Meet 4 Wan Chai house bands taking the city's music scene by storm
Performing for up to six days a week and seamlessly switching between golden oldies, rock anthems and whatever else their audiences request, cover bands are some of the hardest-working players in our city’s music scene. These four Wan Chai cover acts tell us just how it’s done.
Best places for live music in Hong Kong
Hong Kong’s music scene has grown steadily stronger in recent years, not just in terms of the talent, but also the promoters and platforms dedicated to bringing these acts to those who will listen. While high rent and stringent regulations still make it difficult for the local indie circuit to be as big as, say, New York or London, there is an increasing number of live music venues that are giving a voice to the city’s finest performers. Whether it’s a classy cocktail bar like Foxglove that touts world-class jazz, a casual live house like Lost Stars that champions up-and-coming indie acts, or even boisterous bars like The Wanch and Ned Kelly’s that do classic rock and cheap beers, here are some of the best spots in town to catch a great live music show. RECOMMENDED: From the biggest stars to the coolest indie acts, check out our list of the best concerts and gigs that are happening in Hong Kong.
Forefront producer and beat-maker Mndsgn has, for the last ten years, blended “dirty soul vibes”, hip-hop and electric funk. Born Ringgo Ancheta in San Diego to Filipino parents, he came from a culture of b-boying and black churches, and the influence of gospel and funk music translated to beat-making in his early high school years. In 2014, he released Yawn Zen, his debut with California-based indie record label, Stones Throw Records, which he up with electric funk trip Body Wash (2016) and the beat tape Snax (2018). Now based in LA and embarking on an Asia tour, Mndsgn sits down with us ahead of his show at Eaton Hong Kong to talk about the idea of home and the importance of creative expression. How did your upbringing shape your art?I’ve always felt out of place, especially ever since relocating to the southern region of New Jersey at a young age. The demographic was predominantly white and most of my peers were upper-middle class. Even all of my brown friends lived in nice, big houses while I grew up living in small apartments. I did a good job of internalising the alienation, of not being able to relate to the wealth class of my peers. In doing so, I allowed myself to get lost in various forms of self-expression via drawing, dancing and music. Having a creative outlet allows you to tap into a home. What is hip-hop to you, and how does a culture express itself with it?It’s power to the people, utilising resources to rebuild and reinvent. It’s deconstructing what was giv
Playlist: Understanding Hong Kong hip-hop
Your average Hong Kong hip-hop song typically features three common traits: there’s rapping; the rapper is based or born in Hong Kong; and the song likely tackles socio-political issues. But while these traits are certainly helpful in differentiating a Hong Kong hip-hop song from a Cantopop track, are they all that define the genre? After all, although different in style and sometimes subject matter, songs from, say Kwokkin’s HK Estate of Mind and MastaMic’s Jungle both convey, in some form, what it’s like to live in Hong Kong through the filters of hip-hop. Want to know the various styles and artists that comprise modern Hong Kong hip-hop? Read on... By Michael Cheuk
Upcoming live music events
Ned Kelly's Last Stand
One of Hong Kong’s oldest and best-loved bars, with a house band that has attained legendary status, plying their trade every night. You’d think the same band doing roughly the same thing every night would get stale, right? Not so, these boys are proper, old-school showmen, changing the makeup of the performance every night, adding fun little skits (using a tea pot as an instrument with amazing success comes to mind), and interacting with the audience. If you have any interest in live music and you’re new in town, Ned Kelly’s is an initiation.
Acoustic Happy Hour
Wouldn’t be much of a list without The Wanch. This Hong Kong institution has been the city’s live music community centre since 1987. There’s a performer/band on every night and it’s always free. Any night’s a good night to get down to The Wanch, but for a jumping off point if you’ve never been, go to their Acoustic Happy Hour. Delivering delightful covers and crowd-pleasers (and maybe the odd tune you’ve never heard of), as well as the odd original played by whoever really feels like getting up on stage and belting one out - it’s ground zero for Hong Kong's live music.
One of the city’s best kept musical secrets. Considering that Visage One is actually a hair salon, the music is literally secretive. But, every Saturday, owner and live music fanatic Benky Chan opens the doors to this tiny, intimate hair dresser and turns it into a pseudo jazz bar with some of the city’s best musicians playing nose-to-nose with the small group of plucky music lovers that manage to get in. When we say it’s a secret, it’s not really. There’s usually a cue down the street, so if you want to see what all the fuss is about. Get there early. Maybe a get a trim while you’re waiting.