Rocking good time at music fest

MIRI: Music festivals have proven to be a sure-fire hit. They not only attract revenue through tourism but also gather people from all walks of life.

Miri, which is well-known for its Jazz Festival and Country Music Festival, successfully organised the Rocktober Fest Borneo 2017 and was lauded by Sarawak Assistant Tourism Minister Datuk Lee Kim Shin.

“For tourism to do well, events should be held to cater to everyone,” said Lee during the launch of the Rocktober Fest Borneo 2017.

“Miri has played host to various music festivals and this testifies to the city’s capability of offering a variety of music options and appealing to everyone.

“Such events will be able to attract a younger crowd to the city as you can see by the number of rock fans attending this music fest.

“I hope the event will become an annual event here,” he said.

Lee also shared that he too enjoyed rock music.

“I was a music lover in my younger days. I used to listen to The Rolling Stones and The Beatles back then.

“I am happy that rock music is still going strong,” he added.

During the press conference, Miri City Council’s representative, city councillor Karambir Singh, said the council gave its full support to the event.

“We have always been very supportive of efforts to promote our city as an exciting and vibrant tourist destination.

“This event was exciting because it featured top Malaysian and international musicians and provided a platform for up-and-coming young Borneans to showcase their musical talent,” he said.

Event organiser North Eastern Group’s representative Joseph Kaos Jr said they were inspired by renowned international music events such as Reading Festival.

“We first started doing a series of small events here in Miri called the ‘Alice Live Series’ with nationally renowned bands and after getting a positive response, we decided to do something bigger,” he said.

Rocktober Fest, billed as Borneo’s biggest beach-side rock festival, saw a good turnout for both days of the event.

Held for the first time ever, the event saw a crowd of over 5,000, with the majority of them from Miri and Kuching. There were also those who came from far such as the peninsula, Brunei and Singapore.

The two-day rock festival took place at ParkCity Everly Hotel and featured 37 bands on two stages, who performed live from 2pm until midnight.

Among the headliners were Hujan, XPDC, Koffin Kanser, Filipino band Slapshock, Oh Chentaku, OAG, Bunkface, Estranged.

Estranged’s Rich Gimbang expressed his enthusiasm at being able to perform at Rocktober Fest, after the band’s last gig in Miri in 2013.

“It has been really awesome for Estranged to be back here and to be a part of a festival with such great acts,” said Rich.

“The audience was supportive and we were happy to hear that some of our fans travelled from near and far to hear us play.

“I loved the set by XPDC. It was also great to catch new local Bornean bands on stage,” he said.

One of the highly-anticipated acts was Hujan, whose singer Noh Salleh hails from Miri.

Noh expressed his joy about being back in his hometown.

“It’s been seven years since Hujan performed here. I think it’s great that something as big as Rocktober Fest is being held in Miri.

“I grew up listening to bands like Koffin Kanser, so it felt surreal that we’re performing on the same stage as they are,” said Noh.

Visitors to the event also enjoyed a number of activities on site such as giveaways, a massive Food Village, a mechanical riding bull, the Horror House and a Tattoo Garden run by a group of talented Bornean tattooists.

“We are humbled and honoured by the amazing response to Rocktober Fest,” said North Eastern Group representative Karl Lian.

“We wanted to revive the music scene in our beautiful Miri by providing a platform for our local musicians to showcase their talents on stage, alongside established rock bands.”

“Both performing rock bands and rock fans at the festival have given positive feedback to us, and we’re already planning for the second Rocktober Fest next year. We cannot say too much yet, but there will be more international headliners in the 2018 line-up,” he said.