Roy Tam, a first-time participant at Grasscamp, brought his young children and relatives along to experience camping. “We came here hang out as a family. Music is a bonus for us,” said Tam. “Music festivals are different from concerts because my children can’t go to concerts. But here it is more flexible.”
Unlike Tam, twenty-somethings Ben and Felix have more experience of music festivals. They first met at the Silvermine Bay Festival and are now regular music companions. “At a music festival, not only can you listen to music, you get to make friends and have fun with people you don’t know,” says Felix.
Not only do audiences get to mingle at music festivals, musicians can also meet like-minded artists. After befriending the local band Senseless at a music festival, independent singer-songwriter Serrini was invited to be a guest on their show. Serrini was over the moon when Senseless offered to be the backing band in her upcoming show.
Whilst Serrini says she enjoys having a whole show to herself, she also savours the chance to reach out to what she describes as a more thoughtful audience at music festivals.
“What I like about hosting my own gig is that the audience comes only to hear me sing,” says Serrini. “What I also like about music festivals is that I can get in touch with an audience who don’t have previous knowledge of me but who would come to search for more after [they hear my music] for the first time.”
Compared to gigs at shopping malls and music festivals organised by property developers in mainland China, local independent music festivals pay musicians very little, with most of them only covering travel expenses. But this does not deter Serrini from performing at festivals in Hong Kong, or compel her to sign to a record label.
“Very few independent musicians are able to make a living purely through their music. But we are satisfied with not being mainstream, not very rich,” says Serrini. “I really like the music festivals in Hong Kong. They actually provide more opportunities for local musicians. When I perform, I am treated as a musician, not an entertainer.”
Edited by Emily Chung