The Good Vibes Festival at Genting Highlands last weekend certainly was an event to remember.
It’s been quite a while since Malaysians had a proper contemporary music festival to savour (the 2014 Good Vibes in Sepang was probably the last one), and judging from the thousands that made the trip up the mountain, Good Vibes certainly projected the right vibes.
Barring some irritated faces in the long queues for food and the toilets, smiles could be seen all around, as festival goers revelled not just in the music, but also in the general chill-out vibe that permeated the entire festival. From trampolines and slides, to the little wooden benches by local creative studio Kedai, there were no shortage of things to do in between acts.
The Ranch in Gohtong Jaya, which is halfway up the mountain, has a cool climate, making it the perfect venue for the almost nine-hour music festival.
Rocking Day One
The first day kicked off slightly late, with the first act Juno And Hanna only coming on after 5pm. But despite playing to a crowd that was still trickling in, the local act gamely soldiered on with an upbeat, light-hearted set that managed to at least get the positive energy flowing.
The acts got progressively louder and more rocking, as The Fridays took the stage, followed by Toko Kilat, both of which got the headbanging started early. It was veteran Malaysian band Sevencollar T-Shirt, however, that really got things going, with a power-packed set that included past favourites as well as a new song, Lines.
After all that rock, it was time to dance, as the international acts got underway with Australia’s Ta-Ku and Canada’s Purity Ring (see top image) getting the crowd on their feet. The latter was particularly interesting to watch, considering it only consists of vocalist Megan James and instrumentalist Corin Roddick.
Together the duo put on quite an ethereal show, thanks to James’ dreamy vocals and Roddick’s unique instruments (called “gems”), which lit up like jewels when he struck them.
After the electronic styles of the last two acts, however, the melodious rock music of Australia’s The Temper Trap was almost a relief to the ears.
The band has been to Malaysia before, and it enjoyed another warm reception from the fans here, complete with the mass sing-alongs that accompanied old hits like Trembling Hands and newer songs from its latest album, Thick As Thieves, such as Fall Together.
And of course, we would never get tired of listening (and singing) to Sweet Disposition live.
What came next, however, was a real treat. The 1975 is one of hottest British bands right now, and with its latest album – I Like It When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware Of It (yes, that’s the entire title) – recently topping both the British and US album charts, expectations were high. And boy did they deliver.
Funky foot-tapper Love Me kicked things off on a high note, and frontman Matthew Healy had moves like Jagger that were delightfully infectious, as evident from the sea of people dancing during The 1975’s set.
Equally outstanding were slower numbers like Change Of Heart, with Healy’s languid, almost lazy slacker-like stage presence which was quite entertaining to watch.
If The 1975 got the energy going, Two Door Cinema Club racheted it up another notch. After cancelling its scheduled performance at Urbanscapes 2013 at the very last minute, it more than made up for it with the standout performance of the festival.
From older hits like Undercover Martyn and Changing Of The Seasons to new songs Bad Decisions and Are We Ready from its upcoming new album Gameshow, it was a fast-paced, no-frills indie rock experience that really capped a night already brimming with great acts. Heck, after that energetic set, Mark Ronson’s DJ set at the end of the first day almost seemed tame in comparison.
Eclectic Day Two
If Day One was a day for rock bands, Day Two featured a much more eclectic line-up, with a mash-up of indie rock bands, synth pop groups, a soulful diva, a folk rock duo, and even a DJ set thrown in between.
The mish-mash of genres was already evident from the local line-up – with the indie pop sensibilities of local acts +2DB and Froya giving a nice contrast to rockers Jumero, Enterprise, and Mutesite.
The standout, however, had to be Kyoto Protocol, who closed off the local line-up with a typically energetic performance. Having seen the band perform a number of times before, I must say its Good Vibes show was probably one of its most polished and entertaining yet.
But what came after was one of the more head-scratching additions to the main line-up: Australian producer and DJ Ryan Hemsworth.
While Hemsworth certainly has the credentials to play at festivals such as this, sandwiching his DJ set between the rocking Kyoto Protocol and the soulful Alina Baraz caused a bit of a lull in proceedings.
While the huge crowd dancing to his tunes probably didn’t mind so much, it did seem to be a little out of place in the line-up, and perhaps it would have been more suitable if left at the very end, like the DJ sets of Mark Ronson and Disclosure were.
Heck, if it was that kind of music you wanted, you could have just headed over to the Electric Fields part of the festival, where DJs were spinning tunes for festival-goers to dance almost non-stop throughout the festival.
Fortunately, American singer-songwriter Baraz’s warm sultry voice and soulful set was just the perfect antidote. She may not be particularly well-known yet, but judging from her performance here, the 21-year-old has the potential to go far indeed.
After the chill-out vibe of Baraz’s set, Tokyo Police Club sent the tempo sky high again. The band’s artiste bio on the Good Vibes website merely said “nothing gold can stay, but radness is forever”.
What that means is anyone’s guess, but its performance was certainly rad, with show opener Cheer It On setting the tempo for an almost relentless barrage of fast-paced indie rock that hardly let up all the way to the set-ending Your English Is Good.
After the high-energy set of Tokyo Police Club, Australian brother/sister folk rock duo Angus And Julia Stone’s set seemed like it was going in slow motion at times. That’s not a bad thing though, for the stories these folk rockers tell are the sort that needs more time to digest and savour.
Its folk rock sensibilities may have been a bit of an odd choice to close the festival (the banjos and the harmonicas gave the performance a quaint sort of feeling), but once the band started playing, it was hard to tear yourself away from the stage.
Angus And Julia Stone may not have ended the festival with a bang, but they definitely ended it on a high and positive note. Whether you stayed back for British electronic duo Disclosure’s thumping DJ set or not, Good Vibes definitely ended with a whole lot of – all together now – good vibes.
Star2 was the official media partner for Good Vibes Festival 2016.