Sounds unlimited: Our essential guide to the Clockenflap Music and Arts Festival
Franz Ferdinand may be headlining, but there is a plethora of other talent at Clockenflap. Adam Wright picks some of the support acts you won’t want to miss
FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 29
Two-Door Cinema Club Since they came together in 2007, this trio from Northern Ireland has won over critics and music followers alike with a far-reaching sound that meanders through electronica, indie rock, post-punk and new wave. The labels and bands that Two-Door Cinema Club have collaborated with say it all: an EP released on hip electronica label Kitsune and remixes for French synth-pop giants Phoenix. With their catchy blend of electronics and guitar hooks, TDCC will be one of the highlights of the festival.
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club They may be American, but Black Rebel Motorcycle Club follow in the footsteps of classic British guitar bands such as The Jesus and Mary Chain, My Bloody Valentine and Ride. BRMC have built up a devoted following over the course of seven albums and a very rock ‘n’ roll career, and in recent years they’ve settled into a more mellow, neo-psychedelic sound that has won over festival audiences worldwide.
Four Tet Four Tet is the stage name of Kieran Hebden, a one-man electronic music phenomenon who first came to attention as a member of the British post-rock band Fridge. As a solo artist, Four Tet initially experimented with a strange hybrid of folk, jazz and Krautrock-inspired electronica, but his more recent work focuses on a house-influenced sound aimed squarely at the dance floor. This will be the first time Hebden has brought his Four Tet live show to Hong Kong.
Omar Souleyman As a Syrian folk-pop artist who rose to fame in his home country as a wedding singer, Omar Souleyman is certainly the odd man out on the Clockenflap roster. Souleyman is one of the biggest names in dabke, a traditional style of music performed during line dances at weddings and other celebrations. But what brings him to Clockenflap is his infectious live show that has already taken him to countless rock festivals around the world. Get ready for something different.
Uptown Rockers This trio of ridiculously cool Eurasian DJs have been much in-demand at events ranging from fashion shows to underground dance music parties since they formed in the middle of the previous decade. The self-styled “super group” of Hong Kong DJs, the outfit comprising Sean the Prawn, Simon Pang, and Drafus Chow spin an eclectic mix of everything from classic rock to banging electro, and are renowned for getting the party started.
SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 30
Chic (featuring Nile Rodgers) Nile Rodgers became one of the musical stars of 2013 after he was “rediscovered” by French dance music duo Daft Punk and contributed his distinctive funky guitar sound to their summer smash Get Lucky. But Rodgers has arguably the most impressive musical CV at Clockenflap: he was a member of seminal 1970s disco outfit Chic (of Le Freak fame) and went on to become a superproducer for stars such as David Bowie, Duran Duran and Madonna. Unmissable.
Modeselektor Modeselektor may be an electronic music duo from Berlin, but don’t come expecting a pair of dour-looking types presiding over a set of clinical, depressing beats and bleeps. The live show by Gernot Bronsert and Sebastian Szary is an upbeat, energetic and seriously banging experience that draws mostly from IDM (intelligent dance music), electro and even hip hop. A must-see for people even remotely interested in electronic dance music.
The 1975 These pop-rockers from Manchester are having a very good year: their self-titled debut album topped the British album chart, they appeared on the main stage at Britain’s Freedom Festival and iTunes festival, and have won widespread acclaim on both sides of the Atlantic. The album, produced by Mike Crossey, who has worked with Arctic Monkeys and Two Door Cinema Club, is full of polished, sing-along numbers that – along with the members’ cute looks – will probably drive youngsters crazy at the festival.
Ellen Loo Ellen Loo has enjoyed one of the more interesting careers in modern Hong Kong pop music. After starting out as a member of the local “folktronica” duo at17 with Eman Lam, Loo was absorbed into the mainstream – penning numbers for the likes of Miriam Yeung Chin-wah and Sally Yeh Chen-ven – but has survived with her indie credibility intact. Along with GEM’s appearance on Sunday, Loo’s booking shows that festival organisers are trying to broaden their appeal to the Hong Kong public.
Gold Panda Mining a similar musical vein to Four Tet, Gold Panda – the stage name of London producer Derwin Schlecker – takes a cut-up approach to his music, layering snippets of vocal samples over clicky beats and swirling synthesisers. He’s remixed Bloc Party and Little Boots, recorded a mix for the acclaimed DJ Kicks series, and is now touring to support his latest album, Half of Where You Live.
SUNDAY, DECEMBER 1
Cui Jian The “father of Chinese rock” epithet may be overused, but it’s still the best way of describing Cui Jian. In 1989, his song Nothing to My Name became the anthem of the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests, leading to a ban on his records and concerts. In the years since, he has been politically rehabilitated and has now settled into a role as the elder statesman of Chinese rock – and has even appeared on stage with The Rolling Stones and Public Enemy.
Metric After Franz Ferdinand, Metric are arguably the biggest band on the bill. During the past decade, this Canadian outfit have released five albums of perfect pop that takes in new wave, dance-rock, electronica and synthpop. Led by charismatic frontwoman Emily Haines, Metric are known for a heavy touring schedule that has taken them to huge events such as the Coachella, Lollapalooza and Reading festivals, so should be in good form for their Hong Kong show.
2ManyDJs David and Stephen Dewaele are the creative geniuses behind Belgian alternative rock band Soulwax, but they will be better known to clubbers as the party-rocking duo 2ManyDJs. Largely to credit (or blame) for the mashup trend – such as INXS mixed with AC/DC – of a few years ago, 2ManyDJs throw everything from cheesy progressive rock to banging German techno into the mix, and always leave a smiling crowd in their wake.
Tegan and Sara Young, who signed them to his label) when they emerged as a lo-fi folk-rock duo in 1998.
Since then, they have soared to impressive heights, touring with Young and The Killers, and also adopting a more polished, pop sound that has convinced a new audience.
Benga Quite a few eyes will be on this former leading light of the dubstep sound, considering that the genre in which he made his name has died an ignominious death. DJ Benga’s former partner, Skream, has moved on to playing classic disco, and it appears Clockenflappers can expect a set made up of anything from classic rave to post-dubstep. Either way, Benga is known as an energetic performer, and sure to bring the festival to an explosive close.
Bring it ...
Enough cash: there are no ATMs on site and you don’t want to have to schlep back to Kowloon Station.
Blanket or plastic sheet: if you want to chill on the grass, you’ll need one of these.
Warm clothing: it may be sunny by day, but it can get chilly at night on the waterfront, so be prepared. Also consider a plastic poncho in case it rains (like it did last year).
Appropriate footwear: protect your feet in the crowd by wearing closed-toe shoes, preferably old ones you don’t mind getting covered in mud and beer.
The little ones: it’s free for under-12s, and plenty to entertain them, including a bouncy castle and arts and crafts workshops.
An open mind: check out bands you’ve never heard of. Buy a stranger a beer. Embrace the festival spirit – it’s what Clockenflap is all about.