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K-pop festival Waterbomb splashes into new markets

Touring K-pop festival series Waterbomb Festival is expanding to several global markets this year, with new editions set for the US, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Taiwan, the UAE, Singapore, and China.

Set to kick off this May in Xiamen, China, the international series will take water-soaked stars to Hong Kong in June before touring South Korea and Japan in July and more cities across both, plus Singapore, in August. A Bangkok edition has been set for September, with stints in Los Angeles, Ho Chi Minh City, Taipei, and Dubai to be announced.

First held in 2015 in Seoul, South Korea, the festival series first expanded to new markets in 2023 with two editions in Japan and one in Bangkok. This year, the series will visit nine cities in South Korea, four in Japan, and one in Thailand, along with the new editions.

The event was launched by Hong Kong-based streaming platform Viu and Singapore-based Evergreen Group Holdings, with local promoters helping bring it to new territories.

The K-pop genre continues to soar to new hights and into new markets

As the name suggests, Waterbomb intertwines various water activities alongside local and international lineups of K-pop, hip-hop, and EDM performers. Though lineups vary by city, performers include K-pop supergroup TWICE’s Nayeon, American rapper Jay Park, and SHINEE’s Taemin, and South Korean singers Hwasa, Chung Ha, and Bibi, among a variety of others. Former performers include Blackpink, aespa, Simon Dominic, and Jessi.

The K-pop genre continues to soar to new heights and into new markets, with behemoth HYBE reporting its concert revenue skyrocketed by 40% in 2023, reaching KRW 359.1 billion (€253m) in the year. Last autumn, fellow agency SM Entertainment announced its Q3 revenue surged 40% year-on-year, partly attributed to their star’s expansive world tours.

KCON, the world’s biggest K-pop and culture convention, also expanded to a fifth region this year, adding Hong Kong to its 2024 lineup of Japan, Los Angeles, Saudia Arabia, and to-be-announced Europe.

The 2024 schedule is as follows:

May
18-18: Xiamen, China

June
1-2: Hong Kong

July
5-7: Seoul, South Korea
13: Jeju, South Korea
13: Fukuoka, Japan
20: Daegu, South Korea
27: Busan, South Korea
27-28: Tokyo, Japan

August
3: Incheon, South Korea
10: Daejeon, South Korea
10: Osaka, Japan
17: Sokcho, South Korea
17: Nagoya, Japan
24: Suwon, South Korea
24-25: Singapore, Singapore
31: Gwangju, South Korea

September
TBA: Bangkok

TBA
Los Angeles, United States
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Taipei, Taiwan
Dubai, United Arab Emirates

 


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Fines levied over Hong Kong video screen collapse

Three companies have been fined in connection with the incident in which a giant video screen fell on two dancers during a concert in Hong Kong.

One dancer was critically injured in the incident, which took place during a show by Cantopop boy band Mirror at Hong Kong Coliseum on 28 July 2022. A second dancer was also hospitalised but not seriously injured.

An investigation also found that another dancer suffered injuries to his chest, knee and neck after falling up to three metres during a rehearsal for the first concert on 25 July after an elevating platform failed to ascend to the stage.

The South China Morning Post reports that contractor Hip Hing Loong Stage Engineering Company (HHLSEC) was fined HK$420,000 (€49.350) by a magistrate at Kowloon City Court last week after admitting six counts of failing to ensure the safety of their employees, failing to ensure that devices were safe and failing to notify authorities of accidents.

Two other firms, main contractor Engineering Impact and the Studiodanz Company, were fined $220,000 and $132,000, respectively, last November.

In mitigation for HHLSEC, Kelvin Lai Kin-wah told the court the accident was “extremely unfortunate” and the company, which had worked on thousands of events, expressed “extreme remorse”.

However, acting principal magistrate David Ko Wai-hung said Hip Hing Loong was critical of the firm’s practice of only carrying out visual inspections of suspended stage installations, stressing that it  had an “unshirkable responsibility” to ensure the system could bear the weight of the LED screen.

“As stage designs become more innovative and complicated, the greater the need for professionals to supervise and manage the equipment”

“I would call this an industry loophole,” he said. “Just because it has not happened before, does not mean it will not happen in the future. As stage designs become more innovative and complicated, the greater the need for professionals to supervise and manage the equipment, instead of just relying on experience.”

In its official report released last year, a government task force concluded a wire rope tied to the LED panel snapped due to “metal fatigue”.

It stated: “The causes include (1) inferior conditions of the rope, with the breaking strength of the wire rope being lower than the lowest breaking strength of a normal one; (2) the actual weight of the LED panel being much heavier than what was reported; (3) a problematic winch installation system making the rope guard difficult to rotate, causing damage to the rope surface and inducing extra load on the rope, leading to plastic deformation; and (4) poor workmanship on the assembly and installation of the LED panel suspension system.”

Engineering Impact pleaded guilty last year to four offences, including failing to ensure that devices were safe, failing to notify the occupational safety officer of a serious accident within 24 hours and failing to give notice of an accident. Studiodanz admitted five offences, including failing to ensure the health and safety of employees, failing to give notice of accidents to employees and failing to provide them insurance coverage.

The performance by Mirror was part of a planned 12-concert run by the 12-member group. The remaining shows in the series were cancelled.

Mirror, who formed in 2018, launched their Feel The Passion Tour last week, starting off 16 shows at Hong Kong’s AsiaWorld Arena between 15 January and 3 February. They will then visit the UK in March for shows at The O2 in London and Manchester’s AO Arena, with dates to follow in Macau, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York and Toronto.

 


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World’s biggest K-pop fest expands to fifth region

KCON, the Korean pop music and culture convention operated by Korea’s largest media conglomerate CJ ENM, will hold five editions in 2024.

This year, the world’s biggest K-pop festival will visit Hong Kong for the first time, before heading to Japan, the US, Europe and Saudi Arabia.

The Hong Kong edition will be held on 30-31 March at the AsiaWorld Expo, a 10,000-seater venue adjacent to the airport.

KCON will use the arena and conference facilities to create a multi-faceted event that features concerts and a full convention of exhibitor booths covering many aspects of Korean culture.

“Hong Kong ranks 6th in K-pop album sales and is emerging as a key location for K-pop stars to perform”

“Hong Kong ranks 6th in K-pop album sales and is emerging as a key location for K-pop stars to perform. [It is] a central hub for fans to experience KCON from more regions across Asia,” CJ ENM said.

KCON organisers say they plan to expand the scale of the K-pop festival in 2024 by reaching larger venues and building out stronger production.

The festival will take place in Japan on 10-12 May and in Los Angeles between 26–28 July, though locations haven’t been announced. Editions in Saudi Arabia and Europe will take place on unspecified dates in the second half of the year.

KCON began in US in 2012 and has since been held in Japan, United Arab Emirates, France, Mexico, Australia, Thailand, and Saudi Arabia. Over 12 years, it has amassed an attendance figure of around 1.65 million in 9 countries.

In 2023, it toured four regions: Thailand (March), Japan (May), Los Angeles (August), and Saudi Arabia (October).

 


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UV lights ’cause vision issues’ for ApeFest-goers

UV lights are believed to have been the cause of eye pain, vision issues and skin irritation experienced by attendees and staff at this month’s ApeFest in Hong Kong.

The first international edition of the annual NFT festival, held for members of the Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC) from 3-5 November, featured attractions such as a live DJ, merchandise and Bored Ape-branded experiences.

Host Yuga Labs began receiving reports of issues shortly after a Saturday night community event.

“These reports were – and continue to be – deeply concerning to us,” says BAYC on X. “We immediately reached out to impacted attendees to learn of their symptoms and to direct our investigation.

“Simultaneously, we commenced an investigation that included a thorough review of inventory records, material logs, and spec sheets (including paint and lighting), interviewing contractors who provided and built ApeFest installations, and conducting testing and on-site inspections.”

“UV-A emitting lights installed in one corner of the event was likely the cause of the reported issues”

The investigation, conducted in collaboration with ApeFest producer Jack Morton Worldwide, concluded “UV-A emitting lights installed in one corner of the event was likely the cause of the reported issues related to attendees’ eyes and skin.”

“We acknowledge that members of the community and general public have suggested a similar conclusion and we appreciate the patience of the community as we gathered evidence to support this determination,” it continues. “We continue to encourage anyone experiencing symptoms to seek medical attention and share these findings with their medical provider.”

More than 2,200 people from 60 countries attended the third annual festival, which was the first to be staged outside New York.

“Community is the heart of Yuga and the purpose of ApeFest is to bring the community together IRL,” adds the BAYC. “We are saddened that this incident has detracted from the experience of ApeFest attendees. Along with Jack Morton, we are committed to supporting the recovery of anyone affected.”

 


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Clockenflap unveils second 2023 edition

A second 2023 edition of Clockenflap, Hong Kong’s biggest international outdoor music and arts festival, is planned for December.

The 30,000-capacity festival returned to Central Harbourfront Event Space between 3–5 March with a line-up including Arctic Monkeys, Balming Tiger and Bombay Bicycle Club – and sold out for the first time in its 15-year history.

It was the first time the festival had taken place since 2018, with the final pre-coronavirus edition (2019) cancelled at the last minute due to pro-democracy protests. The 2020 and 2021 editions were both cancelled due to strict restrictions on large-scale outdoor events.

Making up for lost time, the organisers of the festival – which was acquired by Live Nation soon after the March event – have planned a second 2023 instalment.

“I’ve always wanted Clockenflap to be one of the very best city-based festival experiences in the world, and that won’t change”

Pulp, Joji and Yoasobi will headline the 1–3 December affair at the Central Harbourfront. Idles, Caroline Polachek, No Party For Cao Dong, D4vd, BBNO$, Alex G, Novo Amor, Yard Act, Atarashii Gakko!, Kamaal Williams and Otoboke Beaver are also due to perform.

Ticket prices for the second 2023 edition have risen almost 23% to HK$1,990 for a 3-day pass, following the buy-out by Live Nation.

Clockenflap co-founder and music director Justin Sweeting told IQ he believes the 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 said, the day after the acquisition. “We’ll always look to continuously improve as we evolve.”

 


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Clockenflap’s Sweeting: ‘We’re in a boom period’

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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Live Nation acquires Hong Kong’s Clockenflap

Live Nation has acquired a majority stake in Hong Kong-based promoter Clockenflap and its flagship music and arts festival.

One of Asia’s best-known festival brands, Clockenflap made its return in early March after a four-year hiatus, featuring artists including Arctic Monkeys, Balming Tiger, Bombay Bicycle Club, The Cardigans and Wu-Tang Clan.

The Clockenflap team will continue to curate, manage and produce its events, with co-founder and music director Justin Sweeting confident that Live Nation’s support and resources will help cement its status internationally.

“It was a wonderful feeling seeing a capacity crowd at the festival last weekend – Clockenflap has one of the most positive and open minded audiences in the world,” he says. “The Live Nation team share our vision for Clockenflap being one of the best city festivals in the world, and with Live Nation’s support and resources, I’m excited for the future of the festival.”

Founded in 2008, the three-day, 30,000-cap festival takes place at Hong Kong’s Central Harbourfront Event Space. Its next edition has been confirmed for 1-3 December 2023.

“By joining forces with Live Nation, we can continue to grow the festival and expand our event activities in Hong Kong and regionally”

Clockenflap also organises regular touring concerts in Hong Kong under the Clockenflap Presents banner, with recent sold-out shows announced for Cigarettes After Sex and Honne, and its partnership with Live Nation comes at a time events in the region are seeing a bloom in activity.

“Over the last 15 years we have grown Clockenflap into a world-class three-day festival,” says Clockenflap co-founder and MD Mike Hill. “By joining forces with the global leaders in entertainment, Live Nation, we can continue to grow the festival and expand our event activities in Hong Kong and regionally.”

“Partnering with Clockenflap further demonstrates that Live Nation is committed to bringing world-class festivals and live entertainment experiences to Hong Kong fans,” adds Live Nation APAC president Roger Field. “Our team is dedicated to supporting Mike, Justin and their team’s exceptional skills and capabilities, and through Live Nation’s global network we will enhance and grow the Clockenflap brand and deliver new and exciting live opportunities to the region.”

 


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Prosecutions mount over Mirror video screen fall

The number of prosecutions brought over the incident in Hong Kong where a giant video screen fall on two dancers during a concert by boy band Mirror has risen to 15.

Two dancers were injured – one of them critically – in the incident at Hong Kong Coliseum on 28 July 2022. According to local media, Mo Lee Kai-yin, 27, remains in hospital six months on after sustaining injuries to his cervical vertebrae, head and lungs

Following an investigation, charges have been levelled against three companies – Engineering Impact, Hip Hing Loong Stage Engineering and Studiodanz.  The firms are accused of breaching the Occupational Safety and Health Ordinance and the Employees’ Compensation Ordinance.

Variety reports that the alleged offences included failure to provide employees with safe plant and safe systems of work, failure to notify the Commissioner for Labour of an accident and [failure] to take out employees’ compensation insurance for employees.

Three people were also charged with conspiracy to defraud in relation to the case earlier this month

The case is scheduled to be heard at the Kowloon City Magistrates’ Court on 27 March.

“The LD will not tolerate the above-mentioned illegal acts and will strictly enforce the law and do its utmost to protect the occupational safety and health as well as the statutory rights of employees,” says a Labour Department spokesperson.

Three people were also charged with conspiracy to defraud in relation to the case earlier this month. The trio – a woman and two men aged between 41 and 60 – are reportedly employees of Engineering Impact and will appear in court in February.

Police officers allegedly found some equipment was more than seven times the weight declared and claim the firm deliberately gave false information in order to obtain a permit for a planned 12-concert run by the 12-member boy band. The remaining shows were cancelled in the wake of the incident.

 


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Three charged over Hong Kong video screen fall

Three people have been charged in connection with an incident in Hong Kong where a giant video screen fall on two dancers during a concert by boy band Mirror.

One dancer was critically injured in the incident at Hong Kong Coliseum on 28 July 2022 and remains in hospital, according to local media.

The Hong Kong Free Press reports that a woman and two men aged between 41 and 60 will appear in court next month accused of conspiracy to defraud. The trio, who are reportedly employees of main contractor Engineering Impact Limited, were among five people arrested in a series of dawn raids last November. The other two people have been released “unconditionally”.

Police officers allegedly found some equipment was more than seven times the weight declared and claim the firm deliberately gave false information in order to obtain a permit for a planned 12-concert run by the 12-member boy band. The remaining shows were cancelled in the wake of the incident.

“We were of the view that they made false declaration deliberately, with the view to speed up the approval process for the show”

“The real weights of these mechanical devices were totally different from the data that was given by the company,” said Supt Alan Chung of the Kowloon West regional crime unit. “So we were of the view that they made false declaration deliberately, with the view to speed up the approval process for the show.”

In its official report, a government task force led by the leisure and cultural services department concluded a wire rope tied to the LED panel snapped due to “metal fatigue”.

It stated: “The causes include (1) inferior conditions of the rope, with the breaking strength of the wire rope being lower than the lowest breaking strength of a normal one; (2) the actual weight of the LED panel being much heavier than what was reported; (3) a problematic winch installation system making the rope guard difficult to rotate, causing damage to the rope surface and inducing extra load on the rope, leading to plastic deformation; and (4) poor workmanship on the assembly and installation of the LED panel suspension system.”

 


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Five arrested over Hong Kong concert tragedy

Five arrests have been made in connection with the horror incident that saw a giant video screen fall on two dancers during a concert by Cantopop boy band Mirror.

Mo Lee Kai-yin was critically injured in the incident at Hong Kong Coliseum on 28 July, while Chang Tsz-fung also required hospital treatment, with the release of an official report into the causes by the authorities thought to be imminent.

However, the South China Morning Post now reports that five suspects aged between 40 and 63 were arrested in a series of dawn raids after police officers found some equipment was up to seven times the weight declared.

According to police, eight sets of speakers on the stage weighed about seven times more than principal contractor Engineering Impact Limited’s reported weight of 1,600lbs, while six LED screens weighed a total of 9,852lbs – 63% more than was reported.

“There were lots of factors that caused the accident, and the numerous underreported weights could just be one of the causes”

“There were lots of factors that caused the accident, and the numerous underreported weights could just be one of the causes,” says Supt Alan Chung of the Kowloon West regional crime unit.

Chung has accused Engineering Impact of deliberately underreporting the weight of the stage equipment in an attempt to speed up the government approval process. He adds that the investigation also indicated that Engineering Impact and subcontractor Hip Hing Loong did not take measures to ensure the mechanical devices and cables met safety requirements.

Those arrested included staff members from both contractors, reveals a Post source.

The performance was part of a planned 12-concert run by the 12-member boy band, who formed in 2018. The remaining shows in the series were cancelled.

Mirror’s management MakerVille and show organiser Music Nation hired an independent third-party expert to look into the incident and have pledged to release further details after the results of the official investigation are released.

“We chose to hire teams considered top-notch in the industry, not cheaper, non-first-tier ones,” the companies said in a statement last month. “Cost was not our primary consideration.”

 


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