Diesel held a kick off event for the BRAVE magazine Wing Shya exhibition on Thursday night. The photo show took place in the former Opera Gallery, across the street from Harvey Nichols in Central. Afterwards, a party was held in a large open space directly above in a former hair salon.
For the musical cognoscenti, the entertainment for the night featured some eye-catching names. A.G. stuck out immediately, as did Dan the Automator. A.G., who is a New York M.C., was responsible for several party rockin’ classics, most notably an underground cut called ‘Soul Clap’ that garnered a top spot in Hip Hop d.j.s playlists for years. Dan the Automator, a producer involved in hipster collaborations with top Hip Hop talent including Prince Paul, Kool Keith and Del, was another standout. They represent a kind of music rarely heard in Hong Kong. Also in the mix was a performance by 24 Herbs, a sort of super-crew of local bad boys including veterans from LMF and the mock-rock group ALIVE. Add to all of that a room filled with celebrities, free drinks and a beer bong, and you can begin to imagine the scene!
The Wing Shya Exhibition
The art exhibition opened at 7:30. The gallery was packed with ten years worth of images by Wing Shya divided into two floors. Walls and walls of photos lined the upper level of the space.
The lower floor contained less images, which to me is a better way to exhibit the work. Perhaps the upstairs was more commercial work, and the lower level contained more personal favorites? The material ranged from portraits to photo essay-type images.
Entwined with the photos on the lower level were hand drawn illustrations by Michael Lau, Hong Kong’s famed figure designer.
Since Wing Shya’s been a fixture on Hong Kong’s creative scene for many years, the superstars of the creative community turned out for the event in force.
One room at the end of the lower level featured four walls covered with Polaroids. The sheer number is a testament to Wing Shya’s many projects over the decade and his work with Hong Kong’s top movers in fashion and entertainment. Look closely enough at the walls and you’ll find a huge range of stars. The exhibition featured everyone from Baat Leung Gum to Hsu Chi – now that’s variety!
The Party: 24 Herbs plus Dan the Automator with A.G.
Guests from the photo exhibition migrated up to the party venue at around 9. The large turnout was heavy on the entertainment crowd, since Alive Not Dead was a major part of the event. Alive Not Dead is an online community based around singers, bands, actors, models, filmmakers, and creative types. Alive Not Dead features blogs and other info that offers insight into what it’s like be involved with those industries. Fans can also join and interact or get additional proximity to their inspirations.
24 Herbs received top billing for the night. Simply put, they rocked it! You know you’ve made a dent when the crowd is singing along with your choruses. They performed in a mixture of Cantonese and English, which went surprisingly smooth. Their stage presence was good, and they traded off on the mic well, despite their many members. Definitely stay tuned for more from them in the future.
Next up was Dan the Automator on the wheels as a d.j., joined on stage by a live drummer, a singer, and A.G. the M.C.
There were a few factors at work here. First of all, it’s difficult to follow a house favorite with all their friends in the audience, as was the case with 24 Herbs performing. Secondly, if you have not had the chance to perform together before, it will be much harder to reach the same dynamic of crowd interactivity and dramatic timing. Third, combining d.j.s at the same show with bands requires some thought.
For example, had the opening d.j. played uptempo music before 24 Herbs went on, it might have diminished the excitement that the group created when they took the stage. Likewise, when you’re following a band that has built up momentum with the crowd, you need to match that vibe, or risk losing the intensity.
When Dan the Automator and the others went on, they came on a little bit too low key. Since 24 Herbs were packed with energy, with the whole group jumping around on stage, the sudden, mellow approach of the change of acts, allowed the momentum to dwindle. Because the four man group didn’t begin performing a song right away, it seemed almost as if they were waiting for another member to arrive before they started.
Dan the Automator played a set of party cuts along with some chorus boosting by A.G., some freestyle singing by another member on stage, and some drumming. However, there were no magic moments where the talents blended together.
Seeing the crowd somewhat expectant, Maria Cordero, a famous local singer and outstanding live performer, joined the crew on stage and brought up the vibe a notch. Ever the professional, she was careful not to stay too long, as to offend the other entertainers, or to upstage them at their own performance.
Almost thirty minutes into it, A.G. performed his signature classic ‘Soul Clap’, and the crowd finally came alive and got into the call and response dynamic. Despite the slow start, the performers got the crowd back in the game. After their performance, the group members of 24 Herbs, in addition to A.G. and Dan the Automator mingled at the party.
The next d.j. who came on turned it up again with a selection of Old School favorites that further swung the event into party mode. On several occasions, his choice of music brought A.G. to the booth to render compliments. Weaving a few well-known songs with rare, somewhat forgotten party cuts, he kept the old timers – who have heard it all before – enthralled.
Emboldened by the Old School Hip Hop, (and perhaps the free drinks,) at the end of the night people were trying out their breakdancing moves! At one point I looked over to my left and saw A.G. helping Min from Racks MDB do a beer bong – it was that kind of night!
One interesting note for Hip Hop fans. While “Sweat the Technique,” a song by Eric B. and Rakim was playing, A.G. told me that he thought Rakim was the greatest rapper of all time. That’s interesting because you rarely hear M.C.’s praising other people’s talent. I guess that when you’ve already achieved legendary status yourself, as A.G. certainly has, you can speak your mind.