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On its fifth comeback, Hong Kong's Clockenflap 2012

HONG KONG -- Sitting in West Kowloon Culture District, surrounded by 7 live stages, there is no better place for me to write about one of the only and most unique music festival in Hong Kong; Clockenflap (as seen in photo 1). For the fifth time running, the festival (held on December 1st and 2nd) is the brainchild of Jay Forster, Mike Hill and Justin Sweeting whose passion for music has lead them to create one of the best music festival ever seen in Hong Kong.

With the famous Hong Kong skyline as backdrop by the Victoria Harbour waterfront (as seen in photo 2), the venue was phenomenal. There can be no better place to hold a music festival in the world but to find a venue; enough free space and far away enough from any residential area to avoid noise complaints from stubborn Hong Kongers was almost an mission impossible. But Mike, Jay and Justin have not only done it again, but for the fifth time. Their intention was simple; to put the only music festival in Hong Kong on the stage of international music festivals. 

Bigger than ever, this year’s line up had over 80 bands playing non-stop for the weekend, amongst them were; British rock band, Alt J, rapper Azealia Banks and Hip Hop trio De La Soul (as seen in photo 3) both from New York.

Making prime time performances on Saturday and Sunday night respectively, Electro-house duo Sneaky Sound System from Sydney; whose lead-singer’s neon coloured, blingified, skin-tight, one-piece bodysuit was as unforgettable as having UK sensation, Bastille’s lead vocal running through the crowed; both groups’ performance did not fail to drive the crowed to its max (as seen in photos 4 - 5). On scene were also a number of well-known locals such as New Indies band, fragile, local Mixed International Music group ReOrientate, independent songwriter and singer Ryan Hui and DJs pumping out dance tunes setting the vibe.

Other highlights include; Primal Scream closing the festival on the first night; setting the anticipation for day 2 and Klaxon on their maiden appearance in Hong Kong, performed new tracks ‘Invisible Forces’ and ‘Rhyme of Life’ as the festival’s finale.

This year’s festival was also made family friendly (as seen in photo 6), equipped with jumping castles and special performances just for kids and to broaden the festival’s arts spectrum; a film tent screening shorts and BAFTA – Short film and Animation on Tour were much liked. Food and beverage tents ran throughout the venue with no less than 4 bar tents to keep the festivalgoers pumped up and going (as seen in photo 7). To top it all off, the organisers held a naming contest for a Cantonese name for ‘Clockenflap’, with the winner receiving a lifetime VIP pass to the festival.

It is no doubt Clockenflap has marked its place on the international scale. In a short interview, after local band fragile’s performance (as seen in photo 8), Ah-Kok thanked the organisers ‘these guys are incredible, I can’t thank them enough.’  When they were asked about how they felt when their performance time was cut to 15 minutes due to noise complaints, he generously replied, ‘It is not about performing anymore, I don’t mind even if I had to be in the audience, we need to do all we can to keep this going, it is culture’. Such an amazing festival, it is a wonder why it has not earned the recognition of the locals. ‘It is really a shame,’ says Ah-Kok, ‘I would really like to say to the people of Hong Kong, you don’t have to like my music, but please please respect it and understand music is not noise.’

Estimated of at least 25,000 people braved this year’s cold and rain to show their support for Hong Kong’s culture and music (as seen in photo 9). As the festival came to an end, we all anticipate its return next year with another phenomenal comeback.

Photo credits:

Photos 1-5, 7, and 9: courtesy of Andy Fung

Photos 6 and 8: courtesy of Klaus Lee