Beyond Structures
Photo by the author, of the band Running Youth

Clockenflap 2023 Day 3: Running Youth, Otoboke Beaver, 9m88 and more

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It’s day three of Clockenflap – and the final day of what is shaping up to be one of my favorite festival experiences. Here are the highlights of the final day of the festival.


Running Youth (Taiwan/Hong Kong)

Made up of the melodic half of Hong Kong math-folk band GDJYB, Running Youth is the indie pop brainchild of vocalist Soft Liu and guitarist Soni Cheng, who moved to Taiwan due to the dearth of opportunities from the pandemic. Clockenflap was thus the first show they’ve played in their hometown since then, and the duo seemed particularly thrilled to be back. Bringing along a full band to the set, Cheng strummed bright, shimmering chords that rippled through their music, while Liu charmed the crowd with her soulful, soothing vocals. At one point, she even taught the audience how to clap along to their bop of a song, “Let’s not see each other anymore”, by reciting the names of local street food (although I’m not really sure because my Cantonese is really not great), and then kept time by enthusiastically hitting the drum sticks she was using for her electronic pad together. Everyone was clapping along so impeccably that I suspected I was surrounded by musicians – or, at least, incredibly intuitive listeners. 

Another photo of the band Running Youth by the author. It's a pretty close shot, with criss-crossing lights above and a wild drippy background behind the members.


Otoboke Beaver (Japan)

The band Otoboke Beaver as photographed by the author. The guitar player is shouting into the microphone and pointing into the crowd which has their hands up

You may have heard of Otoboke Beaver from that one viral video, in which the punk rock band was ripping through a live set in Brazil: drummer Kahokiss frantically smashing the hi-hat at sheer fucking hyper-speed, as vocalist Accorinrin unintelligibly yelped into her microphone for a few chaotic seconds. 

This display of ferocity, apparently, is just a typical performance for Otoboke Beaver, who was every bit as spirited as that clip. During their set, the crowd quickly coalesced into a swirling mosh pit from the band’s very first note, every single song a dynamic, pulverizing sonic force that sent the crowd dancing and headbanging into a delirious frenzy. But it was more than just haphazard speed; the drums, guitars and vocals were being played so slickly and proficiently that these only made the crowd go wilder. The crowd moshed so hard that the barricade in front of the stage fell over, forcing a very stern-looking security guard to pause the performance and set the barricade right again. I have fallen back in love with the frenetic energy of punk shows all over again.


9m88 (Taiwan)

a press photo for 9m88 featuring the singer with microphone in hand wearing an outfit covered in calligraphy, hand on chest, smiling over the crowd

Admittedly, it felt like a bit of a whiplash to catch 9m88’s sultry jazz performance immediately after Otoboke Beaver’s blistering set (they had overlapping slots). But listening to the soothing voice of Baba, as she’s affectionately known by her fans, in the midst of a breezy Sunday afternoon was perhaps the only way to cool our heads. Despite playing at one of the bigger stages at the festival, the jazzy songstress’s set felt particularly intimate, as she serenaded the audience and crooned lush ballads with her velvety vocals. The enraptured crowd grooved and chimed in to her effortless, silky-smooth delivery of her songs, the polished performance of her backing band only elevating her stage presence. I’m in love. It’s no wonder she’s one of the most captivating new voices in Mandopop today.


No Party for Cao Dong (Taiwan)

A press photo for No Party for Cao Dong with ominous mists shrouding the shadowy band on stage

Undoubtedly, day three of Clockenflap belonged to headliners No Party For Cao Dong, an indie rock outfit known for translating the ennui of today’s despondent youths into earth-shattering rock anthems, flanked by hard-hitting riffs, relentlessly vicious drum beats , and the abrasive, aggressive howls of vocalist Wood Lin. To say that the set was heartrending was probably an understatement, with the band pouring their souls out by striking and banging away at their instruments in a way that was vehemently visceral. 

The music of No Party For Cao Dong brimmed with unabated emotion. When Lin bellowed the lyrics to “Wimpish” with impassioned pain, yelling lines like “The fairness I want is fabricated from injustices,” everyone chorused along with the intensity of a disillusioned generation that stood by every word he uttered. Deeply vulnerable yet powerfully resonant, No Party for Cao Dong gave a raw, fiery performance that made them the perfect act to close the festival—a set that continued to reverberate deep in my chest even days after. 


Special mentions:

A photograph of the band Caspian by the author. It's dark and the musicians are almost entirely silhouetted with the fog machine going at full speed

  • Jason Kui: Jason Kui shreds hard. I’ve heard his music – think instrumental, progressive, metal filled with scorching guitar riffs – before the festival, but couldn’t make it for his set because of uhm, late breakfast.
  • Leah Dou: The daughter of Hong Kong mega popstar Faye Wong, Leah Dou, has now come into her own with soothing, unorthodox pop tunes influenced by her love for myriad genres like trip hop. Her fans, many of whom referred to Dou as “老婆” (wife), were also screaming and swooning everytime she broke into a smile.
  • Caspian: Caspian was playing the same slot as No Party For Cao Dong, so it’s once again a sprint to catch as much of both bands’ sets as possible. The grandeur of Caspian’s post-rock soundscapes really can’t be overstated.


Khee Hoon Chan is a freelance writer from Singapore, and writes for publications like Polygon, Edge Magazine and Bullet Points. Ask them about the weather at @crapstacular

Beyond Structures, Music