Clockenflap Music Festival

M.I.A. to headline Clockenflap’s Saturday as Hong Kong festival announces final additions to line-up

Roster of more than 50 international and 70 local acts now includes hip-hop pioneers Sugarhill Gang, British indie stars London Grammar, Californian chillwavers oOoOO and UK electronic musicians Lone and SBTRKT

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 27 October, 2016, 10:34pm
UPDATED : Friday, 28 October, 2016, 11:56am

The 1,500 people who gathered at Cyberport in 2008 for the debut Clockenflap probably didn’t realise it at the time, but they were witnessing the birth of a festival that would finally place Hong Kong on the global musical map. And now, after eight years of continuous growth and the festival’s evolution into a world-class event, Hong Kong music fans are gearing up for what organisers are saying will be the biggest Clockenflap yet.

Tonight, the organisers unveiled the full line-up of this year’s event, which runs from November 25-27. It’s the first Clockenflap to be held along the Central Harbourfront, a move that comes after the festival spent five successful years at its much-loved West Kowloon location.

The big news in tonight’s announcement is the addition of English rapper and singer-songwriter M.I.A., who will now be headlining the festival on the Saturday night, following this week’s shock withdrawal of South African rap-ravers Die Antwoord.

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The other headliners – Icelandic post-rock band Sigur Ros (Friday) and British dance music icons the Chemical Brothers (Sunday) – were announced over the previous months.

Other notable new names added to the bill include US hip-hop pioneers the Sugarhill Gang, British indie band London Grammar, California chillwave act oOoOO, and UK electronic musicians Lone and SBTRKT.

As with previous years, a mind-boggling array of genres is being served up at Clockenflap, and this year punters will experience everything from Jamaican dub reggae (Mad Professor) and slamming German techno (Rodhad) to epic post-rock (65daysofstatic) and classic 1970s funk (George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic).

This year there are no Hong Kong artists on the scale of Denise Ho Wan-See, who appeared last year, but the line-up does include local singer Ellen Loo, Taiwanese singer-songwriter Cheer Chen, and eclectic Japanese pop group Sekai No Owari.

Overall, Clockenflap will present more than 50 international and almost 70 local acts spread over three main band stages, two electronic stages, two theatre venues and two immersive entertainment spaces, along with a well-curated selection of installation art, a film tent, a craft market, children’s entertainment and pretty much the best food you’ll find at any festival anywhere in the world.

“It’s our most cohesive line-up ever,” says music director Justin Sweeting, who co-founded Clockenflap with festival director Mike Hill and artistic director Jay Forster. “In terms of depth, there are a huge range of genres and generations covered across the spectrum. There are of course the big international heavy hitters, but there are also the finest local acts in the land.

“This diversity relates to pretty much every aspect of Clockenflap, because since day one, music has been just one element of the festival. For example, the Club Minky line-up has some truly inspired theatre, comedy, acrobatics and cabaret shows. Everything at Clockenflap has been curated through the roof and there really will be something for everyone to discover over the three days.”

The organisers were thrown a curveball earlier this week when Die Antwoord pulled out about two months after they lost another headliner, US dance-rock band LCD Soundsystem. But for many music lovers, the void will have been more than filled with the addition of M.I.A., who will be making her Hong Kong debut at the festival.

The London native was born Mathangi Arulpragasam to Sri Lankan Tamil parents, and is a multitalented artist who has also dabbled in the visual arts, fashion design, modelling and photography. M.I.A. has often courted controversy with comments on the oppression of Sri Lankan Tamils, Palestinians and African Americans, but has won acclaim for a body of work that combines violent imagery, culture jamming and activism with politically charged hip hop.

Many Clockenflappers who had fallen in love with the West Kowloon location have been wondering how this sprawling event can be staged along the Central Harbourfront, but if the festival co-founders have proved anything over the past eight years, it’s that they aren’t afraid of a challenge.

“What a lot of people don’t know yet is that our footprint in terms of land is the same as what we had last year at West Kowloon. We’re really looking forward to surprising people with our site plans. Apart from the convenience of being in the heart of Central, the setting slap-bang in the middle of Hong Kong’s iconic skyline is going to be stunning.”

Asked what he was most looking forward to about this year’s festival, Sweeting replies: “I’ve always been the type of festivalgoer who looks for new acts to discover and fall in love with, and this year those artists would be The Trees & The Wild, Pumarosa and Yuna.

“There’s also the Taiwanese band No Party for Cao Dong – I’m sure people will be talking about them long after the festival is over. I’ve also known [British indie band] Foals for ages and it’s fantastic that we’re finally able to get them on stage at Clockenflap.

“But to be honest, every act on the bill is there purely because they are a winner. Come early with an open mind. It’s all there to be gloriously experienced.”

Get the full line-up for Clockenflap 2016