Clean, safe and friendly, Wow and Flutter’s Weekend festival was a place for music fans to celebrate and share their love of bands that usually only get to perform in industrial buildings. But even those venues are becoming scarce, as underlined by the many musicians wearing “Save Hidden Agenda” shirts in support of Ngau Tau Kok’s threatened live house.
Curated by Hong Ka-chun, founder of indie music label 89268, Weekend had more than 47 bands performing on three stages – named Hong Kong, Kowloon and New Territories – at the West Kowloon Cultural District. As the sunlight glinted from the steely ICC towering above, bands from all over the land gathered to showcase some of the city’s finest and most creative music.
Kevin Tsui took to the New Territories stage early on day one, and his acoustic balladry faded into the driving, dissonant beats of Self-Ox Randomness on the Kowloon stage. More Reverb did exactly what their name promised, with heaps of guitar effects buzzing out over the harbour. Owk then cast a cloak of weird over Kowloon, combining pudgy Primus bass with System of a Down speed set to Cookie Monster vocals.
Indie rockers ni.ne.mo were a great catch on Kowloon before Nowhere Boys enthralled the main Hong Kong stage with their cinematic rock. Fans cheered as rapper Heyo, who had performed solo earlier in the day, joined the fun five-piece to lay down some guest verses.
As night fell, it was time to get heavy. King Ly Chee proved themselves worthy of a main stage slot with their mix of punk and hardcore, while the New Territories stage played host to the menacing sounds of Seesaw and Niliu. Hong Kong favourites Supper Moment and RubberBand brought the day’s revelry to an emphatic close.
If dream pop, noise pop, shoegaze, and other weird, experimental genres tickle your fancy, then the Kowloon stage was the place to be on Day Two. Thud and Teenage Riot wound the clock back to the ’90s with distorted guitar music and dreamy singing, while post-rockers Prune Deer wove jaw-droppingly intricate melodies during their last-ever live show. A cheer went up as drummer Jerry Sailor dropped his sticks and picked up his recorder to play a beautiful and haunting tune.
With cello, violin, heavy metal guitars and growly singing, the genre-bending sound of I See the Light Before The Planet Explodes might not have been everyone’s cup of tea, but their theatrically dark show turned heads at Kowloon. Then it was time for Chochukmo’s eagerly-awaited slot, which was as vibrant and playful as ever, despite the rain. All that was left was for the legendary Canto hip hop LMF crew to see the festival into the night, and cement happy memories of a rockin’ Weekend.