Today's Top Stories
Tuesday, February 21, 2006
Bangkok 100 Festival Review
Quite simply, the festival punters came, they saw and they had a truly rocking good time last weekend in Bangkok.
For two glorious days, revellers from across the region who attended the inaugural Bangkok 100 Rock Festival – touted as the biggest such festival in South-East Asia – were treated to a thrilling rock festival experience that came tantalisingly close to being “the real deal”.
While it was not quite on the epic scale as Glastonbury (in England) or Big Day Out (Australia), the Bangkok 100 Rock fest definitely has the potential to develop into something as vital and exciting, something like a Roskilde, Coachella or a Benicàssim festival for the region.
All said, it is a very good thing indeed for local music lovers who have been starved of such happenings.
Held at Lakeside Muangthong Thani, an expansive carpark site situated about a 30-minute drive from the Bangkok city centre, the festival boasted a bill that read like a who’s who of British indie rock.
Oasis’ frontman Liam Gallagher (right) in the thick of the swaggering rock action.
On the first day last Saturday, Britpop giants Oasis headlined a bill that also included Scottish art rockers Franz Ferdinand, ex-Stone Roses frontman Ian Brown and Belgian experimentalist outfit Deus. It was some feat pulling together such an indie treat. Day two saw art-school punks the Futureheads and Mercury Prize-nominated quartet Maximo Park sharing the bill with indie heavy hitters Snow Patrol and Placebo. Not too bad either.
On both days, the line up of intentional acts were augmented by popular local Thai groups like Modern Dog, Ebola, Flure, Body Slam and the rather interestingly named Big Ass.
For some unknown reason, local promoters have tended to underestimate the pulling power of British indie rock bands like Oasis and Franz Ferdinand, despite their continued success in Britain and the United States. But Bangkok 100 Rock proved that not only can these guys pull a bumper festival crowd but also that they could do it with much style, invention and panache.
Certainly bands don’t some any bigger, brasher and more exciting than durable Mancunian superstars Oasis. The band showed that they could attract a huge crowd almost anywhere in the world by pulling nearly 25,000 excitable punters to their Saturday night headline slot. All this on a night when Liverpool was entertaining arch rivals Manchester United in the FA Cup.
For both nights, an intoxicating sense of bonhomie and camaraderie was palpable in the air as indie fans congregated in Bangkok to witness one of the most awesome bills put together in a South-East Asian music festival. Indeed there were plenty of indie fans from Malaysia who made the long trip up to Bangkok to check out the bands.
Although there were some teething problems for the organisers (Riverman, Matching Entertainment and Pernod Ricard), which is understandable as it was the first time they had attempted to stage an event of this magnitude, the festival was generally very well organised. Logistical support from the Thai government was a big plus.
For the average music fan, it was a pleasure to attend the fest considering the festival minders and police were friendly ... and more importantly, the portable toilets were relatively clean and the festival site spotless. Malaysian festival organisers should be taking notes here and the fact that Thai policemen were happy to pose for pictures with inebriated foreign music fans was hospitality at its best.
Without doubt, any minor quibbles were all forgotten when the bands took to the stage. Over the course of two days, there were many highlights and it’s rather difficult to isolate them. Certainly day one of the fest belonged to Oasis and Franz Ferdinand – judging by the frenzied reception received by both.
Franz Ferdinand’s main man Alex Kapranos (right) and drummer Paul Thomson thrilling the crowd. – Photos courtesy of The Nation / Asia News Network
Oasis lived up to their billing as one of the best rock ’n’ roll bands on the planet by swaggering on stage and blowing the crowd away with a brilliant set mainly comprising tracks from their new album Don’t Believe the Truth.
Frontman Liam Gallagher, the epitome of rock star cool, was in good form. Dressed in a blue Adidas tracksuit top, he was in fine voice and capped off the night in thrilling rock star fashion as he leapt into the crowd during a rousing version of The Who’s classic My Generation.
On that kind of form, the younger Gallagher proved that he was indeed one of the best singers to come out from Britain. Anyone disputing this should have been there to hear the band’s version of Rock and Roll Star, dedicated on the night to Ian Brown.
Before Oasis took the stage, Franz Ferdinand wowed the crowd with a set that resembled adrenaline punk rock of the highest order. Franz Ferdinand wanted to write songs to make people dance and last Saturday that was precisely what they did.
With the sizzling energy of the Buzzcocks and a set that drew from both hit albums, Franz Ferdinand underlined the fact that it has arrived as a contender for the big stage – and the Bangkok crowd went bananas.
Ian Brown, the former Stone Roses frontman also deserves a special mention just for being the most charismatic rocker at the festival. Certainly, he must be the only man who can pull off wearing a bright pink Adidas tracksuit. While his set was rough and ready at best, watching Brown perform the Stone Roses classic She Bangs the Drums in front of 25,000 felt like a genuine festival moment.
After the highs of Saturday night, thanks to Oasis and Franz Ferdinand’s excellent performances, Sunday’s bill of bands had their work cut out. But down to the potency of their melodic and heartfelt tunes, Irish/ Scottish quartet Snow Patrol managed to entertain the crowd with a set comprising songs from their excellent million-selling album Final Straw along with new songs from their forthcoming new album Eyes Open.
Headliners Placebo worked hard to get the crowd going but as much as Brian Molko tore into a nearly indie metal-sounding set, the night really belonged to Snow Patrol and their singer Gary Lightbody who sang beautifully throughout with soul and emotion.
source: Malaysia Star
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