Setia City Park is this beautiful, serene location, where people from all walks of life come together to relax and have fun. Last Saturday, 11 March, it was the venue for an amazing music festival, which makes it much less serene – yet all the more beautiful.
Although it is only their first installment, LOVELIFEST debuts with class. This gathering of grand proportions by Yuna Room Records hosted artists such as Yuna, Hujan, Oh Chentaku and Masdo, and each of them brought their A-game to the set. LOVELIFEST – pronounced “Lovely Fest” – has partnered up with JOOX as their official streaming partner, to give an opportunity for people who can’t make it to the event to watch the live-stream on their website or app (a practice that should definitely be emulated by more music events that can afford to do so). Other major sponsors include Uniqlo & UBER. What makes it more amazing is the limelight LOVELIFEST provided for upcoming indie bands and indie singer-songwriters alongside the familiar and established. Thus, in the daytime the stage became a beacon of creativity for Bil Musa, Enterprise, Hani and Zue, Pastel Lite, Salammusik, Aizat Amdan, Najwa Mahiaddin and (cue memories of listening to Slumber for the first time in the early 2000s) OAG!
As you enter the park, you immediately see several tents and people already setting up their picnic mats right in front of the stage. Right smack in the middle is a block set up to accommodate the works of visual artists, called LOVE/LIVE ART. It starts off unpainted, but would eventually be filled in by featured artists FRITILLDEA, ORKIBAL, Zel Atif and Dhan Illiani.
To inaugurate the stage we have singer-songwriter wonder, Bil Musa, with hits like I Would Die and The Beach. As her lilting vocals travel across the green grass, there were also workshops organized by Yuna’s own Tiny Forest Terrarium and a talk by Kilang Komposer (Aizat and Anas Amdan) from Kasi Gegar Entertainment. Workshops like these combine elements of environmental love & creative exuberance which LOVELIFEST intended to portray. Healthy living was also all the buzz, as the Polygon and Marin team organized a FUN RIDE, where opportunities were provided to those who wanted a quick exercise while being surrounded by all the creative vibes. For the more sporty kind, SuperBobai FC also brought some goal posts and some footballs so you could also play futsal.
A Lovely Day
The atmosphere started to get a little spacey and other-worldly as Enterprise walked on stage. The robot-esque crooner charisma of the lead singer, Ismail Ibrahim, who performed with such uncanny suave, was made better with some crazy visuals hailing from another planet. The entire set-up was made to make you forget that all of this was happening in broad daylight.
The ensuing acts were nothing less than brilliant too, with Hani & Zue dishing out beautiful vocal harmonies – especially in their live rendition of Mulut Tempayan – brought with much gusto and sass. Salammusik also pumped the venue up with their reggae, ska and hip hop feels so that everything became a party from there on end.
As a sort of steadfast testament to the diversity of musical acts at LOVELIFEST, No Noise Percussion also kept the ambience of the festival lively, especially the segments there are slightly further from the stage. This talented group showed off their percussive prowess with everyday objects to ensure the mood of festivity is constant throughout – even during the intermissions.
Pastel Lite rocked the stage with their dark but melodic, electronica pop. None of this was a static display either, as Eff and Faliq metaphorically lit the set on fire with their stage antics (and Eff’s constant reminder for everyone to hydrate themselves and dance was endearing too). Their song Into Flames especially, was the highlight of their setlist, as it wrought and weaved so many emotions and sounds together.
Changing up the soundscape was Najwa Mahiaddin, mesmerizing the crowd with her amazing vocals to the backbeat of some of that jazzy soulful vibes. There was this very special moment where she performed her song Ocean accompanied by only her guitarist that I think struck the hearts of many a lot like love.
Aizat Amdan wow-ed the ladies with his classics and his new stuff too, with a wondeful rendition of Jangan Menangis. The sound of the crowd singing along to Lagu Kita was a phenomenon to be experienced firsthand.
Speaking of sing-a-longs, OAG drove the crowd wild while everyone jumped around and danced to songs like Slumber, Generasiku and 60’s TV. At that point, the whole audience acted as band members of OAG, as they belted out the songs in high spirit. Much like the timeless nature of their music, Radhi‘s stage persona is unforgettable too. The faux British accent he adopts as he tells the audience some sound life advice (“Respect your elders!”) was a great set-up to the band performing a memorable cover of Don’t Look Back In Anger by Oasis.
And though the sun sets on scenic Setia City Park, the best of what LOVELIFEST would offer has yet to come.
A Lively Night
Penetrating the hustle and bustle of festival-goers coming back from the Maghrib break was Masdo. Everything about their performance shined with perfection, with amazing floral visuals for their masterpiece Bunga and their Beatles-esque, uniformed showmanship combined. These strapping lads are a great window into what’s to come in the Malaysian music scene.
Oh Chentaku gave their all too, and culminated with Myo, the lead of OCK, diving into the crowd – epitomizing the intimate interaction between him and his fans and the type of self-liberating spirit that could embrace you in a breathtaking festival like LOVELIFEST. But there were wonderful memories to be made from the slow songs as well, with a chanting crowd singing Hari Demi Hari with Myo echoing through the night.
But from then on, the energy was turned up to 11, as Hujan stepped onto the stage donning cult-like robes followed by Noh taking off the hood and announcing “THIS IS METALFEST”. From then on, the mosh pits started to form, and the Raingers (Hujan fans) put on their best game face on. 80% of the crowd throttled through the fast tracks, and sang heartily to slow ones (re: Kotak Hati is always a beautiful song live). However, our personal highlight of Hujan’s session was the sudden appearance of Zizan Razak from Maharaja Lawak. Invited on the stage by Noh, he sang Pagi Yang Gelap with the band (quietly decently at that). Even if you’re not a fan of the comedian, that part would still be a memory to be revisited.
Last but not least is Yuna. The biggest star of them all did indeed shine the brightest. Whether it was her newer R&B tunes like Crush and Mountains or even the medley of some of her older hits (Terukir di Bintang, Lelaki, and Dan Sebenarnya); Yuna charmed the crowd so flawlessly in her floral get-up. The medley especially felt like an iconic juncture. Before she performed it, Yuna gave a heartfelt speech thanking all of her fans that supported her since 2007. Many hearts were obviously touched by her wonderful words, and it’s moments like these that makes her admirers realize that this show was essentially for them and them only. Yuna has been the nation’s pride with her international breakthroughs, and that talent and esteem is shown with much resplendence in its entirety on stage. SonaOne joined her to rap in Pulang and it was a magical live dynamic to behold. Yuna is truly a global force to be reckoned – yet still grounded to her humble roots.
And just when we thought it was all going to end too soon, Yuna comes back with an encore and picks up the guitar to sing Deeper Conversation, making the love of old-time fans for her even deeper.
A Fine Future
As if it isn’t apparent enough, the festival was brilliant. LOVELIFEST sets a standard of local festivals that is going to be hard to surpass – and not only in grandeur.
What needs to be emphasized is the underlying goal of the event itself. It promotes virtues to be honed like environmental awareness and healthy lifestyles. It is also the most family-friendly festival to date – Setia City Park being a conducive setting to people who just want to sit down and have a picnic while the children play futsal.
Most importantly is what it does for the music industry too. Yuna does not only pay tribute to the old and familiar. She also uses her influence to shed light upon upcoming artists, or bands with a significant fanbase that are only exclusively prominent in certain scenes. Heartwarming anecdotes make festivals like this significant. Stories of people who planned to go to the festival to only see Yuna but indeliberately falling in love with Masdo – this band that they’ve never heard of that they now feel a sort of odd affection for. Or middle-aged uncles and aunties who do not frequent concerts, absorbing some of the wonderful sounds from likes of Najwa. As Myo reminded the crowd that the festival-goers should remain collected because they are there for “A good clean fun!”.
It is this diversity in genre and popularity which makes LOVELIFEST special as a local festival. We hope that it sets a benchmark on other major music festivals to come.
And if that’s too much of a far-fetched dream, we can only hope that we’ll have such great fun again next year at LOVELIFEST 2018.