Urbanscapes 2013. Photo: Ling Low.

 

I’m a boiled chicken. No gravy and no garnishing – just plain boring old boiled chicken. This boiled chicken recently crossed the road to get into Urbanscapes for a brand new experience in the creative arts. If boiled chickens ever had feathers, boy, would they be ruffled.

In my past life, I’d always thought of art as literally paintings on the wall. I’ve since learned that art includes music, writing, photography, and even experience. Now, there are festivals celebrating the creative arts! If my parents knew where I spent my weekend, they’d have their own festival – a scoffing festival. “Ceh…what’s the point?” they’d say.

Admittedly, that was what went through my mind when I set foot into Urbanscapes on a sweltering Sunday afternoon. Admittedly again, I did no research whatsoever into the event and went in blind. I assumed that the festival would be held on a large rectangular field and was a little surprised and more dismayed that it was a long stretch of road with fields on either side.

I avoided drinking liquids as much as I could as I am quite particular with using public toilets. Alas, under the intense heat I inhaled a cup of orange juice from San Francisco Coffee and bubble tea from Chatime and soon enough, nature came a callin’.

Needless to say, I had a very unpleasant experience using a portable loo and for the rest of the day I was impatient to go home to disinfect myself.

I continued on to the end of the road, where along the way there were stalls selling clothes; more specifically, clothes I’d never wear. My wardrobe is filled with “safe”, “corporate”, and snooze-worthy items. Shoes with flowery prints? Harem pants that look like a galaxy has been splashed onto it? Thank you, but no thank you.

Later in the afternoon, I proceeded to the comedy session with Dr. Jason Leong and Kuah Jenhan where I laughed a little. We were treated to a short set by a local band called “The Impatient Sisters” which far exceeded my expectations – or rather, lack of knowledge – of the local music scene. A female comedian came on stage after, with the opening line “I’m a female comedian…yes, I have big breasts”. I immediately got up to leave.

When watching Efterklang, I expressed surprise to my friend, who was a wonderful tour guide of sorts to me at the festival. Let’s call him Chicken Maryland. “Hey! They’re white!” I said to Chicken Maryland. He chuckled and replied, “Yes, they’re Danish.” And as if he read my mind, he continued, “They’re not from Klang.” Dashed were my hopes for songs about bak kut teh.

 

She promptly informed me that she is not a hipster, but self-identifies as “indie”.

 

I quite liked Efterklang’s songs; however my experience was marred by cigarette smoke. Plus, I was slightly perturbed by a guy next to me who seemed as if he kena rasuk hantu, with his arms flailing around and his eyes shut.

By then, I was sore from a bad back and all the walking, and regretted having arrived so early. There were a few more hours to go to the final act, and it seemed to be a cardinal sin to leave before that. I spent the rest of my time browsing the other stalls selling badges, tie-dye shirts, posters, and bubble-making kits.

I bumped into my hipster cousin in the crowd and was grateful to hang out with her as she was equally as tired as I was. All we did was sit and eat and talk, during which she promptly informed me that she is not a hipster, but self-identifies as “indie”.  She attempted to explain to me the difference, but it was all so alien to me. I felt alien at Urbanscapes. I wanted to go home to my mothership.

I was thankful that my cousin and her friends were happy enough to sit on the grass a good distance away from the stage that held Franz Ferdinand. One of her friends, a mainstreamer like me, asked me if Franz Ferdinand is an indie band. I then wondered if an indie band would still be labelled indie if they became popular.

Franz Ferdinand played what seemed like 20 songs, almost all of which sounded the same to me. My cousin kept giving me glances and finally said, “You’re just sitting there with a serious face. Try to enjoy yourself!” I bobbed my head to the beat a little bit. The energy was amazing, but I was completely drained. As the crowded yelled for more, I got up to leave. I wasn’t the first person wanting to avoid the exiting traffic. How Malaysian!

I went back to the stalls to say goodbye to my vendor friend, when I chanced upon the #Bettercities giant blue ear, beckoning me to reveal my deepest, darkest secret. I pressed the record button and whispered, “I’m not a hipster…how?”

 

In her past life, Ching Yee dreamed of climbing up the corporate ladder in her heels. Now, rumour has it that she goes everywhere in her flip flops, even to bed.