Concert venues play a critical role in the cultural ecosystem of a city. To my mind they add colour and vibrancy, ultimately making a place more liveable, while the best venues can turn a good show into a transformative experience. I’ve always felt this is especially true of characterful small-to-medium-sized venues, which can turn mere spaces into places where people feel at home to come together, make friends, form bands, fall in love, let loose and enjoy some collective inspiration as one.
Hong Kong is sometimes criticised for having a lack of venue infrastructure, but there are currently more active event sites in operation than ever. Hong Kong concert venues are often cavernous spots like the AsiaWorld-Expo, where superstars turn up to play to thousands, here are just a few of my personal favourite small-to-medium-sized venues which cater to a diversity of acts and crowds.
This Town Needs (TTN)
When Yau Tong-based livehouse Hidden Agenda closed in 2017, indie music fans were left bereft. Luckily, the venue wasn’t gone for good – revamping and rebranding for a February 2018 reopening. As its name suggests, This Town Needs is exactly what local music fans had been yearning for. TTN oozes indie authenticity with an aura that is instantly welcoming. It’s the ideal spot to catch up-and-coming live talent – this month will see debuts from Puerto Rican psychedelic soul band The Marias (14 November) and lo- fi minimalist guitar pop duo SALES (29 November).
1/F, Ocean One, 6 Shung Shun Street, Yau Tong
Right in the heart of Mong Kok, Macpherson Stadium is the premier venue for 1,600-capacity live shows, with standing and seating room. The Hong Kong concert venue crucially allows fans to buy drinks from the bar and take them into the show (a step missed by many other venues). Strong line-ups have led to many memorable nights, from Tame Impala and Morrissey to Bon Iver and Death Cab For Cutie.
38 Nelson Street, Mong Kok; +852 3188 4137
A renovated former cinema in Wan Chai, The Vine operates day to day as a modern English-speaking church but moonlights as a mid-sized venue for Hong Kong concerts. On these occasions the soul of the room shines through, with supremely wonderful sound and sight lines throughout, making it a firm fan favourite whenever it’s used.
29 Burrows Street, Wan Chai; +852 3527 6000
With a couple of live music spaces that marry comfortable surrounds with progressive programming, the Eaton HK hotel is quickly establishing itself in the live music scene. The emphasis on supporting the creative class in Hong Kong makes it a great place to catch an eclectic array of edgy artists performing to a forward-thinking crowd.
380 Nathan Road, Jordan; +2782 1818
Music fan and impresario Benky Chan transforms Central hair salon Visage One into a candlelit jazz speakeasy on Saturday nights. Stripped down to a deliciously pure core of live music appreciation, Hong Kong concert-goers can take advantage of the BYO drink policy and enjoy the city’s ultimate intimate gig experience.
93 Hollywood Road, Central; +852 2523 8988
An institution in Wan Chai for more than 30 years, The Wanch regularly hosts free live music nights. It’s a source of enduring comfort to know there’s always a friendly, unpretentious place in town for like-minded folks to gather and support grassroots talent.
54 Jaffe Road, Wan Chai; +852 2861 1621