Raving against the raves

Raving against the raves

Last weekend of April 4 and 5 would have been the debut of the much-anticipated Kuantan Music Festival in Cherating had it been allowed to proceed as planned.

Instead, in less than a month, organiser Crocodile Rock Productions Sdn Bhd was told that due to the drug-related deaths at the Future Music Festival Asia 2014 (FMFA) rave in Kuala Lumpur from March 13 to 15, the Kuantan authorities had decided to cancel the festival permit.

Three men and three women, aged between 19 and 28, died from drug overdose during FMFA at Bukit Jalil Stadium. Fifteen others were hospitalised.

In the interest of public safety, the FMFA 2014 organisers were advised by the authorities not to proceed with events on the third day on March 15, which would have featured a line-up that included Grammy-winning artistes like Pharrell Williams and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis.

The Kuantan Music Festival, with its programme of acoustic, blues, jazz, fusion and world music, would not be more different than FMFA, said festival directors Atord Hamdan and Erica Gilbert, who were still upset over the outcome of their festival which took more than one-and-a-half years to plan.

They said Malaysia's credibility as a host to foreign artistes had been damaged by this action.

"We don't know whether we will be able to attract foreign bands next time and it will be more difficult to get support from the commercial sector and to secure sponsors," said Gilbert.

Co-director Atord hoped that next time, the authorities would look into the content of events before cancelling them.

"We were expecting this event to help boost tourism and also to act as a platform to launch the careers of local talent. For instance, one of the acts we planned to feature was Kuantan-lad Faan, winner of Keynote on Astro Ria and he was excited about his big stage debut.

"Two of the band members of Paladin were also from Kuantan. This would have been a great first for the east coast but sadly, it's not to be."

Another live music event scheduled to take place on April 19, which was also cancelled, is the Ministry of Tourism-approved Life in Colour Malaysia.

After careful consideration, Future Sound Asia, together with partners Zouk KL and Life in Color, decided to cancel the concert in light of the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, and also safety issues that arose after the FMFA incident.

Life in Color, known as "The world's largest paint party", began in 2006 at college campuses in Florida and had grown to more than 200 concerts annually worldwide.

Known for featuring the world's biggest DJ's, aerial acts, stilt walkers, contortionists, fire shows and its famous paint blast on concert revellers, this year's Life In Colour party at the Sepang Go Kart Circuit was suppose to feature Dutch-born DJ, Fedde Le Grand.

"As further investigations into these recent unfortunate events are still ongoing, we do not want to risk any unwanted incidents happening at the first-ever Life in Colour Malaysia. We hope that our patrons understand that we did not make this decision lightly," said Wan Alman, project and strategy manager of Future Sound Asia.

"Life in Color is very keen to do a show in Malaysia as we have a thriving electronic dance music (EDM) scene. However, any future shows will depend on the the current situation here, and what is being done to address the issues that affect the scene. The health and safety of our patrons is our ultimate concern; we want everyone to have fun in a safe environment.

"Understandably, everyone involved is pretty wary about allowing or bringing in international EDM acts at the moment, even though a blanket ban on EDM acts is not the answer. We feel that once everyone realises that it is possible to have EDM events without incident, as has been done countless times, the situation will improve."

Would tourists doubt the credibility of organisers here and stop coming to Malaysia following the way things have transpired after FMFA?

"Hopefully they will understand that these events were cancelled due to unavoidable circumstances and after much deliberation," said Wan Alamin.

"We put a lot of thought into it. No organiser will want to cancel their event on a whim and incur unnecessary losses. We have always advocated full cooperation between organisers and the authorities to ensure that all rules and regulations are adhered to, and to minimise the risk of any unwanted incidents happening.

"It will also be great if there is a standard guideline for all organisers to follow in order to show that we have fulfilled all requirements in providing a safe environment.

"Patrons should also realise the roles they play in keeping the scene alive and behave responsibly if they want these festivals to continue. We do realise that the majority of our patrons and festival-goers party safely and responsibly, and we thank them for this. We need to continue to take care of each other and the EDM scene."

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