Music festival season is upon us and Asia is on the map for this year's biggest live acts. While Hongkongers have to wait until November for Clockenflap, there are plenty of names from The xx to Linkin Park stopping by en route to other festivals. Here's the 48 Hours guide to the hottest gatherings. By Dave Bannister
July 31, 7pm
Star Hall, Kitec
Winners of the 2010 Mercury Music Prize, The xx are those rare creatures who see the value in playing Hong Kong and Asia while their career is still in its ascendancy. The indie-pop band from London followed up their award-winning debut with the sophomore album, Coexist, late last year, which led to them being nominated for best band at the 2013 Brit awards. In between, they’ve translated their seductive sound to film soundtracks including The Great Gatsby.
Not to be missed.
Tickets: sold out, hkticketing.com
The Smashing Pumpkins
August 13, 8pm
Grunge stalwarts The Smashing Pumpkins celebrate their 25th anniversary in the only way they know how – with a wall of noise.
Frontman Billy Corgan reassembled the Chicago band in 2007 after nearly a decade between records, and their most recent release, last year’s Oceania, saw them return to their psychedelic, shoegazing roots without ditching their embrace of electronica to create epic atmospheric soundscapes.
Tickets: HK$580-HK$780, hkticketing.com
August 15, 8pm
Chester Bennington and his hard-rocking crew return for some melodic screaming mixed with rap to promote the band’s Living Things album, which topped the charts in 20 countries. The Grammy-winning rockers can boast about being the biggest band on Facebook, with more than 52 million fans, which means you can expect younger fans in the audience besides their diehard followers.
Tickets: HK$288-HK$888, hkticketing.com
September 13, 8pm
The Venetian Macao
Diamonds diva Rihanna gets her bling on in the glitziest place in Asia. The headlinegrabbing Barbadian star is arguably the hottest and hardest-working woman in pop, fuelled by a procession of dance-friendly hits and her raunchy stage act. She doesn’t come cheap, and VIP tickets are likely to rise in value for the chance to get up close with the singer.
Tickets: HK$280-HK$1,780, hkticketing.com
September 29, 8pm
The androgynous Brett Anderson will reignite many an old flame when Suede return to Hong Kong. The band holds a special place on the bedroom walls of Hongkongers for their multiple visits to the city during their 1990s heyday. The concert will most likely feature classics such as Animal Nitrate along with tracks from their new album Bloodsports, a return to musings on love, life and loss.
The band reformed in 2010 after a seven-year hiatus.
Tickets: HK$580-HK$780, hkticketing.com
November 29-December 1
Hong Kong’s homegrown music festival really hit its stride last year on the West Kowloon waterfront. The blend of local band and DJ talent with a creative pick of overseas performers makes it the one weekend of the year you don’t want to miss. This year’s line-up will begin to be released later in the summer.
Zebra Music Festival
July 19-21, Jinshan Beach
Shanghai’s Jinshan Beach is set to rock to dozens of local and international acts. With three stages named Heaven, Earth and Ocean, there’s also al fresco karaoke, beach soccer and water gun fights. The line-up has yet to be announced.
Tickets: 120-380 yuan (HK$151-HK$480), gewara.com
September 20-21, Expo Park
Shanghai’s month-long JZ festival kicks off its ninth year with a massive music party in the park that hosted the 2010 World Expo. Eight stages feature jazz, blues, soul, funk, R’n’B, pop, folk, electronica,
world music and rock. Star acts include The Brand New Heavies, Lisa Ono and Cao Feng.
Tickets: 200–250 yuan per day, jzfestival.com
Hohaiyan Gongliao Festival
July 10-14, Fulong Beach
With the focus on rock, punk, pop and indie bands from around the region, this free festival (right) is about entertaining the community. There’s a contest for best indie band on the third day.
Tickets: free, 2013hohaiyan.tw
Taipei Children’s Recreation Centre and Taipei Expo Park
Suede, The xx, Mercury Rev and Blood Red Shoes head Taipei’s Formoz Festival. The event has come a long way since it began as a street jam featuring just local bands 18 years ago.
Tickets: NT$2,500-NT$3,900 (HK$644-HKS$1,005), formoz.com
July 26-28, Naeba
One of Asia’s oldest and biggest rock festivals, Fuji Rock always puts on a line-up to rival Glastonbury and Coachella. This year is no exception with Mumford & Sons, Björk, The Cure, Nine Inch Nails and DJ Skrillex to name just a few.
Tickets: 16,800-42,800 yen (HK$1,333-HK$3,396),
August 10-11, Tokyo and Osaka
For one sweltering weekend, Tokyo and Osaka rock to some of the world’s biggest bands. Muse, Metallica, Linkin Park and The Smashing Pumpkins top the bill. But it’s not all about power chords with
diverse acts including Pet Shop Boys, Johnny Marr, Earth Wind & Fire, and Two Door Cinema Club, ably supported by Japan’s talented and often wacky home-grown bands and singers.
Tickets: 13,000-28,000 yen, summersonic.com
Yokohama Honmoku Jazz Festival
Aug (date TBA)
Honmoku Shimin Park, Yokohama
Every August, Yokohama celebrates its reputation as the birthplace of Japanese jazz with a festival bringing together top musicians from around the world. With gigs across the city, the highlight is a one-day concert at Honmoku Shimin Park. This year’s line-up is yet to be confirmed.
Tickets: TBA, honmoku-jazz.com
September 14, Yokohama Stadium
Giorgio Moroder relives his electric dreams as Japan’s electronic music bash celebrates its 15th anniversary. The all-night party features more than a dozen DJs including German trancemaster Sven ath, Josh Wink and Japan’s very own superstar DJ Ken Ishii.
Tickets: 11,550 yen, wireweb.jp
Ansan Valley Rock Festival
July 26-28, Seoul
Inspired by Fuji Rock in Japan, the Ansan Valley festival brings some of the best acts from there to South Korea. This year’s lineup features Nine Inch Nails, Skrillex, The Cure as well as The Stereophonics and The xx. Indie Korean acts are lined up to play, too.
Tickets: 120,000-260,000 won, (HK$807-HK$1,750), valleyrockfestival.com
Incheon Pentaport Rock Fest
August 2-4, Incheon
The Big Pink, Glasvegas, Fall Out Boy and Skid Row join Suede and Blood Red Shoes at the three-day festival close to Incheon airport on the outskirts of Seoul.
Tickets: 89,100-165,000 won, pentaportrock.com
Busan Rock Festival
August 3-5, Samrak Ecological Park
After more than a decade, the Busan Rock Festival has moved from the city’s beaches to Samrak Ecological Park. It offers a refuge from the big names of Ansan with Korean bands playing everything from rock to metal and indie. Best of all, it’s gratis.
Tickets: free, festival.busan.kr
October 6, Fort Canning Park
The most unlikely line-ups of Asia’s festivals belong hands down to Retrolicious, Singapore’s biggest retro music event, which has brought back to life such long distant memories as 1980s synth act Howard Jones, Wang Chung and Tiffany (all together: “I think we’re alone now”). It’s always packed, so the organisers clearly know our guilty pleasures. This year’s hotly awaited raves from the graves have yet to be announced.
Tickets: TBA, sistic.com.sg
Early December, Sentosa Island
Zoukout rounds out the year with a stunning beach party on Sentosa. The two-night event runs from dusk ’til after dawn. Since 2000, ZoukOut has brought the world’s top DJs to spin in the sand, including Paul Van Dyk, Masters at Work, Gilles Peterson, Sven Väth and James Lavelle. OK, so the Singapore Tourism Board is involved and it’s not as hedonistic as the parties on Ibiza, but if you’re coming for the music, it has it all – from electro to trance, hip hop and even mambo.
Tickets: TBA, zoukout.com