When I was asked whether I would like to go to world-known Rainforest World Music Festival with the Sarawak Tourism Board, I could not say no. I have never been to a concert before, what more a music festival! So, I was really excited to go and see what the hype is all about!
The festival was held at the Sarawak Cultural Village at the Damai area of Santubong, nearly the most end of the Kuching.
Since I don’t live that far away from the venue, it should have been easy for me to commute to and fro the festival. However, knowing that the festival wouldn’t end until 12-1AM, my safest option was the bus. This year, the festival provided their shuttle bus services from the city centre and from the One Hotel Santubong resort. My going to the festival was extremely short notice so I couldn’t get into any hotel rooms for a good price (prices near Santubong are hiked up during the festival) so I decided to get on the bus at one of their check points, Merdeka Palace Hotel & Suites.
I didn’t plan on staying at the festival until midnight but with the amazing line-up, I could not not stay and enjoy the show! Some of my favourite acts are Alaverdi (from Georgia), Culture Shot (from Penang), EPI (from Mongolia), Korrontzi (from Basque) and Sona Jobarteh (from Gambia/UK). Alaverdi is a group of 4 singers who specialise in the polyphonic a capella tradition of Georgia. Their voices were beautifully soothing and they had really nice suits on. They did sound quite church-y at some point, which isn’t a problem for me. It just gave me goosebumps, the good kind.
Culture Shot played on the second night of the festival and they are a group from Penang, playing old Malaysian songs every Malaysian would have grown up listening and singing along to. Some of the songs they sang was Ewau Bulan, Rasa Sayang and a song they wrote as a prank for people who do not understand Hokkien Chinese. A friend I met at the festival, Ronnie, understood the lyrics and when he told me what they were singing about, I could not hold my laughter!
These guys from Harubee (from Maldives) were, however, the crowd’s favourite.
EPI (left) is a beautiful and humble man from Mongolia who plays the horse fiddle. He is a throat singer so when he sings, he changes tones and notes however he likes and it was absolutely astonishing to watch. There’s something about him that is absolutely mesmerising and he is such a humble and shy man, when he speaks, he’s a bit fumbly and at some point, spoke gibberish. He was very cute.
Korrontzi played on the final stage and damn, they were good! Growing up watching Disney Channel, I’ve seen a couple of accordions in animation but never in real life. That night, it was my first time listening to the accordion being played and the music was very exciting as well. Sadly, I was very tired that night so I didn’t dance as much as I would have if I felt a bit better.
Sona Jobarteh is a woman from Gambia and she has won the hearts of many of the festival-goers who watched her play. I was one of them and I had to hold my tears from just how beautiful she and her music were. She has the most beautiful voice, she and her band had their harmonisation on point and she brought on such a humble and wonderful spirit. There was something very astonishing and mesmerising about her that I couldn’t really point a finger on. She plays a traditional instrument from Gambia, called the Kora, which is normally played by men. With that, she brought quite the feminist act to the table and I think that made people fall in love with her even more.
The Rainforest World Music Festival are known for their wonderful workshops during the day. From dance workshops to singing workshops, it wasn’t easy to choose from.
However, my favourite workshop at the festival was the Community Drum Circle. It was a workshop by 1Drum.Org where people are gathered at the centre of the festival and they would be given a drum instrument or a percussion to play with.
At the drum circle, there is a conductor so you follow what the conductor tells you to do according to your position and instrument and you make music together! Imagine being in the heart of the jungle with strangers from all over the world, making (quite messy) music, bobbing your heads and smiling at each other. It was one of the nicest feelings ever.
At the festival, I’ve met so many wonderful people. I am so thankful to have met everyone I’ve made friends with over the three days, it was an absolute blast to have spent that much time with people you’ve just met!
Stefan and Sebastien from the Nomadic Boys
I will have a vlog up on my Youtube channel from some of the performances I watched at the festival. Please stay tuned for that, it will be up anytime soon.
The Rainforest World Music Festival is worth every cent you could spend on tickets but if you’re thinking of going, be sure to watch out for their early bird prices. I will post a little RWMF guide when I deem fit.
Talk again soon,
This post is sponsored by Rainforest World Music Festival 2015. All photos are of the official photographers of the festival but all words and opinions are of my very own.
This post is a rewrite after this blog got deleted on November 5th, 2015.