ZoukOut still thrills

Fireworks (above) at the end of the set by Russian-German DJ/producer Zedd at the Moon Stage; and partygoers at the Star Stage.
Fireworks (above) at the end of the set by Russian-German DJ/producer Zedd at the Moon Stage; and partygoers at the Star Stage.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM
Fireworks at the end of the set by Russian-German DJ/producer Zedd (above) at the Moon Stage; and partygoers at the Star Stage.
Fireworks at the end of the set by Russian-German DJ/producer Zedd (above) at the Moon Stage; and partygoers at the Star Stage.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM
Fireworks at the end of the set by Russian-German DJ/producer Zedd at the Moon Stage; and partygoers (above) at the Star Stage.
Fireworks at the end of the set by Russian-German DJ/producer Zedd at the Moon Stage; and partygoers (above) at the Star Stage.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

Dance festival's 16th edition saw impressive stages and better sound quality

ZoukOut is still going strong in its 16th year, but the annual dusk-to- dawn beach dance music festival is not one to rest on its laurels.

Over the weekend on Dec 9 and 10, more than 41,000 partygoers were treated to new and impressive stages and noticeably better sound quality across all three stages - Moon Stage for the main acts, Star Stage for more niche acts and the return of the Kaleidoscope stage, which over the years has featured some of Singapore's best underground talent.

The Moon Stage was uniquely shaped like the iconic Zouk logo of an eye. Previous stage designs have been more staid, relying less on design and more on functionality. With "eyelashes" of LED panels reaching to the skies, it made for a spectacular backdrop for the top acts that took the stage.

Day one saw 15,000 partygoers dancing to headlining Dutch DJ Hardwell, while the second day was a far more crowded affair with 26,000 in attendance to see the likes of Zedd and Martin Garrix play. Last year's ZoukOut attracted 45,000 people over both nights.

The set by Russian-German DJ/ producer Zedd seemed the more power-packed of the two as he constantly drew on his catalogue of multiple commercial hits. These included his collaborations with pop singers Selena Gomez (I Want You To Know) and Ariana Grande (Break Free) as well as Hayley Williams (Stay The Night). As a result, the sing-along sessions were frequent throughout his 90-minute set, with the crowd at its loudest on his breakout song, Clarity.

 
 
 

The 27-year-old DJ, whose real name is Anton Zaslavski, seemed to be revelling in it too, constantly taking out his camera phone to record the crowd's reaction - many of which ended up on his Instagram Stories.

The euphoric highs of his set frequently culminated in confetti explosions and even fireworks.

Dutchman Garrix, recently named the No. 1 DJ in the world in DJ Mag's Top 100 DJs poll, took the stage at 4am, choosing to open with a delicate, acoustic piano version of his breakout hit, Animals.

The 20-year-old then proceeded to drop one club banger after another, including Don't Look Down, his track featuring American singer Usher; and Lions In The Wild. Zedd joined him on stage and was spotted bouncing enthusiastically along to his friend's tunes.

While both Zedd and Garrix are returning acts, it was a debut act - Norwegian producer Alan Walker - who drew an unexpectedly large crowd despite his set being one of the earlier ones at 10.30pm. A new entry to the scene, Walker is already making waves with club favourites Faded and Sing Me To Sleep.

Over at the smaller Star Stage, rain threatened to disrupt the dancing at around 12.30am, but home-grown DJ Koflow kept his brand of hip-hop flowing through it all. He was followed by the likes of British electronic duo Snakehips and Los Angeles native Tokimonsta, who put on equally captivating shows.

In keeping with the usual tradition of having local DJs perform the closing sets, resident DJs Ghetto and Zushan rounded off the festivities at the Moon and Star stages respectively at around 7am.

Singapore club Zouk is behind ZoukOut, which is considered one of the top dance music festivals in the region. The club itself will have its soft launch at its new premises at Clarke Quay on Saturday, after having operated in Jiak Kim Street for the past 25 years.

Mr Chia Yong Jian, 21, who was attending ZoukOut for the third time, says he frequents the club as well. The full-time national serviceman says: "To be honest, this year's event is not as festive as previous years. One reason may be because we all know the club is moving to Clarke Quay. I don't know what will happen, but it is likely that it will become just another club there. But I hope Zouk retains its original spirit."

•With additional reporting by Benson Ang

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 12, 2016, with the headline 'ZoukOut still thrills'. Print Edition | Subscribe