Having had the likes of The Rapture, Gossip, Arts Vs. Science, 2manydjs, and more to the Green Room name, Heineken recently added New York’s new wave-informed surf rockers The Drums and indielectro DJ-producer Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs (TEED) to their oeuvre. While the 2 acts are well-known enough to attract a crowd elsewhere, Malaysia’s market for music that doesn’t necessarily trigger fist-pumping and popping was still very much unproven. With that, this year’s edition of Heineken Green Room, again housed at KL Live, and its success reinforced what we’d always knew about the brand – their understanding of youth culture beyond the expected raves.
Collaborating with local artists and designers of differing fields and industries, the KL Live space was given a pop art makeup in the form of an exhibition called A Social Design. As curated by Green Room’s go-to visual artist themancalleduncle, The Off-Day (Irman Hilmi), Stephen Lau, James Ly, and Ajim Juxta were commissioned to create 8’x8’ canvases that reflected their musical influences. The results were a confluence of pop culture references; in recurrences and patterns among subcultures (‘Reciprocal Phantasmagoria’ by James Ly), in alternative music history (‘Malaysian Rock History’ by The Off-Day’), in music’s agelessness (‘Back On a Sunday Afternoon in 1968’ by Stephen Lau), and finally in the abstraction of music, musicians, and listeners (‘Juxtaposed’ by Ajim Juxta).
There’s more to branding your product than to have people snap a picture in front of the brand’s name, Heineken’s got that figured out as these canvases also served as a backdrop for camera-equipped guests. Veterans of the KL nightlife scene, Twilight Actiongirl (TAG), also received their own mini-exhibition called The 10 Years of TAG Chamber. The small space dedicated to them had a decade worth of merchandises (from t-shirts to buttons) and flyers that spanned from the collective’s more punk rock-ish days (black and white posters that facsimiled gig flyers) to the more gaudy ones come their Zouk days. There was also a birthday board… which JUICE was stopped from signing due to unclear reasons – Bunga, this was where we lifted our fist and shook it in the air swearing vengeance.
Not joking aside, Heineken Green Room was officially kickstarted by TAG as they took up the stage at past 9pm. Traditionally opening acts would suffer the ignominy of having to perform to a barren room, but this being their 10th year in KL, old school TAGgers (some all the way from JB) were already in attendance. Playing a setlist that traversed the indie soundscape throughout the double zeros decade, the dancefloor was an odd menagerie of clubbers – proto-hipsters and college age kids didn’t have a problem dancing to the same music. Who says kids these days don’t know what good music is and older dudes too past their prime to understand what’s hip now? But that has always been what TAG is, the bridge that closes the gap between 2 generations. It helped that the projection behind them had a video and photo reel of TAG nights throughout the years that showed party goers from all 3 eras of Twilight Actiongirl; Bar Amber, Loft, and Barsonic. Nostalgic as it was, it reminded some of us that we should probably be building a family by now… for a total of 5 seconds, at least.