(4 / 5)
The 2020 edition of Garden Beats delivered a stellar feel good Saturday amidst the current socio-political climate with the Coronavirus and acts dropping out of the lineup. Crowds still showed up and it was a festive celebration of word class music, drinks and wellness.
Keeping to its eco-friendly and mindfulness theme, the festival delivered a well organised schedule of conscious talks, body & mind programs and arts and dance activities. If anything, festival-goers had plenty to engage with between music sets. There was also sufficient space set aside for people to sit on picnic mats or on beanbags and benches situated all around the festival grounds. With a good mix of international and local attendees, entering Garden Beats definitely felt as if I was attending a festival overseas
Toilet cubicles were clean and usable. They even had experiential cubicles curated by Swedish book publishers company Storytel where voiceovers would play as you did your business. The drink options at the festival were also interesting with its unique mixes and names. Although slightly pricey, they were well worth for their tantalising concoctions and a surefire way of letting loose and kickstarting your festival experience.
The only downside to the entire festival experience would be the slight difficulty of finding the entrance into the festival. It took quite a walk and a couple of wrong turns before we discovered the entrance signboard where temperature taking and ticket admission was conducted.
With 2 stages, Sunshine Stage and Garden Stage, the curation of Garden Beats always ensures you leave the festival on a high and this year was no exception.
Australian record producer and singer Running Touch performed his fully dance-electronica set with the aid of a drummer. The Island Records signed multi-instrumentalists showcased his skills by jumping between the keyboard, electric guitar and drum set all while delivering his signature raspy light vocals. Weathering the evening heat and humidity, the Melbourne-based singer left quite an impression for his passion and stage antics but left me slightly concerned if he was well hydrated from his rosy cheeks and slightly flustered face.
Headliners Foals delivered a solid extended 80-minute set that got fans moshing and head banging. It was clear that most of the attendees were there for the English rock band whom recently won Best Group at The Brit Awards. Backed up by potted light green plants and strips of coloured LED bars, the Oxford based band can probably be deemed as one of most energetic performers of our time and perform they did. Playing songs from both old and new records, lead vocalist Yannis Philippakis’s voice resonated over the tight band ensemble. If anything, Foal’s performance on Saturday night was a surefire way of cementing their longevity as one of the most vibrant and heartfelt bands to truly embody the magic of live music.
I was definitely floored upon witnessing Foals perform live again, even though my second, my first being at Neon Lights 2016 in Fort Canning Park, Singapore. Crisp sound, pure emotions, versatility and a rocking good time was what the band delivered. I only wished that I had taken the liberty to squeeze myself right in the front rows where there was moshing, loud singing and dancing. Yet, even from a distance away, the experience of seeing and hearing the band live was still poignant and rousing.
The night ended on a dance high with French producer Viken Arman playing a 90-minute set of electronic beats that got festivalgoers grooving and dancing. The setlist was perfect for intoxicated dancing for the most part while other festivalgoers opted to congregate at quieter spots to engage in conversation.
As we left the festival grounds, it was clear that Garden Beats had succeeded in eliminating the usual massive waste laying round the grounds at the end of the night. Sure, the absence of American R&B songstress Sabrina Claudio may have compressed the overall turnout a little, yet the loud cheers and energy of attendees made up for it, showing clear signs of enthusiasm and spreading good vibes. To top it off, the festival was consistent in curating a lineup of acts that was sure to ignite some dance moves and a night to remember in the company of music lovers and friends.
We look forward to gracing the next edition of Garden Beats knowing it’s always an ecstatic experience and a laudable getaway from the hustle and bustle of life. Garden Beats 2020 is definitely one for the memory books.
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