November 29, 2015

Clockenflap 2015 and assholes

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Clockenflap was never something that I was interested in.  In previous years my impression of this music festival was kinda like Lollapalooza - and I went to the very first one - but with smaller and local acts that I didn't really care for.  This year, though, things were a little different.  I got curious and checked the lineup, and immediately saw a couple of bands that I really, really like... So I decided to get myself a ticket for the last day.

We arrived at the entrance around 5pm, and slowly strolled towards the Harbourflap stage at the far end of the grounds.  All of the acts I wanted to catch were playing on this particular stage, so we found a spot not too far from the stage and waited for the first one.

It's been a few years since I first saw Nouvelle Vague play in Hong Kong, and I still love their style of covers.  The set list today was:
  • The Cure: A Forest
  • Depeche Mode: Master and Servant
  • Billy Idol: Dancing with Myself
  • Buzzcocks: Ever Fallen in Love
  • XTC: Making Plans for Nigel
  • The Clash: Guns of Brixton
  • New Order: Blue Monday
  • Lords of the New Church: Dance with Me
  • The Cramps: Human Fly
  • The Undertones: Teenage Kicks

  • Tuxedomoon: In a Manner of Speaking
  • Depeche Mode: Just Can't Get Enough
  • Violent Femmes: Blister in the Sun
  • Joy Division: Love Will Tear Us Apart
I gotta say I really loved the band's performance today.  While the ladies were getting pretty into their act the last time I saw them, I thought I felt a lot more energy today... perhaps because they were performing on a big stage outdoors, as opposed to a more intimate setting last time.  I've always loved the way they dance around while performing, and most of the time these were in-sync and very well rehearsed.  Also loved the way the ladies dressed for the stage.

After a break of about an hour - during which we skipped the performance of a group called Unsung Heroes (more later) - we were back in front of the stage for Chic featuring Nile Rodgers.  Nile is an incredible musician with a very long history of accomplishments, and as I grew up during the height of the disco era, I know some of Chic's best hits very well since childhood.  I also knew about Nile's collaborations with other musicians, having first heard his name mentioned with Duran Duran back in the mid-80s.  But I didn't know the extent of his reach and influence - until tonight.

The set list tonight included the following songs, with a few missing because I lost track:
  • Chic: Everybody Dance
  • Chic: Dance, Dance, Dance (Yowsah, Yowsah, Yowsah)
  • Chic: I Want Your Love
  • Diana Ross: I'm Coming Out
  • Diana Ross: Upside Down
  • Sister Sledge: He's the Greatest Dancer
  • Sister Sledge: We Are Family
  • Madonna: Like A Virgin
  • Duran Duran: Notorious
  • Chic: I'll Be There
  • David Bowie: Let's Dance

  • Daft Punk: Get Lucky

  • Chic: Le Freak
  • Chic: Good Times
During the set Nile had to tell the audience that they weren't a "cover band", for fear that the younger members of the audience wouldn't understand why the band is singing songs famously sung by others.  All the songs were hits, either written, sung, or produced by Nile.  The two vocalists of the band along with Nile - Folani and especially Kim Davis - were great entertainers.

In the middle of the set, Nile told the story of his cancer diagnosis a few years ago, which led him to embark on a new wave of collaborations... and songs like Get Lucky were a direct result of this move.

For the last song, Nile brought out the singers from Unsung Heroes, who were a choir made up of Filipino and Indonesian domestic helpers separated from their children.  We had missed their short performance earlier, but now they were dancing on stage to Good Times, and (hopefully) having a good time.

This was a lot of fun, and set us up for the final act of the festival.  This time we didn't leave our spot, as people immediately rushed up towards the stage when the Chic set ended - trying to secure the best vantage point for the biggest act.

New Order has been one of my favorite bands since college.  In fact, True Faith is just about my favorite song of all time, and never fails to perk me up whenever I hear it.  In all these years I had never seen these guys play live, so you can imagine my excitement.

But doubts lingered in the back of my mind.  I had bought Lost Sirens, the band's 2013 album, and found it entirely forgettable after a couple of listens.  So I hadn't bothered with checking out any of the tracks on Music Complete, the new album released just a couple of months ago.  I didn't know any of the materials that the band was sure to be promoting tonight.

And so I felt rather emotion-less and let down for the first couple of songs of the set.  I didn't know them, and found them uninteresting as I heard them for the first time - with the exception of perhaps one song...  The playlist below isn't exactly in chronological order, because I didn't mark down the songs that I didn't immediately recognize.
  • Singularity 
  • Plastic
  • Tutti Fruitti (I think...)
  • The Game (I think...)
I think the majority of the crowd was also less familiar with the new material, and didn't really get into it until some of the older material came on.
  • Your Silent Face

  • Bizarre Love Triangle
  • True Faith
  • Perfect Kiss
  • Temptation
For me personally, True Faith was nothing short of anticlimactic.  In fact the whole concert was bitterly disappointing.  Years ago the guy who introduced me to New Order complained about Bernard Sumner's lack of any singing ability, and kinda said that he only sounded OK on some of the records because of post-recording work in the studios.  And I did kinda know that he can't sing, but it became glaringly obvious when you hear the band play live.  Listening to his sucky vocals on my favorite song of all time kinda killed it for me.  I also wasn't the least bit surprised that his stage persona didn't exactly bubble with enthusiasm.

At the end of the scheduled 90-minute set, Bernard and the band declared "that's all the time we have" and walked off the stage.  They did return a couple of minutes later for an encore, which kicked off with Love Will Tear Us Apart.  This sent the crowd wild and everyone around me was screaming the lyrics to the chorus.  Finally the show ended with Blue Monday, which was probably the only time during the entire set that I really felt happy and kinda getting into the groove.

In reality, though, my mood was killed by more than just Bernard's sucky vocals.  It had a lot to do with assholes in the audience around me.  Besides the people - Mainlanders and Caucasians alike - who think they can squeeze past us to "find their friends up front", I started to sense something different as soon as New Order started playing.  I may not be the biggest concert goer in town, but I have been to a few in my time... and tonight was the first time I heard chants of "Oi, oi, oi, oi!!!" during a show.  I was left wondering whether I was at a footie match in England and standing among a bunch of hooligans...

Then at various points during the show we were shoved around by different groups of Brits, who may or may not have been drunk.  Or maybe they were just assholes.  They seemed to love the concept of being in a mosh pit, and when we got pissed off and shoved back, publicly wondered whether some of us have ever been to a rock concert. (Answer: Of course we have.  I've probably jumped higher and shouted louder at concerts than you ever have - and all without being an asshole to anyone else around me.)  The grey hairs on some of these guys apparently belie their true maturity.  I was pretty pissed off about these assholes putting a dent on my ability to enjoy the show, and ultimately it was a downer on the whole experience.

Let's hope this experience doesn't get repeated...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I always travel to HK for concerts because in my opinion, HK people are the best at behaving at concerts. This was a good warning - I'm planning to go to Clockenflap! :D


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