What an amazing past days it has been! Good Vibes Festival, this year in its 5th edition, seems to have perfected the art of throwing a great music-fuelled party.
From its superior musical line-up, down right to the smaller details such as crowd control, and layout of the festival grounds; Good Vibes 2018 has everything down to a pat — setting the gold standard for music festivals here in Malaysia.
Good Vibes this year saw the likes of heavy hitters such as indie pop stalwart Lorde, experimental rock trio Alt-J, acclaimed rapper Vince Staples, downtempo singer/multi-instrumentalist Nick Murphy, R&B queen SZA, and future bass act Odesza perform at the popular indie music festival.
Held last Saturday and Sunday (21st & 22nd July), the 2-day event saw 15,000 excited revellers flocking down to the evergreen plains of The Ranch at Gohtong Jaya, Genting Highlands. Since its inception in 2013, Good Vibes has grown leaps and bounds — by adapting to foreseeable scenarios, and constantly topping their game.
One such example was the heavy rains that tormented Genting last year. During Phoenix’s headline closing set, festival-goers were plodding through in knee-deep waters at the main stage — neither very safe nor sanitary. Good Vibes saw this as an issue and fixed it this year, providing a full-scale wooden platform for fans standing in front.
It’s small elements like these that contribute to creating a great festival experience, and Good Vibes 2018 shows what’s up when it comes to throwing a near-perfect music festival.
1. The Diverse Line-Up
Firstly, we’ve got to give it up for Good Vibes stellar line-up. With heavy hitters such as Vince Staples (!), Alt-J (!!), SZA (!!!) and Lorde (!!!!), the acts on this year’s programme was a mouth-watering prospect. Spearheaded by two strong female headlining acts, Good Vibes also saw equal representation in the fields of R&B, hip-hop, rock and EDM.
Audiences lapped up the inclusion of acts like Majid Jordan and Louis the Child, and went completely ham when Lorde and SZA came on stage. Vince Staples dazzled with his intricate wordplay and unorthodox beats, while Leeds-based trio Alt-J whetted the audiences’ musical appetite with their synchronised cascading vocal melodies and oozing basslines.
For rock aficionados, both days were anchored by strong rock acts — namely The Neighbourhood on Day 1 and Australian alternative rock singer Nick Murphy (formerly named Chet Faker) on Day 2.
Lovers of EDM were also spoilt for choice. For starters, there were future bass heavyweights Odesza, indie producer duo Louis the Child, French tropical house producer Petit Biscuit, and Day 1 closing act What So Not.
2. The Fun & Engaging Activities
What we loved about this festival was that non-music fans would have also enjoyed themselves tremendously. Good Vibes 2018 was like a giant playground of sorts; featuring plenty of swings, see-saws, slides, and get this — even a Toyota bag jump and U Mobile’s Trampoline Freeze Cam! By just wandering around, one could partake in many left-leaning activities (i.e. hipster), ranging from vinyl painting, carpool karaoke, airbrush tattooing to silent discos.
Who could also not forget about the unofficial attraction of the festival — the bouncy grass bubble patch at where the Good Vibes logo was?
3. Brilliant Curation of Local Acts
Good Vibes has always been a strong proponent of the local scene, and this year is no different. The roster saw the likes of alternative rock veterans Kyoto Protocol, nu-disco producer duo Dangerdisko, jazz outfit Noh Salleh, Good Vibes alumnus Froya, and rising PBR&B upstart Lunadira performing and entertaining at both main stages.
We’ve especially got mad love for the folks at the Electric Fields, who hoisted the flag high for the hip-hop scene in Malaysia. From the likes of the talented Raising the Bar crew to the artists on the Saturday Selects roster, the agenda at Electric Fields boiled down to beats, DJ-ing, freestyles, breakdancing, and having one a hell of a good time.
4. The Management of Festival Grounds
We’ve mentioned of the little things that do really matter — and Good Vibes scores highly on this. For this year, the entrance was placed higher on the hill, facilitating faster and better crowd control. Toilets were also located in a separate section on higher grounds, easing up precious space on the festival grounds itself.
In anticipation of rainy weather (like last year’s), organisers provided much more wooden platforms to walk on. There were also many more tables, benches and resting areas peppered around the grounds in general.
We have to also applaud the festival’s food village (#UnlimitedFlavours presents Good Bites) hosted by U Mobile who made the trend-setting decision to go carbon neutral (or at least attempt to) by replacing all cutlery and serving materials with biodegradable materials.
5. The Incredible Headliners
The best was truly saved for last, with headliners SZA and Lorde shining on their respective individual days. Decked in a red sari, SZA was at her natural sassy, sultry self — cussing at abandon and even launching into a “Happy Birthday” song for her mother who was in the audience.
The Top Dawg signee segued into songs from her critically acclaimed album, “Ctrl”, and even sang couple of pre-recorded duets with the main man himself, Kendrick Lamar. Accompanied by 3 backing band members, the Missouri native spilled into tunes such as “Twenty Something”, “Drew Barrymore” and “The Weekend”. In the midst of the chilly atmosphere, SZA’s music seemed like the perfect opportunity to cuddle with a loved one.
6. Oh, My Lorde!
It came for the time for Lorde to wrap up Good Vibes on the second day. Appearing on stage at 11pm, the pop singer was accompanied with six other interpretative dancers on stage. The 21-year-old was on fire that night, bringing about a performance that was filled with intimate dancing, soaring vocals and emotional pathos.
Kicking things off with 2017’s “Sober”, the New-Zealand native sang (and danced) a playlist consisting of old favourites from debut Pure Heroine and acclaimed sophomore effort Melodrama. Sporting a down-to-earth, friendly candid personality, the Grammy award-winning singer talked about her crushes, songs that she wrote alone, and even mentioned attracting panthers in Genting (are there even any?).
Working her way through a 14-song setlist, Lorde belted out favourites such as “Perfect Places”, “Tennis Court”, and capped off her set with a resounding performance of “Green Light”.
When it came to the closure of Good Vibes, we couldn’t help but think that the perfect combination of great weather, amazing line-up, well organization, food and activities that has made Good Vibes Festival 2018 one of the best festivals held in Malaysia this year. Here’s to many more good times for years to come!
Review by Evan Isaac Woon