The all-local Wow and flutter music festival returns to the West Kowloon Cultural District this weekend, and for this sophomore iteration, it has been extended to a three-day sonic feast. Other than a flock of familiar names from last year’s lineup, notable additions include the legendary Tat Ming Pair, Jun Kung and — for those of you who were around in the 80s — the long-awaited reunion of synth-pop group Minimal.
Here are the acts that we at Still/Loud are dying to see:
Karen picks Teenage Riot
Members of Teenage Riot — named after Sonic Youth’s 1988 hit — hailed from diverse local indie groups False Alarm, Rachel Believes in Me, 22cats, Hard Candy and Tide. The “supergroup” initially came together to cover Sonic Youth songs, but didn’t quite seem to be able to rein in their creative juices. In June, the band released a six-track EP, a follow-up to their 2015 debut The Revenge. Unlike its namesake, Teenage Riot has always been more playful than punk, as seen from their stylistic music videos to vocalists Freakiyo and Porpor’s wacky demeanour in live shows. Underneath the band’s bubbly guitar chords and head-in-the-clouds facade, however, are subtly haunting lyrics that speak to the undercurrents of loneliness running through Hong Kong.
Wow and flutter is all about being grassroots, and it’s hard to find a band that’s more so than Teenage Riot. The band recently played at a festival celebrating a jackfruit harvest at Wang Chau — a village that may soon be evicted to make room for controversial public housing plans — to show support to the residents. Aside from being talented musicians who are amazing fun to watch, Teenage Riot is also a true embodiment of the indie spirit.
Most anticipated track: “Book of Face”
Whenever I crave poetry in places where it’s virtually impossible to read (a.k.a. crammed trains during rush hour), I always put per se on shuffle. A cross-pollination between poetry and music, per se has a sound that straddles the line between pop, folk and rock. Suffice it to say that they’re not your typical laid-back, acoustic duo. The two released their first concept album Conundrum through crowdfunding last November. Not only does the album explore different puzzles in life, such as identity and existential crisis, it also stretches per se’s musical boundaries, as the duo gives an experimental twist by adding an Erhu solo to one of the tracks.
Most anticipated track: “The Mist”
Koel also picks more reverb
Four years ago, drummer Haang announced that the band was dead. Fast forward to today, the instrumental post-rockers are already working on their second album. After multiple changes in their lineup, the now six-piece band includes Wong Chun, who was named best new director at Golden Horse Awards last year. Since then, the band has introduced more cinematic visuals to complement their music. An example is their newest music video “Glimpse”, a conceptual piece on the changes brought by urbanisation. This weekend, wear loneliness like an invisible shroud. Imagine you’re the protagonist in the music video of “One Man”, riding a motorcycle in the middle of the night, because that basically sums up how it feels to see more reverb play live.
Most anticipated track: “Glimpse”
Kylie picks Choi Sai Ho
Having missed Choi Sai Ho’s last performance at Sonar, this coming Saturday at Wow and flutter would be the perfect opportunity to catch his live set.
Fans of Kraftwerk and Autechre would enjoy, if not love, Choi’s performance. For years, the local producer has been a one-man band quietly making beautiful eclectic electronic beats. And given his creative media background and talent in visual music, his audio tracks and live gigs are always paired with dynamic visuals. In the music video for my favourite track, “寒夜．電車廠 Freezing Night • Tram Depot”, the audio is literally a patchwork of Hong Kong sounds sampled from your everyday tram commute — honks, rail tracks squeaks, door-closing alerts and the distinctive “ding ding” sound — coupled with 也斯 Ya Si’s titular poem and subliminal collages telling the Hong Kong story. Can’t get more 本地薑 local than that, can you?
Choi’s collaborative album SYNC came out in 2015, featuring various artists including Jing Wong, Kenneth of Modern Children and Jan Curious of Chochukmo, who are all on the festival’s bill. If Jan will join Choi on stage and play their collaborative track “Perfect Equality”, my Wow and flutter weekend would be made.
I discovered Chochukmo during their hiatus back in 2008 and was rather disappointed by not being able to see them play live. But lo and behold, the music gods answered a fan’s humble prayers a few years later. Chochukmo’s sound is amorphous yet distinctive. Their invigorating performances inspire even those with uncoordinated extremities to flail their arms with reckless abandon. Missing their Tree Hole Project multimedia performance last August will go with me to my grave as one of my regrets in life. The band recently released a music video for “8”, which was on their Tree Hole Project set list. Chochukmo continues to charm their listeners over a decade with well thought out sonic surprises, and I cannot wait for a much-needed dosage of new material this weekend.
Most anticipated track: “8”
The Still/Loud crew can talk about our favourites amongst the lineup all day and night, but we should probably leave a little room for your auditory imagination. Tell us who your pick is, or who you’d like to see but didn’t make the lineup (a travesty!).
To get you started, we went through Spotify and dug up as many of this year’s artists as we can. Use it as a cheat sheet for moshing and singing along at the show, or as a sampler of Hong Kong indie sounds, or both — it’s up to you.
Compiled and written by Still/Loud’s Kylie Lee, Karen Cheung, Koel Chu, and Vincy Chan.