Whose Strings Are You Wearing
Hi, I am Steve Bernstein, the co-founder of Wear Your Music with Hannah Garrison. I currently live in Hong Kong and have also lived in Tokyo. I grew up in Brooklyn. I plan to write about the music scene in Asia and give you a perspective on the differences between the Cities. Let's start with Hong Kong.
Hong Kong’s rock music scene can be compared to audio in a Charlie Chaplin film; there ain’t much of it. Many top artists skip Hong Kong and prefer Tokyo or Australia as an Asian destination. There are a few reasons for this.
Rents: There are 7 million people in a very small space, making it one of the world’s most crowed cities. Rents are high and getting higher. There are less than 16 music venues in Hong Kong because of this. Musicians need a place to play.
Culture: The main culture of Hong Kong is business and money. The arts are secondary. There is the occasional Film Festival or Art Walk but these seem forced and are not very interesting.
The Fans: Canto-pop is big, everything else except the Lady Gaga’s, have trouble filling seats. This is a transient society. There are many expats from Australia, UK, USA and they all have different musical tastes. That makes it hard for a touring band from the West to have any critical mass here. When Jeff Beck played in Hong Kong he sold about 2,000 tickets for a 16,000 person venue. In Japan, he filled a 30,000 venue 4 nights in a row. (More on Japan in the next blog.
The music scene is getting better here slowly. There are some small mainstay music bars such as The Wanch in Wanchai but many have closed do to soaring rents.
So for now, if you are traveling to Asia on a musical journey, then stop by Hong Kong for the food and shopping but end your trip at Fuji Rock in Japan.