URBANSCAPES in its fourteenth edition has decided to return to Kuala Lumpur, and the coming weeks are set to be rather exciting for everyone who engages with the heart of the city. From 23 April – 8 May, little hubs will form across Kuala Lumpur for those looking for a little bit of fun. The mostly-innocent kind.
But first, a few quick notes about Urbanscapes.
The festival was founded in 2002 to bring together creative communities from various disciplines through smartly-curated programming. Urbanscapes however is most known for its line-up of musical acts in recent years; the festival’s thought-provoking installations and conceptual elements often take a backseat to the performances.
We go back in time to 2012. After almost a decade of showcasing local acts (after all, how many times can you feature Liyana Fizi?) Urbanscapes finally announces they’ve got Sigur Ros, stepping up its game big-time. Since then, Urbanscapes has managed to score bands like Local Natives, Franz Ferdinand, The Lemonheads and Tegan & Sara, growing more and more into a highly-anticipated annual music festival.
But ticket prices skyrocketed as programming grew — admission in 2011 was RM40, but in 2012 organisers stretched the festival over two days and charged RM237 for the full experience. The move may have alienated some parts of its core fanbase but people were still interested, plus Sigur Ros was a legit choice.
After 2013 headliner Two Door Cinema Club‘s sudden cancellation and a weaker than usual turnout that year, was Urbanscapes strong enough to weather another year? Perhaps as a result, the festival in 2014 shrunk back to a one-day programme, this time pre-empted by satellite shows ticketed separately. Its line-up however was still potent, whether on festival grounds (Kimbra, OJ Law) or at KL Live (Chvrches, Mogwai).
If you’ve been following the festival over the years, you’ll realize that 2015 was devoid of Urbanscapes. Instead, another similar-looking festival popped up and it actually wasn’t half bad. Festival Belia Putrajaya 2015 was organised by the very same folks behind Urbanscapes, and it was a pretty great place to be at too. It just wasn’t the same however.
And all this is why this year’s Urbanscapes is a pretty big deal to us at The Daily Seni. After thirteen editions and a year’s worth of resting time, Urbanscapes 2016 further deconstructs into bursts of energy around the city. This time around, much of the festival is free of charge and easily accessible via public transport.
Taking place across KL in venues such as Medan Pasar, KL Live, Merdekarya, Publika, KL Journal and Gaslight Cafe, expect to bump into art a fair bit more over the next three weeks. But it’s a lot more than performances in pretty places; Urbanscapes in its takeover of the city has gone for a full assault of the senses — see, hear and eat your way to new experiences this year.
Make more sense of things with a quick list featuring five reasons you’d probably want to seek out Urbanscapes today onwards.
1. It’s a city-wide art takeover
That’s right, Urbanscapes will be cropping up all over Kuala Lumpur for a month, beginning with a series of art installations in pedestrian spaces. We’re talking public squares, LRT stations and even Grabcars.
Don’t be surprised if you’re walking down the steps of Pasar Seni station and you see Nadhir Nor’s Balik Bandar installation or stumble upon Kazel Lim and Cloakwork’s piece at Masjid Jamek reminding you to unplug from your devices to feel the city’s vibrance. Our friends over at Minut Init too have got some pretty psychedelic stuff up at Hang Tuah station you need to add to your trail map.
Also make sure to check out Cannot Be Bo(a)rded, an exhibition about contemporary skate culture! The idea behind all this of course is to make art more accessible by bringing it to spaces that the public engage with on a daily basis.
2. Find things you never knew you needed
Drop by the festival hub a.k.a. Urbanscapes House on Medan Pasar between 23 April and 8 May to find weekend markets featuring the coolest vendors peddling threads and artisanal items!
On the first weekend of the festival, there’ll be trendy local streetwear curated by Street Vibez KL. The weekend following has all things handmade for all you DIY enthusiasts out there. With products ranging from jewellery to skin care and art prints from vendors such as Anaabu (image on the right), The Straits Finery, Cha-Mi’s Handmade, Sanctuary by Jasmine Gan and Raksasa, make sure to pack just a little bit more into your wallets.
The final week of this year’s Urbanscapes markets will showcase chic contemporary wear as well as home deco items to spice up homes everywhere with a more artistic flavour.
3. Good news for tummies everywhere!
Yes… it’s the part that everyone has been waiting for. You won’t find yourself asking your friends “what to eat ah?” at Urbanscapes because Tiffin, purveyors of gastronomical delights, will be making an appearance this year.
There’s even a bloody Lip Sync Battle in the mix. You know what to do, fellas.
Alongside the Weekend Markets, Tiffin will be curating a food bazaar with options spanning customisable chow to brunch favourites and pop-culture inspired nosh. Featuring the likes of A Pie Thing, Dah Makan, and Pulp by Papa Palheta, you’ll be spoilt for choice on what to eat and drink while entertaining yourself at the festival hub.
4. Tame Impala! OAG! Pastel Lite!
Continuing its legacy of stellar line-ups year after year, Urbanscapes has done it again in its fourteenth edition.
This year’s line up is massive, with international bands including Australian psych-rock outfit Tame Impala (image above), premiere UK drum-and-bass duo Rudimental, French electronic geniuses M83, as well as local favorites Hujan, Bittersweet, and OAG making up a diverse and delectable selection of musical acts.
Needless to say, all tickets for Tame Impala sold out well in advance. Judging from a quick Google Image search, you’re going to spend nights crying away in your pillow for missing out on this one.
Urbanscapes is also one to never shy from showcasing local indie talents, so expect young up-and-comers like Pastel Lite, Engku Iman and Stellar Dreams to remind you of what you’ve been missing out on all this while.
Surprise! This 2 – 6 May at Urbanscapes, come on an adventure with The Daily Seni as we retrace Malaysia’s diverse and vibrant filmscape with a curated selection of video content by some of our brightest talents, free of charge!
From established directors to new voices, we’ve roped in guests from local cinema to tell you more about bringing magic to the screen. And rather excitingly, we’re showing some of our favourite Malaysian films as part of our initiative aimed at instilling interest for local pop culture among urban Malaysian youth.
The first installment of our Second Chance Cinema series runs from 2 – 3 May and we are planning to have (pending Grand Brilliance and TM‘s clearance!) Shamyl Othman‘s Rembat and Bernard Chauly‘s Pisau Cukur — you’ll want to come down and see them because trust us, who knows when you’ll get another opportunity to do so?
Rembat stars Shaheizy Sam, Aniu and Zizan Razak and its a truly individualistic Malaysian comedy showcasing an array of bizarre characters. From demented geishas to ghetto Malay loan sharks, Shamyl’s second feature is definitely not short of ideas.
Humour, action and colour await in this hilarious 2015 comedy written by Amri Rohayat and Rafidah Abdullah; we daresay its a decent contender come awards season and you’ll want to catch this soon. Oh, and read our review too!
What else is there to say about Pisau Cukur?
This Malaysian classic from 2009 stars Maya Karin, Fazura, Redza Minhat, Aaron Aziz and Eizlan Yusof, and also gained recognition at Festival Filem Malaysia when it garnered Fazura her Best Supporting Actress award.
Directed by acclaimed director and suave gentleman Bernard Chauly, Pisau Cukur deserves cult status — help us achieve this by joining us and verifying our claims! At the very least, come geek out over how fabulous both women look or swoon over a young, innocent Redza Minhat. All this in the comfort of bean bags and a cafe setting.
And if features aren’t really your thing, we’ve also got our music video screening programme set to remind you of how bold and creative Malaysian artists can get.
And then there are films collected across Borneo curated by filmmaker Nadira Ilana, along with a preview of Big Stories Bongkud-Namaus which recently world premiered in Kampung Bongkud, Sabah.
And then there’s also something extra special from highly-anticipated upcoming movie Hey Orang Kita.
But more on all these later.
Screenings and discussions are scheduled to take place from 7:00pm onwards at the Urbanscapes House. Don’t miss out, folks!
Come join in the fun at Urbanscapes this year, you have till 8 May! Preface written by Deric Ect, top five list by Kavinish Nair.