Happy Birthday, Underground

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Because the listings pages are full of details of gigs by local bands, I am always surprised when people—foreigners invariably—inform me that “there is no underground music scene in Hong Kong.” Perhaps we don’t read the same magazines, or perhaps they’re simply determined to have a miserable time. But even sensitive, intelligent foreigners—people who should know better—will talk tosh. Last year, Time Out Hong Kong ran an interview with Rasmus Stolberg of the Danish “post-pop” band Efterklang, who had been on a visit to Hong Kong. The magazine quoted him, uncritically, thus: “I was puzzled that I couldn’t find any signs of subculture anywhere.” Couldn’t find any signs of subculture? That’s because you’re a Danish tourist who hasn’t got the faintest idea what 99.9% of the people around you are saying, silly. The guy at the 7-Eleven could be declaiming Dadaist sound poetry in your face and you would be none the wiser.

Not only does Hong Kong have an underground, it has The Underground—a fortnightly showcase of Hong Kong bands that celebrates its fifth anniversary on Saturday with a concert in Lan Kwai Fong featuring Airtub, Hard Candy, Hard Pack, Summer Junkiez and Us-2 Evil-0. Remarkably, the Underground has staged over 250 bands since its first night. Presiding over them all has been its praiseworthy founder, organizer and promoter, Chris B—the tattooed fairy godmother of the Hong Kong scene. We salute her for winkling out the talent from the towerblocks, and for proving just how much music is being made here in our tiny port city on the South China coast. If people choose not to hear it, they can’t be helped.

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