bands are extremely lucky, they can play at a show, not even promote it and have no one turn up AND STILL get a chance to play more shows. This would never happen in the UK or US. We’re also a very cyber-connected city. It’s not unusual to attend an event and there are more people staring into their phones instead of being present. So bands have to be SENSATIONAL to attract full attention. We have to work with various larger venues to host our showcases, which has good & bad points. The exciting part is hosting overseas acts and getting to showcase local bands with them, that’s fun (eg. Brett Anderson, The Damned).
Since you started promoting, how has the local independent music scene grown?
It’s blossomed! Some bands have taken time to craft their style and their songs and confidence in what they do. Other bands have more live experience under their belts, other bands have taken to travelling outside of HK with their band and touring (great reality check of how good they have to be) and really they are the real scene-makers.
Which direction does it seem to be going?
More & more people are realizing that there IS quality right on their doorsteps.
Hong Kong has been drawing some big overseas acts through events such as Clockenflap recently. Do you think this hampers or boosts the local music scene?
Boosts the scene definitely.
What are the future plans for “Friday Night Rocks”?
Just for you & your friends to be blown away by the quality of Hong Kong bands. Oh and of course to enjoy the antics of our Korean friends, Galaxy Express, who are amazing live!