Now 15 years strong, Urbanscapes has established itself as arguably Kuala Lumpur’s – or Malaysia’s, even – only distinctive festival in its celebration of urban culture. With a history that saw the festival moving from an empty space nearby the then much less densely packed KL Sentral, to Padang Astaka, to Genting Highland’s Awana Horse Ranch, it has never lost track of its metropolitan ethos; curating a total immersion of today’s culture. Arts (performative, drawn, crafted, in any form), music shows, workshops, markets, and other experiential journeys have all been part and parcel of Urbanscapes, which is never truer than last year’s edition when it went back to its starting point, central Kuala Lumpur, and stretched itself citywide.
This year, Urbanscapes has decided to stick to that approach. “[We] decided to hold Urbanscapes in Kuala Lumpur city centre again as the ambience seems to hit the sweet spot for the festival goers,” says Founder and Festival Director Adrian Yap, also adding that U Mobile’s involvement this year as proof of the festival’s “growing appeal.”
U Mobile, as an official partner, is granting its subscribers a minimum of 10% off ticket prices; one only needs to log onto the MyUMobile app to redeem the discounts.
As the first official presser for the forthcoming festival, Urbanscapes has also revealed its first wave of lineup.
The big two right off the bat is Danish trio Mew – the second time Urbanscapes has hosted them – just in time for upcoming album Visuals. The band will be playing sans founding member Bo Madsen on Wednesday 10 May at KL Live. Another Urbanscapes alumni, Indonesia’s folk-ambient band The Trees and The Wild, are set to open for the band. Then, on Thursday 18 May, Brit outfit Clean Bandit will bring their dancefloor-ready pop tunes to the same venue – a first Malaysian outing for the electronic band.
On a smaller scale, Urbanscapes 2017 will officially be inaugurated by HOAX Vision as they take over 2 Hang Kasturi (aka Urbanscapes House) on Friday 5 May for the invite-only HOAX in the House. Channelling the vibe of a house party, the event is reportedly without any “house rules.” Expect the usual suspects from HOAX and Lotus Club gigs; Youth Portal, lurkgurl, Orang Malaya, Naufal & I-Sky, Jaggfuzzbeats, and such. Beyond the music, there’ll be a screening of cult skate videographer Tep York and QUIT KL’s video documentation of KL’s skate culture. We wager the festival has never appealed more to the youth than this.
Then, come Saturday 6 May at The Bee, Publika, Soundscape Records bring their underground credentials to the proceeding with a double bill of English math band TTNG (This Town Need Guns) and American guitar maestro Mylets. As with their other gigs, the lineup sees regional acts as well: Taiwanese electronic act Cloudy Ku, Singaporean instrumental quartet This is Atlantis, and Malaysia’s own SWIMS will join the stage.
On Friday 12 May, the most underappreciated band of Laneway Festival Singapore this year, folk-pop duo Stars and Rabbit (think Enya as filtered through Of Monsters and Men) is making their way to The Bee too. Vocalist Elda Suryani’s quirks, whose voice is the most unique in music after Joanna Newsom, will be complemented by our very own quirky female musician – The Venopian Solitude.
Happening at the Urbanscapes House on the same date is Raising the Roof, hip hop gig Raising the Bar’s takeover of the building’s… ground floor. The roster includes Airliftz and Dan Shiv, two rappers whose respective singles, ‘YAGK’ and ‘Champagne Mazhaituligal’, blew us away recently.
Aside from the music programmes, the basement of Urbanscapes House hosts COLLECTIVE | Individuals – a visual arts project engaging with art collectives in Malaysia (namely Huaguoshan, Hideout, Rumah Studio, The Secret, and Titik Merah) for the entirety of Urbanscapes 2017. Then, on 13 and 14 May, Patina by The Fine Companions will utilise its ground floor as a market showcasing vintage goods in vinyl and clothing as well as leather works. The market will stretch all the way to Medan Pasar. Also exhibited throughout the festival’s duration is Immersio, an audiovisual performative presentation curated by Paras Bunyi, whose work you might have seen at last year’s Yayasan Sime Darby Arts Festival. Their installation is housed on the first floor of the building. Finally, the third floor of Urbanscapes House is to become a gallery for #ThisIsKualaLumpur, a project by photog/rapper/writer WordsManifest and his cohort of photographers that captures the chaotic beauty of the city.
For an easily digestible look at Urbanscapes’ itinerary as of now, see below:
This isn’t the final lineup, stay tuned here or keep updated via urbanscapes.com.my for the latest on the festival.
All tickets will go on sale from Friday 10 March onwards.