Archive for the ‘Events’ Category

When I grow up, I wanna be like David Corio.

April 27, 2010

Event: CONVERSE and Jam Division presents Youth/Decay: Iconic Rock & Roll Photography Exhibition
Date: April 24, 2010 (Saturday) – May 5, 2010 (Wednesday)
Venue: Zinc Art Space, Bangsar

I am hopeless when it comes to music instruments. I was naturally enrolled for piano lessons after my sister when I was 5, only to quit the moment I finally got myself to Grade 8. Better half of my high school days was spent on the school band, only to pay more attention with complicated formations, and to convince apathetic juniors to stay focus and not quit, instead of working on my flute. I also distinctively remember my flute solo being matter-of-factly given to another better player in an orchestra performance years ago. And I never learned to play the guitar, only air guitar – with my left hand.

What are we musically challenged bunch left but our abundant CD collection, a good ear to sift out the good from the bad, and a good eye, to perhaps someday capture moments like these captured by one of the best music photographers out there – David Corio.

After the hype from the exhibition launch the previous night had died down, what was left were the few photography fans, armed with their own DSLRs, with ears on attentively to hear Corio share his stories with famous musicians, while sauntering about the gallery, hoping to take good shots of Corio’s best shots without looking too much of a fool.

I know I felt that way. So, do forgive me if the photos in this entry look weird or amateur (if they aren’t already in general); I did feel intimidated just being in the same room with his photos, let alone being in the same room with him.

The better part of the crowd has left when I arrived later that day. Which was a good thing, since I do not really like crowds. The spacious art gallery left ample space for patrons to move around without obstructing the view of others checking out the photos on display.

To set the mood, drifting in and out from the background was the distinguishable voice of Kelly Jones, only all too appropriate for two reasons: that Stereophonics will be stopping by Malaysia themselves in a few days. And that it is an iconic rock & roll photo exhibition – someday, perhaps, in one of the photos Kelly Jones will sport his leather jacket and Ray Ban shades as he rocked out his solo in Superman. Click. Frozen in time.

With every photo displayed on the wall, Corio told a story behind it. How they were taken, when they were taken. A picture of Eric Clapton actually smiling and letting loose backstage before a gig. An overlapped expose of The Cure, done accidentally, purposely, in a concert setting much too inconvenient for any photographer. A closeup shot of Deborah Harry he took, while the other photographers moved further behind for theirs, and even got a cuffing in the head himself for not following suit.

One of Tom Waits by his piano, too grainy but too perfect to be thrown away. One of Michael Jackson, taken for that split second when he took off his sunglasses and looked back at the flashing cameras – almost scared. That one frozen frame of Bob Marley with his dreadlocks flung in the air like a spider’s legs.

All 36 photos on display during the exhibition are for sale. Some of them cost RM1,800, most of them RM2,000. The thought of looking at some 20 photos that costs as much as the camera I hold in my hands each. Wow.

I noted a few favourites while I was browsing. Two of which were the ones above of Bob Marley and Joe Strummer.

Another is this of AC/DC. I just love photos of musicians and their guitars.

And this of Nick Cave and his long-time collaborator Mick Harvey.

So. Birthday presents for me, anyone? I’d love you forever. Heh.

A plus for showing up that Saturday was that David Corio was there too. He hung back after having a one-hour talk on photography and his works, doing interviews, perhaps even autographs and taking pictures with people.

I even managed to get him to pose with the famous U2 photo he did, which also made the cover of their U218 Singles compilation album, before striking up the courage to shake his hand and introduce myself. Quite a well-mannered guy, with a notable gap between his bucked teeth and talking British with a sort of lisp. I have never been one to come up impromptu conversations. Only managed a lame: “It’s nice to meet you. Your photos are really great.” Meh.

If you are a fan of old rock & roll music, or love photography, or just like to purchase expensive photos out of spite, I would suggest you to stop by this photo exhibition. It is not everyday someone like Corio, who has rubbed shoulders with famous musicians we have only been listening to on the radio, stop by. If you don’t get to meet him in person, it’s still quite a nice trip to Zinc on a weekend.

Someday.

++
Zinc Art Space

Lot 61 Jalan Maarof (opposite Dataran Maybank)
59000 Bangsar
Kuala Lumpur
Malaysia
T: +6 03 2282 5388
F: +6 03 2284 8044
W: http://www.zinc.com.my

Youth/Decay: An Iconic Rock & Roll Photography Exhibition
Exhibition date: Apr 24 – May 5, 2010
Business hour: 12PM-6PM; closed on Sunday
Admission: Free

PS: Also, if you are a fan of music photography, might I suggest checking out those by the late Jim Marshall. This is my favourite of Keith Richards. RIP.

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All our base are belong to VGL!

April 22, 2010

Also guest blogging at Backseat Radio:
1. Stereophonics live in Malaysia, Apr 28, AND Singapore, Apr 30
2. Peaches live in Singapore @ Apr 28, 2010
3. This is a story of a bunch of girls

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Event: Video Games Live
Date: April 17, 2010 (Saturday)
Venue: Plenary Hall, Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre

OK, before I get crucified here at my own blog, I have to admit I am not exactly a hardcore video games fan. My video gaming days dated back when computers were still Internet-less and my sister and I were taking turns to play games off the IBM 5¼ inch floppy disks (yes, I kid you not) when we were on home arrest for chicken pox, Dune II: The Building of a Dynasty and Warcraft: Orcs and Humans being my favourites then.

As well as when video game consoles were still using them ROM catridges, and my neighbours and I would trade them back and forth for new games – Super Mario Bros, Tetris, Excitebike (love this), Ice Climber, Donkey Kong, Space Invaders, Adventure Island, Street Fighter, Contra, Double Dragon, to name a few. After that, the rest of my knowledge on video games came solely from my guy friends, who actually play the games.

So, you have got to give me credit that I am not at a total loss when it comes to video games. I guess I would not mind getting in the whole video gaming thing, if I do not actually, well, suck at playing console games. I do. Ask my mom. Other than that, I can always pull the ‘I’m a girl’ card. Heh.

The geekdar is off the charts last Saturday over at KL Convention Centre. Not only was the weekend of the PIKOM PC Fair, Video Games Live was also happening on the same day. It was like saying: “Come buy some computers, and while you’re here, enjoy a concert dedicated to video games!” I am sure some tech geek out there was having a virtual orgasm that day. Heh.

There were two pre-show activities going on before the concert, one being the Guitar Hero challenge, and another, the Cosplay competition. I missed the Guitar Hero session, but managed to catch a few Cosplay characters wandering the foyer.

Here is Nemesis from Resident Evil.

Draco Malfoy and Harry Potter sharing a shot without going expelliarmus on each other.

Can he even see where he is going?

With the immensity of Video Games Live, I guess I expected more people to play dress up. I have seen a larger community of Cosplayers wandering around One Utama a while back, so I thought it would be massive that day. Alas.

Before the concert started, all Cosplayers were ushered up onstage. The one with the loudest applause from the crowd wins.

Cute. /girl

It was a close call between Nemesis and Master Chief. And Nemesis won in the end.

Under the conduction of Jack Hall, co-founder of Video Games Live, the National Symphony Orchestra kicked off Malaysia’s instalment with a medley of Classic Arcade:

Pong. The video game that started it all.

Space Invaders.

Tetris.

And others like Donkey Kong, Outrun, Contra and such.

Tommy Tallarico – who, by the way, is the cousin to Steven Tyler from Aerosmith – emerged after that, sporting his Spidey T-shirt and shoes, to give us a brief run through on what VGL was all about, dropping our infamous lah suffix here and there.

First up was music from Metal Gear Solid.

With some Cosplay going on, and Tallarico hiding in the box behind. Heh.

God of War.

With the bone chilling voice of Laura Intravia.

A member of the audience was invited onstage to play a little game of Space Invaders for 2 minutes. The winning prize was a Katana desktop video arcade machine.

The tricky part was that the player had to move left and right accordingly like the laser cannon on screen. He even had on a T-shirt with the laser cannon on the back. Heh.

Ralph Baer, creator of Pong and the Father of Video Games, also made an appearance that night. Live via Skype, apparently. I was skeptical at first if he was indeed talking to us live, but after getting confirmations from those who have gone to the evening show, it was just a recording. Unless Baer is really semangat, staying up late and all just to say hi to us.

Next up was Sonic the Hedgehog.

Intravia a.k.a Flute Link returned back onstage dressed as Link from The Legend of Zelda for a flute solo. Oh, to have half the talent as she does when I was in high school.

Then, the orchestra did The Legend of Zelda.

An interval.

I wonder what happens if the download fails. You know how slow and wonky our connection is here.

Kickstarting things again with a Disney medley of Kingdom Hearts.

And then. World of Warcraft.

Another special guest. Norihiko Hibino, music composer of Metal Gear Solid, performing Snake Eater.

The beloved Super Mario Bros.

Then, the winner from the Guitar Hero challenge earlier was invited onstage to strut his stuff.

He was to score 220,000 points on Hard, in order to win an autographed VGL poster, signed by Koji Kondo, music composer of The Legend of Zelda and Super Mario Bros. He got to play the soon-to-be-released Guitar Hero: Van Halen, rocking out to Jump, playing alongside Tallarico himself. Things got interesting when he decided to up the game, to play on Expert instead.

The kid didn’t win though. But he was only some 20,000 points behind, and he did get the poster after all.

Now, till this point, Tallarico was to me just someone with a great idea to revolutionise the worlds of video games and symphony orchestras. But still, I have definitely underestimated him when the concert continued with him at his electric guitar, going through themes from Mega Man, Halo and Halo 3.

Master Chief returned.

Absolutely loving Tallarico’s Spidey guitar as he rocked out to Final Fantasy VII‘s Advent: One-winged Angel.

For the encore, Castlevania.

And Chrono Trigger.

With Hall on his acoustic guitar.

It was definitely a one-of-a-kind experience, orchestral music that leaves your skin all pimply, mixed with a tinge of fun you get from the video game world.

It goes without saying that it is a must for video games enthusiasts to patronise the concert. Heck, everyone was having a ball spotting as many classic arcade games as they could, and cheering everytime the theme from their favourite game was played live.

But, I suppose, if you were only a fan of the music, you would enjoy yourself too. The hair on the back of my neck stood so often, I thought they were just going to fall off my skin.

Tallarico was quite a good sport too, dropping jokes and banters here and there, so he and his army definitely had the crowd going. Besides, it’s video games. Most of the job is already done for you already anyway. Heh.

But despite the goosebumps, I expected better performance from the National Symphony Orchestra. Quite often, I barely noticed the music was actually live. And I don’t suppose that’s a good thing. Perhaps the graphics backdrop kind of took half of our attention away. Or maybe, I should have stopped taking so many photos that day, and just sit down and thoroughly enjoyed the show. Meh.

But, all in all, the inner geek in me had a good time. She came out from the back of the closet and bathed in the sun of pure geekdom. They totally had me with the introductory poem: “Roses are #FF0000 / Violets are #0000FF / All your base are belong to us!” Good to see my graphic designing days finally paid off with such a cheap thrill. Heh.

I could not stop smiling to myself everytime something I recognise came on screen. Brought back a piece of childhood memory I have almost forgotten over time, but still intact – though vaguely – in my mind. Ah, the kind of smile you would have on your face when you recall those good ol’ games you used to spend time on.

My Saturday was definitely pwned by the people of Video Games Live.

XOXO, Lipstick Gossip.

October 12, 2009

Event: Lipstick Gossip #4
Date: September 24, 2009 (Thursday)
Venue: TwentyOne Kitchen+Bar

Awhile back, I received an invitation to attend TwentyOne Kitchen+Bar’s monthly event, known as Lipstick Gossip.

For those who do not know, Lipstick Gossip is an all girls’ cocktail party. It is at its fourth instalment last month, and it is an invitation-only event, which features a bunch of girlie activities to leave the ladies pampered and refreshed. And of course, free rounds of specially concocted cocktails and finger food.

Work has been bogging me down, and after checking out the list of activities they would be having at the party, I thought why not make a night out of it. It could be fun.

Alas. Lipstick Gossip happens every last Thursday of the month, and being a weeknight, it was hard to round up a few gal pals to attend this party together. Not that I have a lot of girl friends to begin with in KL, but yeah. Everyone was either engaged with another appointment, or was too tired to head out somewhere on a weeknight. So, in the end, it was only me and Ariel.

The party started at 7PM, and after wrapping up work for the day in an untidy bow, we headed down to Changkat Bukit Bintang for a quick girls’ night out.

Once we parked our tired ass on the chairs at the al-fresco area, the waiters came up with a couple of drinks to quench our thirst for the night.

There was the Chocolate Hersheys Bananarama – I think – with a familiar tinge of milky chocolate alcohol that tasted like Baileys.

And another tangy orange spirit, which I did not catch the name, for the non-alcoholic ladies that night.

And some finger food.

There was not much time to waste at the event, what with so much going on simultaneously. Not to mention a queue that was building up as the crowd poured in with more ladies wanting to get their hair done, their nails done, their makeups done… So, it was best to get down to it before the night runs out.

There were hairstylists armed with curlers, giving you a night’s worth of curly hair.

There were manicurists giving your fingers a quick splash of colours.

Makeup artists giving your pretty face a makeover.

A masseur who was more than happy to give your body a quick massaging pamper to loosen up your tensed muscles.

And a caricaturist whipping up portraits after portraits of your cartoon selves.

I was a little disappointed that the tarot card reader was not present that night. I have been waiting for the longest time for another read since my last one in Australia. Meh. But still, I managed to get myself caricatured before the night ended.

Which, in my opinion, did not really look like me. Hmm.

After sitting around with not much else to do, Ariel and I got a little bored. The fact that there was still a day’s worth of office hours the day after sort of dampened the night’s mood for us. Also, it would be nice though to serve more tummy-filling food other than finger food. I mean, it is not really lady-like to keep reaching for the finger food. Heh.

Lipstick Gossip is clearly an event suitable for a party of more than two, and especially when there is much to gossip about among themselves in regards to work, boys and probably other girls that got on your nerves. Heh.

It would definitely be something to check out with your close-knitted girl friends. Perhaps even somewhere you head to to get yourself a total free makeover, before going to another shindig elsewhere. If you were to head home straight after that, it sort of defeats the purpose of curling your hair or getting made up.

Lipstick Gossip #5 is set to be on October 29, 2009.

++
TwentyOne Kitchen+Bar

20-1 Changkat Bukit Bintang
50200 Kuala Lumpur
Malaysia
Mon-Fri: 11AM-1AM; Fri-Sun: 11AM-3AM
T: +6 03 2142 0021
E: info@twentyone.com.my
W: http://www.twentyone.com.my

Hunting for Food – NOT.

October 5, 2009

Also guest blogging at Backseat Radio: Here comes a regular.

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Event: Klang Valley Food Hunt 2009
Date: October 3, 2009 (Saturday)
Venue: Around Klang Valley

We have been trying to go on a food hunt for the longest time now, but it always never seems to fall through. So, when we caught wind of the Klang Valley Food Hunt, organised by Time Out Solutions and Rasa Rasa, we thought this was a good excuse to skip a working Saturday and take part in a long day of chow time.

Initially, I thought it was going to be an Amazing Race kind of food hunt, where we go around town in search of restaurants where we would be doing a series of food challenges like eating nasty food or making hard to make dishes or maybe chow down some food at some obscure restaurant we never knew of.

Boy, was I wrong.

Two days before the hunt, there was a briefing going on in Taman Tun and we got some goodies, as well as a quick low down on what the food hunt was all about.

A decorative leaf pot, which is not a car freshener and does not move, a torchlight-screwdrivers kit, a Man Utd player figurine, which Vincent immediately chucked aside because of his animosity towards the football team, some free samples of instant coffee and oatmeal, Nagomi food vouchers and KVFH bumper stickers for the participating cars.

The one thing everyone moaned about was the need to gather at the start off point at 6ish in the morning. The night before, some of us were out partying and allegedly, one of us came straight for the hunt after clubbing. I, for one, puked at the club, so yeah. And the need to down a can of bad coffee just to stay awake throughout the hunt was equally as nauseous. Bah.

In total, there were about 140 cars participating for the hunt, which is safe to say there were approximately 500 participants. There were two teams of four for us. At the very last minute, one from each team had to back out, one of whom had to tend to his very sick ferret, so that evened us out to three per car.

We were #89 – Edward, Ariel and Nicholas, and #90 – Vincent, Thomas and me. We also honoured Billy’s ferret by calling our team ‘The Dead Ferret’. Heh.

Because the day before everyone was busy with work and some could not come in to the office, thus, they did not get to have a glimpse of the briefing notes till that morning. As we huddled together waiting for the final briefing for that morning, it felt as if we were back in high school, doing the usual last minute cramming before an exam. Heh.

We were also encouraged to dress to impress to win the best dressed team. Some came as chefs, some came as Santa Rina’s, while some came in cowboy hats and wearing sarungs. Heh.

Minutes leading up to the flag off time at 7.30AM, there was a final briefing session before they set us off for our hunt.

Basically, there were two legs.

The first leg involved four locations, Sri Hartamas, Kota Damansara, Damansara Uptown and SS2.

We were handed a bunch of questions that we need to solve when we reached said locations. Now, these questions, are real messed up questions. They were riddles, and half of the time we need to actually rack our brain juice – which was impossible considering it was way early in the morning to do such a thing – to break down anagrams and solve charades. Some were simple, some were just plain mean.

Some questions went like this: “Orang dengar, kami tidak dibenarkan”, “Backcurrent? Park to eat here”, “Turn page, stay alive, go here to be satisfied”, “Mungkin cari makan di sini” or something like that. It was crazy.

And you could not really sit down beforehand over a laidback breakfast to figure out the questions. You had to actually go to the said locations, have a look at what the clues are to pinpoint the answers.

The frustrating thing was that you knew the answers were right in front of you, but you just did not know how to crack the code to find out which one it was. And also when you have gotten the answer right the first time, but because you were iffy so you switched to a wrong answer instead. And also the fact that you were staring at the answer the whole time, and it was so obvious, only you were a little stupid to find out. Meh.

We took quite a lot of time and mental energy for the first leg, and could not really solve some of the questions because we were running out of time.

We were to hand in our answers for the first leg at the mid-leg pit stop – Nagomi at Jaya 33, and over there, we were to take part in a challenge. I was expecting a challenge to down some wasabi-infused sushi, or cook our sukiyaki in the quickest possible way. But, no.

10 pictures were given to us and another competing team, and within 90 seconds, we were to figure out what herbs and spices they were. Real simple, but the time constraint was the pressuring part, and pictures were colourless so it was a little hard in figuring out whether they were mint leaves or parsley leaves, ginger or tumeric or gallangal.

Before we knew it, time was up, and we had to hand in our answers for our questions for the second leg.

This leg, to me, seemed easier than the first. It involved two main locations – behind Jaya 33, Bangsar and Solaris Mont Kiara. And we were given a set of ‘tulips’, which basically were directions to the locations. Initially, I thought ‘tulips’ were stops we had to go through for a series of challenges. Meh.

We did not need much help with the tulips because we kind of knew our way round those locations, so we just needed to know where we should be next to figure out our questions, and we just went there using the quickest route we know of.

There was a congestion in the Jalan Telawi area in Bangsar, and a few teams actually got down from the car to go on foot, figuring out the questions. Thomas and I went on foot as Vincent worked his car out of the traffic to meet us where we would head off next.

Things were quite easy over at Bangsar and Mont Kiara. Bangsar, being like a home turf for Thomas – and also the fact that he seemed to be figuring out most of the questions anyway, heh – and Mont Kiara because Solaris only have so many roads and occupied shops there.

We breezed through these leg and was off in no time.

However, besides doing these, there was a Food Challenge and a Treasure Hunt.

Food Challenge involved the usage of Finder 301, which is a Maxis-based SMS service that offers the closest food outlets or amenities where you shot out the text message. It offers at least three options, each comes with the venue’s address, contact number, as well as a link to a GPS map.

We had to use Finder 301 to look up eight venues – 6 eateries (one of which we had to dine in), 1 ATM/bank and 1 police station along the route of the first and/or second leg. As proof, we had to snap a picture of our search results (to prove that we used the service), and another of our team members posing in front of the venues with our team number – preferably in creative poses.

Oh, and we also needed to develop all 16 photos and hand them in at the finish line. Something Edward, Ariel and Nicholas’ team failed to do so because they could not find the nearest photo developing shop. Darn.

There were quite some complaints on using Finder 301 because the SMS  failed to show results on the locations they were in, and I think Maxis was congested for a while so results came back a little slow.

For the Treasure Hunt, there were three sets of riddles, which were like the leg questions only ten times harder. They were clues to find out what we should get to gain more points.

After spending so much time with the leg questions, we barely had time to finish up the Food Challenge and Treasure Hunt. We only managed 5 venues for the former, and one for the latter, which was wrong anyway. Heh.

We arrived at the finish line in Solaris Dutamas a few minutes after our given time frame. After that, we had to take part in a second challenge, whereby we had to flip a roti canai, spread it out as wide as possible. That was sort of fun.

It was around 2 in the afternoon when everything was done.

They announced the winners during the award dinner that night at 3K Complex in Subang Jaya. They also revealed all the answers for the questions that morning, and there were a lot of forehead smacking and dawning ohhhhh‘s for unfigured questions, and cheers and applause for teams that got the answers right.

Too bad we did not win anything. Meh.

I guess it was something different to do on a weekend, though not something most people would opt to do. But it would be more fun if the ‘food hunt’ actually involved food, instead of things just related or not related at all to food.

Like in 60 seconds, stuff your face with as many sushi as you can, or see how many bean sprouts we can pick out from a bowl of char kuey teow, skewer and grill as many satays as you can, tie up ketupat pouches – I know this one is a toughie because I tried it once and failed majestically – things like that.

But their questions were real refreshing and mind-boggling, I’d give them that. It is quite evident that they have spent an immense amount of time coming up with them, and making sure some are not too tough for beginners, while others are not too piece of  a cake for rookies. So, well done anyway, guys.

MTV World Stage “Live in Malaysia”

August 18, 2009

Event: MTV World Stage “Live in Malaysia”
Date: August 15, 2009 (Saturday)
Venue: Sunway Lagoon Surf Beach

I was late for the concert because I was under the impression that there were smaller supporting acts opening for the seven headliners. I remembered hearing One Buck Short and Seven Collar T-shirts on the list. So, I took my own sweet time having dinner in Sunway Pyramid, and then accompanying a friend outside while waiting for another friend, who was this close to forgoing the concert.

So, I missed out on Estranged and Boys Like Girls performances. Meh. Apparently, it was raining before the concert began and it started up again during Boys Like Girls’ set, and coincidentally while they were playing Thunder. Heh. Maybe the rain gods like emo rock. Don’t know.

Reports also showed that they performed Love Drunk, The Great Escape and Hero/Heroine, while Estranged, Slave in Us, Ketika Ini and Yang Pernah.

I assumed the Gold ticket for media would be up front where the Moshpit was, but apparently, it was way at the back.

Further back behind from the Red Zone, and next to the Platinum Zone.

So, we decided to fuck it and hang out at the Moshpit instead, where most of the media members were. The security was being a little anal about letting us in because they said it was “already packed” and they could not admit any more people for “safety reasons”, when there was clearly ample space inside.  But after some coaxing and ‘promising’ that we will behave, they let us through. Heh.

Next up was Raygun. I have heard some of their songs on their MySpace and I thought they were quite impressive for a new band. Constantly overshadowed by the more popular bands, their names could have easily fallen off the MTV World Stage banners and nobody would have cared. But they managed to salvage their reputation when they grabbed the attentions of many with hits like Just Because, Waiting in Line and See You Later. They had the whole 70s vibe going on, and the only thing missing was their flashy outfits that they raved about in their releases. But overall, they did well, and I am sure they have gotten themselves some new fans that night.

During MTV World Stage, in between sets there were ass-long intervals, which made the night-long all the more unappealing. VJs and sponsors would come out and throw freebies to the people at the Moshpit, and always those at the left and centre, never the right. Don’t know why. And later in the night, they even had this DJ Rouge come out to spin some mainstream tracks. Nobody cared though; most of the moshpitters took this opportunity to just collapse onto one another after their – uh – moshing.

Pixie Lott came up next and did only three songs: Turn it Up, Boys and Girls and Mama Do. I thought she was a little out of place for MTV World Stage. Not only because she was the only female and solo performer, her music is pop. So. Yeah. She did alright, just think nobody was really impressed.

With all the newbies and local bands out of the way, things were expected to get interesting from here onwards. Fans were entertaining themselves during intervals, tweeting one another and seeing their messages on the big screens. Heh. I saw one from someone, who apparently broke his/her H1N1 quarantine just to be at MTV World Stage. Fanatic or just stupidly irresponsible, you be the judge.

There was also a twitter/SMS constipation throughout the concert; nothing went through. So yeah.

As the night grew deeper and the crowd was more than hyped up, it was apparent that we had won the battle between man and nature as the rain decided to come again another day. With that, the 15,000 plus strong gave a hearty rejoice for Hoobastank’s third return to Malaysia.

I caught them back in 2004, and it was nice to see them perform again. They kept the rock spirit going with an opening of My Turn and The Letter, when Doug whipped out an acostic guitar for the latter.

Then, they went back in time to the song that kicked start their career, Crawling In the Dark, and the fans in the moshpit went insane!

Some kids were getting ahead of themselves and started to mindlessly crash against people, when the security came in, pulled them aside, whispered something in their ears before releasing them back to the bunch. And this happened for quite a few times too, heh. So, if you were wondering why things were a tad bit too quiet up front – now you know why.

Half of the time I felt bad for them because they seemed to be having real fun until the security became all mommy says on them. But another half of the time, I was kind of glad people did not randomly knock up against me.

Hoobastank also managed to humour the crowd with a short sing-a-long to the theme of Ghostbusters, which I thought was adorable, before closing with the song that everyone was anticipating forl. No surprises here – The Reason. And yes, you guessed it. Everyone was singing the loudest along to this song.

The rock baton was passed on next to the world’s favourite rejects, the All-American Rejects. The glitter-covered Tyson Ritter (Tyson Glitter – haha), along with his band mates kicked off their set list with Dirty Little SecretSwing Swing and I Wanna.

They were probably the only band who did the most songs, which I thought was redundant, because while they dragged on with Real World, The Wind Blows and It Ends Tonight (that came with a wonderful piano perlude), I could literally feel the fans behind me in the Red Zone getting bored and falling silent. Heh.

It was also my second time catching them live. First time when I was in Brisbane and could barely see them in between taller people’s shoulders. It was none the better for this. And I thought Tyson was scary looking with his neon bright singlet and glitters and – big eyes.

But anyway, they reclaimed everyone’s love when they closed with Gives You Hell that came with another 15,000 karaoke session.

A lot of people left after that, and if you were one of them, you are going to feel gravely sorry right about now because what finalised MTV World Stage was better than All-American Rejects.

We moved from the right wing of the Moshpit to the centre for Kasabian‘s set, and I was kicking myself why I did not stand there for the entire concert.

It was mind blowing in the centre and I loved it.

No one was more grateful that night than the lead Tom Meighan, as he was alleged to have gotten the H1N1 flu only a few days before MTV World Stage, and had to be quarantined in Australia.
“I’m alive!” he screamed to the 15,000 as he launched Kasabian’s set with songs from their latest album West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum like Where Did All the Love Go, Vlad the Impaler and Fire, as well as the much loved Club Foot and more. They even got girls from the moshpit on their boyfriends’ shoulders and some of them attempting to crowd surf. And, they were probably the only band that managed to set off the manmade volcano at the back of the Sunway Lagoon Surf Beach.

No one was more grateful to be there that night than Tom Meighan, as he was alleged to have gotten the H1N1 flu only a few days before MTV World Stage, and had to be quarantined in Australia.

“I’m still alive! I’m still alive!” he screamed to the 15,000 as he launched Kasabian’s set with songs from their latest album West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum like Where Did All the Love Go, Vlad the Impaler and Fire, as well as other songs like Stop and the much loved Club Foot and more.

OK, maybe Kasabian got more songs than All-American Rejects but fuck, it was all necessary for them. Granted I only know Kasabian by name and Club Foot (but at least I know they exist way before you all did – har har), but I liked their set the most.

They even got girls from the Moshpit on their boyfriends’ shoulders and someone even attempted to crowd surf. And, they were probably the only band that managed to set off the manmade volcano at the back of the Sunway Lagoon Surf Beach. Heh.

Overall, the concert was a good attempt. I was not expecting much from them because seeing that they were short for time and would most certainly perform only radio overplayed hits. And also, a lot of people were not pleased in the Red Zone, what with the uncontrolled moshing and crowdedness, not to mention the fact that no freebies because you guys are just too far away. Glad I was not there. Meh.

But I thought it was good enough. It was a nice opportunity to just get away from life altogether and just be emerged in some deaf defying music. It was good. I desperately wished I could do this all the time, and that weekend could have gone on forever and ever and ever and ever. Alas.

** Yea, I know, bad pictures and videos, what can you do.

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Also check out:
MTV World Stage : Backstage

MTV World Stage : Backstage

August 17, 2009

Also guest blogging at Backseat Radio: Remember to say the magic word.

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Event: MTV World Stage “Live in Malaysia”
Date: August 15, 2009 (Saturday)
Venue: Sunway Lagoon Surf Beach

I guess I needed this. Weeks that passed have been a little hard to swallow, and it is always a good thing when something like MTV World Stage comes along. It just gave you something good to look forward to, and distract yourself with.

Days that led up to last weekend got jittery for me as the many itineraries started streaming in. All the schedules we have to remember so not to miss this good opportunity, and all the rules we have to take in just because it is MTV. I could do nothing else at work but to come up with questions, go through them to see if they were good enough, and if there were enough time to ask most of them. But it was all good for me – not like coming up with quirky questions is a chore to me, heh. Anything is probably better than what I have been facing day in and night out.

So, I am just going to lift this hiatus I have been in, to give you a series of MTV World Stage posts, before going back to my hole.

Things started bright and early for us media folks as we headed towards the crime scene at 11ish in the morning to pick up our kits. We were granted a golden ticket for the concert, which seemed a pretty good deal until we realised where was the section at night. And also, a media pass – which, apparently, does not get us anywhere – and a pass for the post party later that night at MOS Euphoria.

It was a little surreal for me as we sat by the steps at the foyer, waiting for the press conference. Once in a while, someone from the bands performing would rush past with a PR personnel and a few security guards by their side. The number of security guards surrounding them depends on their popularity; Ray Gun from Raygun may just have a PR personnel, while Tyson Ritter from All-American Rejects may have six security guards. Heh. Just kidding. Maybe.

At one point, I think I saw Doug Robb of Hoobastank at the lobby by the “MTV Talents” booth, unguarded, sporting a pair of white-rimmed shades and chewing an apple. Heh.

There were scheduled roundtable interviews with all the performers, which we had to request for prior to the day itself. 15-minute interviews were going on back-to-back, whereby up to five media would be in one room just drilling the subjects to the core.

Being MTV, they were very strict with their security and time. I even had to have “someone” to escort me into the interview rooms, heh. And time was gold, and questions were fired like bullets nonstop, not wasting even a single second for the interviewees to breathe.

I got to interview Raygun, Pixie Lott and the Stank. (I am going to call them that because the band was spilt into two halves, and Hooba goes wherever Doug goes because he is the lead, so yeah). And I realised that with three performers all from different ‘eras’ of their music career, does result in how they answer the interviewers’ questions.

This is probably prejudice for my part, but when I read up on articles about Raygun, they came off as quite a cocky band, what with their whole “setting a new blueprint for pop rock” and all. But I thought I would give them the benefit of the doubt because I know how exaggerating some press releases ca get. (I have written some, bless my heart).

In person, the boys were quite down to earth, and they were generally nice with the questions we had for them. They seemed genuinely glad to be able to play at MTV World Stage. They seemed easygoing as they teased one another and as Adj gave confident answers that sometimes made us laugh too. Not to mention, Ray, the lead, has the bluest eyes ever.

Pixie Lott, on the other hand, was a young soul who still likes to have all the fun she could have in her life with her friends. She talked a lot about missing her friends back home, and how if she could, she would like to hang out with her friends – watch a movie or go shopping. Things like that. But of course, having fun in her music career as well.

She was nice. She had the usual big grin girls like her would have when answering questions. She kept on reminding me of Ashlee Simpson. But I kind of have the impression that she does not want to be there, and cannot wait to head home and be with her friends.

For Stank, who has been in the scene for about 15 years already, it was like talking to a matured young adult who has been through a lot in his life. There were a lot of questions to ask them, and they had a lot to tell us too. But for some reason, my group was especially crowded and other people were just stealing time from everyone, and before you knew it, our 15 minutes was up. I did not even get the chance to dare them not to sing The Reason. Heh. Also, was a little bummed I did not get to interview Doug. Boo.

There was also a press conference to kick things off with all the formalities. I was a tad bit late for mine because the roundtable interviews happened simultaneously. By the time I got there, photographers big and small were already crowding the front, and me, being short and all, could not see at all what was going on at the front. I could only hear VJ Denise and VJ Utt talking, and I had to get a much much taller friend to take the pictures for me. Heh.

Everyone was present at the press conference.

There was Boys Like Girls.

There was Kasabian.

There was the All-American Rejects and their English breakfast tea.

There was Hooba and Stank.

And of course, Pixie Lott, Estranged, Raygun, and this Korean quartet that is supposed to be the kimchi Boyz II Men, performing at the MTV World Stage after party. Meh.

It was a pretty darn good experience for me. Not everyday you get to see international acts come to Malaysia by the bunch, let alone actually be backstage with them and sit only a breath away from them while interviewing them. This time around seemed more personal than the MTV Asia Awards last year, because we actually get to spend time with the acts, though only for a mere 15 minutes.

It would have been awesome to interview all of the acts, but alas, I do not work in a world renowned company so I just have to make do with what was given to me. Not that they were bad, mind you. I like it when people tell me their stories, especially musicians. It just feels like they are giving you permission into a part of their lives that they do not usually give out.

The great escape to Urbanscapes.

June 29, 2009

Event: Urbanscapes 2009
Date: June 27, 2009 (Saturday)
Venue: KLPAC, Sentul

What better way to celebrate my 24th by heading over to KLUE’s Urbanscapes last Saturday. It was like one big party for me, and I did not even have to do the planning. Everyone you did not know would just show up anyway. Heh. I could set up a booth saying, ‘It’s my birthday today, come kiss me’, but I did not want to go too far. I bet it’s something you would find at Urbanscapes anyway, though. Heh.

But on to a more serious note, it was my first Urbanscapes experience. And I thought it was quite a nice festival to spend a Saturday at. There was so much going on that I did not know where to start and what to do, that I ended up not really checking out everything at all. Which kind of sucked. Meh.

For those who does not know what an Urbanscapes is, it is a creative arts festival with a very indie theme hanging in the air. There is a marketplace selling very indie fashion clothes. There are performance stages where indie kind of groups go up and do their thing. There is an exhibition hall where all the indie and artsy fartsy, uh, arts are displayed. So, it is quite a niche festival, which is pretty much to my liking.

This year, Urbanscapes had a total of 10 segments going on.

There was a Street Performances area, out in the open under a big tree. Which I thought was a very busking kind of surrounding. It catered to skits and stand up comedies from performing arts institutions, like T4YP, AIIA, EMP, RPT, The ComeBackKings and The Oral Stage.

We checked out some of the stand up comedians, which were just alright. Not like ROTFLMAOwtfbbq kind of funny, but just a ha-ha kind of funny. Which was OK. I was not looking to be blown away anyway.

But the one skit that impressed me was probably AIIA (Artifically Intelligent: Improvholics Anonymous), I think. They had a few people dressed up in costumes – The Joker, Little Red Riding Hood, a mechanic, a sexy secretary, Chun Li, a Japanese dude and a photographer, and they had the crowd shout out scenes of any kind so the actors can improvise freeze motions in 3, 2, 1. The actions they came up with at such a short time were priceless. I liked it.

It was also a showground for busking buskers like KL Stompers and Tugu Drum Circle.

I last saw the Tugu Drum Circle people at Sunburst and once again, there they were, rounding up passers by to provide a tim to the tom, and a bang to the drum.

They drew a much bigger crowd compared to Sunburst. People were voluntarily going up to grab their desired instrument and joining in the improv performance. And I liked that spirit going around in that circle. A pretty good chance for someone to bang their frustrations out.

A crowd grabber was The X Marketplace. As the name suggested, a bunch of indie designer brands came together and brought the crowd wardrobe full of clothes one could go on a spree at.

There were brands by Badgers, Pop! Collective, JouJou & Shugi Toy Art Mart (with designer toys imported from the US), Lah’ Lah’ Land, the Threads Zoo and many many more.

I thought these were cute. Pixelated accessories.

No creative arts festival would be right without a spot for the Lomo lovers.

In fact, you could spot people with lomo cameras and DSLRs walking around and positioning themselves in weird angles, just to take that one creative shot. Makes me feel all demotivated with my “sample” camera. So, forgive me if my shots here are a little out of angle. I was not myself.

There was also a Barsonic booth, blasting the most LapSap music. I thought they were a little out of place, but yet at the same time not so much because when the indie people want to party, Barsonic is where they go to. So, I guess it was alright. But just do not break into a dance in the middle of the day. Or do. Heh.

There were more shopping tents up at the TiC Zone, by the fashion spawn child of Freeform, Tongue in Chic.

Look at the ladies going at it!

At least there were not catfights over a bracelet. Heh.

I did not have the urge to go through the racks and look for something I like. Mainly because I should not. God knows I am not going to stop if I start. Also, I do not like street markets under the hot sun. First half of Urbanscapes was sweltering like a pig.

There was also the Makan Boulevard, because no one in their right mind would organise a 12 hour festival without food. Or maybe there is, but I do not want to name names.

Plenty of food to go around. Hotdogs from Palate Palette, kebabs, rice sets, ice blended bubble teas (which was always trailed with a long queue), loklok and much more.

For music lovers, there was The X Lawn. The line up was not bad as well, with usual suspects like 40 Winks, Yuna, Pesawat, Gerhanda Ska Cinta, Pure Vibracion and Killeur Calculateur.

I only managed to catch 40 Winks and they were quite alright. Very reggae and big band-ish with their brass going on. I liked it that at the front of the stage the fans were not moshing, but dancing – reggae style thingamajig – along to the music. Ah, where is the love, you ask? Here it is. Heh. (Corny, I know – it comes with the age, unfortunately).

Exhibition is where the artsy farts would go.

You can even tapau-a-monster there. It was so darn cute! I almost wanna tapau one home. But I had to restrain myself from the doggypack. I havebought enough of these self-sewn soft toys in weird fabrics and designs that now they are all sitting in a box neatly stacked in the upside cupboard in Penang. So, I should NOT tapau another monster home. Heh.

But still, it would be nice to get myself a little souvenir to commemorate Urbanscapes. What can I say, I am a sap. I would have bought an official Urbanscapes T-shirt but they ran out of my size. Boo. So, I guess it is OK to buy myself a little handmade badge by Oh & Ah. Cuties, aren’t they?

KARYA stuck a few colourful blocks in between wires, and voila, a metaphoric metropolis.

There were even little fish ponds made out of newspaper and basins.

Other segments at Urbanscapes were Indicine, the Cinescape Stage, The Box and the Sunset Disco.

However, it was a shame I did not take enough time to check out everything. So much was happening at the same time, I forgot my to-do list. I did wanted to go see Sepet at The Cinescape Stage, but of course that escaped my mind. Also, I had to leave early too because I needed a ride back. So, I had to miss out on Twilight ActionGirl at the Sunset Disco, and some fire twirling action going on after sundown.

But all in all, it was a fun day out with friends. Bumped into some people I know and met a few new friends on the way – hi, Reta. Even the staffs were generally nice folks. There were no shoving or pushing around; a very nice place to chill out indeed. Maybe next year I will stay on the full 12-hour. Well done, KLUE. It was an awesome birthday party festival. Heh.

ETA: Words have been going around on Twitter that someone who was infected with H1N1 was at Urbanscapes that day. Read KLUE’s official announcement regarding the incident here. If you are feeling unwell, or you are worried you might be infected, do go for a checkup. Be safe, kids.

Miri International Jazz Festival : Day two

May 12, 2009

Event: Miri International Jazz Festival 2009
Venue: The Pavilion, ParkCity Everly Hotel
Date: May 9, 2009 (Saturday)

Being in my second jazz festival, I still find it hard to get used to seeing the media having normal conversations at the table with the musicians. I was always under the impression that musicians are a kind of celebrities that are unreachable. You know, the type that will only talk to you during press conferences and only when you ask questions that they like to answer.

So, it was nice to have breakfast with Mia Palencia, or lunch with Raphael Geronimo, or drinks with Pascal Seixas, exchanging pleasantries and making conversations and laughing at bad jokes.

At the ParkCity Everly Hotel’s restaurant, we were not media people nor musicians. We were just normal people, who happened to be at the same place and at the same time, sharing the same interest in music.

Friendships were formed too amongst the musicians. There was even a friendly football match between the Frenchmen and Australians that afternoon, and surprisingly enough, the Aussies won 3-1. Heh. Made you look at the French team in a whole new light, does it not?

That night, Dites 34 picked up where Alamode left off the previous night with their jazz rendition of traditional French folk music. Instilled in their songs were the typical kind of cheekiness I grew to love in Yann Tiersen’s songs.

Overheard @ MIJF: “Some girl came up and asked where’s that French guy with the typewriter.”

Although most of them were few with words, the members were quite amazing onstage. The rigid force of Quentin Biardeau’s alto sax and the languid flow of Guy Giuliano’s accordion harmonised well to the kind of folk French style that is lovable. Sebastien Janjou’s easygoing guitar licks and Adrien Chennebault’s quirky percussion, together with Pascal Seixas’ witty double bass contributed their part in the world music-ish sound of Dites 34 that made them stand out the way they did at MIJF.

As Giuliano had performed with Alamode the night before, likewise Spaccavento offered a part with the Frenchmen with his own saxophone jams.

Jeff Maluleke was this single entity sitting at the corner of the press conference room the day before, but he won the hearts of many media personnel instantly when, due to his lack of English, started singing in his own language. His voice was an orchestra by itself.

His band kicked off their set with the conventional kind of African Jazz/Reggae with the calming thuds of the congas. It was soothing and soulful, and halfway through the set, I thought to myself, “man, wouldn’t it be nice to have a joint right now”. Heh.

However, to me, his voice seemed to have been robbed of by his band. I thought he would have pulled off quit a show if he had just done his performance singing and beatboxing all by himself.

By the second half of his set, the Pavilion had filled up immensely as Maluleke delved into a more upbeat tempo. People were dancing and clapping along, singing in unison to the encore of ah-oh-ah-eh-ah-oh.

Up onstage, Maluleke was dancing around to his own music, enjoying the night as much as the audience was. Like it was his own full blown concert. By the time he was done, the crowd was cheering and whistling; it was probably the loudest encore at this year’s MIJF.

I took a little toilet break during the intermission. The out-of-order sign made me steered my way to the second floor, only to find Seixas  checking out the two sape players playing by the stairway. When I got out of the washroom, he was already sitting down with a sape in his arms, eager to get the tune and technicality right.

This was what comforted me: musicians being so passionate about their music they just want to create music with any instruments they can find, even though it is an instrument they are unfamiliar with.

To me, a true musician does not need an essay to explain what music is to them; just look in his eyes the way he falls in love with a new instrument, and how meticulously he would like to learn it. It speaks more than the thousands of words I can never begin to describe.

Overheard @ MIJF: “Raphael!!!! I love you!!!

When I first met Raphael Geronimo, he was all alone in the restaurant for a late lunch in the next table from mine, and I thought it was kind of cute when he said ‘terima kasih‘ to the waitress. I thought he was just a patron of MIJF until he mentioned that he was a performer.

Geronimo seemed pretty much a normal fellow offstage. His kind soul took him around for conversations with many people, and when bored at his own conference, he would doodle sketches on notepads discreetly. But when he was all dressed up and had tuned his timbales for the band’s set, he was very much a different person.

Overheard @ MIJF: “You know that conga player – from Rumba Calzada. Don’t you think he looks like, well – Mr Potato?”

Rumba Calzada was back for their second year at MIJF, after being voted most favourite band in 2008. They were even a nominee for the Juno Music Awards in Canada; that is saying something about the band, right?

Their salsa beats brought to the plate something different from the other bands featured at MIJF this year. Whether they were fast in tempo or slow in rhythm, everyone was dancing. Heck, even us media were going at it backstage until the organisers told us off. Heh. It could have been the tequila doing its works, but while they were up onstage, even the most prepped and uptight people in the room seemed to have let down their hair and ties and just went with it.

It was amazing.

This year, MIJF ended with a band – literally – with the 17-piece powerhouse from Singapore: Thomson Big Band.

Overheard @ MIJF: “No wonder the flight is full; the Thomson Big Band is with us!”

Saxophonists, trumpeters, percussionists and such crammed into the small stage and performed jazzy tunes that reminded you pretty much everything New York City is all about. They were probably the only band hitting straight for jazz.

It was grand and it was glamorous, and they got the crowd swaying to their sensual sax solos, and snapping their fingers to the ch-chi-cha-ch-chi-cha‘s of the percussion’s crash cymbals.

Overheard @ MIJF: “I bet they met up in the toilet earlier and came up with the jams with eye signals, and decided ‘hey, let’s not tell the audience and see them freak out.'”

A jazz festival would not be complete without a great jamming session with all the performers. Judging from the size of the bands for MIJF this year, it was a mighty mighty session indeed.

Neptune whipped out his shakuhachi, while Spaccavento his saxophone and Giuliano his accordion and Geronimo his timbales, Palencia and Maluleke their wonderful vocals… And when Bombay Baja went up onstage, it was bonkers.

Bombay Baja exited the same way they entered the night before for their set, leading a trail of audience behind them, as if to a wedding procession down the road. Now, this is how they should be performing. Not onstage blaring their horns at the audience while jumping around awkwardly, but at the lawn with the crowd surrounding them and dancing to their music. It was then they seemed more appealing than last night.

Overheard @ MIJF:“Jazz is the common language for people from different parts of the world, speaking in different tongues and living in different cultures.”

I had an awesome time there. Not only were the music good, the people were good too. Media, musicians and organisers included. It was like one big family, and I was glad I was a part of it with such interesting people.

The following morning, we all boarded the same plane with heavy hearts back to KL, while some would hop on the next planes back to their own countries. For a weekend, the world outside of Miri did not seem to matter – did not seem to exist – until that moment when we parted. Reality calls, alas. But I guess, that is what makes the memories fonder, no?

Miri International Jazz Festival 2009 : Day one

May 11, 2009

Event: Miri International Jazz Festival 2009
Venue: The Pavilion, ParkCity Everly Hotel
Date: May 8, 2009 (Friday)

The sun beamed at a 5 o’clock hue that is warm and tender. Outside my balcony, the South China Sea lapped languidly against the shores of Miri, and downstairs at the ParkCity Everly Hotel lawn, tents were set up ready to welcome the many guests for the Miri International Jazz Festival that night.

While smoking a cigarette outside, a saxophonist practised his scores and notes a few rooms down. Despite the tiresome jet sets to the Borneo island and back again for the past couple of weeks, the musician’s precise slurs echoing in the premises assured me that this would be quite a weekend.

This year’s MIJF took off nice and easy with Malaysia’s own Double Take. With the vocal powerhouse of Mia Palencia and the complementing guitar licks of Roger Wang, it was as simple as it can get.

Overheard @ MIJF: “Roger looks like some ah pek out on the street, you’ll never know that when he performs he’s this musical genius!”

Palencia’s strong and deep voice is the kind that reminds you of a good time during Christmas. You know, fireplace, hot cocoa, chestnuts roasting on an open fire kind of works.

Their performance suited the MIJF early Friday crowd well. With only less than 1,000 then, Palencia’s aggressive voice bounced off the audience’s heads and rose up to the high-ceilinged venue with a bunch of covers: Somewhere Over the Rainbow, jazzed up versions of Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean and Man in the Mirror for the encore, and Sting’s If You Love Someone, Set Them Free.

However, despite all that Double Take has, I was not really grabbed just yet. They have the kind of style a lot of Malaysian bands would like to go for, and I was hoping for something different. Nonetheless, they did put on a great show and it felt like a great start to a perfect festival. But in the sense of being blown away, I was far from it.

Overheard @ MIJF: “Here’s my key card. Oh, and bring your turban. *growls*”

Now, when I first heard of the Bombay Baja Brass Band, I was pretty much intrigued. Out of the nine members, seven of them were Brits, and they were going around in Punjabi suits and turbans. Heh. They were quite a fresh breath of air.

But, after hearing them twice before their performance – once at the MIJF welcoming dinner and another during their soundcheck of sorts out in the Everly premises – they kind of became boring for me after a while. I mean, how differently can you get with the kind of rhythm the dhol can offer? 30 minutes into their set, it felt like they have gone on for two hours.

Yet the crowd seems to like them. The band got the crowd to do the Bhangra dance of “screwing the lightbulb” while “patting the dog” at the same time. They had good showmanship, I would give them that. Like I said, it was a fresh breath of air, but like all oxygen in a new part of the world, it smells the same after a while.

And, it was around this time we found out that Everly serves pretty awesome mojitos at RM12. Heh.

When you listen to John Kaizan Neptune talk, you know he is passionate about his music. So passionate that he seems a little, well, off. He tends to go on and on about his view, and he always seems to be gazing a little off to the distance from the present world he is in.

When he started talking about the technicalities of his music instruments, half of the crowd did not really care and was chattering away. But when he started playing on his shakuhachi, a Japanese bamboo flute known to be used for zen meditations, the people were snapped into his trance, just like that. This is the time when we were able to share his often distant looks and off-ness.

He performed with Steps in Time, a multi-cultural ensemble of Indian drumming and strings, jazzy guitar glides, funky wild bass and a rocky steady percussion. It was a performance with a base of Japanese traditional music fused with Indian beats. The violin came out like the Chinese er hu, and together with the Japanese flute, it was like a perfect duet of two lovers. At the background, the timid manjira and bopping ghatam fills the air, welcoming you to feel the romance.

It was sensual. It was comforting. Close your eyes, and you would be transported to a world of falling sakuras in Kyoto and the shibuya centre of Tokyo. Perhaps there is where John Kaizan’s mind is.

Overheard @ MIJF: “They keep on turning their backs on me, I get to check out their asses.”

Since leaving Australia after studying there for two years, I guess I will always have a soft spot for anything that hails from the land down under (meh, that was cliche, guilty as charged). So, I felt a bad itch in my heart when Alamode took the stage and did well in bringing along the entire city of Sydney with them.

To me, every city has a music of its own, and most of them sound like jazz. And if Sydney is all about the jazz, she will be what Alamode sounds like. Beau Golden’s chromatical keys and Daniel Walsh’s choppy guitar riffs imagined a cop chase down the busy freeway for Cops Come Twice. Paul Spaccavento’s saxophone and Paul Muchison’s trumpet were like brothers in arms, creating such power in their songs like Dee Cees (I think), notes as punctuated as their inflated cheeks. Scott Page’s bass and Michael Avenaim’s percussion, always an addictive pleasure to jive along to the band, paving blues streets and top hats.

They even got Dites34’s typist-I mean, accordionist (heh) Guy Giuliano to collaborate with them for a song.

Frankly, I liked it that they did not come with any vocalists. Spaccavento did quite a splendid job stealing the show by creating solos where a voice should sing, and it would kind of flatten Alamode’s unique music style if his saxophone were to be replaced.

It was quite a good start for this year’s MIJF. Although a little slow and catching the mood, but a sultry beginning with Double Take and with Alamode for a climatic end, it is a sign that by the second night, things are just going to continue getting better.

A fashion feast for the eyes.

April 6, 2009

Event: STYLO Designers Grand Prix
Date: April 2, 2009 (Thursday)
Venue: Lake Gardens, Kuala Lumpur

I think every girl should attend a full-blown fashion show at least once in her lifetime. Alright, call me shallow, but it is kind of the same as guys going to a strip club when they turn 21. It is like a rite of passage thing. Something you have to experience somewhere down the line.

As the race tracks at Sepang heated up for the F1 Petronas Grand Prix last weekend, the runway at the STYLO Fashion Cube burned hot with the brightest fashion designers from Malaysia and Asia.

Since 10AM, the STYLO Designer Grand Prix fashion marathon was at it with a 12-hour marathon, featuring more than 20 young and senior Malaysian designers together with a selection of their Asian counterparts. I would have loved to stay from the beginning, but time would not let me go, and I could only attend the final instalment of the day. Not that I am complaining; for some reason, it is tiring chasing the fashionistas’ ghosts, even though there is only a lot of standing around going on.

As the sun set on the STYLO Fashion Cube, the audience was treated to a two-part fashion show finale by well-respected named in the fashion industry.

First off were evening gown designs by Melvin Lam.

The audience were wowed by his combination of glittering diamonds on electrifying silky dresses that shimmered under the blaring spotlights.

It was as if the stars had fallen from the Heavens onto the bodies of these earth angels. I liked how they seemed to drag their footsteps, giving their pose an air that would leave you entranced, especially the final masterpiece. Although it may be because she could not quicken her steps because of the restriction of the gown, but she managed to spin things her way and wrapped up Lam’s showcase with a delicate look over her shoulder.

Next up was Edric Ong’s Saffron Blues collection, winner of the Designer of the Year award.

The models carried his bohemian beach resort collection like they were taking a stroll by the soothing beach.

I thought this collection was only passable. A lot like the clothes you see in Island Shop. Nothing really spectacular.

At the mention of Bill Keith’s name, the crowd was already cheering him on. Although he rarely takes his designs to the catwalk, his shows were never a disappointment.

Accompanying his collection were live performances by Malaysia’s own divas Ning Baizura, with a Malay rendition of Sweet Dreams, featuring Altimet. Also, Noreen Aziz with her version of Duffy’s Mercy.

Giving the traditional baju kebaya a little bit of shimmer and a little bit of glitz, paired with tutu skirts and skinny pants.

Khoon Hooi was first up at the second half.

A collection of bright crumpled fabric teamed with feathers ala Marie Antoinette.

At it was at this point that I noticed this perverted guy sitting in front of me, who would only sit up straight and take pictures of the pantless models with his cell phone camera. Tsk. Thanks man, great way to turn everything good into dirt.

Next up, going back to her roots in Sarawak, Dato’ Tom Abang Saufi brought to the fashion platter Malaysia’s own pride and joy – the hand woven songket and the hand printed batik.

No zips, no buttons. Yet, she still managed to hold everything together. The Ibans have a whole new set of wardrobe, all thanks to Saufi!

I kind of like how she puts two and two together and makes it a fabulous four. And I liked it that she had some rockish tune going on to match with the models’ walk, and how they would jig along to the beat, breaking all conventional rules of being posed and fragile on the runway.

From Jendela KL, winner of the Fashion Innovator of the Year award, all for the modern time women.

The casual, which were just a bunch of same designs in different cuttings. Looked like a group of air stewardesses to me.

And the sophisticated, previously featured in fashion shows in Dubai and France, as well as a piece worn by the Queen of France Herself. I loved it when the model in white came out bare-footed to Gustav Holst’s Jupiter, The Bringer of Jollity – my favourite track off The Planet suite.

Closing the 12-hour fashion marathon for the night was the sought after Melinda Looi, another winner of the Designer of the Year award.

The flawless beauties represented her designs like the elusive nymphs that sprung out from the rainforest.

I can see why she is an award-winning designer. Her designs were really unique, pairing up leather pieces with nocturnal chiffon hues, as well as highlighting the hour-glass figures the models were dying to flaunt. Probably my favourite collection for the night.

OK, so her designs were previously paraded during the Malaysia International Fashion Week last year, but hey, Rome was not built in a day, and to come up with another charming collection like that, it is not easy as well.

The Cube was freezing that night – all nights, actually – and although I barely felt it because I was wearing stokings and a thick cotton-clad dress, everyone was rushing out the door the moment Melinda’s done her bow. Heh.

But suffice to say, it was an interesting experience, being in a fashion show. Pinpointing the models I like with the way she walks, and laugh in my head when a few almost tripped. (OK, maybe not laughing; I did worry for their embarrassment if ever they should fall). It was nice.

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The STYLO Fashion Grand Prix, KL ’09 happened from March 28 till April 5.