Rockit 2003 2004

Hong Kong’s Rockit Festival was held again in 2005, on 12th and 13 November 2005, with British band Feeder the only big name act, but worth the price of admission in themselves: see pages here on Rockit 2005.
Here’s guff n photos from 2004; and 2003 (first Rockit).

Overall, Rockit 2004 was a top festival. Maybe crowd smaller than ideal; maybe not enough locals (why not? – can be plenty of locals at gigs by visiting bands). Saddest news, for me, Alok’s 39G to break up after festival, as no venues to play. Not so much that they’re breaking up; but just reflection on music "scene" here, especially galling when some woeful "singers" can make it in HK. Rockit organisers hope to encourage HK bands over the year; hope this happens.


Rockit music Festival in Hong Kong – 2004 (and 2003)

Rockit, Sunday 24 October 2004

As yesterday, I arrived just too late to catch Hang Out and Relax, who were listed for the late morning slots for Sat. and Sun. (or, wait, maybe that’s advice to punters…). Did make it in time to find Alok’s 39G playing in the tent, where everyone seemed suitably chilled.

There were five guys playing – one drummer, four guitarists, one of whom sang. A good outfit; I noticed one of the guitarists had a Teenage Fanclub t-shirt on, so maybe this band (also with wall of guitars) is an inspiration. Sadly, though, heard that the band was about to split up after Rockit – coz of no venues to play (with no gigs, they just jam together). Meanwhile, HK "stars" who can barely sing or play a note likely selling albums and concert tickets.

Then, in from the UK, Dive Dive played the main stage. Rockin new wave, with plenty of pizzazz; maybe too bad they were on at 2.30 in the aft, but a treat for those of us present. Their single Good Show will be out in the UK next week (8 Nov), and should be their first album early next year. Hope to hear news of them achieving success – if they make a ton of dough, the lead singer reckons he’s gonna build a car and break the world land speed record!

Back in the tent, local group Over A Dogma were bringing calypso to a Hong Kong Sunday aft. Gooc, cheerful stuff, even if the organisers had a hard time persuading em to leave the stage once time was up (overran by maybe 10 mins; but who can blame em really, given there isn’t much chance to perform in HK).

Thoughtful stuff, now, on the main stage – with singer songwriter Aqualung, this time playing with a guitarist/second keyboard player. "Strange And Beautiful" is his best known song so far, thanks to a UK VW Beetle ad. Pleasant enough I thought, while a couple of punk-loving friends were baffled anyone could like it.

I popped back to the tent, where the Bass Cadets had people bouncing about.

As dusk fell, Audiotraffic arrived on the main stage. They’re a local act, and achieved this slot thanks to winning the HK final of World Battle of the Bands.

I’d seen the final, and while I liked all three bands I saw (missed the last one), I reckoned Audiotraffic were best – very impressive. Thought then there were echoes of Radiohead, so I was chuffed during Rockit when they played a Radiohead number for their encore (and not some easy peasy track; it was the one with the line "God loves his children"). A strong set; hope they do well in World Battle of the Bands overall finals, in New Zealand.

The tent now switched towards the Ravey Davey crowd kind of material.

And so, to Sunday’s headline act, Aussie threesome Regurgitator, who’d played Rockit last year and were reportedly good (I missed em). Though even some of their song titles are a long way from suitable for a family website (example: "I *&*! a lot of @*%$ to get where I *@!#* today"), they proved great fun, with the two cheeky chappies in front playing guitars, singing, sticking out a tongue (the bloke in specs), and bouncing about like human pogo sticks (chiefly the bloke without specs)."Make some fucking noise!" was the Regurgitator motto, yelled at the crowd as they regurgitated punk rock, regular rock, rap – including material from a soon to be released album they wrote during three weeks living in a transparent bubble (for Aussie reality show type stunt).

The crowd bounced about too.

And that was ii for the main stage. Over in the tent, the Rockit wrapup dance party was underway; interrupted briefly as some punter maybe went crazier than he or she should have. For me, time to head out from the park, after a cracking weekend.
{mospagebreak title=Rockit, Saturday 23 Oct 2004}

Rockit, Saturday 23 October 2004

A great day; only brief info here, as I’m too tuckered out to scribble much.

Lamma band Garoupa was the first act on the main stage; fun set with bluesy rock, light reggae.

Another local band, girl tiro Dzap Dau Dau, were entertaining in the main tent; and winners of the day’s cutest bass player contest (well, would have been if there were such a contest).

On came more another Hong Kong band, The Academy – not quite so pleasing on the eye, but with some fine rock.

Next up on the main stage were Climax, a Hong Kong bunch who are out to prove punk is still alive and shouting.

Not as snarling and vitriolic as the Sex Pistols in their heyday, say, but good potent songs, and tons of attitude (even had surprise reappearance on main stage by one of the lads later on, as impromptu dancer for the Cooper Temple Clause).

Over in the tent, Malfunction played with cardboard boxes hiding their heads; they had images and Chinese characters on the othewise white boxes. Again, strong musically – I didn’t see a duff act today.

Then, it was time to gather in front of the main stage again, for the first of the two main acts today. Pretty good crowd by this time; seemed westerners predominated.

On came the 5,6,7,8’s – a trio of bubbly Japanese ladies, who achieved some fame when they appeared in Kill Bill.

They were a lot of fun, playing their own songs and a cover or two, with strong 50s rock influence, plus some punk; the numbers included one I like (after hearing a downloaded track) that starts, "One potato, two potato, three potato, four!" another that centred on screaming, and, of course, their Kill Bill song: "Woo Hoo" (Woo Hoo Hoo… and repeat).

Hung around in front of main stage, for The Cooper Temple Clause – heck, I’d suggested them, so I wanted to see em. Interestingly, I thought, seemed crowd mix changed, with more Hongkongers heading near the stage: some fans, I think.

I thought the Cooper Temple Clause were magnificent; powerful renditions of tracks I knew from their latest, second album; were some quiet parts, but songs tending to build to raucous (one track almost U2 like, I thought).

The band were mainly backlit, sometimes making for stark effects, and tho lead singer did say this was a beautiful place to play, they mostly focused on musicianship (6 guys in all, 1 of em doing double duty as keyboardist and guitarist, so plenty for them to play).

At least near me, seemed the crowd mostly also real impressed with the band; plenty of moshing, with a few folk body surfed and tossed over the crowd barrier in front.

Security guys quick to escort these people back to main crowd, but seemed they (security) were a lot less stroppy than yesterday aft.

And so, by around 8pm, that was pretty much it: nothing more on main stage tonight.

Yes, some acts in tent; we had a look at Waxed Apple, who did some novel dance stuff – I was glad to see one with a guy strumming a violin (had heard this on their website). And that was it for me; time for ferry home.
{mospagebreak title=Rockit, Friday 22 October 2004}

Rockit, Friday 22 October 2004

Largely coz I had to work this morning (yeah, I know, on a public holiday), I didn’t make it to Rockit till afternoon.

Found a reasonable crowd, with people scattered across the grass in front of the main stage, and in tent (second stage), watching Fantastic Day – who were pretty good (right).

Not long after, it was time for King Ly Chee – local boys who play, what?, thrashmetal-punk-bloody-loud-but-bloody-good rock.

King Ly Chee had a bit of a fan club, who proved a boisterous bunch, a leapin and a jumpin, and a play punchin each other in the mosh pit. Boy, did that ever piss off the security guys – every so often, po-faced security blokes yanked some frolickin fan out of the melee, and gave em a darn good talkin to and finger wagging. Whew! – you’d have thought they were stopping a riot or something. (I was real close; seemed to me no one who didn’t want to be a mosher was even brushed into; seemed the supposed miscreants were way more polite than security bods. Ah well – young people these days, eh?)

As KLC closed, Nude were on stage in the tent – and though their name may hint at raunchiness, they were far more the kind of act you might take your mum to see – playing jazz-funk that got people dancing, with good party atmosphere.

Soon afterwards, back to the main stage, for Josie Ho, whom Rockit site calls "Actress turned rock princess." Turned out her band was none other than – King Ly Chee. Well, KLC hammered out the music, with lead singer chatting with the crowd between numbers – but Josie, whom Rockit site predicted would give a "frenzied live performance" was akin to someone who was maybe fair at karaoke, but no match for powerful guitars n drums; and she was about as frenzied as a Madame Tussaud’s wax sculpture.

And that was it for the main stage, even though it was only 6.30 or so (can’t remember even roughly): one of world’s earliest winding down rock festivals? I’ve seen main acts finishing just as festival is about to end for a day; as headliners, they appear last.

Here, Rockit is apparently hoping to mimic festivals where people dance into small hours; but here, the dancing’s in the main evening hours.

And so, the tent switched to DJs; played some strong sets, but seemed they’d learned their performance efforts from same place as Josie Ho – my impression from three acts was of guys in dark t-shirts and baseball caps doing technical stuff with computers.

And, by around 8pm, that seemed pretty much it for the first day of Rockit; good fun, especially for a "bonus" day, but odd, to me, to finish a rock festival in mid-evening.
{mospagebreak title=Rockit 2003}

Rockit 2003 (written before the 2004 event)

Around the time Hong Kong was splashing out millions of dollars (I believe it cost HK$100 million or so) on surely one of the world’s more bizarre music festivals – the much ballyhooed Harbour Fest, which featured a mishmash of acts, some of them established world names, some who reportedly proved unable to sing when on stage, some who seemed, err, odd choices at a music festival ("Let’s rock" announced Karen Mok, supporting Prince, before launching into a track by … The Carpenters), a far smaller, far more "real" music festival was held in Victoria Park, Causeway Bay.

Called Rockit, this was a two-day festival modelled on grand music festivals like Glastonbury – but far smaller scale. I went for most of the first day, the Saturday – and had a great time. So, even though Rockit’s promoters reportedly took a financial hit last year, I reckon it’s great that Rockit returns this year [2004]; if successful this time, Rockit could become an annual event.

Before a bit of guff about the line-up for this year (and, yes, a link to the Rockit site), here are a few of my chief memories from last year (the Saturday).

Rockit 2003 was held in a top venue; a big grassy area in Victoria Park, surrounded by city buildings – it felt cool to lounge around on the grass, drinking beer, and looking around at Hong Kong city. The atmosphere was mostly pretty chilled, especially as the crowd was sparse – poor for the organisers’ pockets, but allowing us to get up close to the acts.

There were plenty of food and drinks stalls, with beer, noodles and so on at what seemed to me decent price. Also, a main stage; and a smaller stage in a tent.

Arrived not long after noon, to see The Feelers – who I’d read were around the top band in New Zealand. Though the crowd was tiddly (too early?), they were a strong act, and I bought a CD – which still sounds good to me (communicate). Got this autographed; the band seemed a trio of laid back guys, planning to hang around for the rest of the day.

With just the two stages (plus some nonstop bongo drum bonging by a teepee), there was a fair bit of hanging around for those of us in the audience to do while waiting for acts; but that was ok – beer n ice cream helped pass the time.

Rockit info suggested Electric Eel Shock might be fun – three Japanese rockers, who now live in the US, and had wowed festival crowds elsewhere. So, we ambled to near the main stage to wait for them; and waited for them to start. And waited – as the three came on stage, and went through sound checks. Then – woah! – they started.

Electric Eel Shock blasted some sort of new wave metal – with tracks like Rock n Roll Suicide; and were bursting with energy – the lead singer and co guitarist jumping around, standing on speakers to yell at the audience. And the drummer, naughty boy, kept disrobing, till he had just a sock on his privates (later, he was duly fined a few hundred bucks).

"Thank you very much!" the lead singer kept shouting. "Rock and Roll from Japan!" And the crowd went wild. (Can you spot the celebrity audience member here?)

With the Eel Shock discharged, and twilight descending, it was time for the headline act – Finley Quaye, who had replaced Supergrass (who couldn’t make it).

No soundcheck for him – just on stage with his band, and without any acknowledgement to the crowd, he stood side-on, and crooned into a microphone, playing on his guitar.

But Quaye didn’t play for long. Two, three songs, and then he was wandering to the back of the stage, checking amplifiers, talking with sound engineer. He’d start a song, play a few bars, and stop, check again. No joy as sound guy rechecked, tried leads, connections. No songs, either.

Quaye seemed not to notice there was a crowd present, as he kept on faffing about, looking concerned, and irritated. Heck, some of us got irritated ourselves – started telling the poor patsy to get on with it. But no, our perhaps pampered star strode off stage, never to reappear (well, I glimpsed him aiming for the acts’ food stall once).

Ah, well – too bad for Quaye. We had a grand time without him. (This is the EE Shock drummer.)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *