Rockaway Festival @ Bukit Jalil

Rockaway Festival certainly had a lot to live up to. Organised by Livescape Asia as well as One Buck Short and Friends, Rockaway was predicted to be the largest rock festival ever produced in Malaysia with an international and local line-up. Over 7,000 people showed up at the gates as early as 9am on Saturday to catch 16 local acts and headliners Story of The Year, All Time Low and The Used. Needless to say, that statement was justified.

During the first half of the day, the crowds were treated to local acts. Highlights included Hujan’s interesting set with a twist of hardcore, the introduction of Captain Rockaway (who was Hitz.fm’s very own Ryan), Love Me Butch’s and Deja Voodoo Spells’ heavy rock performances, the ever-engaging Kyoto Protocol, Busco’s burst of energy, Monoloque’s retro-tinged set, Tres Empre’s fresh sounds, Oh Chentaku’s and Dichi Michi’s crowd-pulling sing-a-longs, and Twilight Action Girl’s rockin’ DJ set.

The first of the international headliners, Story of The Year delivered a pitch-perfect performance complete with unforgettable showmanship on stage which included their trademark stunts of backflips and slides. Dan Marsala’s vocal sounded better than ever, despite the fact that he was sick with flu a few days before. The band closed their set with ‘Until the Day I Die’, which had fans happily headbanging and singing along to.

The front row, which consisted of mostly All Time Low fans, were less than excited during the band’s performance. As Story of The Year fans crowdsurfed and headbanged, we spotted a disgruntled All Time Low fan girl screaming her lungs out at every accidentally bump. We think someone should’ve read the rock concert manual before coming to a music festival of this sort.

All Time Low came up next, drawing earsplitting screams from their legion of female fans. Performing their radio-friendly hits like ‘Dear Maria, Count Me In’, the pop punk act provided eye candy and easy listening music to the crowds of Rockaway. The highlight of the band’s set were the bright red and heavily-padded bras that were thrown onstage; which vocalist Alex Gaskarth and guitarist Jack Barakat happily accepted and proudly hung on their mic stands.

The show continued with local metal act Massacre Conspiracy, who had just come back from a show in Canada. The young boys definitely proved why they’re one of the local acts to look out for. Their raw sound and melodious screams provided a fresh take to the local music scene. The double-circle mosh pit that occurred during their set was one of the more memorable moments at the festival. Extreme hardcore cred there!

One Buck Short took the stage for their set to introduce their latest recording and first Malay language album titled Kampong Glam. As The Used’s frontman, Bert McCracken walked up on stage with the boys, they were immediately greeted with applause and cheers from the crowd.

The biggest highlight of the festival was undoubtedly Rockaway’s biggest act, The Used. From the explosive opening song ‘The Bird and The Worm’ to the sweet sounds of acoustic ‘On My Own’, the quartet had fans moshing and headbanging despite the heavy downpour. Bert, Quinn Allman, Jepha Howard and Dan Whitesides certainly showed what rock was truly about: pure energy and heartfelt lyrics, not flying bras and perverted innuendoes.

Unfortunately, many diehard fans were let down by The Used’s set being cut short. Due to time constraint (thanks to a certain act’s unnecessarily long setup time) and faulty soundsystem, The Used weren’t able to play one of their most iconic songs, ‘Box of Sharp Objects’ (pure blasphemy in this Writer’s opinion!).

However, Bert’s promise to return to Malaysia had the crowd roaring with excitement and we certainly hope they will come back very soon.

Rockaway Festival was one of the most exciting local events of 2011. Despite minor flaws and unreasonable prices for food and beverages (RM5 for a bottle of mineral water? This ain’t the Sahara!), Rockaway is set to be Malaysia’s answer to Big Day Out and Warped Tour (Ed’s Note – Penny, only if they got Iggy Pop & The Stooges, Rammstein and Grinderman to headline instead of pop punk p***ies!).

We await the next Rockaway Festival with bated breath!

Rockaway Festival went down at Carpark A, Bukit Jalil National Stadium on 8 October 2011. JUICE would like to thank Livescape Asia for a night of rockin’ local music as well as unforgettable performances by Story of the Year, All Time Low & The Used. Check out our gallery for more pics.