How are everyone’s post-Good Vibes withdrawal symptoms holding up! Good Vibes Festival has once again come and gone, leaving us festival-goers pining for more. Last weekend’s (21st & 22nd July) experience was like no other — one that was steeped in amazing music, excellent people, fashion and positive energy.
Held on the magical fields of The Ranch at Gohtong Jaya, Genting Highlands, the sixth edition of Good Vibes Festival saw the likes of nu-disco producer Mura Masa, rap heavyweight duo Rae Sremmurd, R&B singer-songwriter Daniel Caesar, ambient-pop band Cigarettes After Sex, and Malaysia’s pop queen Yuna headlining the event.
However, this year’s Good Vibes proved to be a mixed bag. Major gripes were made about the severe overcrowding; a staggering 20,000 attendees turned up for this event this year — an increase from last year’s 15,000. This severely affected the experience for most festival-goers — resulting in issues like having insufficient areas to sit, as well as massive human traffic jams occurring in between sets.
But hey, we’re not here to sweat over the small stuff! There were plenty of positives to take away from Good Vibes Festival 2019 — chiefly the stellar electronic acts, the immersive pop-ups, plus the fresh new experience that was the Boiler Room Malaysia stage.
So what did we like, love and felt could be improved for this year’s Good Vibes Festival? We tell all in our review.
What We Loved:
The Incredible Mura Masa
We’ve known for some time that Mura Masa‘s music was good, but we didn’t expect him to be this good. The UK-based producer was on fire that that night, performing a near-flawless set which saw him incorporate live instrumentation, samples, loops, and at one point even busting out into an auto-tuned voicebox solo on 2018 single “Complicated”.
Known primarily for his high-profile collaborations with hip-hop artists such as A$AP Rocky and Desiigner, Mura Musa surprised crowds by announcing rapper and singer Fliss on stage. Fliss’ spunk and swagger brought a whole new dimension to Mura Masa’s live set — she belted out songs such as “Nuggets” by Bonzai, “Firefly” by NAO, “1 Night ” by Charli XCX, and even rapped A$AP Rocky’s “Love$ick” with ease. Accompanied by a light-laden show and vivid projections of moving song sleeve art covers, Mura Musa’s set was an experience to remember.
It’s a shame that lo-fi act Joji appeared on stage so early at 6pm on Day 1, while a huge portion of people were still streaming into the festival grounds. The Japanese-Australian singer was incredibly charismatic throughout his hour-long set — trading his usual, self-deprecating banter with the audience.
Ever the comedian, the 88rising artist peppered his set with off-kilter antics such as cartwheeling on stage, free-styling Tourism Malaysia’s “Malaysia, truly Asia” jingle, and refused to perform Vanessa Carlton’s “A Thousand Miles” because it was “too gangsta”. He even sang Randy Newman’s “You’ve Got A Friend In Me” — much to the amusement of the crowds.
Never change, Joji 🙂
Good Vibes Festival this year saw the introduction of London-based global online music broadcasting platform Boiler Room. The Boiler Room sets held at The Electric Fields stage were an immensely fun experience, and we hope that this can be a mainstay for future Good Vibes.
Staying true to fashion, the Boiler Room set allowed audiences to stand and party behind DJs — reminiscent of mobs hyping up Grime artists during performances. Towards the end of Day 2, Malaysian trap stalwarts Lapsap invited at least close to a hundred members of the audience to join on stage.
This brings us to our next point — Hey Lapsap, why didn’t you play the drop to Bohemian Rhapsody?
The Hidden Gems
Good Vibes did a great job in curating acts that would’ve never been on our radar. First up: English alternative rock band Nothing But Thieves. With their abrasive guitar riffs, powerful falsetto vocals, and heart-wrenching lyrics, the four-piece outfit was reminiscent of other British indie bands like The Neighbourhood and Catfish and the Bottlemen.
Another gem we found was New Zealand-based producer Baynk. While still relatively new to the scene (he doesn’t even have a Wikipedia page), he impressed with his original compositions — which sounded like a cross between Ryan Hemsworth, Masego and How to Dress Well. Baynk completely stole the show with his future bass remixes of hip-hop classics and impressive saxophone solos — all while hypnotising audiences with his off-kilter dance moves.
All the Stranger Vibes
Over at the Netflix booth, we were transported to the year 1983, in Hawkins, Indiana! We’ve got to give mad props to Netflix Malaysia for recognising the hype and creating an immersive Stranger Things 3 themed experience.
Long, snaking queues were seen outside the “Stranger Vibes” Mirror Room, and punters were happy with the ample photo opportunities and the vintage video games provided. We particularly love how the exterior of the pop-up store was designed (Spoiler alert!) — remember that scene when the Demorgogan came crashing through Starcourt Mall?
Read about our “Stranger Vibes” coverage here.
What We Liked:
Admittedly, Daniel Caesar sounds way better when he’s performing in an intimate, enclosed setting. When we caught him last year at The Pavilion in Singapore, he was performing in a room burning with sage incense — giving his presence a more ethereal, spiritual feel to it. Nevertheless, Daniel Caesar didn’t disappoint this year, delivering a slew of hits with his four-piece backing band.
Caesar was a complete revelation that night — crooning out heart-wrenching tracks such as “Best Part”, “Get You” and “Hold You Down” from acclaimed 2017 effort “Freudian”, while mixing it up with songs from sophomore 2019 offering “Case Study 01”. It was a perfect opportunity to cuddle with a loved one, especially amid the cool weather and magical atmosphere.
Crazy Art Sculptures
Apart from good music, festival-goers were ecstatic to see art installations at the festival grounds and regularly posed there for #OOTD pictures. The colourful structure near the main stage area was designed by Architectural designer Pamela Tan, while artist and designer Suzy Sulaiman created a stunning wave-like installation of kaleidoscopic, translucent tiles that were lit up with colour-changing spotlights at The Electric Fields. Pretty trippy stuff, we must admit.
The Choice Electronic Music Acts
This year, we were spoiled for choice when it came to the incredible host of electronic acts. First up, we had the top-notch Mura Masa; followed by the likes of trap-house princess Yaeji, the electro-pop sensation that was Jai Wolf, and Baynk. For those that stayed out past midnight, they were treated to the sounds of trap stalwart San Holo and frequent Ariana Granda collaborator Cashmere Cat on Day 1, and Australian house prodigy Anna Lunoe on Day 2.
All these acts presented opportunities for audiences to stretch their legs, let off some steam, and dance the night away.
The High Profile Asian Acts
With a recent rise in Asian representation in film (hi, Crazy Rich Asians), food, and fashion, it’s about high time music got some love too. This year alone saw five high profile, Asian acts — Joji, Yaeji, Rad Museum, Dean, and Yuna — and we feel that this is the absolute direction to go.
Yo organisers, do you think we could have Mitski or Rich Brian here at Good Vibes next year, please?
That Mosh Pit at Dato Maw
There was a mosh pit at Dato freakin’ Maw. Well, Rae Srummurd tried to drum one up during their set — but it’s near impossible to have one of the same effect in a packed crowd. Thankfully, Malaysian rap honcho Jin Hackman was there at Dato Maw’s performance to record it first-hand.
This was what we felt was sorely lacking at this year’s Good Vibes — the pure, unbridled and unharnessed energy normally associated with hardcore or rock gigs.
What Could Be Improved:
The Severe Overcrowding
Like what we mentioned earlier, there were way too many people were at this festival. We suggest Good Vibes take a page out of Laneway Festival Singapore’s book. Criticised in their 2015 edition for being overcrowded, Laneway Singapore made several swift changes – expanding the festival grounds, implementing a no re-entry policy, and adding different stages the following year.
The Scheduling Conflicts
It seemed a tad incongruous for organisers to put a bulk of the more popular acts on Day 1. This resulted in many tough decisions to be made – most notably Mura Masa clashing with Yaeji’s set. With two quality electronic acts to choose from, audiences were disgruntled on having to choose only one.
Another prominent scheduling issue would be Joji‘s performance at 6pm. Due to technical issues at the wrist-tag collection booth outside, many arrived late or missed Joji’s set. We hope this can be rectified in future editions of Good Vibes.
All in all, Good Vibes Festival 2019 was a brilliant experience and we had a truly enjoyable time there. Onward and upwards!
Review by Evan Isaac Woon