Muzik Festival Melayu Concert Review…

Muzik Festival Melayu, an eight-hour concert held at the Marina Barrage on 18th February 2012, was in a nutshell, a hit-and-miss event. There were more negatives than positives which I derived from observing and also heard afterwards. I felt a little bemused when I read several reviews of this music festival from the mainstream media, as well as from online media portals who praised the event. While I have to agree with them that all the performances on show by artistes hailing from Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia were top-notch beginning with our very own local duo Wiz Glare and ending with Indonesian powerhouse Kotak, overall I was simply unimpressed by the way certain things panned out throughout the event, unknown perhaps even to the writers who have contributed to those saccharin-laced articles.

The audience taking in the talent competition in the evening…

I was not paid nor was I invited to attend this event, probably because entertainment bloggers in Singapore (if there are more of them like myself) are not known by concert promoters and organisers. We are also probably not seen and accepted as credible sources of information since we type our thoughts more from the heart, which sometimes can be detrimental when we get a wee too emotional. Personally I feel better to review something which I paid for and relate what I feel from the bottom of my heart, rather than feel obliged to write something positive when circumstances and events dictate otherwise. Giving my perspective as a paying consumer, maybe people would understand better from our point of view. Giving a different outlook from most of the articles written about this event also means the organisers would note of the shortcomings and strive to do better productions in future. No way am I shooting my mouth off for the sake of it, but to help dispense substantial feedback for our local scene to grow.

The original stage at the rooftop…

I was surprised to learn via my Twitter timeline that the concert had shifted from the Marina Barrage rooftop down to the lower level, all thanks to the earlier downpour, just as I was about to leave home. Two days before the event, the missus and I did our own reconnaissance of the place, and I was initially excited that the concert would be held at the rooftop where we could all enjoy the breeze and take in the scenic city skyline. But that was not to be. When they said “lower level”, I thought it would be on the first floor facing the fountains. I was half right. The “stage” or what looked like a five-foot-way outside the Pump House, did face the fountains below, but the estimated three-metre height was way too high for concert-goers to enjoy the performances. This was made worse when the huge railings covered the faces of the performers from the angle we were seated, which prevented photographers like myself getting good shots, unless we stood just below it.

The “replacement” stage…

I was wondering if there was a contingency plan in the first place, in the event there was a downpour. The rain began as early as 11:00am when the foreign acts were doing their respective soundchecks and it took them a few hours to decide that the show will go on at the lower level. By the time the competition for up-and-coming local acts began, it was close to 5:00pm. I have to say that this competition was an extremely noble idea to have, especially since it gave young upstarts the platform to shine. However, I am still left a little confused how the winners were chosen as there was no mention of any judges sitting in our midst that day. Still, I felt that the winners, Dan, Wazee & Azra Zulaika were rightfully chosen as their performances drew loud whoops and stunned looks by the watching audience, the latter raising the hairs of yours truly with her own personal tribute to Whitney Houston by belting her classic hits.

Azra Zulaika wowed us with her vocal prowess…

Speaking of the watching audience, my estimation of the total number was only about 400-500 maximum. I read conflicting reports from the media saying it was in the thousands. Maybe people had bought the tickets earlier, but chose not to come due to the downpour or last minute engagements prevented them from coming. However, I was surprised to learn that on the day itself, those who had not bought the tickets but came to purchase them, enjoyed a significant amount of reduced ticket price per person, as compared to those who bought it much earlier like myself. I took a walk at the rooftop to see the supposed area which the concert was supposed to be held. Only a certain portion was cordoned off for concert-goers, whereas the walkway by the sides still allowed visitors to move about and parts of the field allowed kite flyers to do their own thing. Had the concert gone on as planned, I wondered if these people could have had the opportunity to enjoy the concert for free???

From where I stood, one could watch the concert for free…

Even when the concert was shifted to the lower level, if one was savvy enough to know the way around the place, or do not mind watching it from a distance, they can actually watch it for free from the elevated path leading up to the rooftop. The entrance / exit cordon that separated the toilet and the concert area was also unmanned. Anyone could have just gone in via that entrance / exit without paying. The only thing I could console myself was that the money I spent would in some way, go into paying the artistes performing, no matter how big or small they are in terms of popularity or stature in our local / regional Malay music entertainment industry. There were murmurs of discontent afterwards from some of our local acts, but I will not delve into their cause of unhappiness. It would be best for any one of them to come out in the open and share their story to the mainstream media. That way we will get a fair view as all parties would be interviewed. I’m just a small-time blogger with little credence.

One of Singapore‘s representatives of the night, Shahridzuan Selamat

The icing on the cake had to be the so-called “technical problem” which occurred when Indonesian band, Kichi came on stage. Just as they were about to open their set, the sound system went off for about fifteen minutes or so, with no announcements made whatsoever, which resulted in grumblings and some angry voices being heard amongst the audience. By then it was already eleven plus and most of the people were fidgety and hungry. It was only through good common sense by the management of One Nation Emcees and Dayang Nurfaizah that the watching audience were appeased when the two sets of artistes came down to mingle with them, snapped photographs as well as distributed their latest singles. I was fortunate to receive One Nation Emcees‘ latest single album, “Psiko“, from one of the group members, Jojo. The most popular in the group of course was none other than Mimi. Everyone clamoured to take a photograph with her.

The crowd favourite, Mimi of One Nation Emcees

Looking at the event overall, it was a massive effort by the organisers bringing artistes from the three countries on one stage, working through several constraints, not helped by circumstances which could have been avoided with proper planning and perhaps with a bit more support from big sponsors. The problem with our local Malay entertainment scene in general is that, sponsors are difficult to come by, even if the product is good. The competition for the up-and-coming acts I personally felt should have been done away with, due to the massive delay caused by the earlier downpour, or at least limit the talents to just singing one song, rather than singing two or three songs or as a medley. Continuing with it only resulted in the extension of hours for the concert, which was unnecessary and resulted in several acts doing away with some songs. From what I heard, Kotak was slated to perform seven songs but ended up only doing four.

Dayang Nurfaizah posing with one of her fans…

Even during the earlier talent competition itself, there was no proper host and the one who took over the microphone duties, I believe, was a stagehand. The host of the show, Mahadi Mashuri, only appeared when Wiz Glare, the first act to appear during the local acts segment, were about to take centre stage. What made it even worse was (and regular readers of this blog would note that I’m such a stickler for it), there was no break at all to respect Maghrib. This would not have happened had the whole event started as planned. To be fair to the organisers, I heard there was supposed to be a five-minute break, but apparently the message did not get through to the host. Still I thought the supposed five-minute break was not enough and should have been at least fifteen minutes to half an hour. At least the audience could go and relieve or stretch themselves as the hard ground gave us sore bums and backs by the end of the night.

Aremeer of Sofazr endangering himself by climbing over the railings during the group’s performance…

The sound system as a whole, was patchy at best, good in half the performances and distorted at the rest. I dunno if it was due to the rain earlier, but it could have been much better given the line-up that night. The only positive thing I would note would be the professional performances by all acts, despite the replacement stage being a big stumbling block to their interaction with the audience, and respective showmanship. Aremeer, the lead vocalist of Sofazr did the unthinkable and climbed over the railings during the group’s performance, risking injury had he slipped and fall, truly an unorthodox way of performing. The artistes, like the audience, also had to wait and wait for their turns to perform. The Malaysian acts especially, were already so tired as they arrived in Singapore only in the morning. The other thing I could credit the organisers was the prayer room which they had set aside, a carpeted room which was air-conditioned and felt very cosy with cushioned seats. I had half the mind to just enjoy the concert from the comfort of that room.

Amanda Imani giving the fans a thumbs-up for their support and positive reactions towards her performance…

The audience should be applauded for staying throughout till Kotak‘s performance ended at about 12:45am. Some were there as early as 2:00pm, thinking that the talent competition would begin on the dot. I salute their patience level having to go through the long wait, the glitches, the hunger, the sore backs and bums felt by the end of the night. In terms of entertainment value, the concert was excellent, and I am very proud of our local acts for showing their worthy potential, some of them still raw, but displayed lots of promise. In this respect, the organisers have done an excellent job to provide them with a proper platform to show their worth, perhaps opening more avenues for them to succeed in future. However, all the other negative factors I mentioned above could have been prevented or / and scrapped and done another day, and not made me regret somewhat for not attending my good friend’s wedding dinner that same night…

Author: Pujangga Malam™

Well-known on RIA 89.7FM as a controversial and sensational critic able to invoke thought-provoking and sometimes, fiery responses from fellow listeners. Have since evolved into a distinguished blogger of reputable claim with takes on the Malay entertainment industry and football-related matters. Brutally honest and believes in only reporting the truth as I see, hear or experience it. Self-styled critic who does not mince his words and is definitely a non-conformist.

One thought on “Muzik Festival Melayu Concert Review…”

  1. Well-written!
    I agree with everything that you had mentioned.

    It was not fair that there are those who paid for the tickets while there are many who could watch it for free. There was no compensation for those affected.

    There was no emcee to introduce the finalists.
    They were given 2nd-class treatment and ike you mentioned, there wasn’t any announcement on the profiles of the judges.

    It was indeed a bad experience for me who went there as a paying consumer to support my friend who was one of the finalists.

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