Cover Olivia D Mok, Chris B, Kelyn Yuen, Lauren James and Alicia A Beale (Photo: Gary Li/G Production)

On October 26, Tatler and the Upper House hosted the latest edition of House Stories, a monthly panel series at the hotel’s Sky Lounge. This edition of the series deep-dived into the return of live music in Hong Kong—an element of entertainment the city has sorely missed since the start of the pandemic

When? October 26, 2022

Where? The Sky Lounge at The Upper House

Who? Alicia A Beale, Kelyn Yuen, Chris B and Olivia D Mok

Here’s what you missed:

On October 26, Tatler Hong Kong’s deputy editor Lauren James moderated a panel on the future of live entertainment in Hong Kong in the latest edition of House Stories at The Upper House’s Sky Lounge. It was fortuitous timing: a week prior to the event, restrictions related to live entertainment in the city had finally eased— much to the delight of music lovers, performers, bar and club owners and other venues where live music had taken a hit.

The panel featured four experts in the music and live entertainment industry, who spoke about their experiences in living with entertainment restrictions over the last two years: Alicia A Beale, owner and co-founder of The Aftermath bar; Kelyn Yuen, marketing manager of Magnetic Asia, the event experiences team behind Clockenflap Music and Arts Festival and Sonar Hong Kong; Chris B, promoter and founder of The Underground HK and Musicians Foundation; and jazz musician, electronic music producer and DJ Olivia D Mok, aka Xiaolin.

On dealing with pride and ego being shattered and the strain of financial stress caused by government restrictions, each panelist spoke of their need to pivot creatively in order to generate income and remain relevant. Beale recalled selling merchandise and hosting art exhibitions, comedy shows, and corporate parties at The Aftermath, while Yuen partnered with Drift, a promoter from the UK, to livestream the Glastonbury music festival. Chris B, who is widely considered a maternal figure in Hong Kong’s live music industry, used her platform to demystify government announcements, changes in regulations and licensing laws through “gazettes” that she shared on social media. She also hosted Lifeline Mental Health Lifefest, a series of talks that “pulled the community together to understand each other’s stories”, which were coupled with free advice from a mental health practitioner. Similarly, Mok spent much of 2020 working on a vinyl album that narrates each stage of healing and transformation over the pandemic.

Despite the challenges they faced, the panelists did find silver linings in the Covid era—with the most significant being the shift towards spotlighting Hong Kong’s large pool of local talent. Local music festivals, like Meanwhile and Long Time No See, which both took place in 2021, featured Hong Kong-based artists. Mok pointed out that events like the Tone Music Awards in October 2022 “presented an even playing field for artists who didn’t have a big label backing them.”    

From creating new job opportunities and sharing artists across venues, to cross-genre collaborations, Beale credits fellow musicians for its support throughout the pandemic. “It is truly the community that gave me the warmth and push [I needed] to continue.”

The evening ended with roaring applause for Yuen, who reminded the audience of the importance of live music not only for entertainment, but for human connection. “A city without live music is a city without soul,” she said. “But there is light at the end of the tunnel, and we are getting closer and closer to the finish line.”

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