Big Smog Blog

Hong Kong Pub Crawl's 1st Anniversary


June 30th saw the 14th anniversary of Hong Kong’s momentous handover from British to Chinese sovereignty; more importantly June 30th also saw the 1st anniversary of the city’s equally momentous weekly booze-fest, Hong Kong Pub Crawl. With a healthy dose of free shots, dangerously cheap drinks deal, the odd birthday cake going round and a casual magician thrown into the mix as well (what exactly they thought Paul Daniels could bring to a night out is anyone’s guess) it would have been downright foolish not to jump on the bandwagon.

The night opened with the surreal announcement from the Insenses (13, Lyndhurst Terrace) barman at just 9.45pm that they had completely run out of beer. But then again given that Insenses closely resembles a small cave with the 175 birthday revelers crammed inside surely exceeding the legal capacity several times over, and beers being priced at a cool $40 for 2 it was hardly surprising.

Moving on to Senses 99 (99F, Wellington St) and Makumba (48, Peel St) a combination of organizer Warren’s infectious enthusiasm, more ludicrously cheap drinks deals and some pumping African beatz ensured spirits remained high before the collective tramp down to fresh Sheung Wan hotspot XXX (212,Wing Lok St) to finish things off. Some would have questioned the club’s complete lack of any form of décor, some why the hell the toilet is outside and halfway down the road and others slightly confused by the bar managers decision to not stock any form of martini… But a refreshingly eclectic music selection, a lack of interior decorators on the crawl and the fact the Hong Kong Pub Crawl
crew had looked after us so well that no one really needed any martini, shone through. Hopefully one of many anniversaries to come…


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Open Mic Night


Time Out Hong Kong and The Peninsula recently held our very first Open Mic Night at Salon de Ning. Nine talented constestants dazzled a packed and passionate audience with their singing (backed by a live band) and took home some fabulous prizes, including dinners, spa treatments and hampers. Look out for the next Open Mic Night on July 27!

Free house pours all night for participating performers and complimentary shots for their friends!

For more photos check out our facebook page:


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Preferred Hotel Group’s Japan Hotels Gets 10 out of 10 for Effort


It is not often that we will promote a sale, but in this case we couldn't pass it up.

Announcing the “10,000 Yen in Japan for Kizuna 10-Day Sale”
The recent tragedy in Japan has shown that the Japanese people are unified in spirit with a great sense of national pride. This is also evident at Preferred Hotel Group’s ten hotels in Japan who has collaborated to bring visitors back into Japan by offering an amazing sale, hence the use of ‘Kizuna’ meaning “bonding” in Japanese. The 10,000 Yen in Japan for Kizuna 10-Day Sale offer is only open for booking for 10 days between July 6 – July 15, 2011 for stays until December 31, 2011. Each of the 10 hotels are offering a super rate of JPY10,000++ per room night with more benefits at Sterling Hotels.

Participating hotels include:

Preferred Hotels & Resorts
· Hotel New Otani “The Main”, Tokyo
· The Capitol Hotel Tokyu, Tokyo
Summit Hotels & Resorts
· Grand Pacific LE DAIBA, Tokyo
· Keio Plaza Hotel Tokyo, Tokyo
· Hotel New Grand, Yokohama
· Royal Park Hotel, Tokyo
· Yokohama Royal Park Hotel, Yokohama
Sterling Hotels
· Keio Plaza Hotel Sapporo, Sapporo
· Oriental Hotel Hiroshima, Hiroshima
· Royal Park Shiodome Tower, Tokyo

For more information on the hotels and to book, visit starting July 1.


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Joyce Yang performs with the HKPO

Satoshi Kyo

Cultural Centre, Concert Hall, Saturday June 18

For the first installment of HKPO’s Tchaikovsky Festival, the orchestra offered the crowd pleasing Piano Concerto No. 1 and the potent Symphony No. 4. Joyce Yang, the soloist for the concerto, came to international attention when she took the silver medal in the 2005 Van Cliburn International Competition and became the youngest prizewinner in the competition’s history. In 2010, she received the prestigious Avery Fisher Career Grant.

Yang’s technical ability was impressive. In the outer movements, the chords and octaves were handled with weight and depth of tone; and in the slow movement, the finger-work was dazzling. At a technical level, Yang's playing will not ruffle any Tchaikovsky purist's feathers.
However, it takes more than these qualities to make this heavily-played concerto fly. What was lacking was a distinctive interpretation of the piece, spontaneous inflections and calculated surprises that subtly colour without breaking the musical thread. The HKPO on the other hand, led by maestro Edo de Waart, played in equal partnership with Yang and unabashedly pushed the orchestra to the full-blooded boundary of the romantic manner to good effect.

After the intermission, de Waart once again displayed his command for musical narrative in Symphony No. 4. Throughout the first movement, the tension held beautifully, an important feat with one of Tchaikovsky’s longest symphonic movements; the slow movement opened simply and almost proceeded on autopilot; the Scherzo made the most of the balalaika pizzicati with subtle graduation and perceptive use of colors; and the finale was unavoidably exciting. Tchaikovsky’s splendid string writing and resonant brass scoring is such that, when played well, the effect truly excites and the end culminates with visceral power as it did here. It was a fine performance.

Photo: Oh Seuk Hoon

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Elbow Live in HK!

Mark Tjhung



Our favourite musical body part is coming to Hong Kong. Elbow, the Mercury Prize-winning, ever-present sound of credible post-Brit pop, bring their wistful melodies, hymn-like rock anthems and the smoky, soaring vocals of Guy Garvey to KITEC on Friday July 22, thanks to the folks at Untitled Entertainment.

Their latest album, Build a Rocket Boys, was released earlier this year, going high on world-wide charts. Along with the super 2008’s The Seldom Seen Kid, the album just confirms that, even 20 years after they started up on the streets of Manchester, Elbow is only just getting started. [Insert your own tennis elbow gag here].

Tickets are $480 and will be available on HK Ticketing (3128 8288; from June 16. 

Time Out will have an interview with the band in coming issues. In the meantime, enjoy some of these. Boom!


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The Venetian Carnival


The Venetian Macao, May 25-27

From May 25-27, the Venetian Macao held its inaugural Venetian Carnival, bringing the taste of Brazil's massive party to our neck of the woods. And, naturally, they went all out in a way only Macau can. Masks galore, human bubbles on the lagoon, flowing caipirinhas, capoeira performers and lots of T+A (of course) were all on abundant display. We checked it out, here's how it went down.


Fireworks, dancers, jugglers, carnival artists and plenty of fire-twirling bandits all graced the opening on Friday. The party encompassed the whole resort, with stalls setup around the exterior of the Venetian, but the main event was at the poolside Samba Party, a high-energy bash that celebrated the spirit of Brazilian Carnival The Beija Flor samba group from Rio de Janeiro turned up and generated a fair amount of samba heat with their booty-shaking ways. Here's a tip, if partying by the poolside, book one of the bungalows.


The Carnival atmosphere continued for the whole weekend. But when at the Venetian, it's almost mandatory to check out the latest crazy thing on offer.

And what could be more bizarre (in a sub-tropical, humid environment) than their latest attraction IceWorld, a wonderland of sculptured, coloured ice that features a glassy Ruins of St. Paul’s and the Guia Lighthouse. There's London’s Big Ben clock tower, Rome’s Coliseum, New York’s Statue of Liberty, India’s Taj Mahal and Paris’ Eiffel Tower. Some 118sq.m. is devoted to scenes from the classic Chinese tale Journey to the West, and 196sq.m. to Beijing’s imposing Temple of Heaven. It's cold, damn cold. We advise against wearing sandals. Luckily, jackets are provided. 

Cirque du Soleil's Zaia was also on the agenda. Being open for more than three years now, you get it - a visual spectacle of swirling lights, flames and acrobatic talent  with the usual patterned Cirque du Soleil story thrown in, all in the custom-built Zaia theatre. It is pretty cool.



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The Drums Live in Hong Kong

Mark Tjhung


KITEC, Thursday May 26

We get that The Drums are cool. Like super, hipster cool. Just how cool, however, became clear when the hot, hyped New Yorkers brought their dance-saturated indie pop ditties to KITEC. They’re so cool, they can pull off denim jackets; so cool, they make their agitated, restless, non-rhythmic dancing infectious; so cool, they can pull off a memorable gig with less-than-amazing sound.

Their catchiness of their groove-inducing tunes played a small part. Hits Let’s Go Surfing and Best Friend received the most frenetic fan reception, but it was the dark ballad, Down by the Water, that was perhaps the highlight, where the vocals of frontman Jonny Pierce pierced through the hum, backed by a more than willing crowd.

Stage ejections, crowd surfing, and a general dancing air abounded. It was that kind of gig. We put it largely down to the fact that The Drums are cool. Like super, hipster cool.

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Hong Kong Football Club Citibank International Soccer Sevens

Chinmoy Lad

Hong Kong Football Club, May 13-15

They huffed and they puffed. But they did blow the rooftop down. It bodes well for Hong Kong’s football future too. Local teams dominated the Soccer Sevens last weekend, sweeping all trophies available in the main tournament (and one of two in the Masters’). Newly crowned First division champions Kitchee won the Cup, Citizen won the Shield and HKFC Captain’s Select won the Plate, on the way defeating several of their more illustrious internationally renowned opponents.

On Friday, the Masters turned up to show they’ve still got the skills, if not necessarily the speed. AC Milan Soccer Schools, widely tipped to wow the crowd, were a disappointment, losing two games and drawing one. Franco Baresi did not play, but Mustapha Hadji sported a brilliant bun and perm mullet to match his flair in style of play.

It was the Citibank All Stars, comprising of former Premier League players like Rob Lee, John Beresford and Des Walker who proved that the first two steps are really in the mind. They played quick, free-flowing, counter-attacking football throughout, keeping the ball on the deck. Their 6-1 thumping of Team Bondi in the semi final was a joy to watch.

However the top prize in the Masters’ was taken by Hong Kong’s own former professionals, Top Class FC, who beat the Citibank All Stars in the Masters’ Cup final. KFC Tokyo won the Masters’ Plate on penalties, before the local teams took charge of the main tournament.

Last year’s champions Aston Villa eased through the group stages thumping their relatively inferior opposition on the way. Top scorers in the tournament this year, they continued to ease their way into the Shield Final before falling to Citizen (whom they had beaten comfortably earlier in the group stages).

Co-favourites Rangers had a tournament to forget, losing to local teams Kitchee and Citizen. Arch-rivals Celtic prodded through the tournament without much notice before losing in the final. Ajax disappointed in results, if not in style. First timers Boca Juniors looked like rabbits caught in headlights as they struggled to adapt to the climate, pace, intensity and style of play at the tournament.

Liverpool drew the biggest cheers and support from the crowd, as local Liverpool fans turned up in hordes and took over sections of the Hong Kong Football Club in support of the team. The team didn’t disappoint, playing patient but incisive football that cut through their group stage opponents. Nathan Ecclestone and David Amoo may have top scored for the Reds, but it was teenager Jesus Fernandez Saez, better known as Suso, who caught the limelight with his passing, vision and control.

Liverpool players had no rest before, during or after the game. The players were constantly mobbed by the fans asking for autographs and photographs, and again they gladly obliged. Liverpool eased through the quarter final before falling bitterly in the semi final to Kitchee, in the most exciting match of the tournament which ended with both stand-in keepers pulling off a string of reflex saves in a tense 4 v 4 golden goal knockout. Kitchee finished off the game with the last kick, silencing the Liverpool fans.

Kitchee struggled initially to make an impact, but fought hard in the knockout rounds to reach the final, defeating Rangers and Liverpool on the way. It was Kitchee’s staunch defending throughout the tournament (limiting their opponents to only three goals) that helped them get far in the competition, which was justly awarded in the ceremony as Kitchee’s defender Ubay Luzardo was named Player of the Tournament.

There were a few scuffles along the way as it got a bit heated during some games, especially come the knockout stages, when rash challenges went flying in. Arms were thrown, yellows were issued but the dust settled once more as the teams got on with playing football.

Despite the stars on show, however, perhaps the highlights of the weekend were the attention received and awareness raised by the Soccer Sevens come lunch time on both days. At noon on Saturday and Sunday, the Juniors tournament took place, with players from several age ranges from local football academies showcasing Hong Kong’s youth and future.

It was swiftly followed by an exhibition match between Hong Kong Football Club Crusaders – a programme for players with special needs – and the Hong Kong Down Syndrome Association’s Dragons. Both events were very well received by the fervent crowd, who applauded the participants as they left the pitch for the stars to take over once more.

Results and standings here:


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Avril Lavigne’s Black Star Tour, Live in Hong Kong

Chinmoy Lad


Asia World Expo Arena, May 7

Avril Lavigne had the fervent mob hooked with her catchy tunes, interplay with the passionate audience in between songs and constant references to her love for Hong Kong. The riffs are simple but catchy, the lyrics plain but relatable. The self-appointed ‘queen of pop-punk’ played to a sellout crowd of prepubescent teens, teens and adults seemingly still stuck in their teens. And blew them away.

The highlights of the night were her heartfelt renditions of “When You’re Gone” and “My Happy Ending”. Older favourites like “Complicated” and “Sk8er Boi” were particularly well received by the crowd, who to a man, literally, sang along as Avril took a mini-break and let the enthusiastic spectators do the choruses.

The lyrics of the songs from the newer album Goodbye Lullaby, which Avril is touring to promote, weren’t quite as familiar to everyone, who instead decided that wildly waving glow-sticks and glow-stars in no particular rhythm would make an appropriate substitute for singing along.

Hong Kong responded favourably to Avril and she reciprocated with a passionate performance. She came back for an encore, predictably playing another crowd favourite in “Girlfriend” before signing off on another successful Hong Kong tour.


1. Black Star
2. What The Hell
3. Sk8er Boi
4. He Wasn’t
5. I Always Get What I Want
6. Alice
7. When You’re Gone
8. Stop Standing There
9. I Love You
10. Wish You Were Here
11. Unwanted
12. Airplanes
13. My Happy Ending
14. Don’t Tell Me
15. Smile
16. I’m With You
17. Complicated


18. Girlfriend

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Australian Fashion Week Day 3 - Guest Blogger Luke Norris


After three days of watching fashion shows, I find the novelty wears off and I can really start to break down the components of a show. Did they use additional props? What was the lighting like? Did the models wear the garments well? Why did they choose particular song & did they complement the show? And of course. Did the clothing look good & were they pushing the boundaries or playing it safe with their pieces?

In three days of immersing myself in fashion and should I emphasise- ALL women's, I have learnt much more about how this industry works. It can be make or break if each element of a show isn't at a high level. The clothing might be right, yet the music doesn't keep the energy level of the crowd high. It's all pieces of a puzzle that can finish with a memorable landscape or a patchy image that doesn't quite make sense.




Later in the afternoon, I did two off-site showings by Rebecca Manning Swimwear & Tovah. Both Brisbane based designers presented their range at The Westin Hotel Suites. It was like a scene out of an Entourage episode walking past random models along the hotel hallways, a significant contrast from the backstreet warehouse spaces and multi space buildings we viewed yesterday's designers in. It's interesting how 'environment' plays a huge part leading up to or during a show.

The highlights for today were the variety of colour palette's, butterfly and galaxy prints, Star Wars style music, cobalt blue shoes, digital displays. Notable shows who managed to achieve that element of cohesiveness were Shakuhachi & Gary Bigeni who successfully painted a picture for me.

More photo's available on Luke's blog at

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