SabahSongs thanks the many contributors of photographs to this post.
Tanjung Aru 1st Beach was privy to a two night full-on musical free-for-all, as the Stompin’ Sabah festival [brought to us by Contagious Concepts for the third consecutive year] set up camp and said: Sabah talent? Bring it on…
Our well-loved Mr. Bro Langau worked all Friday night emceeing Battle of the Bands. It was a long Friday night of music, blessed by perfect Sabah weather.
“The first year we didn’t really get a good response,” Contagious’ Conceptualist Surej Kumar said. “The second year we had 15 bands, while this year we had 30 bands, 4 solos, 2 DJs, teams of breakdancers…”
So The Langau was a busy man! He was the perfect emcee for Friday, since he’s a real local hero among the Sabahan Indie musicians, with all the work he puts into promoting Sabahan local bands.
By the time I spoke to him on Saturday, he was staying firmly in the audience and not on stage!
“I took my family home and then came back, now I’m waiting to see Pesawat!” He had great things to say about Stompin’ Sabah, and explained that many people here would love to see Pesawat, because they’re an Indie band which played underground for several years before achieving recognition.
“It’s hard for Sabahans to see them”, he explained to me. “You got to go to KL to see them, and then you have to buy the tickets. It’s expensive. But because of Stompin’ Sabah, we are able to see them today – for FREE. It’s fantastic!”
Bro said he loves their song “Mirage”, although the hit single which more people will know is “Hitam”.
Saturday’s emcees were courtesy of Hitz FM, they kept the crowds happy between the wide range of local acts.
3rd Dice were everywhere. Here are a few pix of them – with Hitz FM’s Cheryl Quek, and with Pesawat’s manager Jeremy Little!
3rd Dice opened up tight and heavy, with a strong clear voice from the lead vocalist, in both English and Malay. Their sound carried well across the waterfront, without distortion unless it was intentional.
Here is percussionist Ayin, the most amazing and energetic musician in Sabah, who must eat jumping beans for breakfast. He was a sessionist with Xinxerena that night.
I ran into Janice Lorna Lansing on the waterfront later, with her Obsqure lead guitarist. Obsqure were the first band to play on Saturday, and she said it had gone really well. They had a lot of support from the crowd and it fired them up. But she was pretty tired now, having been at work during the day. That’s the life of a Superwoman, huh? Programmer by day, hollerin’ Indie chick by night.
Kai from A Sky Collapse Triangle said Hi. He was also playing with Xinxerena for this gig. Happy guy, isn’t he?
There was a solid performance from Rock En Soul, who had a strong singer, and then UMAGAD, a massive 12-piece band took the stage, wearing Kadazan headgear and banging gongs into the night. They launched into a fusion of traditional percussion instruments, an electric guitar played Middle Eastern style riffs, then the bass took over and we were into funk and retro disco. This band was big, powerful, colourful and full of exuberance, a bit like a Sabahan Earth, Wind and Fire 🙂 They were the Battle of the Band winners, followed by Down Under and Obsqure/Melon Tea.
Sabah showed us her perfection – a beautiful location on the clearest of balmy evenings.
Stompin’ makes a point of discovering a new talent in Sabah. Last year, it brought to the stage Mohd Shadikhin [aka Dicken], a young and blindingly talented guitarist from Ranau, to engage in a guitar solo duel with Malaysia’s renowned guitarist Man Keedal.
This year, Stompin’ Sabah presented twelve-year-old singer Angel, from Tambunan, whose voice and presence were outstanding. She said she’s been singing for four years already! With power and maturity, Angel sang songs in English, Malay and Dusun, supported by acclaimed local band, Fingerstyle.
Surej summed it up. “We like to give local talent the opportunity to show what they can do, so that maybe something good can come out of it for them.” For sure, Stompin’ Sabah and Contagious Concepts are significant names to look out for on the local music calendar.
Later that night I met Jeremy Little, manager of the most waited-for band of the night, Pesawat. Jeremy was really friendly, and explained that Pesawat means Flight. He said they were on for a late night, then back to KL on the early flight, because band members had to get back to their day jobs. Also, Bro introduced me to Pesawat guitarist Nizam Camel.
Saving the best till last, Pesawat came on stage around 1am, to cheering fans, with their opening number aptly being “Brand New Day”. It was a clear night, the moon was almost full and very bright, Pesawat were charged up and ready to deliver a string of songs from their new album “Take Off” which was on sale at the festival too.
You know what they say about bands losing their magic when they become famous? Well it isn’t true!
Fame hasn’t taken away the Indie-ness from Pesawat; their music was fresh and exhilarating, and their hearts were definitely still in it. They were happy to be here and playing to Sabah that night; there sure was some stompin’ on the beach that morning.
Check out Stompin’ Sabah’s Facebook page for more information.