Believe it or not last Saturday was our virginal experience at the Urbanscapes (day one) at Padang Astaka, Petaling Jaya! I have been meaning to attend this two-day long annual arts and music festival since two years ago, alas the odd working hours deterred me to do so. The two years of waiting proved worthwhile, with a respectable list of performers and vendors in the event line-up.
Historically the event celebrated its tenth installment this year, and The Star had an informative coverage last September about the company Freeform Sdn Bhd which organises the Scapes and their hardships to realise this occasion as the only cultural festival in Malaysia (this includes treading on the edges of bankruptcy).
When Arman and I arrived at around five in the evening Padang Astaka was gradually filled up with fest-goers and art enthusiasts. Thanks to Malaysian monsoon season the early morning rain had basically created a mud pool on the field. Of course we thought we were ready to brave the terrain with the supposedly trustee Dr Marten's and all (we were imagining ourselves at Glastonbury, ha) but unfortunately (and funnily, I might add) Arman's left Doc Marts sole detached a moment before we entered the field. Treating this as a fashion emergency I handed over my Pro-Keds leather boat shoes (which happened to be a few sizes bigger for me) to Arman, while I wore my Marni at H&M silver sandals as a substitution. Very Mentos ad moment, I say. You know, the one where the girl had her high heel broken, snapped both heels, wore them as flats AND continues smiling?
Naturally events like this one would draw a slew of reputable local online blog shops, selling all sorts of merchandise from vintage frocks to in-the-moment neon accessories, well-made bags and even cool oversized typography. The stalls selling clothing articles and related pieces began at the entrance of the field and continued in a snake manner, in the middle of the field. Among my favorites are Beeyinalicious (selling painfully trendy and street-photography worthy neon accessories, studded caps, cosmic print blouses etc) and Sometime by Asian Designers, selling affordable well-designed and handsomely made polyurethane bags (have to stop saying 'faux leather', ahem). Anonymous (a Malaysian online shop collective with other sub-brands like Medium Rare, Creole etc) also gripped my attention with their unconventional wares and kitschy paraphernalia: plastic neon necklaces inspired from a Hong Kong artist, colourful knit socks, AND the lunch bag in metallic. I also spied a Margiela with H&M glove purse being sold at the booth. The Urbanscapes also served as a turf for T-shirt galore, with Pestle and Mortar leading the pack with their simple-yet-striking designs, and a booth complete with a DJ and whatnot. Big kahuna fashion blog Tongue in Chic, on the other hand, teamed up with Levi's to promote their latest denims.
With the organizer prohibiting outside food and drinks it is easy to see why the food vendors were having a field day marking up prices, unsurprisingly up to more than two-fold - perhaps to compensate with the rental fee? (I could not believe my eyes seeing regular kebabs had a price hike from RM3 to RM7!). This was not the case with Chatime, which in fact sold slightly cheaper milk teas than at their usual kiosks. And even though Yay, Sammies! sandwiches are a tad pricey the deliciousness was totally worth every penny. Yes, I obviously skimped on food and splurged on clothes that day...
We did not really venture into the art-related booths but from the looks of it KL-ites still hesitate when it comes to 'proper' art education and exposure - British Council Arts booth looked empty and despite the tempting offers from the beautiful Kaki Seni girls no one seemed to bother to register with their programmes. However this is certainly a sweeping generalisation as we did not make it to watch the performing acts (Projek Disko Baldi and AI:IA) either. Nevertheless paintings, murals and installations were among the visual feasts that day which certainly stood out among the browns of the muddy field.
And last certainly not the very least, the main objective of showing our faces here is to see Yuna's homecoming gig (our first time as well). Prior to her the other acts at the Volkswagen stage are definitely out of my territory (Love Me Butch, Darren Ashley and the likes), but the thumping beats and aggressive singing are not too far off either, and we could gently swayed our bodies and nodded our heads to the beats. Few minutes before ten p.m. Yuna expectedly came in an artfully wrapped headscarf and skin-tight pants, belting out her well-known numbers. The songstress surely sings live exceptionally well but we felt something was lacking, perhaps her stage presence alone is insufficient - maybe the band members need to be more 'active' at festival stages like this one, or possibly Yuna could hire a backup vocal or two to add more depth to her rich tone...
What I wore to the Urbanscapes was something last minute: the excess Vietnamese paisley fabric last time was turned into a shirt, completing the head-to-toe paisley look... paisley on acid, if you will. I guess the outfit can be transformed to a jumpsuit after tucking in the shirt. Those Marni x H&M sandals managed to bear the grimy mud and indeed helped me slosh through the wet field. On another note, a guy snapped the photo of my outfit and remarked that my outfit was 'weird' (not sure whether that is a compliment or otherwise. I won't understand subliminal sarcasm in a Malaysian context, if that's what he meant).