Clockenflap 2015 Sunday: the people, the performances, the party, the big rock finish
Hong Kong has feasted on a treat. New Order closed the weekend studded with the unique, the dark and the warm.
The estimated 60,000 through the doors accessed the heavy psychedelic Bo Ningen, the subversive Madame Mincemeat, the food, the parlour games and the hip shaking Flying Lotus.
Our long list of highlights must also include the touching last act of Chic's set where a choir of about 40 domestic helpers, who had performed earlier on another stage were invited to dance with Nile Rodgers on stage.
We hope you've had a blast as we brought the festival to you. Until next year.
Recap the final day of the event below
British dance rock pioneers New Order bought down the curtain tonight on the biggest music event in Hong Kong history.
The Manchester outfit made their return to Hong Kong after about three decades and in those intervening years they had evolved into one of the biggest and most influential bands on the planet – no wonder their headlining slot at Clockenflap was the most eagerly awaited of the entire festival.
The gargantuan crowd that gathered around the Harbourflap stage needed several tracks to warm up and only got into the groove after New Order had performed some of their more recent material. The band then moved onto some of their famous dance tracks from the 1980s, such as the drum-machine-powered Your Silent Face and Bizarre Love Triangle. This was the New Order that people had been waiting for.
As many bands did over the past three days, front man Bernard Sumner commented on the spectacular view of the Hong Kong skyline from his vantage point on the stage, noting wryly that our city was slightly more attractive than their famously bleak home city in Northern England.
As the band tore through their back catalogue, it was still the '80s classics that truly electrified the crowd - particularly during True Faith and Temptation, turning what had started out as a rock concert into a massive outdoor rave.
After Temptation, the band said goodnight and left the stage. Deafening roars of "Blue Monday, Blue Monday" bought them back do an encore, but it wasn't the '80s club track that they launched into. Instead it was Love Will Tear Us Apart, the best-known anthem of the band's previous incarnation, the doomed post-punk band Joy Division, and the way the huge crowd came together in singing its glorious chorus was a truly moving Clockenflap moment.
Most of us knew what was coming next: Blue Monday, the throbbing dance number that is the band's signature track and their traditional closing number. It led to a sea of hands in the air and more smiling faces than I've ever seen at a Hong Kong concert.
And then Clockenflap 2015 - by far the biggest music event this city has ever seen - was over.
Congratulations are in order for one of Blackalicious' crew.
After Blackalicious sang Happy Birthday to Jumbo, he knelt and proposed - she said yes!
What a way to close the set.
Could there be a better counterpoint to the sounds of New Order than Blackalicious on the Atum stage?
Rappers who don't sing about killing, money or disrespecting women - they have stood the test of time and remain giants in a genre of little men saying big things.
"We just want to get down to business," says Battles' Ian Williams after a wordless three songs. The New York math rockers turn dance music into an art form during a seamless set of colourful beats and quirky samples.
Too funky for post rock, too heavy for mainstream pop; Battles' sound is still as unique as it was seven or so years ago when they emerged. Crisp, electronic beats are texturised with rough-edged guitar and live drumming.
The opening thuds of Atlas last for 10 minutes as the euphoric oo-wee-oo chorus is drip-fed to a salivating crowd. Half an hour of virtually non-stop electronica ends abruptly when the band exit the Atum stage with little fanfare.
To rapturous applause, New Order launch into their first number as if to ram home they're the original Manchester guitar band that people dance to. Set to a backdrop of depressingly realistic film, it would make Ken Loach very happy.
Is the crowd just waiting to hear Love Will Tear Us Apart? Who will leave early to see Blackalicious?
As Chic and Nile Rodgers wrap up their stunning performance, it's almost time for the final event.
New Order will be the last of the evening - and festival - to grace the Harbourflap Stage.
British DJ/producer Mr Scruff closed the Electriq dance music tent for Clockenflap 2015 with a typically eclectic, groove-ridden and feel-good set.
The performer, born Andy Carthy, is known as much for his dextruous mixing skills as his varied musical tastes, and both were on display tonight before a smaller-than-expected crowd - although he admittedly has some stiff competition from the neighbouring stages.
He dropped a set that veered from bass-heavy dubstep to hip hop, jazz and funk - maybe a little too much of the latter two genres as the tent started to thin out midway through the set - perhaps because everyone was heading to New Order, as we were.
Special mention must go to the brilliant visuals that were perfectly synchronised with the music - with Mr Scruff's trademark animated characters providing a running commentary on the music.
New Order says they want to go and see Chic who are playing at Harbourflap as the media elbow around each other to meet the band.
Lead singer Bernard Sumner said of the politically charged atmosphere here that they haven't been asked to avoid any topics such as democracy or universal suffrage.
"We do start the set with images of the Berlin Wall coming down," he said.
But Sumner also said that any change to the political system in Hong Kong must come gradually.
"That's a really complicated subject because they tried it in the middle east and it didn't work," he said.
The band is sure to send the Clockenflap crowd home tonight feeling like they've witnessed history, not just because the band hasn't played here for more than 30 year.
CHIC FT. NILE RODGERS
Chic have just turned the Harbour Flap arena into a giant disco with a triple shot of classics – 'I’m coming out' by Diana Ross, 'He’s the greatest dancer' and 'We are family' by Sister Sledge.
Everywhere in the audience people are busting out their own disco moves. Hands are in the air and there's huge smiles all round.
They capped it all off by dropping into Nile Rodgers produced version of 'Like a virgin' by Madonna, ...It's dance floor gold!
Now onto another Nile Rodgers production, 'Notorious' by Duran Duran.
"We dedicate this to the disco scene" says Nile Rodgers and they launch into 'I'll be there' the newest single from Chic, some 40 years after helping to give birth to one of the most liberating and enduring musical genres in the late 20th century.
Nile just asked everyone to light up their cell phones as he talks about being diagnosed with cancer four years ago.
He then launches into 'Get lucky', the song he wrote with Daft Punk and Pharrell Williams.
A severed pig head mask and colourful dreadlocks - the signal that Taiwanese grindcore group Flesh Juicer had arrived.
The tornado-like pit that started from the first riffs stayed open throughout the seven-odd song set of visceral downturns riffing and alternated death growls and pig squeals from a rabid lead singer.
Flesh Juicer brutalised the YourMum stage with an aggressive brand of goregrind paying homage to Carcass and Amputated, and led the evening bill into heavier waters ahead of King Ly Chee's set.
Just in case you're unfamiliar with the concept . . . Nouvelle Vague are a French outfit who take punk and post-punk classics and give them a jazzy, Gallic twist. Think Guns of Brixton by The Clash (one of tonight's selections) slowed down and turned into a chanson for a chantoosie wearing a stripey top and smoking Gitanes with a matelot on a boulevard.
Sometimes it works, and works brilliantly - but there are times when the fire of the original doesn't lend itself to being ironicised. But it's hard not to love a band whose pair of vocalists - tres bon et tres chic, in that very French way - are happy to show off their synchronised dance moves or whip out a melodica for a solo.
Highlight of a set that reads like the track list for Now That's What I Call Post-Punk (Blister in the Sun! Making Plans for Nigel! Love Will Tear Us Apart!) was an incredible version of Tuxedomoon's heartbreaker In a Manner of Speaking. Not the most well-known number of the night, not by a long shot, but a song perfectly suited to the delicious mix of blithe spirit and 'je ne sais quoi' that is Nouvelle Vague.
It was easily the most exotic entrance for any act to Clockenflap so far: US based rapper, poet and intellectual Saul Williams burst forth to a completely stunned audience.
Spitting forth a hurricane of intense lyricism, backed by a blitzkreig of electronic beats and bass, the crowd seemed no less stunned when he ripped off the mask and continued on.
Just 100 metres away music from an entirely different world brought the crowd to their feet: from Mali, the Songhoy Blues band took a uniquely African take on rock, dance and reggae, bringing a huge crowd and getting people dancing, waving their hands and embracing music it would be fair to say they've never heard before.
Long after Bo Ningen exited the YourMum stage, clockenflap continued to reverberate with wave after wave of psychedelic distortion.
Dressed in a long black robe, eccentric singer and bassist Taigen Kawabe is an ethereal wizard of noise rock, shrieking, contorting and pulling wild shapes onstage. "Like a young Ronnie James Dio," remarked a companion.
Like a heavier Asobi Seksu, the band steadily built heavy My Bloody Valentine walls of sound into a final 10 minute fuzz jam climax that left ears ringing.
As Sleep Party People's set finished, punters drifted over to the Atum Stage to join Shugo Tokumaru's throng of fans. The Japanese songwriter is known for his sonic kaleidoscopes of sunny pop and electro sounds, which makes for an uplifting live show.
Tokumaru's show is a carnival of colour and melody, with more than 100 instruments melding to create a sound evoking the Beach Boys and Beck. Balloons were squeaked, toy monkeys were played, and no one left the Atum Stage without a smile on their face on a warm afternoon.
There's wicked art spread all over the festival site but the best can be found in the Magnet Palace, a pop-up gallery conceived by Clockenflap art director Jay Forster.
The six-metre-tall triangular structure features 11 pieces of electronic art - and signs at the entrance warn people with pacemakers not to enter.
Most of the art is interactive in some way - an LED screen designed by local artist Teddy Lo requires onlookers to shake their heads vigorously before it reveals its hidden messages. And a sound sculpture by Jon Mahone borrows the principles of the theramin to allow users to manipulate a droning tone.
Another favourite is a steel tabletop designed by Tom Wilkinson that simply moves metal objects around using the very mysterious forces of magnetism. Drop your keys on it and marvel as they are swished around. Simple, effective and very Clockenflap.
SLEEP PARTY PEOPLE
Danish dream-pop act Sleep Party People got the day started perfectly for those lazily arriving at the Your Mum stage after two big nights at West Kowloon.
Essentially a solo project by front man Brian Batz and a revolving cast of backing musicians, the rabbit-mask-wearing band produces a shimmering, shoegazing sound full of loud-quiet-loud dynamics that has the crowd swaying on this sunny afternoon.
The tone has now been set for what looks like an epic day ahead.
I counted 13 members on stage - including three string players and four horns - which makes Shaolin Fez's claim to be Hong Kong's largest group playing their own material very plausible.
Despite the large membership and their superb musicianship, theirs is not just a full-on acid jazz symphonic cinematic disco wall of sound but also a music of pauses and dymanic contrasts, when most of the instruments fall away leaving only the glorious and gorgeous voice of Jennifer Palor, simultaneously sweet and husky. It's rare to see one French horn in a band - most unique to see two in this oufit, but that's what you get when a bunch of classically trained musicians decide to get in the groove and expand their horizons.
As well as tracks from their album Calm Your Storm, they treated us to a new track, Heroes Fall, that had a more Latin groove and deliciously irresistible horns full of hot buttered soul. It's a shame that their performance wasn't enjoyed by a larger crowd. I guess the early afternoon in the final day of Clockenflap is always going to be tough. But the day when they are playing to bigger crowds is definitely coming - I'd recommend you catch them soonest.
Not for the first time do the words of the philosopher B.Scott ring true: "It's a long way to the top if you want to rock'n'roll"...
Ascending the escalator from the Kowloon MTR with the Clockenflap-bound masses, one overhears the most marvellous conversation.
It is a parent discussing with their youngster how Joy Division became New Order. Youngster is asking is there a chance he'll get his shirt signed by the band tonight. Love may tear us apart but love for music will bring us together...
Prune Deer get the day started just right...
Here is your official South China Morning Post Sunshine Exposure Safety Oufit as modelled by our handsome correspondent.
It's going to be a hot day, folks - maybe not wear the puffy down jacket and opt for the sensible hat and lots - LOTS - of sunscreen...
Are we ready for a big rock finish?
The third and final day of the biggest Clockenflap ever is about to kick off - starting off with several examples of the diversity in Hong Kong's music scene, then passing through kooky bossanova, death metal, wild turntablism, harcore punk, and modern alt-pop on the way to weekend closing sets from UK legends New Order and the towering master of rap and hip-hop, Blackalicous.
Some people may be nursing sore heads from last night...
Mark Sharp had this to say as he watched the masses late last evening:
When lightweights were leaving the festival early last night ahead of The Libertines set, many people were still steadily flowing into the West Kowloon site just before 9pm to catch the headliners. Even after last year's successful festival, the magnitude of this year's crowd has been staggering.
The audience have been getting into the party spirit big time. Among the party "animals" spotted were a beaver and a pack of tigers. Many younger concert-goers, with no bladder a 20-minute wait for a vacant porterloo, were hopping over the fence and urinating in the fragrant harbour.
Everywhere else we've been witnessing some very classy rock'n'roll statements - Hong Kongers wear their hearts on their sleeves and their musical influences on their chests.
Here's a 50 second blast through the festival and the classic rock'n'roll t-shirts on display this weekend.
Somewhere from the depths of last night...
The Libertines bought complete mayhem to the W Hotel last night when they arrived for an after-party DJ set following their headline performance at Clockenflap.
Chaos broke out in the hotel's jam-packed lobby bar when Pete Doherty - surrounded by a heavy security team - blew in like a typhoon and entered the bar's DJ booth, where Libertines drummer Gary Powell was performing.
Die-hard Libertines fans had braved a massive queue to get in, and when all four band members had squeezed into the DJ booth, the crowd surged forward and the situation descended into chaos.
Female fans at the front were pushed into the DJ booth and fell over, but the crowd continued to push forward, thrusting vinyl albums and CDs at Doherty to sign. Sensing danger, bar stuff rushed to the front, linked arms and tried to hold back the surging mass of fans.
People were literally being tossed through the air as fans tried to break through the line of defence at the front, while Doherty sprayed beer over the chaos that was taking place below him.
In the end, it was decided to get The Libertines out of the bar for safety reasons. The security team rushed up for the evacuation, band singer Carl Barat jumped onto the DJ console and stage dived into the crowd, and The Libertines were gone in a whirlwind.
It was all very rock 'n' roll, but the W Hotel must be wondering today what hit it.