#Clockenflap2015 Saturday: The action, artists and party as it happened
Updates from Hong Kong’s biggest music event
Clockenflap is in its eighth year and this event brought Hong Kong another wild weekend. SCMP was blogging live until Sunday night and we present the full live experience for readers to recap.
Day 2, November 28
Clockenflap day two has closed with thousands of smiling weary faces satisfied as they head for the MTR home. What a day, with Mercury Rev and The Libertines closing on a rocking note, and A$ap Rocky blowing the crowd away with something new to the Hong Kong event.
The Libertines arrived onstage (shock!) early with a tight set of classic tracks, starting with Horrorshow and moving pretty quickly to the indie club classic Can't Stand Me Now.
Singer Pete Doherty was on his best behaviour - finally clean, and accompanied by his rehab therapist on tour - and the band seemed genuinely concerned about putting on a solid show.
"I dedicate this one to an old neighbour of mine who now lives in Hong Kong and designs dildos," Doherty announced before the band launched into Time for Heroes. Fighting the good fight.
One lucky fan (or unlucky, depending where it landed) got to keep Pete Doherty's guitar!
Pete just threw his guitar to the audience! #Clockenflap2015
Posted by Tube on Saturday, November 28, 2015
HINDS and GLEN CHECK
Madrid's Hinds kicked off YourMum's evening entertainment. The Spanish garage rock trio admitted they'd only stepped off the plane hours earlier, and the jetlag gave their set argued edge. Oscillating between sounding like Nirvana, the Vines and (pretty frequently) The Shaggs, the fierce female quartet won the crowd over with raw riffs, Carlotta Cosials shriek-torn vocals and not a shred of pretentiousness in sight. "12 hours flight for a 25 minute show," sighed guitarist and singer Ana Garcia Perrote. "We could play for three hours!" Seemed like the crowd would happily let them.
Back on the YourMum stage, South Korea's Glen Check put together a jaw dropping celebration of light and sound. With influences from LCD Soundsystem to Daft Punk and Hot Chip, the duo pulled out all the stops to get the crowd moving and prove there's more to their homeland's music scene than factory-farmed k-pop. If you haven't heard of them, get them up on YouTube or Spotify now, because this pair are gonna be big.
By bringing in It Boy A$AP Rocky, Clockenflap has bought hip hop fully into the fold - and bought a whole new demographic to the festival.
Rocky is a member of the A$AP Mob - which also includes A$AP Ferg - and is arguably the most vital hip hop artist to have appeared at Clockenflap. Rocky kept the crowd waiting a good 15 minutes, sending out local dancers dressed as 1950s diner waitresses to play with the vintage arcade games on stage.
Backed up by a bone shaking sound system, Rocky is giving the heaviest show I've seen at Clockenflap so far. It feels like the moment that hip hop merges into the Clockenflap lineup.
So many shouts out to Hong Kong, big blasts of noise between tracks, and about 3,000 people with their hands on the air. Very hard to beat tonight.
The festival, at the site of the future West Kowloon Cultural District, is certainly making the arts fun.
Club Minky is a performing arts venue, and it is catering all ages and tastes. Among the acts today were the Welsh Wizard and raucous drag queen Madame Mincemeat.
Teddy Lo's magical LED art, a wall of convex mirrors and eyeballs and screws moving around on a metal table were worth a glance in the Magnet Palace.
The highlight at the film tent, Cinema Silenzio, was music documentary Amy. (2015). Director Asif Kapadia used unseen and archive footage to pull together a picture of tragic singer Amy Winehouse's life through her own eyes.
"Look at the people!"
That was the impression as we walked towards the sea of bodies waiting before the Harbourflap stage for Denise Ho's set.
Ho - who was a supporter of the Umbrella movement last year, and made waves in the Canto pop industry by coming out in 2012 - played a range of songs in Cantonese and Mandarin, and joked with the crowd after some technical issues that if her music wasn't loud enough today they could come to her gig next month, which got a big laugh.
The highlight of the gig, however, was her cover of David Bowie's Space Oddity - a moment which hushed the audience, and came directly after Ho thanked the crowd for allowing her to be one of the few Canto stars to grace the main stage this festival.
EARTH, WIND AND FIRE and RATATAT
One of the great things about a well-curated festival like this is the range of entertainment on offer.
On the one hand you have a funk behemoth like Earth, Wind and Fire, a group whose members have a collective experience of several hundred years. They've been putting on crowd-pleasing parties since before the dawn of history and have a back catalogue of dance-floor smashes that can't be beat.
In the other hand you have an act like Ratatat, whose angular and challenging music, complemented by simple and hypnotic visuals, is completely unlike anything you'll have heard or seen before.
Ratatat drew a huge crowd at the Atum stage. The Brooklyn-based rocktronica group had every skull reverberating with an eclectic mix falling somewhere on the spectrum near Hot Chip and Justice. It was the visuals that really made the show though, with lions roaring over geometric neon wizardry.
A good festival contains multitudes - and Clockenflap hasn't disappointed. And the night is young, fellow flappers …
Ball fights, pint drinking, Ricky Martin: the Miss Behave Game Show bought some transgressive cabaret to Club Minky.
Like a Wheel of Fortune episode written by Monty Python and directed by David Lynch, the live game show had maximum audience participation - especially the kids who reveled in the anarchic atmosphere.
Along with the previous act Madame Mincemeat, Miss Behave has brought some seriously demented comedy to Clockenflap tonight.
James Lavelle of UNKLE Sounds is a legend in the electronic music world. He founded the Mo Wax label in the 1990s, an imprint that introduced the likes of DJ Shadow and DJ Krush to the world.
Although the label imploded in the early years of the new millenium, Lavelle bounced back with his UNKLE project that combined rock and electronica, and included collaborators such as Thom Yorke from Radiohead.
Right now at Electriq, Lavelle is tearing through a greatest hits selection of UNKLE tracks interspersed with deep techno and vocal electronica, and has about 2000 people in the palm of his hands.
It's a journey through some of the most emotional and influential dance music of the past two decades. I fully expect to see someone with tears in their eyes soon.
Leah Dou is being very well-received by a huge crowd at the Atum Stage, a crowd that extends all the way to the fences separating this stage from its nearest neighbour.
Dou's brand of moody rock, sophisticated pop and her tremulous yearning voice are very well matched. And when she's speaking to the audience in Cantonese, she has them in the palm of her hand.
She's essaying a range of styles , which definitely shows a certain game spirit. But does she have the means to pull them off? I guess only time will tell.
The kids couldn't care less whether Madame Mincemeat was male or female. They enjoyed the drag queen's lip syncing as much as the adults at Club Minky.
Madame's knickers, with an intestines print at the back, may have been the only thing that bothered them.
Bernice Chan has found Callum from OWK and Jing Wong.
Rock-lovin' Lauren James has been camped out at the Your Mum stage and has given us the highlights:
Clockenflap day two and there's been no reason to leave the Your Mum stage. It started with local student funk outfit James's Secret before HK's own OWK took over for what can only be described as jazz punk - viciously raw riffs choking a damaged saxophone.
Next up: Gengahr. Virtually unknown just 18 months ago, the band now receiving a Clockenflap billing is testament to their busy touring schedule. This was their first time in Hong Kong, but an initially tiny cluster of people soon turned into a sizeable crowd drawn in by a sound closely influenced by Wild Beasts, Silversun Pickups and Radiohead. Nineties shoegazers Swervedriver then drew an audience of nostalgic fans and intrigued youngsters with alternative guitar distortion and early 1990s nonchalance.
Local post rockers Life was all Silence greeted the sunset with immense, immaculately constructed soundscapes evoking Explosions in the Sky and God is an Astronaut. Lots of guitar. Skin tingling waves of the stuff.
The Broods just finished their short set and lead singer Georgia Nott told the enthusiastic crowd gathered at Atum stage that it was their first time performing in Hong Kong.
She added they didn't know if anyone would show up so they were thrilled by the audience of a few hundred.
Next up is Leah Dou, who will also make her debut. Dou, daughter of Faye Wong, is an up and coming indie artist.
Adam Wright takes us behind the scenes to peek into the stars' chambers, where portaloos have been jazzed up with some "generic art" and air-con, a luxury that may be redundant on such a mild day. These treats haven't turned the stars into divas though, so he says.
The big names at Clockenflap may be able to perform their ablutions in more comfort than the average Clockenflapper, but on the ground the internationals have been both visible and friendly to their fans.
Flying Lotus last night was seen warmly receiving his fans with ringing ears after his bass-heavy set, Pete Doherty and the rest of the Libertines were bumping glasses with the masses at last night's after party at the W Hotel, and Future Brown, the first big international act at the Electriq tent today, couldn't have been more accommodating to their local fans before they hit the stage tonight.
That's one of the most beautiful things about Clockenflap - while it feels like a big festival to us, it's intimate and comfortable to the acts more used to playing larger and more chaotic showcases overseas, and they feel able to let their guard down and get amongst it with the appreciative and music-hungry people of Hong Kong.
It's dusk and the skyline is starting to light up.
The 50-year-old Skatalittes, from Jamaica, are getting the crowd dancing at the Harbourflap Stage. Great reggae rendition of the James Bond theme.
Swervedriver has nailed a sonic blast from the past. The veterans showed the benefit of experience while they laid down guitar-driven growls.
Playing against the Kowloon skyline, one Australian fan (arm pictured) couldn't contain himself as he bathed in Swervedriver's fuzzy tunes.
The light is getting low at Clockenflap, The sun has nearly set. The night is young.
At Atum stage is bathing in the light of the magic hour here at Clockenflap2015.
A sunny day in the open air is not exactly the ideal setting to experience Julia Holter's dreamy chamber pop, which seems to come from the place where sleep overcomes consciousness.
So it's a testament then to the strength of the band's melodic sure-footedness and their beautiful harmonising that they grasp the crowd on this beautiful sunny afternoon on the Atum Stage and don't let go. When the band's leader explains that she's wearing sunglasses on stage not because she's "a jerk" but because she's "allergic to sun", it makes perfect sense - this is music for a smoky room on a rainy afternoon.
The band's a quartet - keyboards, Spartan drum setup, viola and upright bass. From this configuration they weave together a simply entrancing sound. It's a shame the mix seems a little muddy - the textures demand more crispness. But that's a minor quibble when the music is so ethereally strange and beautiful.
A long line of festival-goers is queuing at Cinema Silencio to see "Amy". The documentary on the tragic life of soul singer Amy Winehouse features never before seen and archive footage.
It was released this year and screened briefly in Hong Kong.
Freaky space people add yet another dimension to what is without doubt one of the highlights of Hong Kong’s musical calendar year. Maybe we should send them to outer space / find another race.
There is a thing as perfect timing for a band - and Rachael Yamagata playing at 3pm on a gorgeous Saturday afternoon is a perfect example. Congratulations to the programmers of Clockenflap - her dreamy folk-pop melodies illustrated with harmonica held the crowd in rapture on the Harbourflap stage.
She’s classed as “Chinese jazz” but this new resident of Taiwan is more than that; her harmonica player was classy, never ponderous in his approach, calling to mind the style of Stevie Wonder, while the band was tasteful, perhaps their only deference to the “jazz” category being some short instrumental solos to finish the set.
A great part of the crowd enjoying her music were stretched out on the grass, blissing out to her music; it’s a beautiful afternoon at Clockenflap, and Yoyo Sham’s music also suits it perfectly.
Highlight of the day for this reporter so far has to be Jon Gomm, a solo guitarist who single-handedly makes himself sound like a full band.
Forty-five minutes was scarcely enough to scratch the surface of his talent. He didn’t just play the strings but also the surfaces of his instrument to create a storm of sound. Plus, he sang at the same time. Incredible.
He’s a charismatic personality too - the crowd started large and had almost doubled by the end of the set. He even treated us to a guitar lesson, where he showed us how to get the sounds of 1) kick drum 2) snare 3) three sets of tom toms 4) a hi-hat 5) bass guitar and 6) slide guitar from one humble acoustic. And then he put them all together plus singing.
As a display of technical skill it was unsurpassable - but Gomm also sings and plays with real soul. Definitely the best thing I’ve seen in a long while.
Cantonese songstress Yoyo Sham is being greeted by an enthusiastic audience of about 300 people at the main stage. Described as Chinese jazz, there’s also a Latin feel to her passionate performance. The crowd are shouting for an encore and she obliges.
Music festivals are about fashion - or to be more precise - about wearing your musical influences on your sleeve, as it were. We’re snapping some of the best and brightest t-shirts we see on Clockenflap punters through the weekend, so hopefully you’ll strike the pose for us at some point.
So far we’ve seen many Blur t-shirts - is it because of their recent release, recorded here in Hong Kong, or are people just devotees of the great and mighty Damon Albarn and co? Could it be both?
It’s a glorious day here in West Kowloon and the grassy areas are packed with families enjoying the sunshine and children’s entertainment, music fans fuelling up on the fantastic food on offer, and groups of more dedicated types having a liquid lunch to get in the Clockenflap mood.
Jon Gomm has taken to the Atum Stage, DJ Ocean Lam is kicking off the Electriq dance tent, Genghar are about to bring some noise to the Your Mum stage, and the crowds will soon be assembling at the main Harbourflap stage to catch local songstress Yoyo Shim.
The SCMP team are in full Clockenflap mode and we’ll reporting regularly on our adventures - stay with us.
The only person shouting at the moment is the children’s magician. Perhaps he’ll guest with King Ly Chee tomorrow? The crowd is building slowly but steadily - many families here at the moment; older rock fans with 2- and 3-year-olds in tow. Once again the food tents are roaring into action and the incessant and urgent bass beat kicks in, drifting across the main site.
Only one or two people in hats today - that’s a recipe for some sunburnt people later on. Owk has begun on the Yourmum stage and Yuen Chi Chung has kicked in. It’s feeling more like a family funfair than the coolest rock festival in Asia right now - which is probably why it’s the coolest rock festival in Asia.
It’s a hot day in West Kowloon. Crowds are trickling in, especially families. The beer is already flowing and James’s Secret have warmed up Your Mums stage with some tight Stevie Wonder numbers. Isn’t she lovely?
Day 1, November 27
Love Psychedelico just finished at #Clockenflap2015 and not only did we find one of their biggest fans we found one of the most enthusiastic music lovers - listen up for a great Friday night wrap and preview for tomorrow!
Posted by South China Morning Post SCMP on Friday, November 27, 2015
That’s it from us and Clockenflap’s first day of 2015. We’ll be posting throughout the festival so visit again. To recap on all of SCMP’s coverage of the bands go here. And what about a tailored guide to the best of day two? You’re welcome. See you tomorrow when things kick off around noon. Over and out.
Scooting over to the Atum Stage, Love Psychedelico continue the party after Flying Lotus’ darkly charged set.
The Japanese rockers are the polar opposite, with optimistic country-tinged ‘70s rock.
Lead singer Kumi could be a modern Shania Twain or Alanis Morrissette, with her all-American inflection on girl-meets-boy ballads.
Abbott Kinney and It’s OK I’m Alright stand out in a sunshiney set full of Allman Bros blues country guitar and Tennessean warmth.
Love Psychedelico from Japan started midway through Ride’s set, and the fans showed they were keen for something new.
And inside, they were waiting patiently:
The Silent Disco has become an institution at Clockenflap — the festival was the first to introduce the now ubiquitous concept to Hong Kong.
At a silent disco, two DJs battle for control of the crowd — and each DJ can see how many dancers are tuning into their set, depending on the colour of the lights on.the headphones.
Right now, the DJ on the red channel appears to be ahead. But the beauty of the concept is that people can change channels at any moment, pushing the DJs to fight for attention. Go selectors!
No-one running to hear Ride start their set — but once again the Harbourflap arena is full. I always had a problem with the term ‘shoegaze’ — maybe because ‘mid tempo pop played at massive volume’ wasn’t as catchy.
Nevertheless this band who technically peaked some 20 years ago are playing as freshly and energetically as ever. The audience for this set is as mixed a the rest of Clockenflap — old and young, international and local alike — but we get the feeling from the people we’ve been talking to the younger folk are all waiting to hear Love Psychedelico.
Ride’s frontman has spoken but once to the crowd — “Nice place you’ve got here” — and they launch into another superbly amplified number.
And as I post this there is a mass exodus of the young, the spiky haired, and the leather-clad . I have a feeling they’re headed where we are — to Love Psychedelico!
MEANWHILE: We wondered whether everyone was feeling as tired of Ride as the writer above, so we decided to get a second opinion from Lauren James.
“What a beautiful place to play music” says Ride’s Andy Bell gazing out over the harbour. He’s not wrong.
“This is from our first album Nowhere, it’s 25 years old” says the frontman, before the band launched into Dreams Burn Down. As helicopters swooped above, wall after wall of shoegaze guitar noise enveloped the crowd. If that was a blast from the past, the following Chrome Waves was a portal straight back to 1992 with spaced out acoustic distortion. A highlight for the oldies during a storming first night.
Clockenflap has always been about art as much as music and there’s some mind-bending stuff this year, such as this glorious beast spreading its tentacles near the Atum Stage.
Not all the art installations are open or functioning yet, but when the sun rises tomorrow we’ll be checking out the Magnet Palace and the Cosmic Bubble. Might even get our fortune told in the Cosmic Caravan.
It’s just gone 9pm and in between the acoustic folk/breakup ballads of Damien Rice and the eclectic, electric chaos of Flying Lotus everyone’s stopping off for something to eat.
One of our interviewees said Clockenflap was special among all the festivals in the world not because of its vibe, and the acts that play — it’s the food.
We’d have to agree - how many music festivals have Michelin-blessed food stalls? There’s seemingly food from (almost) every beast, every continent and every flavour offered here.
There’s a mix of smells of pizza, nom-nom meatballs, curry, masses of chicken wings, delicious vegetarian fare — all being consumed with gusto around us.
The opening night will close with a flashback to the ‘90s on one stage — the heavy volume shoegaze guitars of Ride and on another, the freshest, hippest thing out of Japan Love Psychedelico.
Nostalgia or the new? We shall see what the night brings...
Adam Wright phones in another report from in front of headline international act Flying Lotus:
Friday’s big experimental artist Flying Lotus has drawn thousands to the Atum Stage.
Dropping a rib-shaking blend of everything from hip hop, dubstep, bass and even jazz, the relative of late jazz pianist Alice Coltrane obviously has a rabid following in Hong Kong and they’ve waited years for this.
A sea of hands in the air.
Bernice Chan has sent us some video with two Damien Rice fans:
“It’s like break-up music ... I hate that music,” he said.
Damien Rice has just finished at #Clockenflap2015 and we found a couple of fans to chat about the performance...
Posted by South China Morning Post SCMP on Friday, November 27, 2015
Reporter Adam Wright sends us a snap from the dance tent:
This year, the Electriq dance music tent is tucked away in a clearing surrounded by trees — and it’s spectacular.
Hong Kong hasn’t heard a sound system with this much bass for a long time — it’s so loud that it threatens to engulf some of the surrounding stages, which is music to the ears of dance fans.
Canadian DJ jacques Greene is the first international artist to appear tonight and has a huge crowd even coming up to 8.30. Will be a big weekend in the tent
Jarrod Watt at the festival has filed an update from the Clockenflap arena:
People were running to the Harbourflap stage as Damien Rice started his set. A wave of people have filled the main arena to hear his songs of longing and regret — one man and an acoustic guitar with the kind of drawing power some bands only dream of.
Huge screams as he plays the hits; huge cheers as he finishes each song. Meanwhile, the relentless throbbing bass from the dance stage washes across the arena in the background.
WATCH: The crowd streams in for Damian Rice
Hey thanks for coming. Crowds are moving towards the Atum stage where the first events are revving up.
Our reporter Adam Wright sent this beautiful image from the shores of West Kowloon.
And the gates are open at Clockenflap 2015! pic.twitter.com/QETcLejBFS
— Adam Wright (@SCMP_AdamWright) November 27, 2015
And Bernice Chan is hosting the proceedings for video lovers.
SCMP coming to you from #Clockenflap2015 - the first bands have just hit the stage and we're going to bring you all the highlights - stay tuned!
Posted by South China Morning Post SCMP on Friday, November 27, 2015