ZoukOut 2017 attracts 40,000 partygoers

The Moon Stage, with a towering "lion head", featured strobe lights, lasers, LED panels, CO2 jets and pyrotechnics. ZoukOut held last Friday and Saturday is in its 17th year.
ZoukOut held last Friday and Saturday is in its 17th year.ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN
The Moon Stage, with a towering "lion head", featured strobe lights, lasers, LED panels, CO2 jets and pyrotechnics. ZoukOut held last Friday and Saturday is in its 17th year.
The Moon Stage, with a towering "lion head", featured strobe lights, lasers, LED panels, CO2 jets and pyrotechnics.ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

Despite a main stage set-up that failed to wow, the surefire line-up of acts kept the 40,000 partygoers well entertained

As one of the hottest DJs in the world, Frenchman DJ Snake showed beyond a doubt that he deserved that title with a blistering 75-minute set that culminated in fireworks and confetti to round off day one of annual dance music festival ZoukOut.

In its 17th year, the two-day event held last Friday and Saturday saw 40,000 partygoers in attendance for the dusk-to-dawn event. Last year's attendance topped 41,000, while the 2015 edition drew 45,000.

Dropping monster smash hits such as his Justin Bieber collaboration, Let Me Love You, and bangers including Ocho Cinco of his debut album, Encore, DJ Snake was perhaps the only act of the night with such an infectious energy - and unfettered dance moves on the DJ console - that it could compete with the main stage itself.

The overly elaborate and tacky main stage that could have belonged to a getai show, proved to be a distraction from the other headline acts at the annual beach dance music festival on Sentosa's Siloso Beach.

The Moon Stage, as it is called, with its towering "lion head" (that looked more like a dragon) with eyes that shot laser beams, seemed an ill-advised attempt to keep up with the iconic stages of international dance music festivals such as Tomorrowland and Ultra.

Jam-packed with everything from strobe lights and lasers to LED panels and CO2 jets, it was a centrepiece that certainly went for scale.

The problem was especially apparent with acts such as Grammy-winning Australian DJ-producer Flume. While his sets are typically known for their strong visuals on screen as he drops hits such as Never Be Like You and Smoke & Retribution, this time they were hindered by busy design elements on stage such as "claws" that obscured the side screens.

Last year's Moon Stage was smaller and uniquely shaped like the Zouk logo of an eye, making for a spectacular backdrop for the acts.

That said, the acts delivered anyway, playing to different crowd demographics over the course of the night.

Asian crew 88Rising - comprising Indonesian-Chinese rapper Rich Chigga and Chinese group Higher Brothers - brought grimy hip-hop and trap beats to the beach, drawing an early crowd at 11pm.

Flume was the class act of the night, bringing atmosphere and futuristic glitchy beats to the mix, while Dutch DJ Rehab, who followed after him, was unapologetically mainstream in his choices to play crowd-pleasing electronic dance music (EDM) remixes of Rihanna, Coldplay and Ed Sheeran.

Headline act DJ Snake, however, was the highlight for many, drawing the biggest crowd of the 15,000 partygoers who attended on day one of the festival.

It was a similar case on day two as plenty more partygoers showed up to see acts such as Swedish DJ duo Axwell and Ingrosso, Dutch DJ duo Yellow Claw and masked DJ Marshmello.

The organisers went for surefire acts with this year's line-up, with the vast majority of them having played in Singapore before - whether at previous editions of ZoukOut or other dance music festivals here. While entertaining and high on energy, there was little that was fresh about their sets.

The smaller Star Stage proved to have more inspired choices, hosting artists such as rising Belgian techno DJ Amelie Lens, whose set was a welcome respite from an EDM-fuelled night.

But the recycled line-up did not seem to matter for some, such as Mr Armand Izzaq, 19, who was attending a music festival for the first time. "I've been to a lot of concerts, but I've only ever watched festivals like Ultra and ZoukOut on YouTube. To experience it live was amazing," says the student who attended the first night of the festival.

"The highlight for me was seeing 88rising and DJ Snake who were brilliant natural performers - it felt unreal to see them in the flesh."

He adds that he will definitely be attending ZoukOut next year and other music festivals from now on.

This year, ZoukOut also partnered with bungy jump attraction AJ Hackett Sentosa, which had a 50m-tall Bungy Jump Tower, Giant Swing, Vertical Skywalk and 40m-long Skybridge operating within the festival area. There was a steady stream of partygoers trying out the activities on both nights.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 11, 2017, with the headline 'DJ Snake, Flume fire up ZoukOut'. Print Edition | Subscribe