Hong Kong’s first Gig Week is going all out just for the fuck of it

gig week
The ambition is to bring together international and local listeners, and to gather fans of different genres.

When The Gig Week organisers asked world music ensemble The Interzone Collective to play, they said they would, just for the fuck of it.

That is the kind of energy running through this music initiative, which will start June 18. Hosted for the first time, it feels like a casual get-together but with the appetite of a much larger festival: punk, metal, dance rock, hip-hop, acoustic, and electro. Each genre will have its own night of the week, and its own livehouse-slash-space.

Elaine Ip, who handles organisation, realises they are jumping in at the deep end: “We should have started with The Gig Weekend first, but meh.”

Tying it all together is the promise of “100% Hong Kong bands,” and “local music that’s indie, fresh, and powerful.” The line-up makes for interesting reading: favourites like Shepherds the Weak will rub shoulders with newcomers like Aether.

But who defines local music? That task falls to Paul Sedille, the other event organiser. A French national, he first came to Hong Kong in 2011 as an exchange student, and has recently settled back in the city.

Being an outsider inevitably affects Sedille’s role as curator: “I wouldn’t go to my concert if I’m the only one [picking the bands],” he says.

But Sedille is far from a tourist, and far from alone. Based in Tsuen Wan, he now shoots videos for New Ears Music, and he credits his band-room networks from his student days to help him stay in tune. Bassist Shum from Shumking Mansion was among the local musicians who helped out.

As for Ip, she brushes off the criticism over street cred. “There are people in the indie scene who are more experienced. But we haven’t seen a big [attempt] at bringing together different styles, and we thought we should do it,” she says.

The organisers have a positive outlook for Hong Kong’s indie scene, but wanted something more unified. The ambition behind The Gig Week—and Sedille and Ip like to describe their venture as ambitious—is to bring together international and local listeners, and to gather fans of different genres.

An example would be their hip-hop line-up, which features Dough-Boy, The Low Mays, Kada C., and 7on7. The first three will be familiar to hip-hop crowds of Hidden Agenda 3.0 and 4.0: they are gleefully colloquial, often taking their slang from the likes of HKGolden forum.

In contrast, the multi-cultural, English-rapping 7on7 may seem out of place. But Sedille says it is a deliberate choice to offer contrast, instead of just “remarketing” the bands without any new interaction.

“We want to [remove] the barriers between demographics, languages, and music genres,” he says. “This will help nudge audiences into trying new things.”

A week from its opening night, The Gig Week still lacks one thing: a Chinese name. Ip and Sedille found no good translation for “gig,” and one alternative they considered was to pun on seven, since there will be seven genres in seven venues across seven days. 

“We thought we would make that joke first and own it,” Ip says.

“Or we could call it Wig Geek,” says Sedille. “But that would be misleading.”

Still / Loud’s Kylie Lee contributed reporting. The Gig Week starts on June 18th.