As concert backdrops go, audiences can’t ask for better than the Hong Kong skyline—anyone who has been to the city’s annual Clockenflap outdoor music festival can attest to that. Held on a large expanse of open ground on the western side of the Kowloon peninsula, Clockenflap (which runs this year on Dec. 1-2) offers breathtaking views straight across Victoria Harbour to Hong Kong Island, with its towering, illuminated skyscrapers and famous ridgeline stretching up to Victoria Peak.
It’s a panorama so striking that it often competes for the audience’s attention with the festival’s roster of local and international bands and DJs—although this year, the musicians may have the upper hand. With seven different stages on offer, Clockenflap is touting its most ambitious line-up to date. Retro favorites Primal Scream and De LaSoul are headlining, but the real buzz is around the newer names, with edgy acts from both sides of the Atlantic flying in. From the U.S., there’s the arresting hip-hop performer Azealia Banks. From the U.K., this year’s Mercury Prize winners Alt-J will be performing. Another highlight is classically influenced dance music ensemble Brandt Brauer Frick, a German group who featured recently in Time. Among hot local acts to look out for are The Yours and Noughts and Exes.
The sterling line-up reflects the steady growth of an event now ensconced on the regional festival circuit, but which began life almost five years as an intimate affair on the landscaped podium of a Hong Kong mall. “We started Clockenflap back in 2008 with a vision of a grassroots approach, aiming at an audience of around 2,000 people” says co-founder Jay Forster. “We still maintain our grassroots approach, but the demand has been incredible, with 25,000 people expected this year.”
Aside from music, Clockenflap will feature an array of outdoor sculpture and art installations, displays from top regional skateboarders and graffiti artists at a makeshift skatingpark cum art wall, a craft market and a film tent screening a non-stop program of independent film from around the world. With those sorts of attractions, hopefully the festival will give that famous skyline a run for its money this year.