It's Monday morning and my bones hurt. I'm tired, hung-over, and there's a slight ringing in my ears. It's time for work. The pit-falls of Sunday at Clockenflap are that Monday comes round just as it would any other week and Hong Kong works hard. Luckily for Clockenflap it plays hard too.
In its eighth year Clockenflap continues to get bigger, but still has a small and very relaxed feeling which lulls you into things. As the temperature soars and people begin to regret their choice of 'cold weather' clothing the beer tents swell and the music starts to take hold. On the YourMum stage local noise-rock group Prune Deer begin to draw in a small crowd by the end of their blistering set. The sound quality here is fantastic and between their fierce riffs and spacey breaks they show why they're one of Hong Kong's most promising young bands. The stage line-up is one of the best of the day; with the bunny-mask donning Sleep Party People throwing a crowd-surf friendly set full of lynchian loveliness and Japanese weird-out kings Bo Ningen melting plenty of faces; definitely two bands worth checking out. Bo Ningen need to be seen to be believed, vocalist Taigen Kawabe is mesmerising as a front-man, between his supersonic ramblings and what we can only describe as a death-squeal, you really need to see the quartet for yourself.
After a recommendation we went to checkout Shugo Tokumaru who was a delightful discovery. Another Japanese artist, Tokumaru's delicate indie-pop was perfect under the sun. His charming multi-instrumental compositions were endearingly performed by a full live-band. If you like the sassier side of Belle and Sebastian or the uplifting naivety of The Shins then this one's for you.
As the sunsets and Hong Kong begins to glow The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart take the stage. Never having seen them before we were looking forward to them all day and boy were we disappointed. They played a set full of great tracks like 'Heart in your Heartbreak' and 'Come Saturday', but Kip Berman's vocals were far too low in the mix and when they turned them up his voice simply wasn't good enough. When dueting with Jen Goma it was more bearable, but bearable isn't what you want to say about such a warm and fuzzy band. They ended their set with Goma taking the lead on a cover of 'Laid' by James, which was once more only just bearable. Sadly the biggest headliner of the night and possibly the festival, New Order, didn't live up to their reputation. Minus founding member Peter Hook they're just missing that something and it's clear to see. Representing Manchester of course we had to support them by watching, but this was a band that looked to be blatantly going through the motions. New order have so many classic tracks and they pulled them out tonight, the crowd was twisting, turning and singing in all the right places - especially to their encore of Love Will Tear Us Apart and Blue Monday - it's just, it's New Order! New Order in Hong Kong, it should have been electric and buzzin' instead it was just.average and there's nothing worse than mediocrity.
Meanwhile over at the Atum stage were headliners Blackalicious who really do know how to put on a show. Gift of Gab's lyrics were nimbly spit while Chief Xcel span the beats, but it was Jumbo who gave the audience a highlight of the night with a birthday to remember. "Should I do it?" Jumbo questioned before falling to one knee to propose for his startled girlfriend. The crowd erupted into applause for a fantastic end to a fantastic set. Away from the main throng of the festival is the Electriq stage that hosted some killer DJ's in the form of Kid Koala and Mr Scruff who really got people moving and were some of the most audience involving acts of the day.
Clockenflap's closing day was full of disappointment and discovery, which is how all the best festivals are. It's great to see Hong Kong embracing so many styles of music so warmly and it shows that there's definitely the appetite for good live music in the fragrant harbour; hopefully we won't have to wait another year for it!
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