“Isn’t this why they hire bomohs?” my friend asked.
We were standing under cover of a tent at Good Vibes Festival, where festival-goers in ponchos had been swept towards shelter. The grassy festival venue outside was deserted.
For its second year, Good Vibes Festival was again held at Sepang Go Kart Circuit. The festival was off to a promising start, with sets from local artists Narmi, Faiq and the Manja Mob and Froya. But then dark clouds unfolded overhead into a solid downpour.
“Maybe they didn’t pay the bomoh enough, or maybe it’s supposed to rain until the headliners come on,” someone else replied, pragmatically.
Obviously, the rain was not the organisers’ fault. But it led to several bands being cancelled, either because it was too wet to tempt people out to watch, or because it would have posed a danger with electrical equipment. Both the main stages were open air – as was the food area.
Meanwhile, one of the most crowded areas was the Heineken Star Club area – an impressive two storey structure that was (most crucially) partly covered. Kyoto Protocol wrapped up their cheerful Grease-themed DJ set, giving way to Frangipani favourites IndieGo, who kept the club warmed up with freebies and indie dance anthems.
Even in this covered area, however, there were issues: a couple of power outages, which the Star Club DJs managed to compensate for with their crowd-entertaining antics. This professionalism and enthusiasm later carried the local DJs through another sticky point: the non-appearance of DJ Falcon, who had been booked as a mystery “special guest”.
Luckily, the drizzle had settled into puddles of mud by the time the crowd gathered for Banks at 8pm – the first of the international headliners, and the first act to appear after a string of cancellations. Banks gave an astonishing live performance that made up for the long wait, her soulful voice and catchy electronica banishing the feeling of dampness.
There was about an hour’s delay before the next big name of the night: Empire of the Sun. Once the band appeared on stage, however, they stunned the crowd with spectacular theatrics, including feathered dancers and metallic costumes, as well as a smoke machine. As expected, hits like “Alive” and “DNA” got everyone excited.
Up next was !!! (Chk Chk Chk), whose lead singer Nic Offer got into the spirit of punk by mingling with the audience and getting himself as muddy as everyone else. Finally, British singer Ellie Goulding closed the festival with a powerhouse set that confirmed her dramatic rise as an international pop star.
There is a danger to naming your festival “Good Vibes” – the superstitious might say it tempts fate. In the case of this year’s festival, the outdoor staging left a bit too much to chance, and the rain really ravaged the line-up of local performers. There was also quite a lot of sound bleed between stages when acts overlapped earlier in the day.
However, the international headliners of the night made the festival memorable. Good Vibes is still a young festival and if it keeps improving, it should attain the spirit of its name. For next year, the team at Future Sound Asia should start working on a weather contingency plan. Or consider paying their bomoh more.
Find out more about Good Vibes here.