Hong Kong’s (most) famous indie band MY LITTLE AIRPORT (MLA) held three shows on the weekend of August 26-27 at Hong Kong’s Hidden Agenda in Ngau Tau Kok. If you haven’t heard of them, perhaps the fact that the Scottish indie band BMX Bandits had covered one of their songs would spark your interest. In addition to their new album, “hong kong is one big shopping mall” (namesake of the show title), MLA also released a series of souvenirs at the venue, such as t-shirts with the slogans: “I love the country not the party” or “Happy music makes me sad” and iPhone cases. As I watched the show on night of the 27th, it occurred to me: ‘Really, does this not, together with the tickets, make the concert a mini shopping mall in itself?’
香港(最)著名的獨立樂隊MY LITTLE AIRPORT (MLA)在八月二十六到二十七日兩天內在香港牛頭角Hidden Agenda場地舉辦了<香港是個大商場>演唱會。沒有聽過他們的讀者，如果我加上一句：「連蘇格蘭的獨立音樂組合BMX Bandits也翻唱過他們的一首歌」，希望你會感興趣。同場發售與音樂會同名的全新專輯以及紀念品（如：「I love the country not the party」、「Happy music makes me sad」標語T-恤和iPhone保護套）。 筆者在看27號晚場的時候忽然想到， 其實這樣的銷售加上門票，也使演唱會變成小型商場了吧。
Outside of the venue
The shows were held in a small, repurposed venue inside an old industrial building in Ngau Tau Kok. For the live occasion, Nicole (vocal) and Ah P (guitar) invited Yin (bass guitar) and Foh (drums) from the local indie band 22cats to join the band. Also on the stage were Nicols’s sister and friend as back-up vocals.
Without the delay of opening bands, the band launched into AMK’s “Gap” (“隔閡”), followed by the all-time-favourite “Let Me Take Plane that will Explode” (“讓我搭一班會爆炸的飛機”). Next, MLA’s poet laureate Suet came on stage to recite some poems in French to accompany two songs from the new album. I was slightly puzzled by how her spoken French didn’t seem to have improved much from their initial collaboration to the extent that even a non-speaker like me could tell the Hong Kong accent. Then again, I suppose it matched MLA’s style in its special way.
my little airport
The highlight of the night was definitely a cover of “Batman of Love” (“愛情蝙蝠俠”) by Kwok Siu Lam (Alvin Kwok), a Hong Kong singer in the 80s. Even though the news of them doing this cover was on Facebook the night before, and a teenager such as myself had never even heard of Kwok, I, too, immediately joined the crowd in waving and jumping. In fact, the retro, slightly campy melody and beats, coupled with the over-confident lyrics (“My brand-new service: removing your tears”) (“服務夠新 專脫淚痕”) reminded me much of earlier Canto dance music, for instance Leslie Cheung’s “What’s On The Girl’s Mind’ (“少女心事”, 張國榮). The fans certainly enjoyed the song along with the guest singer’s crazy dance carrying a loudspeaker. Another personal favourite was a cover next on the run-down: “I Still Remember” by Teresa Carpio and George Lam (“仍然記得嗰一次”, 杜麗莎/林子祥). Nicole applied her well-paced reciting like that in “Mei Fu Gainsbourg and Pak Tin Birkin” (美孚根斯堡與白田珍寶金) to some of the lyrics. This and the common themes of crush, heartbreaks and lovelornness in their own works made the cover, in a word, fantastic.
MLA does not confine themselves to bedroom production. Works like “Who Invented Work” (“邊一個發明了返工”) and “donald tsang please die” reached a greater public on the Internet. That night, Nicole introduced the song “Wet Wet Dreams” (“濕濕的夢”) from their last album by saying Ah P recently changed its name to “Uncle Can’t Handle It Anymore” (“叔叔不行了”). Those who are familiar with Hong Kong’s Internet culture would identify the slang of the online forum “Golden”. The tongue-in-cheek, humourously suggestive but not raunchy style of the song was best expressed when Ah P extended a finger at Nicole at the line “Every night I need to touch you gently” (“每晚 也要與你輕輕相碰”). Ah P played both electric and acoustic guitar at ease thoughout the night. When Nicole teased him when he made mistakes, he claimed he was in fact hiding his talent and went on to show off some awesome skills as a boastful redemption.
Nicole and Ah P seldom hesitate to interact with fans. At the band’s last show “Romantic Kowloon Tong” (“浪漫九龍塘”) at Shouson Theatre, they shared a crate of beer with the audience in the stalls. The crowd had missed Nicole, who moved to Beijing, and she was happy to tell us about her recent self, such as in the introduction to “my little st. valentine’s day”, she told the audience as if telling a secret, “This should be the last time I sing this song.” And when Ah P performed his short new song “How Can You Fall In Love with a Guy Who Has Never Heard of Gainsbourg”, Nicole casually walked off stage into the crowd while lighting up a cigarette. (The song, according to Ah P, was inspired by a real life event, so I guess art does imitate life.) The crowd always responded enthusiastically to Ah P’s words, such as his original idea of producing a t-shirt with the slogan ‘All the Pretty Girls Are Mad’.
At the end of the one-and-a-half-hour or so, Nicole chose to wrap up with “Kowloon Park Swimming Pool” (“九龍公園游泳池”), saying it was this song that led her back to Hong Kong. The encore would not have been asked for so passionately was it not for the foreign guy standing next to me on stage right who stomped the stage and yelled. (The guy was there with his girlfriend, and was really into the jumping and clapping. Almost as passionate as myself.) The full band returned to the stage and sang two songs from previous albums, as well as, who could resist cheering – ‘Batman of Love’ (愛情蝙蝠俠).
MLA will continue their tour in various Chinese cities in the coming months.
MLA並不是不食人間煙火的睡房製作，之前的<邊一個發明了返工>和<donald tsang，please die>都走出了睡房、廣為網民轉發。演唱會這晚，Nicole在介紹上一張大碟內的＜濕濕的夢＞時，笑稱阿P最近把它改名為＜叔叔不行了＞，熟悉香港網上文化的讀者可能會知道這是高登討論區的用語。阿P演唱到「每晚 也要與你輕輕相碰時」還對著Nicole伸出手指。好一個樂而不淫。阿P整晚熟練地遊走在電子和木結他之間，還在彈錯被Nicole嘲笑後說是隱藏實力，誇張地表現了結他技巧。
Nicole和阿P素來不會吝惜和樂迷交流，例如上次在壽臣劇院的<浪漫九龍塘>音樂會就搬出一箱啤酒跟堂座的觀眾分享。樂迷久違了移居北京的Nicole，她也樂意說上幾句。例如在唱＜my little st. valentine’s day＞像透露個人心事般說：「這應該是最後一次唱這首歌。」而在阿P演唱一分半鐘長的新歌＜how can you fall in love with a boy who has never heard of gainsbourg＞的時候，Nicole抽著煙走到台下看也顯出了她的率性。（這首歌他說是和友人的一次經歷，所以創作的確來自生活。）阿P說的話則 經常引起樂迷哄堂大笑，就好像介紹紀念品時說本身想造一款「All the Pretty Girls are Mad」T-恤。
來到最後，Nicole選了新碟內的<九龍公園游泳池>，並說是因為這首歌才回到香港。安哥部分由我所站台右邊身旁的外國男孩踩台帶動。（陪女朋友來的，全場最投入地跳動、拍手的除了我就是他。）終於全團再一次上台，唱了兩首舊歌，還有大家的最愛 – <愛情蝙蝠俠>。
Written and translated by Sherlock Lam. Edited by Jaime Chu.
All photos taken by Sherlock Lam except promotional poster.