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Fans enjoying the performance by Straight Forward.

Razak says the idea of bringing a festival of this scale to the heartlands is to introduce music subcultures to the masses.

Music festival for the people, by the people

It has taken decades but support for local music is at an all-time high, judging from the full houses at Esplande's annual Baybeats festival and the Sing50 mega-concert last weekend. It looks set for further growth as passionate music lovers step up to organise their own festivals and music series to showcase homegrown bands.
14/08/2015 - 05:50

MOST music fans would struggle to name 20 contemporary local acts; not Razi Razak. He's the godfather of the indie scene here, promoting and organising shows for homegrown bands for 15 years now.

The 34-year-old staged his biggest show in 2014 with the 100 Bands Festival, where as many acts played six shows over the course of three weekends at the old Hougang Bus Interchange.

This year, he's outdone himself by making the second edition even bigger. Fifty electronic and DJ acts have been added to the bill so it's now known as the 100+50 Bands Festival. Still held over three weekends, the festivities start earlier on Friday so the number of shows have grown to nine.

Curated and organised by Rockstar Collective, founded by Razak; in collaboration with Aljunied Arts; and PAssionArts as part of a larger project Plus - an initiative by the People's Association and the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth to bring arts closer to the public - the event has also moved to Bedok Reservoir.

It will go into its homestretch from Friday with instrumental post-rockers In Each Hand A Cutlass, experimental act sub:shaman and progressive rockers A N E C H O I S headlining each night. About 80 per cent of the acts on this year's bill are new and did not play the 2014 edition.

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Razak says the idea of bringing a festival of this scale to the heartlands is to introduce music subcultures to the masses via the eclectic line-up.

He also wants to show the positive influence of music: like how it has shaped his life and led him to form Rockstar Collective.

Response has been "overwhelming", according to Razak. Over the Jubilee long weekend, hardcore act Caracal, currently in the midst of a Japan tour, and neo-soul singer-songwriter Charlie Lim both drew capacity crowds on the nights they performed.

"I was surprised people really wanted to come and show their support for local music even though it might have been quite difficult for some of them to get to Bedok Reservoir; plus there were many other things happening over the long weekend," says Razak.

He adds that the other objective is to give newer bands the experience of playing in a festival setting so that they can build their confidence in playing to a big crowd.

"Singapore is opening up to more things and the local music scene has benefited from it," observes Razak, "Genres like metal and hardcore are no longer just noise to people."

The community spirit of the 100+50 Bands Festival also extends beyond the music - on its Facebook page, it has appealed to concert-goers this weekend to donate food, drinks and clothes to a man spotted near the concert venue who looks like he needs social assistance.

"When we move into a space, we're also reacting with it and getting to understand it," explains Razak. "We posted his picture only on Sunday after the crew noticed him so we hope he'll get some help this weekend - this is what we mean when we say the festival is by the community and for the community."

The 100+50 Bands Festival takes place Friday, Saturday and Sunday at Bedok Reservoir. For full line-up and playing times, check its event Facebook page. Admission is free.