The Flap Who Clocked Proudly

Like the dream you had when you last took too many sleeping pills, the mighty Clockenflap music festival has come and gone, and left a haze again, with the wondrous event once more having been blessed by unadulterated picture-perfect weather and a stellar line-up.

Hitting milestone heights for the indie scene – and Hong Kong’s cultural and musical landscape in general – the festival was carried out with a force formidable enough to match, and surpass, the amazing execution of previous years. 

Months and months of preparation were carried out to bring fruitage to the occasion, with this year’s undertaking being the biggest and longest yet. The foot traffic was through the roof, with a record-breaking amount of visitors, and more well-known acts performed across the seven stages set up at the site.

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As expected, the elements all fell nattily into place and came together to make the music festival one of the pleasantest it has ever been. The local hipster (and non-hipsterish) population was out in force, and the revelers, er, reveled to the likes of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Four Tet, Franz Ferdinand, 2manydjs,  Tegan and Sara, Metric, Efterklang, Cui Jian and many more.  

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As always though, the main star of the show stealing focus from all this great talent was the picturesque backdrop of Hong Kong, garnished by buttery, golden sunsets each day. Being one of the silent focal points of the event, striking syrupy twilights brought in the evenings over the weekend, with oversaturated captures of the spectacle pasted all over Instagram soon after.

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There were also plenty of other musical alternatives in the form of multimedia attractions and quality food. There was a large 10,000 square-meter Art Village featuring a number of interactive, and predominantly environmentally-themed, installations. There was also a cosy blow-up Film Tent screening content from film festivals, directors, and animators from around the globe. Other highlights included a Circus Skills workshop, the slightly surreal Silent Disco and the indubitably surreal Dinosaur Garden. Around the site there was a Clockencraft market, which presented booths from over 80 independent vendors, and there was also a Cider Garden, tasty festival-type fodder, plus shaving and haircut stands.

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In case you’ve been holed up in a basement under a glass-floored swimming pool and are in need of a recap, Clockenflap has come a long way, having slowly transmogrified over a period of six years, from the small-town event it was during its infancy to its present day behemoth.

Back in the days of yore, from 2003-2006, Rockit Festival got the ball running as one of Hong Kong’s first steady live, music-dedicated, open-air events in Victoria Park. When Rockit’s outdoor fire extinguished, with the festival shifted to other indoor venues and Macau, Clockenflap took the outdoor music festival flag and ran with it.

The Clockenflap that many know today first took shape in 2008 and 2009, when it was hosted at Cyberport in Pok Fu Lam. Being surrounded by stinking rich residential blocks full of snobs with more money than you, it wasn’t long before noise levels became an issue. In 2009 the Flap was moved temporarily indoors to a warehouse when an outdoor venue could not be secured, and the organizers then struck gold in 2011. They began a working relationship with the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority, who were in charge of a key piece of reclaimed land that was in the spotlight at the time. It turned out they were very open-minded, and though Clockenflap were not able to charge admission on the first year, the overwhelming support secured their presence for the next year, and history was made.    

People instantly started comparing the unique event to Fuji Rock, Glastonbury, Lollapalooza, and other similar music festivals with more standing in Asia. In other marginally hyperbolic words, it became Hong Kong’s long overdue Woodstock. Although there were still a few minor mishaps this year, with temporary sound system malfunctions and bands having to be cut short, this did not discourage the performers, audience and organisers, and these are simply lessons to be learned and improved upon for next year.

In a city known more for its contaminated air, exorbitant square-footage and phallic skyscrapers than its music and culture, an alfresco music festival like Clockenflap has been a long time coming. Here’s to hoping the Clock will keep Flapping ever more at levels as good as this weekend.

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