Second Wanchai Festival

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Last updated on 30 Mar 2003

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The Second Wanchai Festival  (21/10/1993)

Thursday 21/10/93:…fa-a-ark, fo-wock,…fa-a-ark. Fo-wock…the first sounds of this story are clear in my ears; it’s the slap-das susurration of the surf-suds on the sea and the side of the boat; it’s the suck-inhale of scores of suppressed smokers in sensurround; it’s the memories in future-tense of music yet to come; it’s a fungal polyphony, a sporal soundscape from The Shroom; it’s the sound of my blood, my heart, my eyes, it’s…fa-a-ark, fo-wock,…fa-a-ark, fo-wock…

All, right. Go figure. I mean Mari, my essential otherhalf, is in immigration court, you know, just wanting to pay her overdues. Three years overdue. Needless to say, this is causing some consternation with an Immigration Department already overburdened with the Wanchai Festival. This is 3 days of eerie early ferries, trips to the I.D. with i.d. – all to decide if she can leave for a job on the 25th in Portugal. It’s a good gig, trained nurse and all that, but I already miss her…especially as I gotta do her job while she’s in court. Jack In The Box sells educational toys at a good discount, but I can’t really concentrate. At home, I’ve 6 cats dying of flu, and one horny bitch on a short leash. Takes after her mom, and she’s not yet one. So, it’s a relief to hit D.D.2. Those Lamma ladies, the Sisters of Sharon, Ratcat and Heresy, are the musical menu for tonight’s Radio Free Hong Kong/sneak preview of Wanchfest. Things start slow as Sis-Chris coyly points out that Kim’s broken her g-string. While she changes, Jette blows a muffled sax solo (blink)…the girls are playing “Looking Glass”. Wicked sound. Jill’s bass cuts funky underdubs around the guitars. Martine’s drums surround the sound (blink)…it’s “Beasts” and a dislocated mesh of Bauhaus style psychedelia and mock-Goth vox provoke the young Americans in front of me into some frenzied fractal dancing. The ballsiest song of the night, babes!

(“How do you know a Kiwi’s burgled your house?…) Anrew Polin, the long time drummer with the fuzzed out and somewhat fluffy Oz band Ratcat, is chilling in the near-freezing ambient room, and he’s telling the first of a long tirade of Tasman twisters. (“There’s a love-bite in the leg of lamb, the cat’s been phukked, and your best thongs are missing!”). Ratcat are on a fortnight’s HK-Bangkok break, taking in the Wanchfest and selected spots, and they’re affable and aiming to show us why they’re Australia’s top alternative act. “Overdrive” is a space-surfer-instru-mental. “Tingles” does just that to my fore-brain. “I Think We’re Alone Now” has lots of babbled beer-heads going: “I know this!…Who di(…Tiffany!…)d this?… No, bollocks, it was Tommy James!… Who cares, just dance…”. A helluva (25 actually!) lot of people do just that. Simon Day on guitar, vocals, plays with intuitive confidence while old friend/new member, Marc Scully, plays apparently effortless bass and harmonises sweetly. As the set is ending, Chris’s toyboy Sean slambumbles onto the floor and it’s the collapse of Indochina all over again! After surveying the soggy, supine slambo’s, a more feral RatCat “Rumble” into their closing number. A trippy teaser indeed.

Heresy are a MONSTERSOUND. Vocals straight out of Napalm Death and Extreme Noise Terror. Riffs cross-bred from mutant Sab’s. A deep fuzz-bass that collides and intertwines with the soaring speed-metal guitar. And the precision timing of the London Philharmonic. (Yes, really!). The jack-hammer roar stuns the crowd and gets noise complaints from the neighbouring pubs! If you want mind-melting metal, and a life on hold, check ‘em out. It’s the Christian thing to say.

Outside, the noise is tolerable, the Fong is buzzing and (blink)…Jumping John Mcenroe is jamming with Mick Taylor and Terry Reid in the Jazz Club. He makes a racket, he’s got the bass lines and he’s ace! All I heard, while stuck in the upward lift was twang-wang-wang…”thank you John!”. Farrah Fawcett’s step-son in law can’t get no satisfaction! He’s broken his guitar, lost in the singles at Victoria Park, and wants to get some dope on where’s the best place to hang out tonight. His guitar makes the repair trip to Lamma later. He doesn’t. Meanwhile, the S.O.S.-posse are trying to round everyone up for the slow boat home. While buying some grub, I hear more about the Kenny G show at the Coliseum that night than is good for me. Leave’s me “Breathless”! Romeo is trying to impress Juliet behind the counter; she doesn’t want to know: “…a full house, lights down, all of a sudden, the band is just there in centre stage. The music trills. It’s “Songbird”, silky smooth and solo on the keyboards. High up, there’s this sudden fa-a-ark, fo-wock. Sexy sax man. The lights go on. Kenny is up top and he walks down the steps, blowing to everyone. Best part of the show…”. Good, I think. Don’t need to see him and now I know what I didn’t miss. There is a rumour around town that he might, just, you know, er…Grace The Wanchfest On Day Two! We shall see… So, that’s the background. You want the story?

Saturday 23/10/93: I’m still toast this morning, heavy on the wry. Some 30 hours of high-speed hijinks have me feeling less than 100%. Still, Mari’s trial is over. She pays the fine, toes the line and does no time, thanks to a sweetly-named Judge.(blink)… She’s crashed, time has flashed and it’s high noon at the Southorn Arena. Already problems are apparent. A compromise alcohol policy is in force and Just Say More, the soulful septet from Buffalo, are nit-pickingly tedious to watch. Their soundcheck takes an hour – to the dismay of 5 other bands who’ve been waiting in the wings. Seems there’s a problem with their syn-drums. Backstage, the alluring Jackie O decides to put them on first and get them out of the way. Opening number “That’s the Way Love Is” is typical of their set. A deep, thumping ‘tronic-bass, the syn-drums and electro-cussion and staccato keyboards, stabbing in and out of the mix. It’s a soulful Spector Wall of Sound cross-bred with early 70’s synth-fusion. The band are bopping about the stage, but it all seems a little bit…sterile to me. They should be much better at night in a smoky dive. Maybe, it’s just too early for their hi-tech choreography. MTV are having fun anyway, rolling back and forth on the dolly-rail up front, taping it all for a forthcoming special. Another crew is backstage interviewing The Assassin – Taiwan’s premier rock band, who are on later.

Tai Chi are the first local band on stage. The audience is growing – lots of Chinese youth watching absorbed and intent – a few clenched fists – some dancing. Tai Chi play a Meat Loaf style pomp-rock, interspersed with the odd traditional Chinese melody. The guitars are clear and scything, the keyboards are liquid; notes melting and merging, the drums and bass are bombastic. Since winning the First Carlsberg Alternative Music Award in 1985, Tai Chi have released nine albums. They’re veterans of the local scene, paving the way for such upstarts as the next band, HuH!

Would this quartet match the standard they set last year? Their debut LP “What A Drag” was marred by a thin mix which muffled the music and recent gigs have been average rather than awesome. Not today. Today, they performed a show that was Bunnymen-esque in its brilliance; quiet moments of strumming blend into flurries of explosive sound. Track 4 builds and builds with Edmond’s chime-ring chords cutting through Ming’s cross-phased drums and Ian’s insistent bass. By track 6, Tim and Edmond are flat on their backs, barely visible behind the monitors. This doesn’t affect their singing and playing though. Styles range through Stones-y riffs to a massive smoky blues pumpout on track 7. Friend and mentor Johnny Lovemuscle responds with a “fa-a-arking awesome” when asked for a critical comment. The band are absolutely knackered when they get off stage. Tim sits, drained and motionless, riding his internal adrenaline buzz and wondering how he ripped the sole off his shoe. Ian remembers me from last year and chuckle-apologises for not playing “Hotel California”! They’re happy. They KNOW they’ve done it again!

It’s time for some murderous musical mayhem with The Assassin. This black-clad, metal-bedecked group are making their Hong Kong debut, fresh from a support slot with Bon Jovi in Taipei. According to reports, they blew the New Joisey poodle-rockers away with their sound. Tommy’s a fine rock vocalist, switching from English to Mandarin with equal facility, while strut-prowling the stage. K.Y. krashes around his drums with lethal abandon. Johnny’s a whiz on guitar – his crunching chords and fleet fretwork would not go unappreciated at Castle Donington. Boogie lives up to his name on bass and is equally adept on keyboards, especially the haunting rock-ballad “Wait Until We Meet”. After that atypical tune, it’s full-force frenzy on ”Your House Is A Zoo”, the title track of their debut LP. Tommy makes some animal noises while the band roar, rock, rage n’ roll behind him. A killer set!

The sound levels are worrying me and the police now in a strange, synchronicitic way.It’s been very loud for the last 90 minutes of monster-metal-mania and it could soon be time to tone it down. The police act, I don’t. A massive Eurobocop, with a Maccent and an inhibited ‘tache, is on the front line, relaying the decisions from P.H.Q. who have been inundated with noise complaints. I decide it’s time for my first cocktail of the day – a chance to give the ears a rest and write some of the notes you just read. As I’m sitting stage-right, I hear (faintly) “…that’s the hairy dude in the program. Let’s interview him”. (Closer.) “Hi, I’m David from MTV and we want to talk to you.” “That’s O.K.” (Looking at camera.) “Hi, I’m Nick. I’m the guy in the program (brandish, flourish). I’m writing this up, I wrote this gig last year as well. Enjoy the show” (or words to that effect!). Interview over, the camera pans in on my Lamma Posse tattoo. I hope I make the final cut. About 3 minutes later, I sign my first autograph. This could get out of hand! On stage, Captain Mabullah and his motley crew of rockaneers are ready to Get On Down!

It’s a short set of progressive reggae tracks, high on atmosphere, and the crowd responds by sway-grooving in place. The good Captain is a stolid figure in center-stage on guitar and exhortations while Wills is well into the percussion and good vibes. Jamie Murcell is a tower of power on the drums. Former Push keyboardist Jondi Mac is darting around everywhere, fingers a blur on the guitar-keyboard strapped round his neck while Bong Gabriel’s rock-riffing adds a welcome dimension to the good-time sounds. This band line-up has changed and matured since I saw them gigging at Hung Shing Yeh beach on Lamma. Then, their proselytizing on behalf of Jah Rastafari and Babylon was threatening to reach tv preacher proportions. Now, it’s all in perspective – the message is muted within the massive slabs of sound. Captain Mabullah are joined by Mancunian guest rapper Mikey Foster on the final two songs “Mystical Dread” and “I Shot The Sheriff” and a funking good time is had by all.

There’s a lengthy pause while One Horse Blue take the stage and soundcheck to their satisfaction. They’re considered Western Canada’s premier country-rock band and they sound eerily like The Eagles at times. Original songs like “The Man Walks Alone” and “Starting All Over” are interspersed with covers like “Teach Your Children”. There’s nice interplay between Jim Foster on electric guitar, Michael Shelland on acoustic guitar and Gord Maxwell on bass. The harmonies are high and sweet and enhanced by Larry Pink on keyboards while Rocko, the drummer, also comes up front to strum an acoustic at one point. It’s a solid performance, but they seem to lose the plot in mid-set. The good time party buzz is dissipating as the audience chill out somewhat more than they want to. Still, the police seem happy as noise complaints abate and frenzied mixing-desk negotiations take place on just how loud the sound can go. This will cause major dic(h)ord later as the police threaten to terminate the show for today AND tomorrow, unless their demands are met.

Backstage right, I’m chatting to Ralph Security, an amiable English skinhead (hair, not attitude) about the various bands and we start a contest to see who can get most autographs in our programmes. Sister On Skins, Martine, has cracked me up by asking why I’m not working and pointing out Jack In The Box next to the MTV stall. It sells Japanese food, not toys. Martine and I chat to K.C. and Hugo, the polite dancers with Technotronic and a brief discussion ensues on the war-zone that is now Hackney. Guns, drugs ad the ghetto-vision are slowly ruining inner London and K.C. is happy to be on tour, albeit briefly.

Nogabe are a group of musicians from Madagascar who are based in Hong Kong. Ric Halstead, the sax-mad Musical Director of the Jazz Cub, joins them on stage for a delicious jam-groove that results in instant happy feet among most of the audience. They really should have followed Captain Mabullah! Most of the band also play with the hot percussive combo Skinstrung, while singer Robinson is ex-Burning Ash, from The First Fest. There are also three tasty dot love look-alikes in Road To Bali sarongs who help out on harmonies. All too son, Nogabe finish to sustained applause and it’s time for Mothership.

Lamma’s other finest band have a lot riding on this show. Half the group was reluctant to play and their performance at the Dig gig the week before was a bit of a crash-landing. Anyway, it’s dark, the lights are flash-strobing, Kim smile-shouts “Hi, Sisters” and they’re away into “Starsky and Hutch”. Alas, the noise arbiters have struck again and you can’t hear a bleeding thing from fifty feet away (that’s a bit of poetic license to make the point. It’s also fairly accurate) “The Blind Lead The Blind” should be re-named “The Mute Lead The Dumb-Struck” for today. “AIDS” has grown from the germ of an idea birth-panged in my garden in the summer of ’90 (but, that’s another story) into quite a number and it’s doubtful that MTV will air it. The sound inches up gradually and a party breaks out on stage. Pan’s Peroxide People are booty-shaking in disrhythmic array across the stage as Mothership stomp the bejabbers out of “Cockroach” and turn “Happy People” into a benison(g). Tom’s drumsticks are a flurry of motion while Andrew is rock-steady, nimble bass-lines pulsing around him. Iain chunka-chugs away on guitar and Jon is a Lowe-down, dirty keyboards kraftsman. Mike alternates between a lilting flute and broad beams of approval and Tim honks his heart out on saxes. Kumi’s a-sway – a Kali-Bali dancer – hands tattooing out her insistent percussive groove. Up front vocalists, Kim, Zoe and mark weave dainty arabesques into the melody and motion. A solid set all round, but not quite a show-stopper because of the low mix.

Ralph’s moved ahead in the autograph hunt - he’s got all of Technotronic whom I’ve missed. Mo Men Tai! (AKA no problemo!). I’ve signed six myself, so there... On stage, The Power Onions are preparing to make you cry at the brutal belligerence and beauty of their music. Singer/guitarist Danny McGill looks like Slash from the neck up and a lively Ronnie Van Zant from the ankles down. Girlfriend, and fellow MTV VJ, Sophiya, is on backing vocals and muted keyboards (again!). Dave, The Drummer From Hell, is quite possibly the finest skinmeister in Hong Kong. Vince is bobbing bare-chested around the stage, his bass a thunder-rumble precisely underpinning the tunes. Dale is sort of a Clark Kent-like computer “nerd” by day and a Superman-ic grunge guitarist at night. Rumour has it that Geffen Records is well impressed with T.P.O. and a major deal could be in the cards. It’s an almost original set - just one cover from Stone Temple Pilot - and it’s ear-bleedingly loud, or is that the cocktail talking to me?

(blink).. .fa-a-ark, fo-wock, fo-wock, wock, wake, wake up!, WAKE UP! Oh, sorry…(Shove.) - There’s a ten foot circle around me - I’m in the middle – dancers - violent visuals?, crashing, - moshing madcaps! - ring perimeter, watching calmly, enjoying The Onions - out of the (CRASH!!) - way - it’s MC Plod!. About nine guys are doing the Stamphurl Two-Step and the police don’t like it. No one’s hurt and it seems to be an over-reaction to some over-vigorous dancing. A cusp point occurs as The Man shoves one youth who retaliates in kind and is almost arrested. Mark Thompson, the tireless point-man for this performance, is (screech of cartoon brakes) here/now, greasing the bacon. I’m talking to Hans from Denmark, a mosher just arrived from 6 months in Glasgow. He really does talk the talk! Hans is happy, loving the show. He saw Ratcat last night and got the free T-shirt (...“essential road gear. I need it. My clothes are dirty and I’m cold”...) and he’ll be back tomorrow. The “incident” is now a memory, but the police use it to push for an early closure tonight…OR ELSE!

I predicted Mixed Relations, the multi-cultural Australian band, would be the sensation of this Festival. And they are. For all the wrong reasons! For a start, they haven’t been allowed to soundcheck. And they can hardly hear what they’re playing. The mixer is unhappy too. Not surprising, considering he’s almost been arrested! Now, he’s got the karmic equivalent of a censor/armed guard standing behind him - a man who’s sympathetic, but is just following orders. The set starts softly, with Ban on the didj - one of Man’s oldest musical-magical instruments. This merges into “We Shall Survive”. A fragment of this song is on the 1990 Rock Down Under video I’ve got at home. It was first released in 1983 as Australian Rock. It’s Bart’s old band, No Fixed Address, and the song deals with the plight of the aborigine in present-day Oz. I made my prediction, based on this partial performance. The rest of the soon-to-be-severely-shortened set comes from “Love”, the debut album by Mixed Relations. Jill-Sis is sussing out Suzi’s bass style. Brenda is on subdued sax. Rachel’s backing vocals are non-distinct. Only Murray on keyboards, Leroy on lead guitar and Bart on drums seem to be soaring. “Our Mother”, “Aboriginal Woman” and “Love” follow in LP order...

(blink)...I’ve missed something. The band is storming off stage - the plug has been pulled hallway through “Australian Reggae”. No idea what happened – possibly another noise complaint or a time warning. Bad is smouldering (in)visibly backstage, away from everyone. Suzi is angry-upset. Leroy and Murray calm down first as I try and explain the situation from my (admittedly) warped POV. Mark is there too, accepting responsibility and apologising as best he can. He’s not happy that he doesn’t have the control he wants either. I veer from fan-phase to scribe-mode to appeasing orator. Seems to work...until I ask for autographs and they notice that the band picture isn’t of them. Ooops! Mixed Relations are deeply upset by the lack of courtesy and poor planning and only agree to play again tomorrow if they can get an hour. Mark says he’ll see what he can do. Leroy (a cool Chuck Berry lookalike) and I chat a while and he gives me the set list and some band details. Our talk is interrupted by an unknown artiste inviting us to enjoy his up-dated version of “Strawberry Fields”. Trippy memories. Heaps of heads are happy-nodding, appreciating this potent piece of programming.

Meanwhile, Technotronic have done a 20 minute teaser and come off stage. Could it be problems with the backing music or official interference?... (Trip On This! The Truncate Tribute!)...I don’t know. It seems like strobe-time again - some energetic routines - hints of the hits hurtle past - lots of people groovin’ backstage. The Sisters. Mixed Relations walking away. Simon Ratcat and his video. Mari. Ralph at his post. MTV, still fil(MARI!)ming. She’s here at last. The show ends, she turns up. Just like last time! (Actually, she arrived for “Despunk Me”, the climax (groan) of The Onion’s set and I missed her, being otherwise occupied). It’s now 2145- a quarter of an hour before the scheduled close - and the police are chivvying everyone away. (“…time to go...leave now, please… …c’mon, clear this area... wheeoop, wheeoop, wheeoop!”). A compromise has been thrashed out for tomorrow. The show can go on, but must start at noon and end at 2030. That’s half an hour cut from the schedule. Shit happens! Can we blame the police high-ups? After all, they were the courteous understanding nice tolerant sorts of officers we should expect to see a lot more of in the future.

Sunday 24/10/93: My blood feels bruised today! What was in those cranium-crunching cocktails last night? I’m woken by a very loud crack of dawn. Get up. Wash the cats. Feed the garbage. Put the face outside. Lysdexic sensory distortion or what! (blink)...Chores are completed, cats are content, chock-full of chow. Lamma’s left lazing behind. Mari’s off to the Matilda Hospital to see a friend in need. I’ll meet her at the Arena in the arvo. I arrive about noon. Stacks of staff, security and stallkeepers are spotted. Very small crowd - no sunfunky fans surfacing here yet! The news of the revised start isn’t publicised in the papers. Neither is anything else about the Festival. What are the SC(i)MP(y) and The (sub)Standard up to? The former couldn’t write enough on the event during the originals/covers controversy-cum-publicity stunt. The latter rely on Rhonda Palmer for juicy goss. She’s the Hedda Hopeless of Hong Kong. The Wanch trio of acts open today’s bill. Hooray Howard and the Henries are sound-checking. Three songs later, I realise they have, in fact, started. Rob Findley joins the band on third guitar mid-set. He’s not able to set up his pedal steel, due to his late arrival. A rousing version of “Masters Of War” with its fluid interplay of guitars, bass, organ and drums is a highlight. It’s got more countryballs than One Horse Blue. The final song is a gentle barb - “It’s my life and I’ll sing what I want” - which deflates the debate. Howard Mckay walks off a happy man. He’s enjoying the day.

Those ever-youthful rockers, A.W.O.L. scare up some old memories with “Paranoid”. Can’t go wrong with Sabbath on the Sabbath - not as far as the young American surfpunk near me is concerned. Ritchie and Steve split licks on “Fire”. Phil’s pumping out the beats and Steve jamhams it up - playing with his teeth and behind his neck. “Sweet Child Of Mine” is dedicated to “...all the kids out there”. Ritchie sings it better than Axl as his son tapes the tune for the family archives. Saving the best ‘til last it’s...“Hotel California”! (nah, just kidding folks. Last year’s running gag-tune is DOA today.) It’s actually “Rockin In The Free World” which is virtually the A.W.O.L. mantra.

Pervents-ly, The Bastards only do two covers - the rest of the set is a slow blues-rock of sods. Quite good, but not exactly what I was hoping for. Musicians eh! Drummer for a day, Pike, is back from Bangkok specially for this gig. His loose-wristed, easy but explosive style is economical. Meshes well with Phil on bass. New members are Dave, the flame-haired ex-guitarist from Shout, and Simon whose waist-length tresses threaten to tangle his fingers in his strings. (That makes at least 3 Simons in this story so far! Wonder how the other names are doing?) Both guitarists are technoflashy, but need to improve their solo skills. Overall, a capable, if somewhat mellow, set. Vocalist Dan tells me later they should have chucked in a couple more covers to get the crowd going.

There’s a bit of a panic on. Chinese band Endeavour, who checked in about 1130, are on an extended coffee break somewhere. Bit arrogant really. Most of the other bands are here, flashing on the Festvibe, meeting fans and bands and making friends. There is some excellent music to be savoured today. Technotronic take Endeavour’s slot. Melissa is silky-cool in the heat. Einstein is fluorescent. K.C. and Hugo are covered in glam-gleam sweat. All the hits that weren’t really played last night are covered today. Einstein reveals that they “…cut the show in half coz the police said if we didn’t, there’s no show today”. The two sets make about 75% of Technotronic’s usual gig. They can’t do much more as they’re on a flight to India in three hours. MTV films some intros with the band and I collar Melissa for a rap. She loves the idea of this Festival, is looking forward to touring India, especially Goa for some r n’ r. I tell her to look up Dave, a friend living there who can show her the sights (if he’s not in jail for drunk and disorderly!) Melissa says she’ll also be singing with Quite Sane, a jazz band, when she returns to London. I get my ‘graphs and look for Ralph to compare notes. No sign of him.

Endeavour are still MIA. The call goes out to Mixed Relations who hurry from their hotel with instruments. Bart leaves his didj behind and Brenda doesn’t get to play her sax. Otherwise, same set as last night, but louder. A lot of people are here now. I’m standing next to Marc and Rob, Ratcat’s soundman. Marc is enthusiastic about Mixed Relations - both bands have played the same bills before. There’s a more heartfelt performance of “Love” - the bad scenes are fading, washed away in the pulsing bush riddims and the dreamtime ambience. Mr. T is so happy, he gives them 10 more minutes. “Australian Reggae” is the final number and it’s a fair dinkum thinkum. Feets! Do Yo’ Stuff! The band would definitely like to return to Hong Kong someday. I snag the last copy of their CD and approach them. It’s signed over my effusive thanks and praise. Bad’s smiling as he settles down to a chat with MTV - the rest of them disperse for drinks and entertainment. Today is already looking better than yesterday and we’ve only just begun.

Here are some things you always wanted to know about Guam. It’s the largest of the Mariana Islands - that’s part of Micronesia - due east of the Philippines.

it was acquired by the U.S. from Spain in 1898. Guam has 209 square miles of land and the capital is Agana. There are about 134,00 people living there (1990 census). Chamorros and Filipinos make up 66% of the population. Japan invaded 13 years before my birthdate. The economy is based on tourism and American military spending. Guam has a world class rock band, who are next on stage. Acid Jazz are a misnomer at first. As the set progresses, they definitely put the acid back in the music for me (but, hey, I graduated in the 60’s. You got a problem with that?) and some of the interplay is definitely based on jazz-riffs. Lead singer, Ron, looks like a mischievous Buddha with his shaved pate. The rest of the band are serious long-hairs. There’s Rob on guitar, Ralph on bass, Joe on drums and Allan on rhythm. All the songs are originals. Ron, who is a gent, says their success is simple – “…it’s due to song, studio soundscaping and sex...” (sort of). Two of the tunes have the Ess word in their title - “Sex In June” and “Sex Juice”. The sound in Southorn Arena is seriously sorted for this set! Dale Onions believes they’re similar to Seattle’s Soundgarden “...but much better, man!” I agree. Acid Jazz have played in HK before and hope to be back soon. You have been tipped off.

The sonic-boom feast continues with the next band. The Dawn are the creme de la creme of The Philippines and they’re making their long-anticipated local debut. The sun is out, it’s a steam-sweat sauna, and the audience goes bonkers. Forget “Teen Spirit”. This smells like teen knicks - it’s a pheromonic, Filipino funk-frenzy! The Dawn mix it up - Tagalog hits alternate with punk classics from the Clash and the Rats. Lead singer, Jet, is a dynamo. He cajoles and teases the audience. He forces the band to follow him - they do like a well-honed machine. I’m chatting with my mate Doz as a liquid ripple erupts from the keyboards. Hey, that sounds like “Mondays” to me…” I say as Jet announces a “…song by the Boomtown Rats” and Doz says “Write that in your book!” It’s an amped-up version, tight-as-groan (sneaky literary reference there!) until the “shoot the whole day down” chorus when they slow down on a dime, stop and speed-thrash back into action. Made my day. Meeting the band backstage, I find that they’re polite and courteous and happy. They love the liner notes I wrote for them and reciprocate in my program. It’ll be a dark night until they return - hopefully for Fest 3 in the 40,000-seat Government stadium. Unless the Wembley Committee get even more greedy than they are now...C’mon, $150-thousand A DAY! Just to keep your bankrupt English conglomerate, er, conglomerating. It’s obscene, especially as The Jockey Club built the whole bloody thing in the first place. WANKERS!

Mari has arrived from the hospital, accompanied by our good mates, Elijah, Roberta and baby Sarah, who sleeps oblivious through the good-time sounds. It’s Mari’s last day in HK and I’m so glad she’s here. I can now introduce her to all the bands I’ve met so far. This contributes to some carnal canoodling and I completely miss lnfradig. To be honest, they weren’t the best band to follow The Dawn, but I guess they played better than Endeavour! Marc has come up, chucked Sarah under her chin, and talked about his family back home. We’re both topless. He’s got nipple-rings and better tattoos than me. I’ve got more earrings.

Two of China’s top artistes are now sharing centre-stage. Ai Jing is quite a fox. Dark shades, long black centre-parted hair, dark coat and dress. Sort of a Sino goth-beat. She’s considered the equivalent of Suzanne Vega or Tracy Chapman and is quite a good actress too. This is her first visit to HK. MTV are quivering with anticipation, waiting to interview her. Jon Lowe is in front of me, listening in rapt frustration as she sings a song he played keyboards on. It was recorded last week in Shen Zen. Backing her is Chen Jing and his band. Their set is a fairly ordinary (by Western standards) brand of folk-rock - pleasant, but unassuming. Comments from the well-’ard members of the crowd indicate that this is a bit too mellow for them. I think they better get used to it - there will be plenty more post ‘97!

Andy lngkavet and Hot Sauce have the prime twilight spot. This is not such a good decision because he’s too lightweight to carry it off. Not his fault though. I guess, being a protege of Richard Cooper of RFHK helps. There’s some sterling work from Jon and Zoe on keys and backing vocals, Greg on deep sea bass and Jamie on thunder drums. This pays off on “Angel Of Mercy” and the three subsequent songs when everyone is cooking. They should have dropped the rest of the set. I see lots of people streaming out of the Arena, to be replaced by others, avidly awaiting Apache Indian’s debut. But, first, there are the Ratcatchers to appease...

The good time party feeling returns promptly as this Aussie trio play a set similar to Thursday’s. Simon invites Sis-Chris and Kim on stage to dance during “Go Go” which melds nicely into “I Think We’re Alone Now”. Great roar of approval from the crowd and lots of failed attempts to sing along. I spot Hans up front in his T-shirt, but can’t get near him. Ratcat’s brand of fuzzed out power pop goes down well tonight - it’s an aural massage for a crowd of sonically bruised rock ravers. Joe, their manager, is happy. He hopes they’ll be back here by spring and feels this is the start of a good Aussie-HK music connection. Backstage, Chris and I invite them to visit Lamma on Tuesday to get some peace and quiet and chill out and possibly jam. They agree with alacrity.

Apache Indian is a nice man. He’s considerate, polite and very hard-working. He’s also got a bit of a problem with his sound - the backing track keeps breaking down. The audience are on his side, but they don’t make it easy for him. Efforts to get a singalong are scuppered, probably because everyone is too smashed to remember the words. All the hits are played and he even brings his 12-year old son on stage for a rap duet and some breakdancing. Despite his best attempts, the show is a bit of a disappointment. The Southorn Arena is not as intimate as he needs and he’s following some very good, very loud musicians. Still, he’s seen some of HK, done his shopping and has another gig at The Viceroy later tonight. Another chance to hone the act, prior to his tour of India. All of a sudden - that’s it. WanchFest Two is over! Kenny Horlicks and his Gorelicks weren’t the mall-teasers I thought they were! Other no-shows are John Mcenroe, Mick Taylor and Terry Reid. You missed some real fun, boys. Endeavour are elsewhere, writing a letter to the papers about their treatment. Rhonda will use it tomorrow and make her comments about the competence of the organisers. I don’t recall seeing her at the Festival at all. MTV have enough stuff for a four hour feature. On site producer Edward Bean confides to me that his “…hovercraft is full of eels”. I guess, he had a good time. Organiser Mark Thompson is already planning the next Festival and Midnight Oil and INXS are some of the big names bandied about. Mari and I go out for our last dinner in some considerable time and then get the slow boat home...(Candles!!!...Romance!!!...Now, Sod Off!) It Has Been Fun Folks! Thanks for letting me share it with you. Now, I’m too fucked for work...fa-a-ark, fo-wock!…

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