Gigs galore: Five world class music festivals
The Time Out KL team picks five world class music festivals worth planning your holiday around
Tomorrowland in Boom, Belgium (pictured above)
www.tomorrowland.be. Tickets from €172.50 (about RM686)
Widely regarded as one of the most anticipated dance festivals of the year, Tomorrowland is held annually in the Flemish town of Boom, Belgium. This grandiose dance party is renowned for its first class production and elaborate sets, which attract thousands of travelling EDM enthusiasts from across the world. Party with the likes of Grammy-winning producer Skrillex, English trance DJ Gareth Emery, highly rated Swedish DJ Avicii and big beat pioneer Fatboy Slim, who are all part of this year’s exciting lineup. Watching Sebastian Ingrosso’s protégée Alesso live, in particular, is a tantalising prospect, especially with his popular brand of progressive house and Swedish House Mafia remixes since bursting onto the scene in 2011.
Dates July 27-29
Tips The unpredictable Belgian weather calls for summer clothing as well as ponchos and thermal clothing for rainy nights. During the festival, make a point to visit the various FreshPoints, which are booths set up to help partygoers freshen up after hours of dancing, before moving on to the next dance set.
Stay Try Hotel Matelote in Antwerp; rooms start from RM450 at hotels.com
Summersonic in Osaka and Tokyo, Japan
www.summersonic.com/2012. Tickets from ¥12,500 (about RM460)
Green Day and Rihanna headline this year’s Summersonic, which is known for its diverse lineup and unique format. Held in Osaka and Tokyo at the same time with acts switching between the two cities, you can pick either city to explore and start your rock music festival adventure from there. Legendary English rock band New Order, Icelandic post-rock darlings Sigur Rós and flamboyant Scottish post-punk outfit Franz Ferdinand, not to mention a host of local indie rock bands, are the other names slated to perform in the sweltering Japanese summer. Look out for American electropop outfit Passion Pit, whose debut album ‘Manners’ spawned summer anthems such as ‘Sleepyhead’ and ‘The Reeling’ in 2009, and ’90s Swedish rock band The Cardigans, who are on a reunion tour after a break in 2007.
Dates Aug 18-19
Tips Japan is typically hot and humid that time of year, so bring along sufficient amounts of sunscreen and a pair of sunglasses in addition to summer clothing.
Stay Accommodations near the venues are going fast, but you’ll still be able to find some at Tokyo’s Okura Chiba Hotel (rooms from RM390 at hotels.com) or Osaka’s Rihga Royal Hotel (from RM285 at hotels.com).
Bestival in the Isle of Wight, England
www.2012.bestival.net. Tickets from £170 (about RM813)
If you adore alternative music and watched Captain Planet fervently as a child, then the annual outdoor Bestival may just be your cup of tea. Recipient of a ‘Highly Commended’ Greener Festival Award last year, the organisers aim to continue their reputation of delivering top notch music in an eco-friendly environment. The theme for this year’s Bestival is wild life; other new attractions for 2012 include vintage cinema the Lost Picture Show and an old London bus-turned-Bollywood chill out bar. Festivities aside, Bestival also welcomes an eclectic mix of stellar musical acts to the picturesque Isle of Wight, including The xx and First Aid Kit. The xx, a Mercury Prize-winning indie pop group from London, received widespread praise for their eponymous debut record in 2009 while First Aid Kit, a Swedish folk pair comprising sisters Johanna and Klara Söderberg, bring a soothing Americana sound reminiscent of Fleet Foxes. French electronic music duo Justice, energetic British electropop outfit Two Door Cinema Club and dance-punk exponents Hot Chip will also make the trip to Robin Hill Countryside Adventure Park.
Dates Sept 6-9
Tips Allocate ample time for train and ferry rides as the journey to the Isle of Wight requires travelling across the Solent strait. Stay There are onsite camping options at the festival. But if you prefer an actual room with amenities, try Ryde Castle Hotel (rooms from RM390 at hotels.com), an immaculately resorted Victorian mansion with beautiful views of the Solent strait.
Monterey Jazz Festival in California, USA
www.montereyjazzfestival.org/2012. Tickets from $66 (RM198)
The annual Monterey Jazz Festival, one of the world’s longest consecutively running jazz festivals, is held every September on the Monterey Fairgrounds site where the festival was first presented in 1958. Now in its 55th edition, the festival still showcases some of the biggest names in the genre. Prolific guitarist and composer Bill Frisell, who is a visionary presence in American music with 25 albums in a little over 25 years, mixes rock and country with jazz and blues while Grammy-winning Jack DeJohnette is widely touted as one of jazz music’s most accomplished drummers. That’s not all; Esperanza Spalding, who became the first jazz musician to ever receive a Grammy award for Best New Artist in 2011, will also be performing at the festival.
Dates Sept 21-23
Tips Don’t be fooled by Monterey’s summer, which can prove rather chilly when the fog comes into the waterfront city, so do set aside luggage space for some warm clothing. With that said, a wide-brimmed hat and sunscreen should not be overlooked as well.
Stay The only hotel located on Del Monte beach, Best Western Plus Beach Resort Monterey (rooms from RM600 at hotels.com) is only five minutes away from the festival site.
Rainforest World Music Festival, Kuching, Sarawak
www.rwmf.net. Daily pass, adult RM110; child RM55. Season pass, adult, RM300; child RM150
At the jungle-clad Sarawak Cultural Village, Rainforest World Music Festival boasts three days of live concerts, impromptu jamming sessions and music workshops in traditional longhouses. The great thing about this festival is that you get to see the musicians perform at night and interact with them during the day at the workshops. World Music encompasses genres such as folk and traditional music, and contrary to popular beliefs, some of them can be a real upbeat treat. Representing Malaysia this year are sitar maestro Samuel J Dass and percussion troupe The Diplomats of Drum, a non-mainstream band who performed at Beijing Olympics 2008. But you should pay attention to Kanda Bongo Man from Congo who kick-started the infectious Kwasa Kwasa dance, as well as Lebanese band Le Trio Joubran – three brothers descending from a family of Oud (a pear-shaped string instrument) makers and players. Here, the crowd usually sit on the grass; some even arrive early to chup a good spot that looks out to both the stages. Be warned; the ground turns muddy in the rain. But no matter, the mudfest is what festivalgoers usually look forward to every year.
Dates July 13-15
Tips Wear slippers just in case you’re caught in the mud pit. Even if you can’t get a hotel around the festival site, you can stay in the city and take the regular shuttle buses that have pick-up points at all major hotels. The shows start in the evening, so bring along insect-repellent as well.
Stay One Hotel Santubong (onehotelmalaysia.com) may not be the best accommodation around but the musicians usually stay here. And you can often catch them hanging around the pool after the night shows where they put on some impromptu jamming.