Live independent music in Hong Kong has made headlines for all the wrong reasons this year. A police raid on underground venue Hidden Agenda in May saw visiting UK band This Town Needs Guns and venue owner Hui Chung-wo temporarily in jail over visa and licensing issues. It’s the latest horror story that speaks to a persistent local truth: getting your band heard is never easy in Hong Kong. That hasn’t scared off our city’s great musical talents, though. As such, we’ve selected five young or upcoming acts we think are doing something really exciting...
Five local bands you need to hear in 2018
The newest band on our list both in terms of how they’ve been on this Earth and on the scene. They're so fresh they don't even have a a Facebook page. It’s almost as if they don't want people to know about them – but they escape us. Clearly inspired by The Strokes in terms of tone and rhythm, Albert add a neat shoegazy fuzz to proceedings. They’re still very new and a bit rough sounding but you can hear something genuinely refreshing in what this young trio are doing.
Inflences: The Strokes, Artic Monkeys, Slowdive, The Vaccines.
Feels like: Learning to ride a bike: it's fun but you need to practice.
Best song: The Rush
Check out Albert at tiny.cc/albert-band.
Soaring vocals and pleasingly modular guitar work elevates this band above the often tedious trappings of the folk-rock genre. Esimorp expertly manipulate generic sounds into something more dynamic with regards to the moment-to-moment listening experience. They recently won local gig organiser Underground’s 2017 Battle of the Bands, so expect to hear a lot more from them.
Influences: Mumford & Sons – if Mumford & Sons were any good and had The Edge on guitar.
Feels like: Eating a hot-cross bun, passionately
Best song: The Minutes
Check out Esimorp at fb.com/esimorpband.
Unashamedly over-the-top rock music with the kind of 80s hair metal swagger that would make Nikki Sixx or Axl Rose proud. It’s been a big year for NastyDudes (excellent name by the way), with the boys winning this year's Planetrox China competition. NastyDudes succeed where so many fail: they feel like their own entity as opposed to a cheap imitation.
Influences: Guns N’ Roses, Mötley Crüe
Feels like: Making it to the toilet after holding it in for two hours.
Best song: TGIF.
Check out NastyDudes at fb.com/nastydudeshk.
So It Goes
This local trio have been around since 2015. The big news this year, though, is the release of the band’s first two MVs, When I Dream of Grapes Turning Blue and Stardust. With regards to the former, it’s lyrically and thematically bonkers but it’s absolutely brilliant too. Definitely one of the best local releases of the year and an incredible slice of alternative indie. Go listen to it.
Influences: My Bloody Valentine, The Cranberries, Imogen Heap.
Feels like: Finding $100 in your pocket you didn’t know you had.
Best song: When I Dream of Grapes Turning Blue.
Check out So It Goes at fb.com/soitgoeshk.
A Young Orange
One of the best new Cantonese indie prospects around. The fact that this energetic five-piece's music can enjoyed regardless of whether you understand the language or not is a testament to the quality of the music and vocal hooks. Funky guitars and drumming lend themselves well to lead singers Bosco’s impressive pipes. He showcases his incredible range at a rapid pace.
Influences: At the Drive-In (minus the screaming), KillerSoap.
Feels like: Watching a French new wave film without subtitles.
Check out A Young Orange at fb.com/ayoungorange.