Music and a heady mix in FarAwayLand

200314_thestar_musicfestivalmalaysia.jpg

Music and a heady mix in FarAwayLand
CAMARADERIE: A concert-goer having fun body-surfing over the crowd at the Future Music Festival Asia in Kuala Lumpur over the weekend. Several Singaporeans were hospitalised after drug overdoses at the festival.

SINGAPORE - With a rising number of music festivals and concerts taking place in the region, more young Singaporeans are jetting off to attend these events.

Last weekend, two such excursions were surrounded by talk of drugs and death. Several Singaporeans were hospitalised after drug overdoses at a music festival in Kuala Lumpur while one died at a Jakarta gig.

Despite the danger of drugs, more are taking such trips. Many friends go in groups, while some even use Facebook to arrange meet-ups with Singaporean music aficionados at such festivals.

Festivals at places a short flight away make for easy weekend jaunts.

"When planning trips overseas, I always try to go for gigs in that region," said campaign manager Danielle Chan, 36, who started attending music festivals and gigs overseas over 10 years ago.

Drugs are part of the territory and sometimes dictated by the genre of music. Ecstasy, MDMA and cocaine are more commonly found at trance and electronic dance music festivals such as FMFA and Tomorrowland.

Marijuana is the drug of choice at indie music events, including Britain's Glastonbury Festival.

Metal festivals, however, tend to have more concert-goers consuming alcohol such as beer, rather than drugs, said IT entrepreneur Steven Chew, a metal music fan who attended two events in Brisbane and Jakarta back-to-back last year.

Frequent concert-goer Mellissa Halim, who attended eight overseas music festivals and concerts last year, including dance music festival Tomorrowland in Belgium and Stereosonic in Australia, said: "There will be people on drugs at such festivals but they don't make trouble."

For the senior associate at an accounting firm, it's all about the music.

Ms Halim started travelling regularly on her own to such events since 2012 and makes friends at the festival grounds. "People are really friendly and I feel safe," said Ms Halim, 28.

In fact, she has made friends from all over the world after joining Facebook group, Journey To Tomorrowland, which allows members to connect and meet up at the three-day festival.

Others prefer to travel in small groups, though some, like Ms Rina Li, have gone on concert trips with large groups of up to 30 people.

Ms Li, who is in her early 30s and works in the banking sector, said she met those 30 people during various dance music gigs in Singapore and agreed to meet up at the recent A State Of Trance music festival in Jakarta.

"We look out for each other and I travel with like-minded people," said Ms Li, who has been to the State Of Trance showcases in Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta and Amsterdam in the past two years.

Some have even combined their concert trips with special occasions. Freelance writer Madeleine Chong, 31, and her husband decided to spend their honeymoon at Glastonbury.

"My husband and I had always wanted to attend the festival, so what better time than during our honeymoon?" said Ms Chong.

gurveenk@sph.com.sg


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