A handy guide to Revive Arcade Festival 2021: explore a virtual Malaysia and enjoy great music

Pamungkas, Zamaera, Aman RA and Diskoria lead a stacked, varied line-up of Southeast Asian talent

In partnership with Revive Arcade Festival

Even though the pandemic has shrunk our physical surroundings, confining many of us to our homes and native countries, virtual worlds still remain as sprawling and alluring as ever. One case in point: Revive Arcade Festival, which will not only host musical performances by 27 talented Southeast Asian acts this December, but also provide a colourful digital playground that recreates iconic landmarks in Malaysia.

If you’re someone who loves travelling to experience different music festivals around the world, don’t miss Revive Arcade Festival and all the fun surprises it has to offer. Read on for our handy guide that lays out just one of many possible itineraries for the festival on December 4-5.

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The Sabah stage. Courtesy of Revive Arcade Festival

Revive Arcade Festival Day 1 – December 4

What’s a music festival without a little fashion? When you land in Revive Arcade Festival, you’ll get a little avatar to explore the virtual world with – customise him or her just the way you like and set off on your Revive Arcade journey. Where you’d normally have to hop in a car or even on a plane to get from city to city within Malaysia, Revive Arcade simplifies things tremendously by providing users with a magical ‘teleporter’ that will transport you between locations in a jiffy.

We don’t want to spoil the experience of discovering these reenvisioned cities for the first time, so we won’t give everything away. But suffice to say that the festival’s 2D pixel world turns familiar Malaysian landmarks – think Langkawi’s eagle statue and Melaka’s Jonker street – into whimsical settings you’ll be taking lots of screenshots of to remember after. That applies to stage design, as well: pay attention to that at the Sarawak stage when you’re catching Indonesian band Hursa showcasing their latest album ‘Rumangsa’.

Swing by Sabah after to catch Thai singer-songwriter Valentina Ploy performing her new single ‘Drunk Sleeping In Taxis’, and then Malaysian rapper Hullera delivering her ice-cool bars at the same location. Revive Arcade’s schedule helpfully has none of the dreaded set clashes IRL festivalgoers have come to dread – so enjoy flitting between stages to get your fill of all the line-up has to offer.

At this point, though, there’s an hourlong break – perfect for you to get up from your chair and have a stretch or visit the bathroom. Then come back and explore all the fun extra-musical things like merchant booths and games, whether they’re classic arcade minigames (this festival isn’t called Revive Arcade for nothing) or traditional ones from your childhood like congkak and guli.

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Ai.Z. Credit: Press

Music-wise, Saturday night offers you sets by both veteran rockers – Malaysia’s beloved Oh Chentaku and Gerhana Skacinta – and newer acts – Indonesian outfit Reality Club and singer Ai.Z, the moniker of Aizat Amdan, who debuted his new era in June with the Yuna-written single ‘The Last Thing’.

They all warm the stage for featured artist Zamaera, who entered a new independent phase of her career earlier this year and has lately been teasing new music. Expect cocky bars and infectious confidence from her at Revive Arcade Festival. Indonesian DJ duo Diskoria will then end the first night on a joyous, nostalgic note with their retro disco selections.

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The Batu Caves. Courtesy of Revive Arcade Festival

Revive Arcade Festival Day 2 – December 5

It’s the last day of the first-ever Revive Arcade Festival – which means you should explore this painstakingly crafted virtual world the best you can. Take the legendary stairs at the Batu Caves, or click around the unique scenes at Labuan. Surprises await if you let your curiosity take you where it wants to go.

Also be sure to check out the eclectic Malaysian bands that are on the line-up today. From the genre-fluid entertainers FAZZ, to synth pop siblings Juno and Hanna, to ‘experimental Nusantara’ purveyors Sang Rawi, there’s a great diversity of sounds to soak in on Sunday.

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The Pinholes. Credit: Press

After you enjoy the retro sights and sounds of Singapore’s The Pinholes and 2020 Levi’s Music Project winners Margasatwa, take a breather from the boogying and go check out the booths by the various sponsors and partners who’ve helped make this virtual world a reality. (NME has one, too – don’t forget us!)

And at the end of the night, sit back and enjoy a set by Indonesian artist Pamungkas, whose star is on the regional rise thanks to his personal and heartfelt songwriting. And stick around to see Malaysia’s very own Aman RA and Disko Santan close out Revive Arcade Festival with a bang and have you wishing you could stay in this colourful virtual world a while longer.

Chart your own adventure in Revive Arcade Festival on December 4-5. Get tickets and special party packs here. Early bird deals are available now until October 14