I arrived in Hong Kong five years ago, expecting to find something out of a Bruce Lee movie—gritty alleyways, skateboarders, a thriving punk scene. What I found instead was a small, tight-knit underground hardcore, metal, and punk community that’s fighting to stay alive and vibrant.
Hong Kong’s underground bands play small venues; for many, an audience of 250 is a big show. There are very few performance spaces dedicated to punk and hardcore, which has forced musicians and fans to get creative.
Live music venues pop up in improvised places throughout the city. I’ve taken my share of rickety service elevators to reach an upper floor of some old industrial building for shows. Sometimes the band’s playing in the back of a mechanic’s garage or on a delivery dock. Space is often limited. Musicians squeeze onstage, mere inches from their adoring fans. It’s hardcore at its best—improvised, sweaty, and full of raw energy.
What Hong Kong’s hardcore scene lacks in numbers or infrastructure, it makes up for in spirit and grit. And as long as bands can find a space—a shuttered office building, a converted warehouse—the fans in Hong Kong will keep showing up.