Rockaway 2016: Scorpions, Wolfmother, The Darkness, Wings rock Sepang

scorpions malaysia rockaway 2016

Experience & review on Rockaway Festival 2016 Weekender Malaysia MotoGP (Day 1)

It was a rainy and muddy gig at Sepang International Circuit last Saturday (29 October) but the show went on anyway and it was less behind schedule than I was expecting. No idea why it had to be held in conjunction with the RempitGP MotoGP. It’s a long, lonely, wet and scary drive from PJ for me but thankfully, it was worth it as the bands were fantastic.

Rockaway 2016 Weekender was supposed to be a 2-day event but it was merged into a single day event apparently due to “schedule and production conflict with one of the headlining acts.” It was an awesome news for me as I only purchased the Day-2 ticket for Wolfmother but in the end, I got to see Scorpions and Wings as well as The Darkness who were added into the lineup later.

Due to the rain and other activities I had in the morning to afternoon (and also because it’s freaking faraway land of Sepang with confusing directional signs), I missed the entire opening act by local band Muzza’s Mayhem. When I got there, I was pleasantly surprised by the less than half-full crowd. The area set up for the show itself wasn’t huge either so even though I could like stand right in front of the barricades of the “Rock Pit”, it really doesn’t matter ’cause the stage wasn’t too far away.

Wolfmother malaysia rockaway 2016

Before Wolfmother came on for their set, a pair of radio DJ-hosts tried very hard to get the crowd going by giving away merchandises. It felt a little xenophobic when the female host asked the crowd, “Kamu rocker ke tak? Mana semua budak-budak Melayu?” and then much later on, I also heard someone in the crowd screaming, “Hidup Melayu!” I was like, hello? There are Malaysians here too, you know?

I pity Wolfmother. Their set was early in the evening, it was raining in KL/PJ and most of the ticket holders have yet to arrive. But the Australian hard rock band gave a committed performance anyway. They played almost every track I wanted to hear, closing their set with two of my favourites — Dimensions and Joker and the Thief. I sang along, headbanged, air-guitar-ed their tasty riffs, and screamed as loud as I could to hopefully make them notice that they do have a huge fan here within the small, quiet crowd. Loved their simple but adorable background visuals as well.

There was a 30-minute break after Wolfmother’s set. It was dinner time! There were food trucks around the area. I queued up without knowing about the “coupon currency” there. So I had to go buy the coupons and queue up all over again. Sigh, this is the kind of thing that would’ve been much easier if I wasn’t by myself.

wings rockaway 2016

The evening was getting darker. The rain comes and goes the entire night. But the gig only became better as more people were finally arriving. The crowd tripled and was more responsive than before. I was prepared for a mosh if it happens but I guess everybody just wants to focus on watching local rock legend Wings play, who were up next. Although I don’t really know their music, the band’s talent and 80’s rock appeal were very evident. Awie’s vocal performance was perhaps the most impressive one on the night. It’s heartwarming to see the crowd forming the signature ‘W’ sign with their hands in the air. Good to know that rock is still very well alive in Malaysia.

British glam rock band The Darkness are popular with their catchy hits like I Believe in a Thing Called Love and Love is Only a Feeling but I would say majority were unfamiliar with their other songs. The frontman Justin Hawkins started their set with strangely off-tune vocals and got the crowd speechless but it might have been deliberate with their flamboyantly fun, wacky nature. Despite obviously being unfamiliar with their stuff, I was very entertained by the band’s highly energetic showmanship. Hawkins revealed that his band was handed instructions by local authorities on how they shouldn’t dress and behave on stage (the crowd laughed and boo-ed at this), and that prohibition of swearing had them come up with a “special”, just-for-Malaysia version for one of their explicit songs — Get Your Hands Off My Woman (motherfucker), if I’m not mistaken.

the darkness malaysia rockaway 2016

And finally, the one that most of the people were there for — Scorpions — took the stage and totally brought down the house with their iconic songs. Everyone there was singing along to classics such as Wind of Change and Send Me An Angel and going crazy with the guitar solos. The German band may been formed 51 years ago and have been rocking ever since, they still got it, man. Although I would’ve loved to stay and wait for Still Loving You and Rock You Like a Hurricane, my feet could no longer stand the uneven ground there and was forced to retire slightly earlier. Should’ve worn sneakers with better cushioning than Chuck Taylor’s.

Anyway, Rockaway 2016 Weekender, what a great gig it was. I can’t wait to see what the future lineups would be apart from the “The Saga Continues” (Day 2, formerly Day 3) which will be happening on the 19th next month headlined by Butterfingers, Third Eye Blind and Taking Back Sunday.

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