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Malaysia’s Good Vibes Festival announces return post-1975 turmoil

May 8th, 2024

Malaysia’s Good Vibes Festival (GVF) has announced its return this July after being cancelled last year due to controversies surrounding The 1975 – see the line-up and more below.

In July last year, Good Vibes Festival made international headlines after it was forced to cancel its second and third days due to The 1975’s headlining slot on night one. During their headline show on the opening night of the three-day event, frontman Matty Healy criticised the Malaysian government and its anti-LGBTQ laws onstage and then kissed bassist Ross MacDonald, prompting their set to be cut short. The band quickly left the country after, and the rest of the festival was cancelled.

Today (May 8), Future Sound Asia’s Good Vibes Festival is announcing its comeback, set to take place on July 20 and 21 at the Resorts World Awana in Genting Highlands, Malaysia. The festival is due to feature performances from the likes of J Balvin, Peggy Gou, Joji, BIBI and more, as well as returning Malaysian acts who had their performances cut from the 2023 event.

NME spoke to Wan Alman, Future Sound Asia’s Director of Entertainment about Good Vibes’ comeback, overcoming the fallout of 2023’s events with The 1975 and the state of the Malaysian live music industry. Read the full interview and check out the current Good Vibes 2024 line-up and find ticketing information below.

Editor’s note: Future Sound Asia declined to comment on The 1975 due to its ongoing legal proceedings with the band.

NME: Welcome back. How has it been planning for this year’s festival after everything that happened last year? 

Wan Alman: “Thank you! To be honest, this year has really been one of the most challenging festivals to plan – and not for the reasons you might think. It’s not really anything to do with what happened last year, but this year has been an especially challenging time for festivals around the world in general.

“Festivals like Coachella had a tough time. You have huge festivals like Australia’s Splendour In The Grass cancelling this year despite already announcing and going on sale because there was a lot of backlash and negative feedback on their line-up.

“It’s been really tough booking acts for festivals all around the world. Not everyone will get a great line-up like Coachella or Splendour, and when you don’t get a great line-up, people don’t buy tickets. I think a major cause of this is that artist fees have skyrocketed. I think it’s going to be unsustainable but it’s just getting higher and higher every year.”

What were your conversations with the Malaysian government like about staging the festival this year? 

“Despite what happened last year, the government has actually been quite supportive. They want to work with us hand-in-hand to make sure that that sort of thing doesn’t happen again and that the live music industry and the festival industry isn’t adversely affected by what happened.

“We have been working with government authorities in workshops with PUSPAL (Central Committee for Application for Filming and Performance by Foreign Artistes) to come up with SOPs [standing operating procedures] to deal with incidents such as what happened last year, and also to refine and improve PUSPAL guidelines. The good thing is that Good Vibes Festival is not banned so we’re doing it again this year.”

Malaysia’s Good Vibes Festival 2023. Credit: All Is Amazing

How much has last year’s incident played into booking this year’s line-up? Did last year’s events complicate conversations with the booking agents you approached? 

“It didn’t play that big of a part with booking agents, to be honest. I think everyone understood that what happened was pretty much an isolated incident. We’re not a new festival, we’ve been around for 11 years and nothing like that has ever happened.

“How it has informed us this year, is that of course we’re now scrutinising acts more closely to make sure they’re not controversial and we’ve always worked closely as well with PUSPAL to get the approval for these acts to perform.”

Has last year’s incident changed the way Malaysian promoters look at booking international acts to perform in the country? 

“If anything, it would’ve made promoters more careful in which acts they want to book and probably make them more diligent in clearly informing the artists that these are the things you can and cannot do when performing in Malaysia.”

From a fan and attendee aspect, how does Good Vibes aim to recover and rebuild trust with the community after last year? 

“When we announced our refund process last year, we included a few options because we really wanted to show the fans that we’re not going to run away with their money. They could ask for a refund, to defer their tickets to this year or to donate their refunds if they wanted to help the festival after what happened.

“All 2023 ticket purchasers will be getting a 10 per cent discount. Everyone who opted to defer their tickets to 2024, we’ll be giving their 2024 tickets in the same category amount and equivalent as the 2023 tickets.

“Three-day tickets are worth more than two-day tickets so if you bought one three-day pass for 2023, you’ll be entitled to two two-day passes for 2024. On top of that, they’ll get an RM100 F&B voucher.”

The Malaysian music community was largely sympathetic towards GVF organisers after last year’s incident. Did that support and solidarity help with the festival’s comeback? 

“We received a lot of support from the local industry, the local artists and our vendors and suppliers. All of them were very understanding and supportive. At this year’s festival we’re trying our best to get everyone who didn’t get to perform last year back to play this year.”

There was a chilling effect on live music including international concerts in Malaysia last year after Good Vibes. Lauv cancelled his sold-out concerts and there was also conversation about how Coldplay’s shows could be affected. On an industry level, how much did the incident at GVF affect the state of live music in the country? 

“I think undeniably it did affect things to a certain extent but I think there’s also a bit of confirmation bias, in the sense that once they see one cancellation after another, everyone just thinks it’s because of the same thing. There were cancellations, yes, but there were also tons of shows that went on as scheduled.

“Cancellations are unfortunately not uncommon. There were a few shows that were cancelled because of low tickets sales, which is an issue that is affecting the live music industry globally.

“One of the biggest things that came out of GVF last year is that it spurred this move to refine and improve PUSPAL guidelines and standardise responses to incidents like this in order to safeguard the industry from things like this happening again.”

Malaysia’s Good Vibes Festival 2023. Credit: All Is Amazing

Almost a year removed, how do you see the health of the live music industry in Malaysia now?

“I think it’s booming right now. There are so many new shows and festivals that are being announced every other week. Like I said earlier, despite what happened, the scene is booming. And it’s not just festivals, you have standalone shows happening almost every week and there are people complaining that there’s too much going on. While that plays into some shows being cancelled because of low ticket sales, it’s good for the consumer to have a lot of options to choose from.”

What was the first sign that a GVF comeback would be possible in 2024? Was this something that was always in the works even as you were dealing with the fallout of last year’s events?

“Immediately after what happened last year, we thought the world was ending. We were left thinking about what was going to happen, were we still going to be working in this industry and things like that. But as time went on and we dealt with the situation, our heads became clearer.

“Towards the end of last year, we realised that the government was not going to ban us and we’ve got a good thing going here – we’ve been doing this for 10 years.

“We’re not going to let this one bad incident ruin everything that we’ve worked for. We’ve worked too hard for this. That’s when we decided that we’re going to go ahead with Good Vibes 2024 but at that point, we didn’t know in what form. We were still going through various iterations of what we could make work. So in the end, we decided on this two-day festival in Genting Highlands.”

Concerts and performances in Malaysia now have a “kill switch” clause – it was famously in play during the Coldplay shows last year. What does the kill switch entail, and can it be invoked during GVF? 

“The kill switch, if I’m not mistaken, has still not been standardised. Each promoter and organiser has their own version of it.

“For us, the kill switch is a system where we can immediately cut off audio, video and lights on the stage. Of course, this is always a nuclear option, it’s the very last resort. We have other protocols in place about who can call for stage closure and when we can call for it. We’re not going to call for it if an artist starts smoking a cigarette onstage; we’re just going to stop them and tell them they can’t do that.

“There will be various scenarios and degrees of severity, and what happened last year would be the most severe, where we cut everything off.”

Good Vibes Festival 2024 will take place on July 20 and 21 at the Resorts World Awana in Genting Highlands, Malaysia. Tickets can be purchased here from 10am local time on Friday, May 10.

The current line-up for Good Vibes Festival 2024 is: 

Alec Benjamin
Peach Pit
Ylona Garcia

Cherry Bomb
Gard Wuzgut
Spooky Wet Dreams
Saint Kylo
Lost Spaces
Bad Habits
Bad M.O.B
Dub Tings

J Balvin
Peggy Gou
Henry Moodie
Tiger JK & Yoon Mi Rae
Capt’n Trips and The Kid
Mr. Yang
Emo Night KL
The Filters
Alfie Rrari

This content was originally sourced and posted at NME »
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