The spectacular Kuala Lumpur was set to stage one of Asia’s largest dance music gatherings, but in spite of the Day3 cancellation – I witnessed quite a show.
Future Music Festival. These words would probably feature in the bucket list of the average EDM festival lover, with it being rated highly for its fantastic vibe and line up. This year was no less with the Asian edition being held in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur. 2013 saw a banger of a festival, so when the first phase of tickets for 2014 went on sale for a very reasonable price of MR 260, I had no hesitation in snapping up one of these.
The drive to our hotel from the airport saw me pass by the mammoth Bukit Jalil National Stadium, which was the venue for the festival, and it was supersized! The festival was spread over 3 outdoor stages and 1 indoor stage, apart from which there was an indoor bar, to cool off in case the weather got to you. And eventually, it did get to me! Just a fleeting glimpse of the venue (nicknamed the Jungle) was enough for the infectious vibe to take over. All I wanted to do was to get inside and get the party started, and that took all of 5 minutes, with there being plenty of gates to enter from, with an incredibly efficient staff to usher the patrons inside. A larger Ferris wheel, which I think should be mandatory in every festival, was the centre piece of a well planned set up, with plenty of bars, washrooms, food stalls, bouncy castles, and photo booths spread all around. One particular thing that caught my attention was the recycling system at the festival. There were separate dustbins for cans, plastic and dry waste all around the venue, which went a long way in ensuring that the essence of the architecturally brilliant National Stadium wasn’t ruined once the festival did end. The crowd was truly international, with over 60,000 people attending over 2 days and I could spot flags from countries over 4 continents, with Sierra Leone, Kenya, Argentina and even Bolivia being represented. Of course, I did my bit by repping(sic) India with pride! People dressed to the theme, with the wild and wacky in full attendance. Festival timings stretched to 2 a.m. which was a welcome change from the 10 p.m. deadlines back home.
Day 1 of the festival saw local talents Eva T and B.A.T.E kick off the Deadmau5 and Friends stage by banging in a few big room beats to set the tone nicely for the rest of the evening. The crowd was slowly trickling in, and they did their best to get everyone revved up for the big one. The international artists were next, with Will Sparks, Adventure Club and REHAB continuing the big room beats, which the crowd was loving. And finally, after waiting for over 5 years, I got to see the genius that is Deadmau5. He walked onto stage with a swagger that accompanies only those at the pinnacle of their game. And boy, did he impress! Watching those eyes of his mask light up for the first time, is something that will be etched in my mind forever. The stage was modified for the Mau5 with several LED panels being brought in to enhance the visual experience which was fantastic. Big ups to his visual team who were next level. Deadmau5 also had a hidden kill switch which he used to troll the crowd, which added to his energetic act. Contrary to my expectations, he dropped a lot of underground sounds which were integrated seamlessly with his other famous tracks. And yes, this is where he debuted the now viral “Tunak tunak tun” mix feat. Daler Mehndi. I’m not embarrassed to admit that I lost my s*** when he dropped that one. Deadmau5 played with a fervor that I haven’t witnessed before and all I could think of was that my peeps back in India were going to have a blast when Deadmau5 takes over India the following day.
Day 2 saw the return of A State Of Trance to Kuala Lumpur with Armin Van Buuren & Co. continuing their love affair with Malaysia. ASOT 650 saw a crowd of over 50,000 going absolutely bonkers for the King of Trance and how! The music had switched from big room beats to hardcore trance, which, in my opinion, altered the vibe for the better. The show, dubbed “The Expedition” had its own stage and the production was mind blowing! Audio and visual quality was top notch, and it added brilliantly to the entire experience, which felt like a wonderful journey. Omnia and MaRLo injected the crowd with some energy but the noteworthy act of the night would have to be Andrew Rayel. Touted to be Armin Van Buuren’s protégé and successor, he played with the energy and skill of a seasoned performer and had won over the crowd instantly with his brilliant music. This was reinforced with Armin himself carrying him on his shoulders while playing their new collaboration. That was a sight! Markus Schulz was next, and he got the crowd jumping to his music and set the mood for the big one, Armin Van Buuren. AVB proved once again why he is the undisputed King of Trance and consistently rated among the top DJ’s in the world. In his two hour set, he knocked everyone off their feet with his energy, technical skill and unrivalled music content. His mix of ‘Concrete Angel’ and Andrew Bayer’s ‘Once Lydian’ was one of my best moments of the entire festival, with thousands of hands shooting up into the sky. Paul Van Dyk followed suit and his two hour set was a good send off the Expedition. Although the show continues to be aired live weekly, nothing will come close to what I experienced live that day.
Day 3 was scheduled to have all 4 stages of the festival go live, with big acts such as Arty, Porter Robinson, ATB, Carnage, Pharell Williams, Macklemore, Rudimental, and Chase and Status scheduled to perform. The performance I was looking forward to the most was the Asian debut of the mastermind Eric Prydz, but unfortunately Day 3 was cancelled by the Malaysian Police due to the tragic death of 6 festival goers the previous day. It was a bitterly disappointing end to what could have been an absolutely incredible experience.
It once again highlights the dangers of drug abuse at music festivals which is an unfortunate reality at festivals worldwide. This overshadowed the whirlwind that was FMFA2014, the rumble in the jungle that could have been.
(Picture Courtesy: Future Music Festival Facebook Page, Andrew Rayel Facebook Page)