If you go down to the woods today… you’ll hear some great music! Far, far away from the pollution, Grasscamp festival in Shui Tau Village, near Kam Tin, is a leafy getaway for music and nature-lovers this weekend.
More than half of the bands playing have been picked from a sea of submissions, while others such as KJ Wong and Chochukmo were invited to perform by Grasscamp. After performing at Clockenflap and Wow and Flutter last year, groups like The Interzone Collective, More Reverb and Deer will make their Grasscamp debut alongside fellow local acts, including DSC, Cow Head, Tree Phoning, Serrini, and Stereo Is The Answer.
“I think this year the whole music line-up is the best ever – there’s such a big variety of music genres,” founder and co-ordinator Thickest Choi tells Young Post. “I’m really looking forward to KJ’s performance – this is the first time we’ve had a classical performance at the camp. And also The Interzone Collective: their music will be a perfect fit with our campfire.”
Holding a festival in New Territories is both a challenge and an advantage to the festival team. They have the space and setting to put on a truly unique festival, but being outdoors among nature can be unpredictable. “It’s not just a normal festival or performing venue,” Choi says. “Sometime it is a blessing: an environment that we would hardly find in the urban centre. And sometimes it’s hard coping with cold weather, heavy rain, poor transportation, wild animals…”
Choi and his team have built the festival up from a lowkey, no-budget event to a festival that attracts hundreds of music fans. His project, Lawnmap, started by organising picnics, which turned into one-day music events at the West Kowloon waterfront. In 2013, that became a two-day event with camping, before the whole thing moved to New Territories a year later.
Unlike other Hong Kong festivals, where people don’t need to camp, many see Grassroots as an opportunity to get back to nature. This year, around 700 people will be pitching their canvas under the stars, before curling up in a sleeping bag after the headline band has finished.
Living with nature for the weekend means respecting nature. Choi wants campers to be conscious of the waste they leave, and asks that everyone takes responsibility for removing their litter from the site, and uses the recycling bins provided at the festival. “It’s not only the basic responsibility of a camper, but of a Hong kong citizen, too,” he says.
The line-up is growing year on year, and music is the main reason for people to attend Grasscamp. But, Choi says, those who stray from the stages will be rewarded with market stalls, with traders from across Asia, plus workshops and activities – from swapping vinyl records, to making and flying kites, and learning how to make a cyanotype print.
Currently, Choi and the team run the festival in their own time outside work, and the founder says they need to work out how they can keep doing things this way. So get down into the woods this weekend, and if you see a guy wearing traditional Chinese clothing, give him a wave.
Grasscamp 2017 will be held from this Friday to Sunday with day passes starting from HK$250 and camping passes from HK$500. For more information, see the festival website.