With over 60,000 music fans attending, the 2015 event was the largest to date, said by some to be the biggest single event in Hong Kong this year. Clockenflap principals Mike Hill (Festival Director), Justin Sweeting (Music Director) and Jay Forster (Artistic Director) work in partnership with promoter/organiser Magnetic Asia to grow this festival year on year.
For the first time, Clockenflap invited French loudspeaker manufacturer NEXO to be the festival’s audio partner, a huge undertaking which meant supplying PA systems to seven separate performance stages (monitoring included) as well as a number of lounges, VIP areas and band common rooms.
The festival appeared to be tailor-made as a showcase for NEXO’s modular line array system, the STM Series, allowing the 4-module system to be configured in four different ways to suit the main PA requirements of four different principal stages. With nearly 500 NEXO cabinets on site, the powerful mix-and-match capabilities of the company’s relatively small range of products was shown off to the full – STM Series modules used as stagefill, compact GEO M6 cabinets used as infill with the larger STM system, RS Subs deployed alongside the STM S118 subs. NEXO R&D is rewarded for devoting two years to the job of phase alignment 20Hz-20kHz, which ensured matched voicing for all its loudspeaker models!
Short-form system spec:
Harbourflap Stage with STM
15x M46 main/15x B112 bass/1x M28 downfill per side, flown
8x S118 subs per side, flown
20x S118 subs groundstacked
M28 front fills
24x 45°N-12 stage monitors
GEO S12 stagefill
Atum Stage with STM
15x M28 per side, flown
27 x S118 subs
M28 and GEO M6 frontfills
PS15 stage monitors
GEO S12 stagefill
YourMum Stage with STM
6x M46 main/6x B112 bass/3x M28 downfill per side, flown
18x S118 subs
12x PS15 stage monitors
GEO S12 stagefill
Electriq Stage with STM
4x M46 main/B112 per side, groundstacked
6x S118 subs per side, groundstacked
8x RS18 subs
M46/B112/S118 stack for DJ monitors
4x 45°N-12 stage monitors
The Harbourflap Stage is the big one – spectacularly located at the waterside with its view of Hong Kong Island’s skyline. Here NEXO’s flagship STM rig could be heard in full flow. On stage left and right, arrays of 15x M46 main and 15x B112 bass modules plus one M28 downfill below were flown alongside 9x S118 subs, with a further 10x S118s cabinets groundstacked below. This covered a main audience area more than 100 metres deep.
On the second Atum Stage, a completely different STM proposition was in action – here the STM M28 omnipurpose module was used as the main cabinet in the PA arrays. “With 15x M28 each side, we covered an audience of 12-15,000,” explains NEXO support engineer Val Gilbert. “This was the biggest show I’ve ever done with M28 as the main box, and even I was a bit concerned when I saw how compact the system looked. But all the engineers were absolutely stunned, they wouldn’t believe that it was possible to get that kind of output from a 2x 8” cabinet!”
Gilbert observed that the standard of musicianship and engineering was particularly high on the Atum Stage so the system’s performance could be seen at its best; indeed it was widely praised in the mainstream HK press, where reviewers described the sound as “fantastic” and “bone-shaking”.
For the third stage, the delicately named YourMum, just 6x M46/B112 cabinets per side were used, showing STM operating on a much smaller scale. And on the fourth stage, Electriq, 4 sets of STM main/bass modules were groundstacked each side on top of a wall of 12x S118 and 8xRS18 subs to provide a world-class dance tent system.
“What makes the Clockenflap event so interesting is its diversity of stage sizes and the different styles of music,” says Val Gilbert. “It shows how the STM concept of scale through modularity works in practice.” Indeed the line-up is impressively eclectic and multi-national, embracing the finest of British rock , Japanese psychedelia, Taiwanese death metal, Jamaican reggae/ska, Cantonese hip-hop, American disco-funk and Irish balladry. Headliners included New Order and The Libertines, although the popular vote probably went with greatest-hits legends like Chic featuring Nile Rodgers and Earth, Wind and Fire.
With GEO S12 PA systems on the small Minki and Robot stages, and a PS Series rig on the Family stage, the NEXO continuity extended even backstage, where all the VIP lounges and even the bands’ common rooms were equipped with PS cabinets. Larger systems were remote-controlled over digital networks, using the NXES104 EtherSound cards inside the NXAMP4x4 amplifiers, most of which were packaged in the NUAR (Nexo Universal Amp Rack) format.
This event was a mammoth logistical task, as NEXO director Denis Baudier explains. “Our systems have been used at Clockenflap in the past, but this year, we became the exclusive supplier, deploying virtually every product in the NEXO range to match the varying PA locations. This was made possible by a tremendous collaboration between the engineering team of Top Plot International, NEXO’s own distributor for China, the Hong Kong PA company GL Events, and regional NEXO user Showco from Singapore, together with the Engineering Support group from NEXO itself.”
Led by Chow Shui Wing, the Top Plot International engineering team resourced the event with their own systems, bringing in additional inventory of NEXO’s STM Series modular line array from Showco to handle the four principal stages of the festival. Clockenflap’s much-admired location, on West Kowloon’s waterside looking at Victoria Harbour, is huge; the cable requirement alone was 15km! In addition to the seven performance stages, PA was supplied in backstage VIP lounges and band common rooms.
“Magnetic Asia, the festival organiser, has extremely high standards,” comments Denis Baudier. “These were matched by Top Plot International’s own exceptional professionalism, not just the meticulous preparation before the event, but by having a large team on site to sort out last-minute problems. They were supported by four engineers sent out from NEXO’s newly-formed Engineering Support Division – Val Gilbert, Mark Bollenberg, Leo Manhimho and Theo Said.”
The floor plan and CAD site drawings, providing stage dimensions, together with the height and load factor of the PA towers were sent to NEXO’s engineering support team in early August. “I used our proprietary NS-1 modelling software to design the different systems and specify the equipment well in advance,” says Val Gilbert. “It worked exactly as we predicted it would, I think there was only one cabinet change for some frontfill. What we promised the promoters in a computer model was exactly what was delivered in the field.
“This was largely due to the outstanding before-during-after job done by the Top Plot International engineering team, who worked so hard on advance prep. With 15 km of cable being delivered across a festival field where some of the stages were 3 km apart, this was not an easy job. Magnetic Asia (the promoters) have high standards, but I believe we exceeded their expectations.”System engineer Mark Bollenberg spoke for the NEXO team. “Clockenflap 2015 was an amazing experience for all of us. The production support from the local NEXO agent Top Plot was outstanding and I was amazed at the level of detail the organisers Magnetic Asia put into the pre-production of the festival. I was very proud to be part of this production and to deliver a flawless festival which was enjoyed by everyone that attended. It’s not very common for people come back to FoH and say thank you for an absolutely amazing sound experience!”
Last word goes to NEXO’s Michel Brouard, who joined the company 6 months ago as Greater China Business Development Manager and quickly initiated this prestigious partnership with Clockenflap’s festival director Mike Hill, production manager Peter Gorton and Head of Sponsorship & Partnership Kinny Barlow. “I’m very proud of what the Top Plot International/NEXO team has achieved here. The whole idea of this project was to showcase the versatility of each NEXO system, and also how well they work together in real-life situations, and I think we’ve done that in some style!”