Shi Fu Miz is a normally festival curated for the deep end of music lovers but this time, things were a little different. Amid turmoil in Hong Kong and mass cancellations across the entire entertainment industry, Shi Fu Miz was an all-on-red gamble, but the organizers said fuck it and went full steam ahead for the fall incarnation of the much-loved music festival. They strode into the weekend with the attitude that now, more than ever, they had to deliver an event that would offer to Hong Kongers a fleeting moment of fun, if just for a weekend. While the situation on the ground might have scared off a few overseas travellers, locals turned up in throngs with more than 2,000 pleasure-seekers descending upon Cheung Chau island for the fifth iteration of Shi Fu Miz Music Festival.
The island location was sprawling, and the atmosphere was laid back and at times hippyish with one stage deeply immersed in nature and another that opened up onto a huge field pushing for a hugely independent dance floor. Unless you were at the Concrete stage, then you were in the midst of a full-on rave. Sunken into a roller rink (yes, you could rent roller skates too) and illuminated by sultry red lights and steamy fog, at times it felt a little like a Studio 54 party on the set of Stranger Things. But mostly it was just the stage that evoked camaraderie on the dance floor while beats collided and arms flailed for a frenzied vibe bar none.
Across the festival grounds, programming on Saturday hosted most of the international headliners, including a female-forward line-up featuring Shanti Celeste, Or:la, Lena Willikens, and Peach (this wasn’t planned or a call for feminism, but rather a serendipitous after-the-fact observation that reflects more upon the organic talent amongst women in the music industry). Regional talents were reserved for Sunday’s Boiler Room showcase and saw local loves like Ocean Lam, Roam Selectors, Yukari BB, and Utopia step up to the occasion and push the sounds of Hong Kong to an audience of three million.
Fittingly, since they are in part the organizers of the festival, La Mamie’s threw down one of those fabled closing sets full of moments that you just keep going back to. And we’re not giving them any unnecessary credit here, they literally made 2 Unlimited’s ‘Twilight Zone’ fresh again and thankfully the moment (and the vibe) was captured on video to relive forever.
Every region needs its own destination festival. Thailand has Wonderfruit, Taiwan has Organik, Japan has Labyrinth, and Hong Kong has Shi Fu Miz. Just a quick ferry ride from Central, and then an overwater sampan journey—which pleasantly adds a slice of local life to the adventure—Shi Fu Miz unfurls twice a year in a region where, unrest aside, underground music festivals are seemingly missing from the music landscape. Having solidified its position as a scene stalwart and developed its own identity amongst destination festivals in Asia, Shi Fu Miz needs, wants and warrants your a place on your 2020 festival map.
Shi Fu Miz Festival returns to Hong Kong in the Spring of 2020.