Catching Up – Some Music Pix from Hong Kong

Believe it or don’t, I didn’t go out at night (aside from dinner) that much during my recent two weeks in Hong Kong. But I did get out a few nights and usually had my camera with me. I can’t begin to tell you how much I’m enjoying shooting with the Fujifilm X-T2. I just love it. Aside from everything else, some of the below photos were shot at ISO 12,800, something I wouldn’t have even attempted with my old Nikon D800.

The photos are all after the jump:

Continue reading “Catching Up – Some Music Pix from Hong Kong”

Riot at Rio

Riot being the name of the band playing at the Rio Club in Wanchai, Hong Kong. Here’s some shots of them in action – getting used to shooting with my Fujifilm X-T2, taken with the Fuji 23mm and 56mm lenses.

(This is one of those places where the stage lighting changes color every second, washing out photos with deep reds, greens, blues, purples, oranges. I wonder if one day they’d let me shoot the band with just “normal” lights in the club.)

New Photo Gallery – Jeff Beck in Hong Kong 2010

I’ve added a photo gallery of my pictures of Jeff Beck, who appeared in Hong Kong at Asiaworld on March 22, 2010. The shot above is my current favorite from the batch.

As I mentioned earlier, as I’m allowing Spike’s Photos to wind down, I’m going to be adding photo galleries here. Rather than just copying over the photos from seven years ago, I’ve gone back into Lightroom and “remastered” them. Lightroom is a much better program and I’m much better with it than seven years ago.

The band included the great Narada Michael Walden on drums, Rhonda Smith on bass and Jason Rebello on keyboards.

While I’ve seen Beck live many times, stretching back to 1974 or 1975, this was his first time playing a concert in Hong Kong. And it was my first time having a “3 songs, no flash” pass for a major concert in Hong Kong. I’m really thrilled with how well these shots turned out (although when I go back to them now and see the settings I used, I’m amazed that they came out as well as they did).

I did get a little bit punch drunk while re-processing the photos, pushing things a bit to see just what I could do with them. They’re not in the gallery but I’ll show a few of them to you here.

 

I’m undecided about the results – they’re either artistic and unique or they’re goofy as fuck. You tell me.

BLOHK Party Coming Soon!

If you haven’t already heard about BLOHK Party, it’s looking huge.  It’s coming just one week after a bigger-than-ever Clockenflap (which I can’t attend this year because it coincides with my wedding). Finally Hong Kong is getting a number of sizable world-class music events.

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On December 7, 2013, Hong Kong will play host to one of the largest upscale one-day events in Asia. Taking the concept of block party (which originated from the streets of New York City) and tailoring it to suit the tastes of Hong Kong – the Inaugural BLOHK PARTY 2013 will take place at the West Kowloon Cultural District.

Curated by Pharrell Williams for I AM OTHER Entertainment, BLOHK PARTY 2013 is an elevated cross-cultural experience bringing together the global community to Hong Kong, enjoying a full day and evening of cultural activities related to music, food, and fashion.

Grammy Award winning musician, Pharrell Williams, will headline the event
which also features Pusha T, & the Ed Banger 10th Year Anniversary World Tour
including live performances and DJ sets by famous French DJ & producer
Breakbot & label boss Busy P (Pedro Winter). Local acts that are
participating include Edison Chen with MC Yan & Chef, LMF, 24 Herbs,
Josie & The Uni Boys and Skibs the Kid. There are more to be announced
soon in the coming weeks.

With a breath-taking view of Hong Kong Island, the West Kowloon Cultural District will be transformed into an urban playground of activities with a large range of offerings from the hippest food establishments in Hong Kong to special fashion areas featuring retail/lifestyle pop-ups by emerging and established brands, providing limited edition and special merchandise only available at the event.

Founded by cultural entrepreneur, Kevin Poon and live events producer, Alex Ng, BLOHK PARTY 2013 promises to be one of the hottest music-led events of the year. In addition to captivating performances by top class international and local musicians and a plethora of cultural activities, BLOHK PARTY 2013 will also feature top-grade VIP areas complete with food and drinks that will cater to the most discerning partygoer.

Pharrell Williams is having his biggest year ever, with his voice being heard on two of this summer’s biggest hits (from Daft Punk and Robin Thicke).  And let’s face it … Grandmaster Flash, need I say anything more?

Standard tickets are HK$788 in advance or HK$888 at the door. Check out their Facebook page – they have frequent contests offering free tickets.

I think this will be an interesting day out and I hope it’s hugely successful so that it will draw other festival style events to our little SAR.

In Brief – Bar Notes

I’m not out at night much any more. It takes me up to two hours to get home from work so most week nights, I don’t hang out. I don’t drink alcohol much any more and when I do, it just seems as if there’d be nothing more depressing than sitting on a bus drunk for an hour. But last night, I needed to go out and I needed a few drinks. My friend was in the mood to try a couple of new spots, and so we did.

We started at Push Bar. This is on the corner of Jaffe & Luard in Wanchai, 5th floor above Joe Bananas. It used to be Skitz, a place with a pool table and darts, and a place where a lot of the Filipino musicians in Wanchai cover bands would head on their breaks. Now there’s signs all over about “Dance Club” but we were there from 6 till 8 and there was no dancing. Actually there was almost no one else in the bar but us. The waitress said it gets busy after 10 or 11. What they do have is a large outdoor space where one can smoke. Music? We had to rely on the tinny speakers from our iPhones because (we were told) they weren’t allowed (a loud?) to put speakers outside. There was a hot tub at the end of the deck – partly filled with dirty water.

From there we went to Hong Kong Cafe Pub & Disco. Know what this is? It was Neptune 2 until they lost their liquor license last year. I suppose it took them more than 6 months to re-open because they were waiting for the new license. They certainly didn’t spend much money fixing up the place. They refinished the bar and the table tops and put a few new pictures on the wall. Otherwise, everything is the same – same floors, same staff, same free Neptune 2 lighters. What was missing? People. At 8:30, we were the only customers there. It could be because people don’t know they’ve reopened yet. Or it could be because they’re no longer allowing smoking down there (at least not yet).

Lastly, I’ll mention a bar I haven’t checked out yet. I almost never go to Lan Kwai Fong anymore. But I spotted an ad in the new HK Magazine for Geronimo Shot Bar. I had to check and yes indeed, this is a branch of the place of the same name in Roppongi. It was one of the first bars I ever wandered into in Tokyo, back in 1994 (hopefully it’s still there, I haven’t been to Tokyo in 4 years, dammit) and that one holds a lot of happy memories for me. If I ever do find myself in LKF at night, I’m going to make a point of checking this place out. If any of you have been there yet, leave a note in comments with your impressions please.

Ian Anderson Hong Kong Concert Updates

Ian Anderson is coming to Hong Kong on Monday, June 24th, in a show billed as Ian Anderson Plays the Best of Jethro Tull.  I’ll be photographing that show and might have back stage access as well, so aside from finally getting to see Anderson live for the first time, I’m excited to have a chance to meet him and photograph him.

Here’s an interview with Anderson in Music Weekly/Asia in which he discusses the upcoming Hong Kong show.

There will be something unique at the Hong Kong show – HKAPA student and flautist Melody Kuen-Kuen Chuang will be performing with Anderson at the show.

If you haven’t purchased tickets yet, the promoters have also given me discount codes that will get you 15% off on A and B tickets or 40% off on C and D tickets. They have asked me to distribute the codes privately – so I can’t post them here or in comments. If any readers would like the discount code, then send an email to hongkietown at gmail dot com and I’ll send you the codes.

Here’s a terrific clip of Anderson in concert from 2008 – you want to stick with it past the 2 minute mark, when he and the band start to heat things up.

Ian Anderson Plays the Very Best of Jethro Tull coming to Hong Kong

Well, for all intensive purposes, Ian Anderson is Jethro Tull.  Originally formed in 1967, Jethro Tull’s music has combined elements of blues, folk, jazz and progressive rock. Their best known albums include Aqualung and Thick as a Brick. (Guitarist Martin Barre was with the group from 1969 onwards, but as of 2011 Tull no longer seems to be a going concern.)

Now lead singer/songwriter/flutist Ian Anderson is including a stop in Hong Kong on June 24th on his current world tour.  It’s his first concert in Hong Kong in 20 years. Top “regular” ticket price is $980, but the promoters have put together some special VIP packages that include the chance to meet and be photographed with Ian Anderson backstage before the concert starts. I’m informed that these packages, which top out at just under $2,500, are almost sold out.

I’ve been a Jethro Tull fan since their first album (which made a huge splash on FM radio in New York when it was released) but I’ve never seen them live so going to this show crosses another item off my bucket list.

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Here’s a quick video that Anderson made inviting Hong Kong fans to the concert. (Link in case you can’t see the embedded video.)

And here’s some concert footage from 1978, Tull performing Thick as a Brick at Madison Square Garden. (Link in case you can’t see the embedded video.)

All of that aside, here’s a little tale of how things work in Hong Kong.  One day about two weeks ago, I’m standing outside the building where I work (on Lockhart Road) having a smoke. This woman comes walking by, looks at me, comes up to me and asks, “Excuse me, do you live in Hong Kong?” I thought she was a tourist and was going to ask me for directions. Instead, she reached into her bag and handed me a flyer for the concert.

Before she could walk away I asked her, “Excuse me, are you associated with the promoters of the show?” She told me she was, so I asked for her card. As soon as I got back to my desk, I sent her an email with links to my portfolio and asking if I could get a media pass to photograph the concert. I didn’t hear anything for a week and I figured, okay, that’s that, but then this week I received an email from her husband. No, it didn’t say “leave my wife alone you xxx,” it said that he liked my portfolio and that he wanted to meet to discuss my request.

So I’ve now been hired to shoot the backstage stuff as well as photograph the concert, and I’m thrilled. The promoters are a new company called Euro Asia Entertainment and this is the first show they’re producing in Hong Kong. They seem to be quite well connected on the international music scene and mentioned to me some of the other acts they plan to bring to Hong Kong in the future. I’m not free to share any names but let’s just say that if things work out, this Ian Anderson show will be the tip of the iceberg.

Either way, I’m looking forward to the concert.

Beertopia Hong Kong 2013

Yesterday I attended Beertopia Hong Kong 2013.  Actually I was hired by the event organizers to shoot the afternoon session. However, I enjoyed it so much that I went home at 5 PM, picked up my gf, and then returned for the evening session just because I was enjoying it so much – and I’m not much of a beer drinker.

(Photos will follow on Spike’s Photos soon.)

So here’s the deal.  The event was organized by Jonathan So. Jon’s from Toronto, lived in NYC and decided to put together a craft beer festival in Hong Kong. He did the first one last year at Western Market in Sheung Wan. It was so successful that he needed a larger venue for this year’s event and so it was held at the West Kowloon Promenade. It was my first time going there and it’s just great that there’s this lovely park and event space right on the waterfront, just a 10 minute walk from the ICC and Elements mall.  Clockenflap was also held here but I was unable to attend that because I was traveling at the time.

I didn’t attend the event last year and didn’t look at the web site for this year’s event so I didn’t really know what to expect. Watching Jon brief the vendors and staff before the gates opened, I was immediately impressed by how well he seemed to have thought through everything. There were plenty of toilets (a must for a beer festival, eh?), plenty of security guards and arrangements for keeping the area clean, even as the number of empty bottles was piling up.  There were two sessions, one running from noon till 5, the other from 6 till 11.

I’d say there were roughly 25-30 booths there. Two rows of booths featured somewhere around 100 different craft beers from microbreweries around the world. Of course the U.S. and Europe were well represented, but there was even a booth from a restaurant and microbrewery from Shanghai and another from Korea. Cider was also well represented, with at least 10 or 15 varieties on hand.

Of course if you’re going to go with “gourmet” beer you can’t have run-of-the-mill food to go with it. Most of the food booths were from companies that do home delivery and catering rather than having restaurants. The most popular booth seemed to be the one from the guys at MeatMarket.HK, serving up a hearty steak sandwich on a seriously crusty baguette. There was a stand called Flying Brats and I asked the guy where I could buy his sausages (I got one of his bratwurst and finished it in seconds) and he told me that with rents being what they are, right now it’s simply something he’s trying out in events such as this. Only two actual restaurants were represented among all the food stalls – Brickhouse and Koh Thai. Another stand that I enjoyed was one that was serving brownies that were made with stout and bacon.

Along with booths featuring beer games and beer lectures (!), there was the main tent, featuring almost non-stop music from 10 bands, most of them booked by my friends from the Underground. The afternoon set opened with the Joven Goce Band, a particular favorite of mine, and closed with an energetic set from Canadian band Van De Kamp. How is it that I’d never heard of these guys? Well, they’re not only Canadian, they’re from Quebec, and mostly sing in French.  The evening show included other local favorites including The Sleeves and Thinking Out Loud.

About 1,500 people attended the afternoon session. They were expecting 3,000 for the evening session but I think they got more. Obviously there was much more of a party atmosphere at night – so I’m glad I was shooting during the afternoon when it was less crowded and more relaxed but also glad I went back to hang out there at night.

Negatives? Very few. I think at night the area around the food booths was too crowded. Trying to move around was like moving through a human car wash, as Robin Williams once called it. There was this point as I was trying to make my way to a particular booth that I could just sense the lens cap coming off my camera – and indeed it did. It was way too crowded and also too dark for me to try to search for it. Argh. Despite this one personal inconvenience, I’d say that the crowd was remarkably well-behaved.

Also, since I was working in the afternoon and driving both sessions, I was looking for something non-alcoholic to drink – and that was not to be found. I had to exit the venue and walk about 20 yards down to a bank of vending machines to buy bottles of water. To be fair, I don’t suspect there were too many others there looking for water or Coke, but I should mention that there were more than a few parents there with children and I don’t know how they coped when the kids got thirsty.

Overall, it was a really great event, well run, well attended and a great venue. I hope there will be a lot more events at the West Kowloon Promenade and I know that when Beertopia returns next year, we’re going to return.

(I’ll be processing my photos from the event today and will post some on Spike’s Photos later in the week.)