There are many reasons why the Hong Kong “music scene” is an oxymoron as there is actually NO music scene and which means lowering one’s standards on all levels and elevating mediocrity like thinking note for note covers by a band injected by the ghost of Van Halen at joints like The Wanch are “incredible”.


They’re fine for what they are in a tiny venue and as part of an audience in an alcoholic pimple haze, but none of these acts can ever take that giant leap into a recording studio setting- and then to a greater ‘live’ arena even if they were to write and record a hit as they are, usually, too old, they look old, they think old and- key- there is no commitment.


How can there be anyone creating music with others without any commitment- and this MUST include the producer if recordings will lead to touring and ‘live’ performances?

But age is the killer for new bands still to make it as music companies will take a pass and, no matter, how good, Radio or music channels or promoters will pass on a band made up of a group of unknown old guys if they play as well as Fun or The 1975?

Speaking of which, The 1975 is one damn fine band.

Of course, most can’t and which is why these musos will always be side musicians flitting from session to session as it pays the bills and, with that lack of commitment due to no time to hear what’s current, no time to rehearse, no time to write, time keeps ticking, ticking, ticking into the future with fifty year old guys playing charts and, perhaps, having the chops, but with the organizers of gigs uncomfortable- and this will sound crass- but concerned at the whole vibe and ‘look’ of the band. Image still sells.

Always has, always will.


It’s sad, but it’s the truth, and this lack of commitment can be seen when asking a band of oldies for new arrangements of even mainstay covers.

They simply cannot make these happen as either the creativity is not there or their musical “universe” of what’s happening right here and now is tiny and it’s the big fish in a small pond syndrome.


Compare all this with the great young bands outta Scandinavia who suffer from a different type of non-commitment.

They are committed to forming bands- always with a producer who is an integral part of their ‘live’ shows when it comes to sound- and making it work- but only in their own backyards.

Why have some of the great Danish bands never made it further than, say, Norway despite “worldwide deals” with, always, Sony Denmark where their recordings are never even released in other markets?


They have their girlfriends, their wives, their local fans and are comfortably numb and financially stable with their concerts on home turf.

It’s like marrying for the love of money and security and forcing to make it work.

There’s plenty of Great Dane talk about “going international”, but if and when the opportunity arises, bands go flaccid, suddenly lose their balls, and are content to keep doing what they’ve always been doing while taking up a day job.

Bands in Hong Kong and why they can’t make it is different.

Apart from living an insular life, the lack of a scene unlike many Scandinavia with many great bands means comparing themselves with what’s out there- locally. And what’s out there is, for the most part, mediocre or simply dated or derivative music.

Who wants to be another Mr, one of the most derivative bands there is- but relatively young, signed to Universal Hong Kong and who have changed hairstyles more often than their underpants?


Whatever “scene” that exists in Hong Kong, it’s about playing “originals” that sound good to friends who are fans and, therefore, biased, or “rocking it” by playing AC/DC and Led Zep covers on remote for a crowd too drunk to know their own names- let alone understanding what makes the recordings by a band called Fun or even Katy Perry’s Roar so commercially accessible and the all-time greatness of producers like Phil Spector, George Martin, Gus Dudgeon, Jimmy Iovine, Eddie Kramer etc.


Having been to The Wanch the other night, it was all good fun for ten minutes before depression set in after trying to communicate with drunk talk and fist pumping with some American chef from the Mandarin hotel and his missus who had a tough time making sense. It was just another hungover night in Wanchai with unknown losers.


As for all these supposed “indie” and “DIY” bands in Hong Kong, how old ARE these guys today?

For how long have they been carrying on and how far have they gone?

To a gig at Peel Fresco? Some tiny gig in Toronto. And then what?

Back to The Wanch? A slot in Clockenflapp? And boy, did THAT come and go with a whimper?


Commitment. It all comes down to commitment- and when one is young enough TO commit to music and only music- and which is why guys like Keith Richard, Jagger, McCartney, and Bowie are still around and still up there making music.


Without this commitment, it’s the usual bollocks and trying to teach old dogs new tricks until they keel over from the mental fatigue of it all.

Sure, you’re as old as you feel- but when it comes to creating new music to a new, young audience, sorry, but unless a name band and part of one of those sad reunion tours, or experienced session guys with a loyal following of those who TRULY respect great playing, you’re wasting your time- especially true in Hong Kong.


In Hong Kong. the only oldies who still sell are Canto-pop “idols” due to an entertainment mafia refusing to let in anyone new with something different to offer the Chinese music market. And that’s another story for another day.