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The Pearl River Delta Live

 2017-04-28    ThomasIronmonk    Entertainment    Shenzhen    1561  

The Pearl River Delta, a region almost twice the size of Wales comprising nine Mainland cities, plus the SARs of Macau and Hong Kong, is understandably a vibrant place: Home to around 60 million people, the clinking of commerce and clanking of industry echoes across the delta plains. But another kind of sound can be heard in the Chinese Deep South, more subtle, ambient and occasionally more raucous too. Yes, if there’s one thing that can drown out the cacophony of manufacturing it’s a fender Stratocaster buzzing through a Marshall amplifier with dials turned to ten! Thankfully, due to a large western community and an emerging class of well-educated local music fans, live houses, expat bars, and even festival venues are popping-up all over the place. Shenzhen and of course, Hong Kong are leading the way. All you need to do is get your calendar out and start planning your 2017 gig schedule.

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Photo: A'Mao, from Wu Tiao Ren

Live Venues in Shenzhen

Plenty of western-style bars promotes live music in Shenzhen, particularly around the Central Business District in Futian. TAPs, a foreign owned craft brew house, has a weekly schedule of live shows, as does The Brew. A longstanding expat favorite in the neighborhood La Casa also hosts weekly open-mic events.


The city’s principle live house, however, is B10, located in the OCT Loft, Nanshan District. Run by local oil painter Teng Fei, the venue regularly promotes touring bands from Beijing, Taiwan, and Hong Kong and occasionally, the US and Europe as well. It’s also the setting for the incredible Tomorrow Music Festival, an avant-garde gathering held May, in addition to the OCT Jazz Festival which occurs each September. Additionally, the OCT Loft is also home to Penny Black Jazz Café, Idutang and number of other bars hosting performing artists of various creeds and styles.

Down in the old expat haunt of Shekou, from where the ferry departs for Hong Kong, there are plenty of expats lives mostly showcasing Filipino and western cover bands, notably the Terrace and McCawley’s. However, longstanding live bar Brown Sugar Jar recently relocated to the peninsula. The venue specializes in touring punk, indie, and metal bands.

Live Venues in Hong Kong

A stalwart of the expat rock scene The Wanch, located in Wan Chai, has been promoting local and touring bands since 1987. It’s a real rock n roll lounge, prompting regular jam sessions and good drink sessions to boot.

Meanwhile, over in Central, Orange Peel is the perfect place listen to live performances over snacks and drinks. This chilled locale is a real cultural hub that hosts talks and creative events in addition to gigs.


Photo: Brian Au

Another foreign haunt, this time located on the Kowloon side of the harbor, Ned Kelly’s Last Stand has been operating in the SAR for decades and offers a nightly dose of old-time Dixie jazz. You’ll find it on Ashley Road, not far from the Tsim Sha Tsui metro station.

Over in 7 Seas Shopping Centre in North Point, Mom Livehouse is where the cool kids hang out. A stunning, and surprisingly large space, the mission statement is to “provide a dignified platform for local musicians and artists to share their craft” – no easy endeavor in mercantile Hong Kong. Quality live acts for the Mainland occasionally pop South to showcase their material at Moms too.

For big acts, the AsiaWorld-Expo is where to set your sights. It’s a huge arena on Lantau Island that hosts internationally acclaimed artist like Brian Adams and Queen, as well as fashion shows and industry exhibitions. With a maximum capacity of 14,000 seats, this is the biggest venue in the region, though it’s out-of-town location makes it a tad hard to get to – it’s located by the airport and connects to town via the airport shuttle train. Its size can also make it feel a little soulless when compared with more intimate venues.

Festival-wise, Clockenflap is Hong Kong’s answer to Glastonbury or Burning Man. Held each year in mid-November at the Central Harbourfront this veritable indie rock assembly can be a lot of fun. Previous years have seen the likes of the Chemical Brothers and New Order perform. 

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