Itchiness aside, Franz Ferdinand, Tegan and Sara and Efterklang, made the trip to Urbanscapes worthwhile
By the time you read this review on the Urbanscapes Festival that took place over the weekend, we’re pretty sure you would’ve heard enough about the rashes and the itchiness that festival goers have taken home with them.
To the unacquainted, the rash outbreak currently happening among Urbanscapers is reportedly caused by the hairs of the caterpillars that live in the ground of the Malaysian Agro Exposition Park Serdang (MAEPS), as explained on Facebook by venue managers.
Apart from the unprecedented itchy outbreak that has befallen us though, we are still glad we feasted on the wholesome event.
This was the eleventh Urbanscapes festival and the second time that the event, which celebrates a wide mix of comedy, art, fashion, food and music, has brought in international acts.
Other Sounds were there to catch the headliners, the regional bands, and extend a support to our very own homegrown bands like In Each Hand a Cutlass and Plainsunset.
Day two of the festival was considerably a better experience than the first for various reasons that include the weather, familiarity to the event and the line-up for the respective days.
The festival venue, which changes each year, was held for the first time in MAEPS, located at a remote corner of Serdang. The vast park make for a perfect setting in a Woodstock film. Tents and artistic sculptures sprout in the middle of the green field felt surreal. The excitement came for a brief period until the scorching sun begun to encroach upon us. On the second day, however, it was a cloudier day and the day felt cooler.
The journey between the four stages on that vast open park seemed never-ending. Traversing the park and climbing the steep slopes surely drained most of our energies. Figuring out places to eat, drink, charge your phone, catch a bit of air-condition among others, was proves that it was important to pace yourself and not get to consumed by the event. However, on the second day, it seemed more relaxed as more people had acclimatised to the environment – except for the caterpillars.
As you may have read from reports, the scratching only began after the 2-day event ended and immediately took over the buzz that had previously been about the headliners and the last minute cancellation of the indie pop-rock outfit, Two Door Cinema Club (TDCC), who were rumored to have already been in the country when they announced the cancellation.
The cancellation was announced via the band’s Twitter, while In Each Hand a Cutlass was rocking out at the main stage on Saturday afternoon in front of a sparse crowd.
Further talk about the weather continued among the acts.
“It’s cold in Malaysia, isn’t it?!” said Fuad, lead singer of Malaysian rock and roll band Kyoto Protocol. Fuad, who was wearing a jacket in the balmy evening, had jokingly asked the crowd while referring to his choice of wardrobe.
The perfect day-time spot at Urbanscapes has got to be the Upfront stage, located at the other extreme end of the venue and stands close to air-conditioned tents and a make shift beer garden. The stage tent houses the bulk of the better acts during the festival – Efterklang, Last Dinosaurs, The Experience Brothers and L’Alphalpha – and showcasing the most spectacular display of lights with better controlled sound.
The tent could have been more ventilated and aired (add fans maybe?) and even the members of Efterklang looked like they had a hard time adjusting to the heat. Vocalist Casper Clausen managed to keep his blazer on only until halfway through the set before getting rid of it.
Even so, the Danish band gave an A-grade performance for the crowd – some of them even mentioned that they felt the same when they caught Mew, another Danish band that had earlier performed in the region.
Still, it was not enough for TDCC fans, especially those arriving from Singapore and Indonesia, to accept that the highly anticipated Northern Irish indie rockers were not going to be playing. And it looked like Kyoto Protocol (KP) had shared the same sentiments with them.
KP filled up TDCC’s slot – yes, they played twice at the event – and sang a cover of TDCC’s ‘Eat That Up It’s Good For You Too’ before clearing the stage for Franz Ferdinand. It was only necessary to have a bit of TDCC that night, despite the actual band’s absence!
For some reason, Tegan and Sara seemed the most out of place among the predominantly danceable indie line-up. But the popular twins – who do not look like they’ve aged at all — nonetheless gave a good show as expected. Twenty years singing together and they still sang each song as if it was their first. Although, we sure wished the fans at the front had sung along a little more quietly, because we had stretch out our necks trying to heard the actual voices of the Quinn sisters!
The finale performance by Franz Ferdinand – who was also performing their first show ever in Malaysia — was grand, energetic and tight as f*ck. They played the longest set at the festival – 1.5 hours – and were sure to perform favourites like ‘Take Me Out’, ‘Love Illumination’, ‘Do You Want To’, and their new stuff, ‘Evil Eye’ and ‘Right Action’. All of their songs were greeted with rave responses from the crowd, most of whom had sang along to not just the words but the riffs as well. And who wouldn’t? Franz Ferdinand is one of those rare bands whose riffs can become more infectious than their catchy choruses.
Now, we wonder if the headliners are itching as much as we are too.
By Nurl Azlea