In a city as expensive and crowded as Hong Kong, it can be tricky for bands to find venues to play for their fans. So when a group of four music-loving, resourceful West Island School students decided to organise their own festival, they hosted it at their own school hall.
Amplified Festival, an event to showcase and celebrate the city’s many talented student bands, was a night of familiar faces and fresh talent. And it wasn’t just about getting together for a jam: HK$4,000 in proceeds from the ticketed gig will go to the Hong Kong Children’s Music Foundation.
Six acts took to the stage to play 20-minute sets, each handing over in rapid succession to the next band (credit to the production team!).
The show opened with the newer sounds of Catch 22, a rock group performing their first-ever live show, and Loyal Pandas, a stripped-back trio featuring singer Thomas Ng, Amplified co-organiser Raphael Lam on guitar, and a late addition of Ben Man on the cajon, who eagle-eyed gig goers may have recognised from headliners Asyndeton. They warmed up the crowd, which erupted with wild screams for indie rockers Zero Displacement. The Folk Ups brought the madness down a notch, until The Pansies blasted in with their signature mayhem-filled show (and almost broke some of the school’s stage equipment in the process). Finally, it was down to Asyndeton – featuring Amplified organiser Harmeet Bhatia on the guitar – to bring the night to a close with their slick rock sound.
“Organising Amplified was stressful, but I’d do it again any day,” Harmeet told Young Post after the show. “It was a bit worrying at the beginning, when not many people were showing up. But soon we had a pretty good audience.”
He continued, “The Pansies gave us some technical difficulties. Punk bands tend to break stuff, and the singer Gabriel took the mic stand and threw it like a javelin. I hope it’s not broken! That said, it was my favourite memory from the night. That’s something I’ll remember for a while.”
Don’t just take our word for it: junior reporter Snehaa Senthamilselvan Easwari, 16, was one of the excited faces among the crowd. Here’s what she thought of the night:
I’m a big fan of supporting budding artists and music, so it was exciting to spend my evening cheering on my friends as well as acts I hadn’t heard before. Amplified wasn’t just a concert to showcase up-and-coming bands – it was a charity event to raise money for the Hong Kong Children’s Music Foundation.
This is the first time in nearly five years that a charity concert has been held at WIS. But the most impressive aspect of the show was that it was organised by four Year 12 students: Harmeet Bhatia, Andrea Seplucri, Vidit Bhatwadekar and Raphael Lam.
Each member of the team has grown up with music playing an important role in their lives, and they wanted to use their musical love and knowledge to organise a show to raise money for a cause close to their hearts.
Organising an event is never easy – especially for a bunch of students who have homework and exams on their minds. “Communication was crucial – we had to deal with all sorts of people from the financial department, then the bands and the charity,” Harmeet told us.
It was great to see musicians using their talents to make a difference, and I loved hearing the diverse genres in the line-up. The Folk Ups were one of my favourites: they’re an indie-folk duo who write and perform original material. They were breathtaking to hear for someone who has never really listened to folk music before. Their lyrics were meaningful, and their simple performing style captured the essence of their band.