Cha Kwo Ling, Hong Kong
For the Love of Live MusicAs one of the only full-time music venues in a city of 7 million people, Hidden Agenda carries the flag in true rock 'n' roll fashion. Its continuous skirting of Hong Kong's infamous zoning laws has kept its name on people's lips and the threat of closure at its door.
Positioned in Kwun Tong among the industrial buildings many bands like to practice in, Hidden Agenda has played host to talent from around the world, including jj (Sweden), Nasser (France), Anti-Flag (US) and Hedgehog (China). The space makes up for its lack of frills and inability to legally sell liquor by welcoming people to bring their own booze and giving Hong Kong its own bona fide rock dive.
The venue's refusal to close, plus its strong support base—to fund its move to a new location, local bands came out in force to play a string of sold out benefit shows—has made its existence all the more remarkable and precarious. To see a show here is to experience the other extreme of Hong Kong nightlife. A far cry from the bottle service and posh upholstery of Central, Hidden Agenda is loud, grungy and raw, one of few havens for Hong Kong's rebellious youth.
To get there, take the Kwun Tong Line to Ngau Tau Kok, Exit B5. Map the short walk beforehand, or follow other showgoers, likely the only other people you'll encounter in the area after working hours.