Clockenflap locals: an insider’s guide to the hottest Hong Kong acts on stage this weekend
New Order and The Libertines are headlining this year’s festival, but there's plenty of Hong Kong talent that you should not miss. Edwin Lo, co-founder of online music magazine Bite Tone, lists his favourite local acts and why they're worth catching
Denise Ho (Saturday 8.30pm, Harbourflap Stage)
Perhaps one of the better known artists is HOCC or Denise Ho Wan-see, who will be making her Clockenflap debut on the main stage on Saturday night. The openly gay singer was active during the umbrella movement protests last year and lost some gigs on the mainland because of her political stance and her record label East Asia dropped her from their roster. That hasn’t stopped her, though – she’s simply moved to an independent label and continued to produce her music. "Her music hasn’t changed, though she should have more freedom now," Lo says. Nevertheless, the 38-year-old singer, has learned a few things from her mentor, the late Canto-pop queen Anita Mui Yuen-fong. "The way Denise markets herself is exciting,” Lo says, citing an example of when her tour went to Kwun Tong and invited indie bands to play with her, thus building her street cred.
Leah Dou (Saturday 7pm, Harbourflap Stage)
Another act worth checking out is Leah Dou Jingtong, who is making her Hong Kong debut at Clockenflap. Who is she, you ask? You might have heard of her mother, the Mando-pop star Faye Wong, who is reported to have rekindled her relationship with Nicholas Tse Ting-fung.
But we digress. Dou’s father Dou Wei is with the Beijing rocker group Black Panther, and Lo says he is known for his experimental music.
Leah Dou released her first album, an English indie pop-inspired collection of songs called Chimes, in Japan earlier this year. Apparently, it was Wong who suggested her daughter release it there because Japan was more amenable to indie pop.
The 17-year-old also has a striking resemblance to her mother, and while her first performance here sounds intriguing, Lo says she hasn’t established herself long enough to have a body of work to showcase yet. “She has a big legacy so it’s too early to tell. But what I’ve heard so far is not bad. I’m excited for her. Maybe in a few years she’ll be huge.”
Ocean Lam (Saturday 2pm, Electriq Stage)
DJ Ocean Lam is popular with local clubbers and has built a loyal following. Lo says she stands out as one of the few female DJs in the city. She also started late – in 2008 – and has since honed her turntable skills to become a fixture on the Hong Kong scene and has been invited to play in Europe, too.
Jing Wong (Saturday 12.30pm, Harbourflap Stage)
Singer-songwriter Jing Wong is working hard these days – he just released his English EP How to Disappear in June and a few weeks ago followed up with his first Chinese EP. Lo describes his music as folk rock and often collaborates with Anna Fan on drums.
“Jing Wong’s music is an acquired taste,” says Lo. “His voice and intonation are unique, the way he pronounces words, but the music is very good, with a bluesy sound.”
The Chung Brothers (Sunday 12.30pm, Harbourflap)
Henry Chung is an accomplished harmonica player, while his brother Roger is the singer of the group. Lo explains Henry lived in the United States and was influenced by a lot of gospel and blues. The end result is an interesting combination of Canto-gospel-blues that has some religious undertones. Lo says they are worth watching for their music, that has an old-school sound.
King Ly Chee (Sunday 7.30pm, Your Mum Stage)
This hardcore punk band has been around Hong Kong for 15 years, but they are better known on the mainland and Southeast Asia.
“Hong Kong people don’t get them, they are not accustomed to their music,” says Lo. “They might attract a younger audience at Clockenflap.” Lo says they are a premier hardcore band that has persevered all this time. “If people are interested in heavy metal, they can watch this band to see how tight they are and proficient they are on their instruments.”
Subyub Lee (Friday 8.30pm, Your Mum Stage)
This local singer-songwriter is one talented artist, according to Lo, who describes his music as psychedelic pop. While Lo says Lee’s recently released second album isn’t as exciting as the first one, the music and arrangements are still quirky compared to the formulaic Canto-pop songs.
Life Was All Silence (Saturday 5pm, Your Mum Stage)
While one would probably describe this group as post-rock and instrumental rock, Lo believes Life Was All Silence doesn’t like to be labelled as such. “Their music is moody and dark, and has some good effects,” Lo says, who particularly likes this group for creating their own sound.
Youngqueenz (Friday 6.45pm, Your Mum Stage)
This young rapper who started up Wild$tyle Records is doing his bit to promote hip-hop culture in Hong Kong. However, Lo notes the city isn’t receptive about hip hop, perhaps because it’s very American. Nevertheless, Lo says for what he and his crew are doing, they’re doing a good job.
Owk (Saturday 1.15pm, Your Mum Stage)
This local garage rock band is rowdy and raw, whose sound, Lo says, is very mainland. “They are more raw than mid-90s Sonic Youth,” he observes. The group will perform some new material at this year’s Clockenflap.
The Anello (Friday 5.30pm, Your Mum Stage)
This duo of Michael Garcia and Jeff Anello used to be part of Bella Elektra, and they have branched off on their own to perform a mix of indie, electronic and hip hop. “They’re good performers and they are good at getting the crowd engaged,” says Lo.
Shaolin Fez (Sunday 1.45pm, Harbourflap Stage)
Hong Kong’s answer to the swingin’ cocktail sounds of Pink Martini – this is what happens when classical musicians ditch the orchestra and want to play danceable jazz, symphonic disco and songs made for divas to soar high above. It’s classy, sophisticated, and if you remember the category of music known as acid jazz this is for you.
ANWIYCTI (Friday 5.30pm, Atum Stage)
Also known as A New World If You Can Take It, this band was formed two years ago, and consists of bass, drums, keyboard and no guitar. Lo describes the band as alternative rock that has a futuristic, experimental vibe.
Prune Deer (Sunday 1.15pm, Your Mum Stage)
What happens when a band decides to go it alone without a singer? Prune Deer play moody instrumentals that classify as post-rock, made for swaying your fringe to. They’ve got a decent following in the wake of some intensive gigs at Hidden Agenda and will be just the ticket to start off the final day.
Yuen Chi Chung (Saturday 1pm, Robot Stage)
Yuen Chi-chung is best known for starting Music Colony Bi-weekly (MCB), an independent music magazine in the 1990s, which educated young people about bands. While he stopped the magazine in 2004, Yuen continues to be active in the music scene and has been a regular at Clockenflap.
Yoyo Sham (Saturday 2.45pm, Harbourflap Stage)
Originally from Hong Kong, Yoyo Sham started her career in Taiwan and lives there now. She is best known for her Mando-pop songs that Lo says are “relaxing and not cheesy, bordering on indie pop”.
The Interzone Collective (Sunday 1pm, Atum Stage)
If you’ve seen a Chinese guy with long hair playing a didgeridoo in Central, you’ve seen one musician who makes up part of this group. Established by Edmund Leung, The Interzone Collective features such instruments as the harp and violin so expect an eclectic blend of styles and sounds.