I was on my way to Hong Kong for a quick border-hop, and decided to check to see if anything was going on this particular Friday night. I\'d been severely disappointed the last three times I tried to see some live music there: Filipino cover bands at every bar, some guy with an acoustic guitar doing covers at The Wanch, open-mic-night at Backstage featuring audience members covering Lady Gaga on piano... We certainly are blessed here in Shanghai/Beijing! This time there was actually something worth seeing: Far Gone & Out 2! That\'s right, a sequel. If there\'s a sequel for anything, the first must be amazing. Check Trolls and Trolls 2 and all the Land Before Time movies. All of them.
The line up included Kung Chi Shing, The Yours, FAD and Dada Baba and of course DJ Nerve. The venue? The Fringe.
I saw that the start time was 10:30 PM. Was this a typo? No, this is Hong Kong, not China...oh wait, it is. Anyway, I decided to play it safe and arrive at 9:57 just in case. Upon arriving, and paying the 125 HKD entrance fee (no typo, everyone\'s filthy-rich here) I saw three people in the audience and a band playing their set. Or was it sound-check? Ok, no one comes to bands playing original live music here, I thought. This sucks. But was I in for a surprise. The place looked like a clean, slightly bigger version of the old LoGo at Xingfu Lu, but the sound was loads better.
At approximately 11:15 the first band, FAD started ripping through their well-rehearsed pop/rock set. Emphasis on the pop. They had their songs down and sounded great, even a couple head bangings and food stompings with the dynamics change. Nice. The singer\'s presence reminded me of an Asian Thome York. He sounded like the guy from the Decemberists, which was a welcome change. The crowd was quickly growing and a few (groupies?) were really into the set and hollered and hooted when appropriate. Not exactly my type of songs, but fun.
Next, at about 12AM, the second band came on wearing identical straw hats with what looked to be over 150 people packed into this small venue. They took the stage with confidence in full swing. I learned later that they were called Dada Baba. They describe themselves as lo-fi rock. Pairs? Anyway, they were fantastic. They seemed to include many genres of rock/jazz?/punk/post rock/screaming/fun Into their set, even changing genres in the same song. Time changes, people dancing on stage, changing vocalists - they never left a chance for anyone to be bored! I was loving this! The vocalist reminded me a little of Robin from The Fleet Foxxxxxxes. Powerful, throaty singing. When they finished, I headed outside to praise and bow down before them. They said they\'d plan on coming to Shanghai in the autumn and were working it out with Xiao Zhong from Pairs. Watch out Shanghai, these guys will bring a great, fun show! Check out their Douban: site.douban.com/dadababa. The songs are ok there, but the live set is well worth hearing. Very impressed.
At around 12:50, Kung Chi Shing came on. They featured a longhaired guy with a crazy, thick, high-pitched, wooden pipe. The female singer was super unique. If Bjork, The Cranberries’ singer and a rambling homeless guy had a baby together, she would grow up to be her. They were very avant-garde/ambient/non-conventional and very professional sounding. But by then, it was well past 1AM and I needed to leave early the next morning for my flight back to the mainland. I had to miss the rest of their set and The Yours unfortunately...I caught a 135 HKD taxi ride to Chunking Mansions (would have been 39 Yuan if it were Shanghai even with the new fares raised) and looked for a room to sleep in among the African prossies and druggists. Fun.
Final verdict? Dada Baba should not be missed when they swing by here! And give the poor musicians from HK a break. Their shows are so far and in between that if you ever see one advertised while you\'re doing a visa run, check it out! Just be prepared to pay 300x more than you would for a local show at YYT.