So you’ve come to Hong-Kong for business or pleasure, and need to let your hair down. Or maybe you’ve moved here chasing a Cantonese bride and decided to start teaching English at a local school to pay the bills and need a way to relieve that stress. Maybe you’re an exchange student who works at a punk bar back home and needs to listen to raunchy, scream-your-face off underground music once a week to make your time in this humid, messy, and overpopulated city bearable.
Baby, I’ve been there.
For 7.6 million people, I’m a little disappointed with the underground music scene in this city. Especially with all the expats from Europe, Australia, and America, where there are plenty of badass music venues supporting local music. But if you look hard enough, there are a couple of places to catch a badass show to headbang to. For all the metalheads, hardcore fans, scream-o’s, punks, and anyone else that loves to circle-mosh and thrash, I hope this helps.
Step One: Check out The Wanch (at least just as a stepping stone)
If you’re staying on Hong-Kong Island, this is the best place to start your hunt for local music. This place hosts live music every night. Yes, every night. This can range from acoustic and relaxed, to Irish folk, to Filipino Punk. The vibe is different every night, with a different crowd each time. So if you’re in town for a few nights and want to see what’s up, this is a good place to start. Cover charge is free, and beer is decently priced for central HK.
This is also an extraordinarily friendly crowd, so popping outside to talk to the musicians or make new friends is extremely easy. The music here can be pretty tame, but you may be able to find out where the next underground music venue will be by talking to the bartenders and musicians. If not:
Step Two: Check out The Underground
Rumor says this used to be the most thrashy punk bar in HK until it got shut down a few years ago. Now, the devoted crew at The Underground maintain a twitter account detailing the daily live music events throughout the city. This can be jazz nights in Wan Chai, some classical music, or the awesome events I visited last weekend. Friday night was Punktober at the Wanch, and Saturday night was the HARD as FXXK Hardcore festival held at Hong Kong Baptist University.
(Sorry, I didn’t bring my camera so my photos are a bit rushed)
I also found the Lionrocks Underground Music Festival, which turned into my post here (spoiler alert, it was awesome). So if you’ve got some time to research, The Underground will lead you exactly where you need to go.
Step Three: This Town Needs
This is a better indie music venue, with bigger name indie bands (and asking for a lot more on ticket prices). Snail Mail is playing here this week, and Unknown Mortal Orchestra was here a little while ago. If you’re into the indie vibes, check out their line-up and see if anything catches your eye.
Other than that, this is the only advice I can give so far. As all underground music goes, a lot of the news spreads by word of mouth. So go to The Wanch, head to a show that you read on The Underground, and start talking to anyone that looks like they know good music. Odds are, they’ll give you their whatsapp numbers and will text you next time there’s a show. A lot of underground shows are improvised, and in an unconventional venue like a University building. So it can be tough to get all of this out on social media.
Hong-Kong needs a lot of work in the Underground scene, but the current community is a tight-knit and supporting group of creative, awesome people. If you have the chance to go out and see a show, please do, and support the musicians in this city that just need to blow off some steam.
As well, if I missed anything please comment! I’d love to discover some new venues around the town, and I’m sure anyone reading would as well. Thanks!