Home > Culture > Clockenflap 2023: a recap of the music festival and our glorious return to normalcy
Clockenflap 2023: a recap of the music festival and our glorious return to normalcy

The real Hong Kong is coming back. This past weekend saw throngs of (mask-free!) revellers streaming from stage to stage at Clockenflap festival. Drinks flowed; merrymaking was had by all. Spirits were at an all-time high: why wouldn’t they be when Clockenflap has, at long last, returned after four desolate years?  

There were a few clues which gave away our freshly post-pandemic state. Staff and many festival goers still sported face masks. Our media lanyards read “Clockenflap 2019,” clearly pre-covid relics which had been stashed in a warehouse somewhere, patiently waiting to fulfil their destinies. Though the item was four years behind it worked just the same, with the added benefit of acting as an icebreaker for the particularly observant.  

Arctic Monkeys. Image credit: Clockenflap
N.O.L.Y, left. YoungQueenz, right. Image credit: Ken Nevia Photography

It was clear, from the big-name headliners down to the festival’s production, that this comeback was probably years in the making for Clockenflap’s festival organisers. Interactive installations were sprinkled throughout, fantastical skeleton-creatures loped about, and there was lots of space to sit and take it all in. This year’s line-up featured an especially exciting list of international headliners that jump off the page: Arctic Monkeys, Wu-Tang Clan, FKJ, Phoenix, The Cardigans. And the city responded in full; tickets sold out in a matter of days. Besides the weekend’s heavy hitters, a range of multi-genre international acts put on performances that will be hard to forget.  

Jazz quintet Ezra Collective delivered a blazing set that quite literally stopped us in our tracks. German electronic supergroup Moderat’s down tempo music held audience members captive in a trance (the good kind.) Korean hip-hop group Balming Tiger played their hits to a chanting, heaving crowd at Park stage. Indie acts like Bombay Bicycle Club, and Men We Trust provided a melancholic break between high-energy sets.  

Though Clockenflap features a healthy roster of local acts every time, this year’s line-up seemed to especially prove the diversity and range of Hong Kong’s talent. Acts like YoungQueenz, Chinky Eyes, and NYPD were some stand-out talents of the weekend, and DJ acts such as DJ El Toro, Magnetic Soul, and Yeti and Friends saw crowds of revellers packed together, dancing the hours away at the Robot and Electriq stages.  

As we walked from stage to stage, quizzing festival goers on Hong Kong trivia along the way, we noticed that people seemed happy — really, genuinely happy. The mood tends to be upbeat at festivals, but this felt different; there was a palpable lightness in the air. Perhaps it’s because this festival marks the first time in years any of us saw this many smiling faces in one place. As each night wound to a close and the fields began to empty, we headed home, feeling like Hong Kong never left. 

Watch us quiz a bunch of musicians and festival goers on Hong Kong trivia below:

(Hero image: Wu-Tang Clan. Hero/featured image credit: Clockenflap)


Clockenflap 2023: a recap of the music festival and our glorious return to normalcy

Vanessa Lee

Managing Editor

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