By Hans Ebert
@hanseberthk

There was a time when one could take refuge from the boredom and monotony of it all at Peel Fresco, but, like much of Hong Kong, nothing stays the same, and former comforts become awkward moments.

With such a small group of musicians, Peel Fresco these days has been hijacked by a handful of musicians who seem to believe that everyone wants to hear what they have to say. And play. The end result, way too often, is bombastic self indulgence, which the trained seals in the audience have been taught over the years to obediently applaud though many wouldn’t know a riff from a raff. But, hey, if they believe these bouts of pretentiousness are what gets their mojos working, so be it.

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Music is a subjective mother. So, one walked into The Wanch on Monday night for the first day of their H2 Music Festival- over 70 acts in 7 days- with a certain degree of trepidation.

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Firstly, it’s not a venue regularly frequented, and the times when visiting it, the music was performed enthusiastically, but not exactly with a great deal of musicianship. The end result would be us moving on to wherever Wanchai would take us- and this was when Wanchai had a pulse and is not the lonely planet that it is today.

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Perhaps it’s not having any great expectations, but on this night, The Wanch really kicked ass- big time. Much of it had to do with hearing new musicians for the first time and not the usual “jazz” suspects and the conga line of has-beens and never-beens who pitch up in Hong Kong and flaunt their “New York Cityness” until it becomes so in your face, it’s intolerable.

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What made this night at The Wanch was the lack of pretentious bullshit, and an atmosphere and audience ready and willing to simply let go. There was no need to put on false pretences, because no one cared. Everyone there was to either support their friends, support local Rock and Blues music, or else to simply let the music take over and carry them over the line.

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We got there a couple of hours after things had started, and already onstage were Slightly Funkish comprising an excellent guitarist- Chinese- and a very very tight band comprising a female bassist.

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This was not another hackneyed covers band. Here was a band that worked- visually and musically. They would certainly be worth recording and definitely should be touring.

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Next up, the duo The Punks- a pretty young and extremely tight guitarist and drummer with Rock originals that tackled subjects few would be brave to sing about in the safe harbour of this conservative city. One might not have really understood the meanings behind the songs, but the energy was universally infectious.

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With stomachs making their own kinda music, we waited long enough to hear the good time blues of 852 Blue before heading out for some Burger Joys.

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It was a highly enjoyable evening, it offered up some hope to the future of an original Rock scene, it lacked silly affectations and we’ll definitely be back for more along with more Burger Joys.

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As they’d say, The Wanch Rocks! Just maybe, Hong Kong is starting to rock, too.