Crossing Borders: Bands Go International

By Ummairah binte Shariff

The stage is set. The blaring lights induces sweat in even the most seasoned performer. The frontman steps into the spotlight. Looking up expectantly, the audience awaits the beginning of an amazing gig, ready to mosh.

Does this ring a bell only in our sunny island? Or, could this be a universally recognised setting?

For local bands who have found themselves performing at gigs across the border, from Johor Bahru to Kelantan to even the capital, Kuala Lumpur, it appears the latter is becoming a common occurrence.

Over the years, there has been a rising trend in bands performing and promoting their music in neighbouring Malaysia. One of which is Baybeats’ very own budding band, Morning Martians.

Morning Martians

Photo credit: Danial Hashim

The five-piece pop-punk band travelled to Sierra Perdana Masai, Johor to perform a set off their newest EP, Hope You Could Relate, at The Rockin’ Jamz Hall. To them, being invited to play overseas was a major milestone and accomplishment.

“We felt that we were finally recognised for the hard work that we had put in creating the music that we love,” says drummer Ridwan Johari. The band members were involved every step of the way themselves, from organising and scheduling to eventually performing on the foreign stage.

The journey, though tough, proved fruitful when the boys saw the audience fervently moshing and dancing along to their songs. Having the opportunity to travel to a foreign audience gave the band a deeper insight to the indie/alternative music industry outside of Singapore. “In playing overseas shows, we see the different culture of the crowd and witness the different levels of professionalism and musicality,” adds Ridwan.

With more local acts in the scene performing regionally, the exposure is bound to inject credibility into our homegrown talent, creating opportunities for more bands to explore the music scene in Malaysia. For Faux Pas, the four-men indie/alternative rock band, showcasing their talent overseas allowed them the “opportunity to network and brush shoulders with other regionally-known top-tier rock bands.”

Performing at the Live Factory and Timbre, both in Kuala Lumpur, saw them attending after-show parties where they could spread the word on their music to other bands, gig organisers and potential fans alike.

The local music scene expanding its wings into the regional market benefits not only musicians, but the industry too.  Performing to a hungry crowd is rewarding enough but doing it on a regional scale is a recipe for success.

As the band play their first chord, they look out to see a myriad of faces moving along in sync with the beat. Be it Singapore or Malaysia, one thing is clear: music makes the world go round.