AN eclectic blend of Malaysian and international artistes took to the stage to wow music lovers with diverse melodies and rhythms at the Rainforest World Music Festival in Kuching.
The renowned festival made a fully physical comeback at the Sarawak Cultural Village from June 23-25 with nearly 200 performers from 12 countries in the line-up.
The eye-catching headline acts were Grammy winners Gipsy Kings from France and Jamaican reggae band Big Mountain, along with Sarawakian singer-songwriter Zee Avi.
Other international performers included Rastak from Iran, Chatusram (India), Fasylive (Maldives), Afriquoi (Britain), Safi Theatre (Tanzania), Rizal Hadi and Folk (Indonesia) and Ethno Thai Fusions Sound Band (Thailand).
Also taking to the stage were Malaysian musical groups Orang Orang Drum Theatre, Buloh Berkocak, Aseana Percussion Unit, Nadir, At Adau, Nading Rhapsody, Sada Borneo, Steve Thornton and Afroasia, Suk Binie, Tuku Kame, Geng Wak Long and Meruked.
For first-time visitor Van Dana from Hong Kong, the festival was an “exuberant” experience.
“It really helped me reconnect with nature and good souls. There’s a genuine need to reconnect with people and the earth.
“Covid had an impact on the entire world and we’re now more keen to meet new people because life is too short,” she said.
Dana also appreciated the festival’s connection to nature, with its rainforest setting and emphasis on environmental sustainability.
“We need more awareness to value nature. Although the music and dancing might seem indulgent, ultimately the message here is let’s support nature,” she said.
Sarawakian Aqilah Alias meanwhile said the festival allowed her to get to know different cultures and music from around the world.
“This is my second time attending the festival. I came for the first time last year and really enjoyed it, so I decided to come again,” she said.
Besides the evening concerts, the bands conducted musical workshops and gave pocket performances during the day.
Festivalgoers also had the chance to take part in a bid to set the record for the most percussionists in a music festival in the Malaysia Book of Records.
They could bring their own percussion instrument or any item that could be drummed on, including pots and pans, for a drum circle on each of the three days, eventually setting a record of 2,763 percussionists in total.
This year’s festival was themed “Reflections” as it looked back at the lessons learned from the last three years of the pandemic and how far the event has grown since the beginning in 1998.
It is now one of Sarawak’s flagship events and advocates responsible tourism in its bid to become known as a sustainable and eco-friendly festival.
Green measures implemented at the festival included banning single-use plastics, encouraging the use of upcycled materials, exploring innovative waste management solutions and providing shuttle buses for festivalgoers to reduce carbon emission.