Nine years ago, three guys got together and started a weekend festival. So far, so regular. The festival calendar, after all, has gone from a few events created to lift the summer from the monotony of day drinking in the park to a rinse-repeat of doing that day drinking while someone in a glitter onesie sits on a nearby patch of grass enjoying a lovely bit of afternoon ketamine. But, a few years down the line, there are now so many festivals each season that we can outline exactly who we hate at them and they can retire from the very crowded game using overblown press releases.
Back to those three guys. Justin Sweeting, Jason Forster and Mike Hill decided to take the usual festival format and then chuck it halfway across the world, in Hong Kong, for a three-day November party called Clockenflap. No, the name doesn’t make any sense, and yes the festival’s founders openly call it absurd. In a city where booking bands to play venues throws up lots of red tape and thus makes it hard for international and local acts to perform anywhere, Clockenflap has become something of a big deal in the arts/music calendar. This year, acts like Stormzy, Feist, Prodigy, Massive Attack, MØ, Young Fathers, Pond and Mitski are on the lineup joining regional and local bands. Not bad for an event that bills itself as having “never been solely about the music”.
And yes, like so many other festivals in the current glut, Clockenflap prides itself on the “experience” that runs over the three days, with installations and artsy stuff and everything else that interests people who don’t go to festivals for music. But this here is a music site, so you know what we care about. Heading into its tenth edition, Clockenflap has managed to sow the seeds for HK outposts of other festivals like Sónar and Ultra. They've come a long way from being forced by authorities to make the first edition of the festival free, potentially digging themselves into a gaping money hole. Since then, they've booked everyone from A$AP Rocky and Santigold to New Order, Blood Orange and Shura, proving that if you've got an idea you may as well just stick it out. Even if it's as simple as 'let's put on a festival in a place where not many people seem to understand what a festival is.' This year's event runs from Friday 17 November to Sunday 19 November, with tickets still going here.
You can find Noisey on Twitter.