Big Smog Blog
Tokyo's renowned, thri-Michelin-starred restaurant RyuGin opens its first ever overseas branch at the ICC. Menus are season-driven and use only the freshest ingredients imported from Japan. The Hong Kong branch will also offer a 10-course kaiseki menu specially designed by the restaurant's original founder Seiji Yamamoto. 101/F, ICC, 1 Austin Rd, West Kowloon, 2302 0222.
Time Out readers, cover stars and industry tastemakers gathered at the The Pawn on Wednesday March 21st to celebrate a milestone of 100 issues. The Pawn was where it all started nearly four years ago in 2008, so it was only fitting that we came back to the heritage venue again.
We enjoyed some great tunes from DJs Casey Anderson and Re:Flex while sipping on tasty cocktails courtesy of Shanghai White. The Bund Cocktail was a crowd favourite! We were also chuffed to have our Issue 88 cover star Wyman Wong join us for the celebration, decked out in eye-catching orange.
A big thanks to our prize sponsors for offering up some cool giveaways to lucky winners:
Landmark Mandarin Oriental
And an even bigger thanks to all of you who came out to join us. Thanks for your support for the past hundred issues, and we hope to see you again for the next hundred to come!
Keep your eyes on this space for more event photos to come.
HKCEC Sunday March 18
Four dashing men with superbly gifted voices, hailing from France, Switzerland, Spain and America. One beautiful hall in Wan Chai's HKCEC building. Countless fans of operatic music with a poppy, modern twist. All these heady ingredients made for a stunning concert when Il Divo came to town.
The full-voiced Simon Cowell-masterminded quartet, backed by a full orchestra, were in glowing form in Hong Kong as they raised the roof with perfect renditions of popular and lesser-known operatic tunes from across the world. Highlights included the lads' versions of Barber's Adagio, Don't Cry For Me Argentina, My Way, Hallelujah and Unchained Melody. And, as it was Mother's Day for some people - like the Brits - Mama was timely and There's A Place For Us summed up the vocalists' popera style well too. And, in the encore, after much shouting and clapping from an ecstatic audience, Time To Say Goodbye spoke for itself.
It's great to get acts like Il Divo over to Hong Kong as they suit the city so well. HK is a heady mix of class and refinement juxtaposed with the modern. So acts which effectively merge classic styles like opera with pop tend to go down an absolute treat. And we hope the guys make the trip over here again soon so they can serve up another operatic extravaganza which we won't forget in a hurry.
K-pop outfit 2pm are commonly dubbed as the ‘beastly idols’, which might sound like a rather strange description for those who are not familiar with them. The moniker conjures up images of grotesquely large Korean guys covered in enough body hair to cover a football pitch. But, thankfully, despite the nickname, the truth is quite the opposite. They are actually labelled ‘beasts’ because popular perception sees their bodies as chiselled, defined and envied by most other men. In actuality, from what we could see at 2pm’s Hands Up Asia Tour gig at AsiaWorld Arena on March 10, two of the band members were rather tall and built while the other four, though six-pack friendly, weren’t exactly stacked. Nonetheless the fans cheered when the beastliest of the crew – Taecyeon and Chansung – took off their tank tops, Chansung’s landing in the crowd. Seconds later, it was ravaged by hungry wolves…
The six-member group made Hong Kong the last leg of their tour, with the arena being packed with girls, boys and even a healthy amount of older folk who blushed at the sight of their good-looking idols. A big screen kept track of the on-stage antics throughout the show, with the camera conveniently zooming up to the lads’ bare regions – and there were constant ‘ooo’s’ and ‘ahhh’s’ from the crowd. Not to be confused with a male strip show, this was instead a concert where 2pm sang a repertoire of their catchy hits. I’ll be back, Without You, Heartbeat, and Again and Again were just a few of the dance driven beats that were dropped along with a few ballads like Taecyeon and Nichkhun’s performance of My Valentine – which really allowed the beasts to show their sweet puppy sides. However, the ultimate crowd pleaser was their debut single 10 Points Out of 10 Point – a midtempo 90’s sounding dance hybrid. The crowed repeated ‘Ship Jeom Manjeome Ship Jeom’ (Korean pronunciation) every time the boys threw a 10-fingered hand signal into the air. Again, it’s not a male beauty contest but the guys were all scoring perfect 10s with their fans.
You don’t want to mess with K-pop fans. At least not with the ones that turned up to Super Junior’s Supershow 4 at Macau’s Cotai Arena (March 9-10 – we watched on March 10). The mostly-teenage audience chanted with the fervor of a killer army as they waited for their favourite Korean group to hit the stage. And though only nine out of the original baker’s dozen members made it to the concert (two of them are serving their mandatory military service while another two members are pursuing solo activities), the boys still sang and shimmied with the same energy as 20 Justin Biebers.
The show kicked off pretty much right on time at 8pm with the members rising on to the stage to the hypnotic drumbeat of Superman off their latest album. A couple of dance-fuelled tracks later, including Bonamana, Amber and Sulli from Super Junior’s label-mate girl group f(x) joined the boys onstage for Oops – a fast-paced, cutesy yet satirical song that saw absent member Heechul flash across the screen to deliver a rappish solo, much to the fangirls’ delight.
There were plenty of tweeny-bopper moments of course, like when clean-cut, Chinese-Canadian member Henry (from Super Junior’s Mandarin-spouting sub-group) took to the stage to perform covers of Billionaire and Lazy Song before ending with Lighters (with a thoroughly awesome violin accompaniment). Dance covers of Maroon 5’s Moves Like Jagger and Ne-Yo’s One in a Million followed but the highlight from the English performances was undoubtedly Kyuhyun’s angel-blessed vocals belting out a head-bopping rendition of Isn’t She Lovely.
But it wasn’t all just about synchronised dancing and looking cool in tailored suits (which the guys pulled off effortlessly). Super Junior threw in a good amount of gag-worthy segments, including Shindong’s disturbingly hilarious spoof of Hyuna’s (ie K-pop’s Miley Cyrus) Bubble Pop and Trouble Maker, done complete with blonde wig, short skirts and club-appropriate grinding. Fans also screamed along to Oppa Oppa – the tongue-in-cheek, disco-inspired single by the group’s top dancers Donghae and Eunhyuk (both clad in highlighter neon suits).
Near the end of the concert, the boys put together a Sound of Music parody video leading into the Do-re-mi song. But not about to end the evening dressed as Maria and the Von Trapps, Super Junior returned for their encore stage with perhaps their most famous song Sorry Sorry. The boys ended their epic evening with their Mandarin song Destiny, closing their four and a half hour concert and establishing themselves as the first Korean act to hold two straight solo concerts at the Cotai Arena.
AsiaWorld Expo Wednesday March 14
If Queen magically reformed and played AsiaWorld Expo you'd expect them to finish with Bohemian Rhapsody. That's a given. Or if Michael Jackson crossed back over from the other side for an epic Hong Kong gig you could bet your bottom dollar Thriller would be in the set.
Even Vanilla Ice wouldn't be cold enough to leave out Ice Ice Baby from his show. But Duran Duran failed to play Save A Prayer at their Expo gig on March 14, leaving many fans gutted and some confused. Why, when you're years on from your best, do you choose to omit your (arguably) greatest hit? Maybe it's because you're just too cool...
True, the concert was superb for fans of the 80s wild boys. They played (almost) all the greats, with some superb renditions of tracks from 2010 album, All You Need Is Now. The set was neon and electric, the energy was high, vocalist Simon Le Bon's voice was in fine form and the packed-out crowd was up and dancing from the intro. But it was strange to see Save A Prayer omitted. Wild Boys, Ordinary World, Girls On Film, Rio, The Reflex, A View To A Kill and Hungry Like The Wolf were all there - and played as if we were back in the 80s - but there was no prayer saved for arguably the biggest and best of the lot over the year. Still, we'd love the lads to come back again. Just bring your full set next time, guys...
Teaming up with Shop des Createur's Designer Fashion Night at The Space, Tangram's Spring/Summer collection was displayed with the work of four other designers including S. Nine, NIIN, Magnan & Tse, and Tara Moor. Tangram's designer, Paola Sinisterra is officially releasing her first collection which was designed in Hong Kong and previously featured in Time Out. The night saw near 400 guests, including sartorially savvy hipsters and socialites, as well as buyers and friends of the designers. At The Space there was certainly a buzz about the room - an excitement for local talent and an event well-curated event.
Photos by Michal Garcia
Backstage Live, Friday March 9
Craft Spells played a late but packed show at Backstage Live to an audience very familiar and enthusiastic about their music. The night began with a unique support set from Ninemo, led by their vocalist Tedman Lee and his cleverly paired Elvis microphone and Kaoss Pad. His bassist, with an iconic name of Andy Lau, also pulled double-duty as a violinist. Their percussion heavy, moderately pre-programmed songs were well-received, but the singer's banter between songs was booed twice. They later received roaring applause to their newest composition and highlight of the evening We Are Dogs, their protest song against the Beijing professor who insulted Hong Kong people in his recent interview with CCTV.
The second set saw an extra fifty audience members enter an already full house. Craft Spells finally hit the stage to an ecstatic crowd and when Justin Vallesteros appeared, girls were screaming. Watching them live is comparable to listening to the record, the only big surprise was their impromptu between songs when an amplifier went silent. They are very capable musicians, less produced live, and on Scandinavian Crush, they even serve up an irresistible secret sauce - a nostalgic guitar ostinato, Vallesteros vocals and an unexpected, juxtaposed Afrobeat rhythm. Sneaky as it sounds, it's catchy and fun, appealing strongly to the instagram aesthetic of the crowd, particularly the girl in the front row documenting the best moments with her lomo camera. After playing a couple of similar but newer songs from their upcoming EP, they strategically played After the Moment to a happy crowd who sang along with the lyrics. They ended their set well with a single encore and hearty applause.
Andy Warhol, Keith Haring and Mel Ramos drew in an eclectic crowd at Art Mixer on Tuesday evening, keeping out the bitter wintry chill with a cornucopia of lively discussions and provocative art fixtures. One particular miniature beige sofa invoked some interest – awe at first, then disgusted awe − despite it being a minor accessory to the main exhibition. This, we feel, was the point of the Art Mixer though – to invoke, to inspire conversation and to get creative heads talking by any means possible, whether through discussion of the plump, oil-shined naked figures of Mel Ramos’ paintings, the minimalist print screens of Warhol or even the Lucky branded beer that was being handed out (the base of the bottle shaped like a chubby, smiling Buddha).
Social mixers of this kind, leaning towards a focus on contemporary art, have yet to find itself a place in Hong Kong but this inaugural launch proved a success and has set in motion a series of creative meet-ups to come in the future. The evening kicked off with Mark Saunderson introducing the art, which flanked the walls of the various rooms within Fabrik Gallery. Among those present were jewellery designer Hanna Christina, various members of the creative and art industry and many invitees (attendance was by invitation only) who had long wished for a social gathering of this sort to bring art and friends together. Oscar Venhuis of Oscarichard (a cutting-edge brand consultancy team) was a partner in creating the art mixer and was also pleased to announce that ‘the high turn-out reconfirms there is a real need for a sophisticated alternative where networking and art appreciation is fun and relaxing’.
Ochre-dressed event host Annie Chau recalled the night as the perfect opportunity to ‘socialise with new friends and learn more about American contemporary art’.“With all the positive feedback,” she said, “we are very confident that our second event in April will be yet another success.”
For details of the next event and updates, visit www.oscarichard.com/blog/art-mixer-hong-kong
Perhaps with age comes punctuality. Gavin Rossdale kicked off Bush's show a few minutes early almost as a preemptive strike on an audience primarily composed of Evanescence fans. Applause and appreciation flowed from the crowd throughout their set, but when Amy Lee exploded onstage from the darkness for the more anticipated Evanescence' bit, her fan's voices were deafening - calling out her name and singing along with the lyrics. Bush still has a lot going for them though, beyond Amy Lee's token shout out to (the more legendary) Bush as support act.
For example, Bush's instrumental sounds are well defined and varied from Rossdale's vocals. Lee belts out a great tune, but without her, Evanescence is just another radio edit rock band with overly compressed sounding instruments. As for looks, kudos to Terry Balsamo, Evanescence' guitarist, for sporting the white-guy-with-dreds look. It was almost as cool as the more understated middle-earthen beard and hair of Bush's own guitar man Chris Traynor. I played a little game as fans arrived - spot who was supporting which band.
I noted the youth and dark clothing of Evanescence fans and more indie looking older Bush fans, but the profiling became difficult in the absence of Bush paraphernalia at the merch table. They seriously crossed the Pacific without a few rags or recordings to share. Certainly an odd pairing (could be contractual obligation) but overall a great show and turnout for a Tuesday.