Hidden Agenda cancels performances after visiting bands detained by authorities

Melodic death metal band Insomnium at a recent concert in China, during a stop on their Asian tour. Along with their Australian tourmates, Orpheus Omega, the Finnish musicians have been banned from playing in Hong Kong due to visa issues. Photo: Insomnium via Facebook

Underground concert venue Hidden Agenda has cancelled performances by visiting bands tonight after the musicians were detained and questioned by Hong Kong authorities.

Melodic death metal bands Insomnium and Orpheus Omega, from Finland and Australia respectively, were detained at the Chinese border today when they tried to enter Hong Kong at around noon. They were released after about three hours of questioning and allowed into Hong Kong on tourist visas, but were forced to sign agreements saying that they would not perform at tonight’s scheduled show.

Hidden Agenda apologized for the cancellation in a note on Facebook and said, “We feel sorry for all of you who love Insomnium and Orpheus Omega, however, we don’t want to put the two bands into trouble, we hope you would understand our difficult situation.”

Local supporting act Pave the Path will perform as planned.

Just over a week ago, British band TTNG and American musician Mylets were arrested during their concert at Hidden Agenda after Immigration Department workers accused them of working as “illegal immigrants” after failing to secure the appropriate visas. The livehouse was raided by armed police with riot shields and sniffer dogs.

Hidden Agenda’s founder, Hui Chung-wo, one of the livehouse’s staffers, and an audience member were also arrested. Hui in particular was charged with obstructing public officers in carrying out their duties, aiding and abetting breach of conditions of stay, employing illegal workers, failing to inspect the identity document of illegal workers, and failing to keep employee’s records.

While both TTNG and Mylets have since returned to their home countries, they are required to return to Hong Kong in June to report to the Immigration Department. The future for Hidden Agenda is uncertain. In response to some people’s assertion that the arrests could have been avoided if Hidden Agenda operated legally, here’s what they’ve said:

“Some have questioned why HA doesn’t simply obtain the relevant licenses to operate legally. The reason is that operating out of an industrial building is the only viable option for a venue of HA’s size and scale due to exorbitant rent in Hong Kong. However, relevant lease laws made in 1967 and 1973 stipulate that industrial premises shall only be used for industrial work/storage purposes. This makes it impossible for us to obtain the relevant licenses to operate legally. ”

Now in their fourth location, Hidden Agenda has been operating under a food factory license since late last year, but have come under scrutiny from the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department for breaching the conditions of their lease and license. Read their full statement on the matter here.

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