Lunar New Year – the biggest celebration in East Asia. As I watched the half hour-long fireworks show from Tsim Tsa Tsui, the smoke seemed to settle toward where I would be heading next – International Commerce Centre, the fourth tallest building in the world. It’s hard to miss; it’s the one you can’t see the top of because of the clouds. I’d heard legends of a club at the top of that thing for a while and sure enough, I made the climb to see German electronica pioneer M.A.N.D.Y.
After making the disoriented shuffle out of the elevator that cleared 110 floors in less than a minute, I entered Ozone – a lavish club that had a vibe reminiscent of The Rooftop at the Empire Hotel in NYC. Only this club’s terrace was foggy – or should I say “cloudy” – as you really are in the sky. For those who ever thought they wanted to booze in the clouds (all six of you), this is the place to be.
While listening to the opening DJs from PUSH play some better than average tunes, I had a chance to talk with Patrick Bodmer about Hong Kong, his music, and how an old school guy like him feels about the current state of electronic music. It was a real treat to pick the brain of a man who has been making this music since my early teens. The other half of M.A.N.D.Y., Philipp Jung was not present for this performance.
Something worth mentioning about my experiences with Asian clubs: the dance-floors are the smallest part of the place. To which Bodmer commented: “Clubs here are always incredible but much smaller that what I am used to playing in Europe.” Ozone had a cliental you might envision when you hear about a place owned and operated by the Ritz-Carlton hotel that lies below it. However, with each passing minute the crowd grew more diverse. A familiar cast of characters you see at every electro show come pouring in to breathe life into the place: the ravers, the hipsters, glow-stick girl, the burnouts, that one guy in sunglasses, and everyone else you’ve danced until the sunrise with in the past.
Things got cooking around 1 a.m. when M.A.N.D.Y. took the stage, playing beats that got everyone out of their seat and up close and personal with their fellow fans on that crowded floor. Bodmer mentioned in our interview that so much of newer electronic music has an emphasis on speed and the belief that a certain lack thereof can lead to the crowd getting bored. This was certainly not the case with his set. While it lacked some of the errant speed and rises and falls of we’ve become accustomed to, over the cascading lights and breeze from the clouds – next to us – Bodmer hit just the right groove to keep the crowd moving. The set lasted for hours and not once did it ever seem boring. Its tempo wasn’t like many shows I’d seen before – not slow by any means but like that electronica you heard for the first time ten or more years ago. I remember many shows that had sections of their elongated sets that lulled purely because of the repetitious nature of the material and the degree of desensitization that can subdue a crowd bathed in 200 bpm for a couple of hours. The music was not only fantastic, but you felt like you were watching a master at work.
It’s shows like this that I love the most – those moments in the witching hour when a room full of strangers are all suddenly your best friends as you enjoy a kind of music unlike any other. You leave with only one worry in the world: the decision between bed or an early breakfast. If you get the chance to see M.A.N.D.Y. live you must take it. My only wish for this show was that it was in a larger venue, but this certainly was one of the most unique places I’d ever been to.
Chinese New Year brings a lot of music to Hong Kong. This trip to an old-school of electronica was a fantastic beginning to the new year. Soon I will be making a couple trips to the new-school to see what the new generation of artists are bringing to the table. Stay tuned.