Heineken partners Rainforest World Music Festival @ Sarawak Cultural Village

We don’t get a lot of festivals in our country like others do. We don’t have festivals like Fuji Rock Fest and we certainly don’t have anything like Glastonbury, so it is common understanding among us why everyone is geared up and excited when Rainforest World Music Festival (RWMF) comes around every year. After all, our very own local RWMF has been rated one of the best top 25 festivals in the world and even though the festival plays eclectic world music, it is the festival’s awesome atmosphere and vibe that makes this a pilgrimage for JUICE year after year – even with the infamous heavy rain and mud.

This year, excited to our tippy (literally, much later) toes we took the first flight out on a Friday morning through Malaysia Airlines where “sacrambled eggs” (typed onto our screens) was served. They had Malaysian hospitality down pat but their spelling needs some work. An hour and half over the seas and another 45-minute drive to Santubong and we have arrived just in time for the festival to begin! Before starting the activities, our first stop had to be at the Heinekebana, a fun area that was introduced last year for Heineken members and guests to chill and relax by the lake with a fresh ice cold pint. After a pint and more we proceeded to the workshops that were held during the day. If you are a big fan of traditional instruments, then these sessions are a must because it’s at these workshops where similar instruments and musicians from different countries are grouped together. It is pure magic when they start jamming together, especially when the musicians cannot verbally communicate with each other due to language differences.

When night fell, the real partying began! Performances on the mainstage started at 6.45pm all the way through till midnight and this was where RWMF was at its best. Imagine a crowd of thousands singing and dancing along with you in the forest and meeting new friends along the way. Much to our surprise it didn’t rain one bit at the festival even though the weather forecasted that it would the entire weekend. Did they finally have a budget to hire a super-bomoh this year? Would that be the reason why the quality of the bands brought down this year wasn’t on par as compared to past years? Two bands did stand out very much, we have to say, and that would be the Leweton’s Women’s Water Music and main headliner from London, Bhangra rock fusion band Kissmet. Leweton’s Water Music group consisted of ladies from West Gaua in the Banks islands that played “water music”, a rarely seen tradition that sees them waist deep in the lake using water as an instrument to make beats and sounds while Bhangra rock fusion band Kissmet consisted of 2 Sikh brothers and a band that fused traditional recognisable Bhangra songs with rock songs, inspired by the likes of Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix. We were lucky enough to have met the band in our shuttle back to the hotel and they weren’t joking when they said that they make thousands get off their feet to dance anywhere in the world whenever they perform. So when we saw them close the festival on Sunday night, we wished their set wasn’t so short. In fact, it always seemed that 3 days isn’t enough for RWMF. Time flies much too fast in Kuching, and it was time to pack up, go home and face the post-RWMF blues. Oh well, till next year. You’ll see us there for sure!

Heineken partners Rainforest World Music Festival was held from 8-10 July 2011 at Sarawak Cultural Village, Santubong, Sarawak. For more info check out www.heineken.com.my and www.rainforest-borneo.com for next year. Special thanks to Heineken for this awesome trip! Check out more pix in Gallery!