Clockenflap Music Festival
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Dan Deacon at Clockenflap. Photo: Kitmin Lee

Top 10 Hong Kong Clockenflap moments from the first 10 years: De La Soul, New Order, Rocky A$AP, Chic, Chemical Brothers

From a Blackalicious wedding proposal to the four-letter Flaming Lips, from a lunar eclipse to the legendary Nile Rodgers and Chic teaming up with Hong Kong’s Unsung Heroes, we share some memorable moments from the festival

This month’s 10th anniversary of Clockenflap gives us an opportunity to look back at the decade in which the event evolved into Hong Kong’s biggest annual music and arts festival. While there have been many highlights during the past decade, here are 10 of the most memorable moments which took place during the first 10 years of the festival.
Blackalicious at Clockenflap in 2015. Photo Jon Butters

10. She said yes

During US hip-hop outfit Blackalicious’ 2015 performance, backing vocalist Jumbo seized the moment to propose to one of the outfit’s female singers. It was one of those very public proposals that could have gone horribly wrong – luckily for him, it didn’t.

The cash confetti storm during A$AP Rocky’s set at Clockenflap. Photo Clockenflap

9. Making it rain

US rapper A$AP Rocky’s 2015 show was a feast for the senses – performed on a stage styled like a classic American diner – and it came to a head when he showered the audience with a storm of faux banknotes bearing his dreadlocked likeness.

The 1975 at Clockenflap. Photo Kitmin Lee

8. That seventies show

Young British rockers The 1975 were still very much an up-and-coming band when they appeared at Clockenflap in 2013. Not that you’d have known that from the reception they received from their local fans, who greeted them – much to their obvious surprise – like the megastars they soon would become.

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De La Soul at Clockenflap. Photo Kitmin Lee
7. They’ve got soul

De La Soul were the first big hip-hop act to play Clockenflap and their infectious, soulful set in 2012 brought a smile to thousands of faces. Particularly when they decided to play musical statues with the crowd – not exactly something you see often at hip-hop shows.

Flaming Lips at Clockenflap 2014.

6. F.Y.H.K.

Trippy rockers the Flaming Lips have always been famed for their live shows – and they went all out at Clockenflap in 2014, filling the stage with giant dancing creatures and blasting out an ocean of confetti. We knew we were in for a wild ride when singer Wayne Coyne took to the stage carrying an array of metallic balloons reading “F*** YEAH HONG KONG”.

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New Order at Clockenflap. Photo: Inga Beckmann

5. Blue Sunday

New Order’s performance in 2015 was the British dance-rock outfit’s first large-scale show in Hong Kong, so emotions were always going to run high when their local fans finally got to experience them live.

But not many could have expected the rapturous response as they closed the Sunday night of the festival with their 1980s classic Blue Monday.

Dan Deacon's set at Clockenflap. Photo: Kitmin Lee

4. Everybody dance now

Electronic musician Dan Deacon got the party started early on the Saturday afternoon in 2014 with some of his famous audience activity sessions. After creating a clearing in the middle of the crowd, Deacon presided over some of the funniest dance competitions you’ll ever see – not a single face was left without a smile.

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The Chemical Brothers close Clockenflap 2016. Photo: Chris Lusher
3. The brothers worked it out

“Epic” was the word most used to describe the 2016 festival closing set by British electronic duo the Chemical Brothers. As they blasted out highlights from their extensive back catalogue over mind-bending visuals while flanked by two giant laser-eyed robots, the audience was left breathless by the sheer sensory overload.

Nile Rodgers and Chic with Unsung Heroes at Clockenflap. Photo: Kitmin Lee

2. We can be heroes

Perhaps the most moving Clockenflap moment came in 2013 when disco icons Nile Rodgers and Chic were joined onstage by the Unsung Heroes, a choir made up of Hong Kong domestic helpers. The performance was filmed for the recently released documentary titled The Helper – and we defy anyone to watch the show without shedding a tear.

Bombay Bicycle Club at Clockenflap.

1. Dark side of the moon

For the defining moment of the first decade of Clockenflap, it’s hard to beat the lunar eclipse that occurred during the performance by Bombay Bicycle Club in 2011. As the moon slipped behind the shadow of the Earth while the British band drove the crowd into a frenzy, the eclipse provided a good omen for the future of the festival during its first instalment at West Kowloon.

Clockenflap, Nov 17 to 19, Central Harbourfront, HK$980 (Friday general admission) to HK$1,830 (three-day general admission), Ticketflap