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Clockenflap Music Festival

Clockenflap 2016 wraps as resilient fans rewarded with clear Hong Kong weather on final day

From hip hop to funk, post-rock and Cantonese thrash metal, audiences braved ‘two seasons in 24 hours’ to soak in festivities across the musical spectrum

PUBLISHED : Monday, 28 November, 2016, 12:33am
UPDATED : Monday, 28 November, 2016, 4:11pm

The rain and cold did not dampen the mood of Clockenflap 2016 festival-goers, who braved biting winds and soaked up icy showers with evening temperatures dipping to as low as 15 degrees Celsius, to catch a host of international musical talent.

The event, staged in the city since 2008, and widely praised for having nurtured the Chinese alternative music scene, this year moved from the West Kowloon harbourfront to Central Harbourfront.

But high winds and rain marred the festivities on Friday, followed by torrential downpours on Saturday afternoon into the evening.

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The skies finally cleared on Sunday in time for sets from headline acts – British indie rockers Foals and dance music legends the Chemical Brothers.

Foals’ lead singer Yannis Philippakis smashed his microphone enthusiastically on the stage after the band’s set, which marked the end of their What Went Down Tour.

The night before, headline act British-Sri Lankan rapper M.I.A., performing at the festival for the first time, caused a stir after referring to Hong Kong several times as “China”, prompting boos from the crowd.

But she continued her performance undeterred and enjoyed a rapturous applause for her song Paper Planes, which became a global hit after being included on the soundtrack for the film Slumdog Millionaire.

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Earlier on Saturday night, British indie band London Grammar drew a large crowd for their first performance in Asia.

Meanwhile Icelandic post-rockers Sigur Ros proved a popular draw at the Harbourflap stage on Friday night. Other highlights that day included legendary American funk pioneer George Clinton with his music collective Parliament-Funkadelic, and Canadian music group BadBadNotGood.

Festival co-founder Justin Sweeting said he was impressed with the resilience of Hongkongers for braving the rain to enjoy the entertainment, especially on Saturday.

“For me, a highlight was seeing the unseasonable weather and seeing how the crowd reacted to that,” he said. “It didn’t break anyone’s mood. It was incredible. It was a beautiful moment and I think people will look back on it in years to come and say it was special that they were here.”

Sweeting added that he was grateful for the return to more friendly weather on Sunday.

The weather didn’t break anyone’s mood. It was incredible. It was a beautiful moment and I think people will look back on it in years to come and say it was special that they were here
Festival co-founder Justin Sweeting

“It’s nice it turned out like this,” he said. “We have experienced two seasons in 24 hours.”

On Sunday, Cantonese thrash metal band Charm Charm Chu attracted enthusiastic cheers after dedicating one song to the police officers who herded protesters during the 2014 Occupy movement.

Meanwhile, on the festival’s FWD stage, British singer-songwriter Lucy Rose was greeted by hundreds of fans, some of whom had previously seen her perform at the festival in 2012.

Towards the late afternoon, hip-hop troupe The Sugarhill Gang gave a thumping performance of their back catalogue, and insisted the Hong Kong crowd were much louder and “much better looking” than their audience in Singapore.

In general, festival attendees this year reported being happy with the range of acts on offer.

Matthew Bristow, an Australian consultant living in Hong Kong, said he was pleased with the festival’s new venue in Central.

“It’s easier to get around,” he said. “I think it has been brilliant. The crowd has been pretty tough despite the rain. Everyone was upbeat.”

Sue Steel, a kindergarten teacher from Melbourne, said London Grammar was her highlight of the weekend.

“We were waiting in the rain for four hours for them and they thanked us for that,” she said.

But some revellers complained that the new venue was difficult to navigate, particularly after rain struck.

Christelle Lloyd said it was “chaos” trying to get through the crowds on Saturday night as rain battered the audience.

“It’s a very tight space,” she said. “It’s very confusing; last night was chaos. There were people climbing over gardens and fences. It was really difficult to find out where everything was.”

Last minute tickets for the event were priced at HK$980 for a day, while weekend passes were priced at about HK$1,800. Early bird weekend passes, sold in advance of the event, were priced at HK$1,290 including booking fee.

About 60,000 people attended the event in 2015. This year’s headcount had not been finalised at press time.

The festival has come a long way from when it was first held in 2008 at an empty housing development in Cyberport, attracting just 1,500 people.