Sad but predictable news was announced this week with word that Hidden Agenda is being forced to close. Keystone of the local underground music scene, the Ngau Tau Kok venue had received a number of notices to close earlier this year for violating government restrictions on operating a commercial business in an industrial space. Katy Ng, a long time volunteer at the venue, told Time Out Hong Kong that Hidden Agenda’s last night would be October 7, when Finnish heavy metal act Amorphis are set to play.
That show is the venue’s last scheduled gig and there is no intention to have a special send-off. “We haven’t planned anything,” states Ng, “but we have the whole of September with certain dates available for people to hold gigs. If any bands want to organise a farewell, they’re welcome to, but we don’t have any plans ourselves.” Although it’s unlikely a new location will be sourced this year, Hidden Agenda are still willing to book shows provided they can find suitable alternative venues. The team has done this before – last year they presented The Used at KITEC, for instance.
This isn’t the first time Hidden Agenda has been forced to close for similar reasons. The venue has moved around Ngau Tau Kok three times already and Ng says the venue hopes to re-open in the area once again: “The best place is Kwun Tong and Ngau Tau Kok. We’ve always been in this area, so we don’t want to change. We’re looking for the right space but right now we don’t have one. We can’t say anything for sure, but we’re trying.”
Although the closure of Musicians Area and Backstage Live last year has been somewhat offset by the rise of Focal Fair, HMV Causeway Bay and 1563 at the East, Hong Kong’s independent live scene remains precarious. Survival is a constant struggle and Ng evinces a certain weariness when she tells us: “We still need some time to think about things because it’s not good if we have to keep moving around like this. We’ve seen this happen again and again. And this time we don’t know what to do because it keeps happening.” Here’s hoping Hidden Agenda can successfully pick itself off the floor and re-establish itself as a presence once more – it’s hard to imagine an underground scene without the venue and the people behind it.