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The Hong Kong festival's co-founder and music director tells IQ about its triumphant return, amid its acquisition by Live Nation
By James Hanley on 23 Mar 2023
Magnetic Asia’s Justin Sweeting tells IQ the Hong Kong market is enjoying a boom period, amid Clockenflap’s acquisition by Live Nation.
Live Nation announced yesterday that it had acquired a majority stake in the Hong Kong-based promoter and its flagship music and arts festival, with the Clockenflap team to continue to curate, manage and produce its events. Clockenflap also organises regular touring concerts in Hong Kong under the Clockenflap Presents banner.
Clockenflap 2023 was held from 3-5 March in Central Harbourfront Event Space with a line-up including Arctic Monkeys, Balming Tiger, Bombay Bicycle Club, The Cardigans and Wu-Tang Clan. Due to the pandemic, it was the 30,000-cap festival’s first edition since 2018 (its 2019 event was cancelled due to the Hong Kong protests) and came just days after the city finally lifted its mask mandate, which began in June 2020.
Sweeting, co-founder and music director, hails Clockenflap’s return, which coincided with a buoyant period for Hong Kong’s live music sector, as “incredible”.
“Many stars aligned both within and outside our control, including the mask mandate being lifted the week of the event, absolutely glorious weather and some truly sublime performances,” he says, speaking to IQ. “The audience at Clockenflap is already a very positive and open-minded one, though that was even more amplified this time. It was like the whole city had just been collectively let out into the wild, and it genuinely felt like the kick-off event for Hong Kong opening up to the world again.
“We’re in a period of boom at present, though am very conscious to take heed of the lessons learnt from watching the rest of the world open up before us, especially in terms of peaks and dips in demand levels.”
“I’ve always wanted Clockenflap to be one of the very best city-based festival experiences in the world, and that won’t change”
Sweeting says that demand was “strong”, with all ticket types for the festival, which was founded in 2008, selling out across the whole weekend for the first time.
“A combination of aggressive timelines, rising production costs and shifting goalposts related to the pandemic were consistent challenges,” he says. “Still, we were more than happy to face these each day as it ultimately meant that we could finally get back to the fun stuff too.
“There were so many magic moments, and honestly, just the fact that we were able to be back on again without any restrictions in play was the overriding highlight for me. I can’t really overstate what a great feeling it was to be fully back.”
With Clockenflap’s next edition confirmed for 1-3 December 2023, Sweeting is convinced its new partnership with Live Nation will help cement its worldwide reputation.
“I’ve always wanted Clockenflap to be one of the very best city-based festival experiences in the world, and that won’t change,” he adds, speaking before yesterday’s announcement. “We’ll always look to continuously improve as we evolve.”
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