It's all about smoke & sweat.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Sunburst Festival 2009

Sweltering heat radiated into every empty space of Bukit Kiara Equestrian Club’s polo pavilion from the skies and bodies as crowds herded together for long anticipated Sunburst Festival 2009 on the 21st March. Unlike last year, the festival was really ‘sunburst’, leaving everybody unevenly tanned and burnt red by the end of the day. Similar to last year, in terms of price, venue, and concept of the festival – a full 12 hours of nonstop music, food and games – many things were equally as different this year. With the addition of the Silent Disco and Speedzone to the site, there were of course, also a new range of bands selected to perform this year, including international acts N.E.R.D and the more than a decade old hardcore band Korn. However, along with the newbies were also few repeats, like Malaysia’s favourite indie bands such as Estranged, Gerhana Ska Cinta (Edy-fronted), Meet Uncle Hussain and Hujan along with crazy spinner Twilight Action Girl.

With the promising Malaysian talents sneakily placed at the beginning of the schedule to kick start the day, masses of local teens that dwelled in the usual lairs of the Malaysian local indie scene made their way to Sunburst before the clock ticked towards 2pm, ready for action. The field was soon filled with a collage of different races and age – the older ones were there for the beer sponsored by Tuborg, really. Games like the infamous, body-bashing rodeo and sumo wrestling, everybody found some way to entertain themselves throughout the day if they weren’t into the ‘music’ part of the event. A large graffiti wall was spray painted along a stretch of the field, to the delights of the artsy-fartsies.

I met up with Jarrod first, followed swiftly by some teachers here and there and finally Maisara turned up with the ticket for Syamel (oOoo :P) and the announcement that she was not heading away, but instead joining us for the day. Whoopidoo! Haziq, Chaom, Mel and Azam joined us after Jarrod went back into the gates to start his shift as journalist for JunkMag. The four boys left to Bukit Bintang for a while (only god knew why) and left Mai and I alone once more, to wait for my editor to arrive with my media pass.

Sunburst begins (late, per usual) with a twang of guitar strings. With the inexplicable decision to pull KL band, Pesawat, out of the afternoon schedule, Pineapple Concerts were not able to place them into the evening and night slots as well, much to the disappointment of their fans. In addition to the minus-side, this was not the only mishap occurring with the organization of Sunburst Festival this year. Erykah Badu had a last minute cancellation, along with previously stamped on rumors of Coldplay attending the event. Better planning for the next year perhaps, Pineapple?

A.P.U (Aseana Percussion Unit), gave us a funky start, introducing Sunbursters to the traditional Malaysian percussion group who were followed swiftly by rockers, They Will Kill Us All and Hujan. Despite the late starts and sudden pullouts, the schedules pretty much stuck to the original timetable, and no bands were missed due to misconceptions and muddle-ups of the schedule. Thumbs up on that point!

After almost a year of disappearing from the music scene, Hujan’s comeback to Sunburst proved the statement ‘Hujan dah turun’ wrong. Despite the sudden downturn that plunged towards their musical path, it is clear that Hujan was very much missed. Attendees parked themselves around the Livesounds stage, steadily singing along – and enjoying – tunes like “Ah Moi Chantek” and “Bila Aku Sudah Tiada”. Hopefully, this shows that Hujan is once more creeping back into the music scene healthily, and perhaps will start performing frequently once more. However, due to my editor's late arrival (Grr, Adeq!), I only managed to catch the last song by these all-time favourites of mine. :( "Bilaaaa aku sudah tiadaaaaa". Was so annoyed that I missed them! After a whole year of missing out on their gigs, I put my whole excitement on their performance at Sunburst... only to miss it! I frigging wore a Hujan t-shirt, as well, for christ sake!

While waiting for the next act, another local favourite, Meet Uncle Hussain, to come on, Mai and I went to find a place to stash our bags away. Walked past a graffiti booth to find an afro-ed guy waving at me, and realized I had seen him in some previous gigs before this event. So what more could go my way? We stored our bags by the booth, along with the rest of the crews' stuff that were strewn along the ground under the shade. So.

Meet Uncle Hussain went from small stage to big, contradictory to Hujan, who had the chance to nail the Sky stage last year. This year’s Sun stage became playground for Hussain as they plunged their way through five of their well loved songs, inclusive of their only English track “Milk in a Bottle”. Absolutely lovely song, it's a pity it's not that popular. 

Surprising everyone was Australian band, Russian Winters, who had many ‘Who the hell are they?’ responses as Sunbursters saw their name on the schedules and lineup. Well, now we know. A group of four humble hunks playing mellow alternative rock that ranged from sounds like Coldplay to New Order (of whom they covered a song from); these guys were exploited of the fame they deserved. Maybe unfamiliarity took hold of the crowd, as the enthusiastic level was low during their performance, with only a handful dancing to their tunes. The lack of crowd participation however, does not disown the fact that they were indeed a solid band with fresh sounds to our forever criticizing ears. Jarrod, Maisara and I were absolutely into their music, dancing to their songs as the songs got dancier and dancier towards the end. There was a time when we walked away from Russian Winters and then they started to play the New Order cover song, which had us running back towards the crowd to dance. Hahaha!

Other surprises sprouted from same stage as Nao stepped up to perform. An instrumental band from Penang, these three Chinese boys stunned listeners into confusions between head-banging and putting on their dancing shoes. Alternating sounds smoothly but too quick for us to snatch a breath, Nao were officially one of the fresher and empowering sounds before dusk hit the skies. I remembered being mildly surprised to see their name on the schedule for the last time I had heard of them was when they played at an indie gig in Penang with Jarrod. 


Sun Stage held in store for us Gerhana Ska Cinta and Cosmic Kitchen. While GSC played familiar tunes, and spun everybody into the typical ‘ska’ mode predictable from them, there were thrilled whoops as Jo PureVibracion was featured for the last song, “Love”, to reggae-fy the performance. Having Jo attend was a good move, for Gerhana Ska is no longer the same since female vocalist Widy dismantled from the band; that lady had so much charisma and enthusiasm, it’s like the lack of her presence caused a lack of ‘oomph!’ in the recent GSC’s performances. Jo being there wrapped up their performance perfectly.


Dublin band, Cosmic Kitchen was stirred together by a mixture of Asians, Latinos and whatnot; this band performed a rainbow of sounds for the audience, mellowing everybody’s moods to blend in with the fall of daylight as they played towards the early hours of night. Soulful vocalist, Aminah Dastan, was backed up by 6 other members; hefty percussions and guitars contrasted with the lusty saxophones and keyboards, colliding together to amplify a dub/funk/jazz sound. Sunbursters flocked towards the stage with curiosity as the band progressed through their songs, successfully pulling the attention of all those who did not know them. Cosmic Kitchen left their mark on the skanking feet and swaying hips of the crowds, that’s a definite!


Dancing to Cosmic Kitchen was absolutely funky. I bumped into Miela again and was skanking with her (hehe). Saw Ms. Carr and Simmers on the other side of the crowds and cracked me up because people had formed a circle around them as they whirled around and grooved to the music. Lan Meet Uncle Hussain was with his gang of friends behind us, and I caught a sweet moment in the midst of his sakai-dancing when he took his girlfriend's hand and twirled around before kneeling before her. Hehe. Ala comey.. :P Was superbly pissed off with my camera for lacking storage space three-quarters through my recording of Cosmic Kitchen - I missed the final saxo solo!

After Cosmic Kitchen was Estranged, who did a pretty energetic performance. Their images are always changing; this time two of their members were wearing masks... Why, though? I was just glad Hanafi's drool-worthy face was still in full view, though I couldn't see much from where I stood for the skies were already darkening. 

Besides Korn and N.E.R.D, another international act that blew fans away was Indonesian bomb, Nidji. Having been here in Malaysia to perform multiple times before Sunburst, Nidji once again did their part in stomping out the hypocrites who say “We don’t like Indonesian music” as everybody – metalheads and hiphoppers inclusive! - screamed their lungs out singing with the Indonesian ladykillers’ flamboyant tunes. Their hit song “Sudah” sewed through the hearts of many, sending those who have experienced heartbreak and separation (close) to tears. Nidji left crowds electrified and surging with excitement for the big acts ahead.


We officially cried to 'Sudah' :D

Butterfingers. The name ‘living legends of Malaysia’ is not just a string of empty words strung together. Despite the beloved guitarist, Loque’s departure from the band, Butterfingers still upholds their infamous flawless abilities to play for and with the crowd. With British man, Ray Anderson, as the guitar handler, Butterfingers put on a full four-tracked performance that left everybody breathless and yearning for more – not to mention missing Loque. Everybody feels the pinch of not seeing Loque’s tiny ponytail bouncing up and down as he’d soulfully rape his guitar strings with his fingers. Again, planned another murder upon my camera when the battery died halfway through '1000 Tahun'. GEEZ!


After the lots of dancing and singing our hearts out, it was time to slip back into reality for a while. I went to change my t-shirt with Haziq as my escort to the toilets (haha). Toilet cubicle was gross as hell. I came out of the toilets with an expression that clearly spelled disgust, to find Haziq seated on the grass with the gang - being Syamel, Jarrod and Noh, his friend and a japanese girl called Yoko. A fun hangout with the crazies, Haziq and I were tormented by the gross images of piss and shit in our hair when Noh pointed out we were lying down where people walked to and fro from the toilets. ARGH! Went to grab food - Jarrod was shoving his 'free food vouchers' in our faces - and had a candy floss fight with Syamel. I was quite pleased to stuff his mouth with the candy, considering he would not shut up about asking where Mai was every bloody five minutes. HAHA! :P

Hehe, burnnnn.

We intended to head to the Silent Disco while Noh went to catch Maliq, but ended up sitting on the grass waiting for N.E.R.D to get on stage, and watched technicians on the Sky stage setting up Korn's equipments.

The night rounded to a crescendo of full bloom when N.E.R.D and Korn blasted on to the stages one after the other. N.E.R.D spun fans into hysterics and showed us what “f*ck the rules” was all about. After the continuous false alarms of lights suddenly bursting into full blare, N.E.R.D emerged from the shadows, sending already ecstatic fans to a state of madness. With absolutely vivid and polished performances, they were everything synonymous to confident. Besides just performing, Pharrell left his mark with the way he used his words, publicly humiliating – or shall I say, OWNING – a partypooping photographer who apparently was pushing N.E.R.D fans away from the barriers and stage. “You’re not security, you’re a photographer; you come here to take photos, not push away people who’re here to enjoy the show.”

You go, Pharrell.

N.E.R.D gave a handful of the squealing crowds a chance to join them throughout their performances, first boys, then the girls, while constantly accentuating on the need to see the fans ‘go wild’. This included wanting to see ten moshpits and ten crowdsurfers all in one go – with the clever bribe by saying that’s what was expected of the Malaysians. They gave us a full live demo of their new track ‘Popcorn’, that guaranteed people humming the tune, if not singing “Popcorn! Popcorn!” on the way home or during an N.E.R.D hangover the next day.

Korn brought the house down – metaphorically speaking – as the N.E.R.D crowd shifted to the neighboring stage, already so packed solid that it was hard to get through the tightly clumped together bodies. As Korn took the stage, the weak ones were shoved to the back mercilessly as hardcore fans moshed without relent to the long anticipated-for band. Some having waited since the upheaval of Korn’s music life for a chance to see them live, the band must definitely have been as blown away by us as we were by them to find the constant huge echo following up to every line Davis (vocalist) growled into the mic. Performing mainly tunes from way back oldschool – like the ever-amazing “Blind” – the nostalgia was uncannily fresh to the ears of us Malaysians. Korn never gets old! I’m suspecting a return from these kings, for Davis said it himself; “I apologize for having taken 15 f*cking years to come down here - but it won’t take another 15 years to come back again!”


The mood drastically tuned down when the show ended after an extended encore that was pleaded from the crowds as Korn left the stage. It was then that things started to make sense and reality hit us once more in the form of yawns, drunkenness and aching bodies. The field was now a litter land, with empty bottles, mashed food and plastic wrappers strewn everywhere across the green. DJs took over the stages after all the action, pulling the event into a surreal ending of bass beats and turntable whirls churning in our minds. 

Annoyingly enough, I headed back to the graffiti booth where I had stored my bag beside the whole day, to find my bag gone. I left it for twenty minutes to checkout Twilight Action Girl and came back to find it missing, with the hoodie I used to cover it strewn on the chair. Whoever stole my bag can go suck balls. 

Celine could attend Sunbursts everyday.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Gig Hopping!: Indie Goodness @ MCPA & Dancepunk Party 2009 @ Noisy Studio

What a day. What a fucking day. Haha! So exhausted and overwhelmed and relaxed all at once after spending the day traveling around KL, gig-hopping and trying to meet ten different people at the same time. 15th of March was probably a date everybody was looking forward to since last month, a date which one would say "I can't wait til 15th" and others would nod in agreement.

After wasting an hour waiting around at home, knowing I should've just stuck to meeting Arul at 12pm and not 11am, I arrived at Bukit Bintang and met up with the boyfie at Pavilion where I exchanged a book at The Times Bookshop (stupid enough of me to buy a book I already had -_-). I got refunds! WHOO!
Went to have a McD lunch - typical - and headed to MCPA with McShaker Fries, to the delight of Aifa, who munched on them the moment we sat ourselves down at the mamak outside MCPA Hall.

Yes, MCPA Hall - once again. Monorails and car parks were once again full as everybody snailed their way to the multi-purpose MCPA Hall, infamous for its endless line-up of gigs. This time, the hype was Indie Goodness, a gig organized by SoundMachine STAGE, and with the flyers and tickets being advertised over and over months before (nonstop bugging from Aifa!) there’s no doubt the crowd would soon overflow the suffocating hall on the second floor of the old building in Maharajalela. LOL it's actually pretty ironic to have a gig in a Chinese Assembly Hall - for the majority who attend are Malays. Seriously, the look on this old Chinese couple's face when they saw all the giggers crowding around the place could easily have passed as heart attack. Psht. Let's hope the next generation is wiped out of all the discriminations and racial tensions, ey?

So, the gig finally kickstarted at around 2pm, officially (and typically) an hour late and first up was Batubintang, whom everybody relied on to kick off with a blast of energy surging through the halls – which they did! Familiar and crowd-pleasing tunes were performed and got everybody pogoing and jumping in a matter of minutes. Great work guys. Tight, solid performance – we can’t say much on the technical side (we all know the limits of MCPA instruments’ qualities).

Up next? The much anticipated Selamat Pagi Gadis, a band that needed no introducing. The vocalist, Tatyana, was known to every pair of eyes in the room – especially the horny Malaysian guys (damn sangap asses), who probably love her looks (and body) more than her voice. It’s a pity though, because the big voice that protruded from such a small body is worth much more appreciation than ‘how hot she was’. It was quite a concern when I depicted some inappropriate words shouted at her - like, "Bogel je, ah!"... What the fuck? Sexual harassment-much! Aside from that, SPG performed 4 funky, upbeat songs, including the favourite “Panahan Electro” that whirled the crowd into a crazy finish of their set. So far so good.

For the next two bands, I missed about half of each of their sets, coming back in time for the beginning and ends, for this was when Haziq and all arrived, and we went to chill at the mamak - again. It was funny because I went to sit with Caer, Ken, Arul, Aifa, etc etc and suddenly we heard a large scraping of tables and turned to see Chaom, Kodyb, Azam, Atin, Ayen all shifting their table to join with ours HAHAHA. That was such a hilarious sight.

The next in line was a band that had just released their new EP; Wasted Room. With mellow tunes, their performance was not the typical upbeat you’d find in MCPA, but they managed to calm the kids down for another round of moshing that loomed over from Manis’s side. It took people a while to know who actually was on stage – I erratically heard someone say “Apa ‘room’, Mushroom... tak sure la.” LOL. I found that funny, sorry guys, but I have a sort of reason to like any dissing that goes towards this band... particularly one of the members. -_-

But hey, no hard feelings; just make sure you speak clearer next time you introduce the band name.


Manis. A misleading name; sweet sounding, but electrifyingly spicy! The duo vocals and enthusiastic band members really kicked the day off of everybody’s feet as the crowd jerkily moved and moshed to the energetic grooves by this fresh band, who had also recently released their new EP (this brings me back to MIIM Carnival at Titiwangsa where they sold free cupcakes and other sweet delicacies along with their EP). All in all, a yummy band, and was definitely the Red Bull into the stomach of MCPA.

Romancesa – an up and rising band - was greeted enthusiastically by fans, repeatedly thanking everybody who had been supporting them through Myspace comments and attending their shows. For someone who did not know them, listening to the mic handler, Acap, give this speech might have us believe that they are some real good shit, but when they plunged into the first song, it was actually a little less than was expected. The first song was just an ‘alright’ attempt and the energy all started to creep up slowly only as Romancesa hit the third song or so. Though they were well accepted and heartily welcomed by the warm crowd us KLettes are, Romancesa was pretty much a slow set, that never really hit the high peak this long anticipated-for event should’ve had. And I wasn't really paying much attention by then because I realized I had to now rush to Noisy Studio, Ampang for the Dancepunk Party 2009 gig!


Organized by my close buddy Jarrod, this gig was much more underground and raw. Held in the green, alienic neon-lit studio near the LRT station, I thought I was already two hours late when I arrived, only to realize the gig hadn't even started at all! HAHA. Typical of Jarrod.

The only thing different this time was that I would be performing that night as well. Silly Mus had some job appointment thing therefore I had to replace him for the day as Enrai's drummer... My muscles still ACHE LIKE SHIT right now. Hahaha

Ija: This is why JocMod(Mus) is JocMod *mocks muscular arms*

Some really great highlights of the night was defiiinitely Daily Metro (now called Chaos Beat, though I personally prefer Daily Metro) and their song Black Diamonds. GWARRR! Was dancing all the wayyyy with Ayen and Jarrod and Ija haha! They performed about 4-5 songs, can't remember much now. They had everybody standing up and grooving to their mind-churning tunes. For a moment, I really thought I was going a bit high with their music.

Also, The Voks were a pretty kickass number too! Loved the whole Joy Division vocals and music kind of thing. Whoo!

Other bands that made the show as awesome as it was were The Fridays and Round Robin. Round Robin being the last act really had everybody headbanging and singing along to their songs - similarly with The Fridays, who seemed to have their small bunch of groupies rocking out to their songs with enthusiasm. Their song on 'safe sex' caught people's attention, though I wished the sound system was a little more efficient so I could actually make out what he was singing. xD

Enrai. Oh what can I say, they were superb. HAHA perasan. Nah, we were good, I felt it was a solid performance; I made some mistakes with the drum beats but the guitars, the vox and the bassline were all pretty spot on! Funniest bit was when we just finished performing Realiti Fantasi and Ija goes "That was our first song" and my mind turned spasmic for a while because I thought it was just a frigging sound check! HAHA! Geez.

And San! You wanted me to hit the drumsticks, but when I do, you didn't even respond to it! Cheh! xD

Had to accompany my cousin, Yunhong to meet his mom as she came to pick him up after our performance, and hahaha his look was so hilarious it was so difficult for me to keep a straight face. Obviously the idea of him having his mom there was not exactly what he imagined in his mind.

The place is cool, a little dinghy and creepy - and my eyes hurt when I saw colours after spending hours flooded with green light! - and though the sound system reallllyyy sucked balls, I feel it was all in all a cool place to hangout with friends. With a mamak beside it, it was like a more hidden and less known MCPA.

The train ride home was hilarious, with Ija, Jarrod, ShuLing, Haziq and Arul. Oh yeah and Azam, who was really, oddly, strangely quiet the whole day. Arul freaked me out by playing a video - which I KNEW was going to be scary - and I almost screamed out loud on the LRT! GRR. xD HAHAH HAZIQ! Your message really cracked me up. "Look at that emo behind me" HAHA. Asshole. xD


Gig-hopping is fun when Celine is with friends :)