I heard of the Rainforest World Music Festival amidst all its media hype, but I never bothered much about it. That is, until every second friend I have pestered me with questions like "Ehh... are you going to rainforest?"
I thought they meant jungle trekking.
The Rainforest World Music Festival is an event that brings together traditional cultural musicians from all over the world. It is held at the Sarawak Cultural Village, itself a living museum amid lush rainforest located some 30 minutes away from the hustle and bustle of Kuching city.
Cultural performances usually bore me to tears, but I was curious when I learnt that people were coming from Miri, KL and even overseas just to attend this cultural bullshit.
Joyce the Fairy, whom I met at the PPS Bash, was one of those who flew to Kuching
to see me to join in on the fun. She was here on an unapproved business trip, taking photos of the event for the magazine she was working for.
I wanted to catch up with her 'cos we've met too briefly in KL. Besides, I wanted to witness for myself her acclaimed alcohol drinking prowess.
The afternoon workshops at the RWMF weren't particularly interesting. There were three classes running simultaneously at the different auditoriums around the village. Most of the time the musicians were trying in vain explaining aspects of their music. Too bad the audiences just wanted to hear music / don't give two hoots about their instruments / don't fooking understand what the hell they're talking about.
Seriously, their accents are so bad they make characters in The Sims sound like English teachers.
The Colombian musicians are slightly more entertaining. For some odd reason, they would get so excited hitting their drums, they would start stripping, jump around madly, chase all the girls, and justify it by calling it 'the Colombian dance'.
I find this Polish Celtic band called Shannon more suited to my musical taste. Its Irish music pumped up with drum and bass - think 'Riverdance'. Its very unique. Check out the video clips I took here or here.
I really wanted to get their CD, but the frickin' thing costs RM75. Heck, I don't care how much I like their music, but to charge someone RM75 for a CD is blatant abuse, man. Just 'cos Sarawak has lots of trees doesn't mean our money grows on trees.
There's a break between the afternoon shows and the evening's major concert, so I joined Joyce and her mates by the beach to catch the sunset.
Joyce is such a social butterfly and a lot of people she hang around here are from the local media, arts and music scene. I swear she bumped into more people she knows than I did, and I'm supposed to be from Sara-bloody-wak dammit!
As soon as I was introduced to him, Brandon recognised me and asked "You're that guy who blogs, right?"
Shal Sagan was a little quiet. She's a talented singer/songwriter from Kuching who recently released her alternative rock debut album "A Special Note". It should be available at Tower Records now, so go check her out if you're into that genre of music.
The Village turned into a rather dodgy place by the time we returned. There were lots drunk people loitering around, some even smoking weed joints out in the open. It definitely wasn't a very family-friendly place, despite the fact that it was a government-organised cultural event and that children were allowed into the area.
The musical performances for the early part of the evening was fairly forgettable, but amazingly the crowd was HOT - both figuratively and literally speaking. It was a rare sight for a place like Kuching where major staged events were far and few in between.
The crowd bought the whole act and they were crazy throughout the night like it was some sort of rock concert or rave party (replace DJ with American folk music and you get the idea). The atmosphere was simply awesome.
Download crowd video here.
The Yelemba drummers from Ivory Coast at the end just stole the whole frickin' show away. I'm still amused at how they can make the mad rush to the toilet seems so interesting.
Download Ivory Coast dummers' video here.
By the time I parted with Joyce she had already consumed more than ten cans of drink, only two of those were non-alcoholic. Yet, that
woman fairy was still sober. She must be right - fairies run on alcohol.
The show ended at around 12:30am. It was definitely an entertaining evening, but the rowdy and sometimes unruly crowd wasn't what I expected. I wonder how many girls emerged that night ungroped and unscathed. Still, I appreciate the performers who dedicate their life and soul preserving and sharing their cultural music with us.
But hey, at the end of the day, people enjoyed themselves and if there's a similar event next year you'd definitely see me there.
Other people writing about the RWMF:
- Joyce the Fairy [Kuala Lumpur] has tons of pictures.
- This So Called Life was amused.
- Arthur [Miri] gave it 10/10.
- Irene [Kuching] was disappointed.
- Michelle @ syntaxfree [Singapore] looks forward to next year's.