Korean hip-hop group Epik High draw the biggest crowd at Sundown Festival

Korean hip-hop trio Epik High performing at the F1 Pit Building during the Skechers Sundown Festival on Nov 21, 2015.
Korean hip-hop trio Epik High performing at the F1 Pit Building during the Skechers Sundown Festival on Nov 21, 2015. PHOTO: SKECHERS SUNDOWN FESTIVAL

Despite the threat of dark clouds and rumbles of thunder throughout the afternoon, the Skechers Sundown Festival proceeded smoothly on Saturday (Nov 21) at the F1 Pit Building.

About 9,000 people attended the seven-hour event, one of the largest turnouts since the Sundown Festival was launched in 2009 to celebrate Asian music and provide a platform to showcase Asia's vibrant music scene.

The biggest name on stage this year was probably Korean hip-hop trio Epik High, who were the closing act.

But while they drew the biggest crowd of the night, their 50-minute set, which varied in sound from EDM (electronic dance music) to 1980s-era Beastie Boys-inspired numbers, seemed to be out of sync with all the previous acts.

Unlike the past few years, when organisers brought to the festival a range of cross-cultural music, from Bollywood to K-pop and indie acts, this year's line-up had a strong rock influence.

Arts administrator Niki Koh, 24, suggested that the organiser, Red Spade Entertainment, tighten the festival's line-up to become more genre-centric and attract a specific audience.

Even though the ticket prices dropped to $88 for general admission and $118 for mosh pit this year (from $118 and $138 last year), they might still be too expensive for a general crowd who are not familiar with the bands, he said.

Throughout the festival, people could be seen sitting on plastic chairs or on the ground, absorbed in their smartphones when they were not interested in the act on stage. For future editions, Ms Samantha Chan, co-founder of Red Spade Entertainment, said the company is looking at improving the engagement and interaction between artists and fans at the festival as well as collaborations between artists.

Last Saturday's event opened at 4.45pm with a performance by Singaporean singer-songwriter Cheryl Loon, one of four Singaporean acts on the line-up, including post-hardcore rock group Caracal.

The other groups hailed from South Korea, Thailand, Japan, Indonesia and Taiwan.

There were only nine acts this year, compared to 16 artists from 11 countries last year. Red Spade Entertainment co-founder Kelvin Goh said this gave artists more time on stage.

"Changing the format of the festival to include backstage coverage and increasing the duration of the performance per artist worked very well as it gave the audience time to appreciate and get into the mood of the different artists," he said, adding that he was happy with the festival turnout.

Japan's hard rock group Inkt brought screaming intensity to the stage, although the language barrier limited their ability to interact with the crowd.

Thailand's more melodic pop-rock band Potato did not have this problem as the lead singer routinely made shout-outs in English while the guitarist and bassist hammed it up to the enthusiastic crowd.

The group seemed to have the most fun on stage, returning waves and smiles with the spirited crowd, many of whom were fans who sang along to every song, especially rock ballad Tur Yang (Do You Still), and cheered when they heard new material.

vlydia@sph.com.sg