6th May 2016: Urbanscapes 2016 returned to the center of Kuala Lumpur, in the beautiful Art Deco building that used to host OCBC Bank, now known as 2 Hang Kasturi, and perhaps Urbanscapes House.
Graffiti in the basement floor.
I’m guessing this was the former bank’s storage area.
I’d heard of an underground bicycle parking area, but I would not be able to tell.
Annoying magenta light, the bane of concert photographers everywhere.
Makes for difficult white balance.
Urbanscapes’ first ever event was at Grappa Soho, Bukit Bintang, as an offshoot of KLue Magazine that covered the Kuala Lumpur scene; I bought that magazine and on it was a sleeve with a ticket.
I was there, and I’ve been to Urbanscapes every year since then.
Of those who went to the first, I guess not many people can claim to keep this streak.
The festival happened in many sites in Kuala Lumpur, but none as near to the origins of where Kuala Lumpur got its name as this.
The building, on the intersection of Jalan Hang Kasturi and Leboh Pasar Besar, was just a 2 minute walk from the Klang River bridge on Leboh Pasar Besar that overlooks the intersection of the Klang river and Gombak river, where a muddy estuary formed; “muddy estuary” is translated to Malay as Kuala Lumpur, and that is where it got its name, and is the zero point, or exact center, of Kuala Lumpur.
I wondered if this ever flooded.
My ticket into this venue was Hey Orang Kita (screening + live gig), which was happening on the ground floor. We got to see a short bit of the movie; after that, the cast talked about their experiences. Left to right: Raja Syahiran, Christian Palencia, Takahara Suiko, Talitha Tan.
Talitha Tan! This was also my first time hearing her speak Chinese, and only in film.
She also performed with Christian and Talitha backing her.
Christian’s cool cut!
I only brought my Sony Carl Zeiss Distagon 24mm F2.0 ZA T* SSM, so I’m glad it is sharp enough to be able to be cropped like this.
The grass was too precious and must be protected from our violent moshers, so we took up a little semicircle, which beats sitting far away from Billie Eilish. She is metal even if her music doesn’t tell you she is, and that’s why I went and paid RM500 only to get a seat far, far away. At least here there was no problem…
…unless you count this, one of two creaky bridges to allow crowds to enter the standing area. I have to wonder what the normal way to the standing area was supposed to be!
Elysha Arnold of Fly FM interviewing the crowd!
First band I managed to catch: KLAN.
But first, cool shirts in the crowd!
Not to be defeated is a band in full swag.
Margasatwa sounds as they look…
…psychedelic indie rock!
In the tried-and-tested two stage setup, the crowd could walk over to the other stage after one performance finished to see Rock The World regulars Restraint.
By then the moshpit had filled up.
Crowdsurfers from the coast of rock.
Some with a little help from their friends.
Spotted architecture legend Ng Sek San!
Fook on keyboards and bass for this next band…
The Impatient Sisters.
Ryan (not a sister).
As always, I’d bring my Sony Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* 135mm F1.8 ZA with Sony LA-EA4 autofocus adapter on my Sony A7S for shooting stages from the camera pit.
Sometimes it gets tight if I turn around to the crowd.
Fred Perry also sponsored the bands on stage.
Calm before the storm.
A surprise indeed when they turned hardcore!
Shahril Redzwan of Kami Akta brought on the screams. Note also the metal logo in the background!
Jimmy, another Rock The World veteran.
Down on the padang, a picture of a picture of a picture.
Up was The Padangs.
There was probably a decade or so I could walk into a guitar shop and recognize all the Ibanez guitars. In September 2023, I couldn’t recognize (especially the surprising influx of headless guitars), but I was in a rush so I didn’t look at all of them.
Republic of Brickfields.
Gotta love animated backdrops.
LO and behold, Jason Lo has returned!
Pacai on bass.
I’ve been to every Rock The World except the first one on 25th March 2000. The last event was the 17th instalment, Rock The World 17 in 2017, making this technically Rock The World 18 or Rock The World 22nd Anniversary?
Jason is joined by his daughter.
Then it was time for something smoother…
I took a stroll outside the seated area where there were deejays.
I got back in to see Plague of Happiness finishing their set.
My favorite drone-rock Seven Collar T-Shirt was on!
What’s that in the crowd, you say?
Yes, ROTTW magazine with them on the cover!
Ian Koren, helping on with…
One Buck Short!
Rahul, boss of The Bee now.
Izal, boss of the bass.
Imran, returning to drums.
Gerhana Ska Cinta.
It always makes me happy to get a shot like this, where there are things in front that are out of focus, contributing to the bokeh.
Or, a shot like this, with accent lighting from the side, but not overpowering.
Brandon Gomez who I knew from Dragon Red, and now…
Dig the Megadeth shirt!
I also love it when I can get two colors on the opposite ends of the color wheel dominating a picture.
Efek Rumah Kaca from Indonesia, the first non-Malaysian band in Rock The World that I can remember.
Then came thrash metal legends Cromok.
These guys have concrete riffage.
My taste in metal veers towards heavy metal, groove metal and thrash metal.
I wasn’t around music scenes when those genres were in their heyday so I would savor anybody still playing it.
Sam on teutonic thrash vocals and bass.
Occasionally, I’d take out the Sony Carl Zeiss Distagon T* 24mm F2.0 ZA SSM for wide shots like these.
Inside, the show had finished, but not outside.
I’ve also bumped up my pictures to be 1440 pixels on their longest side, up from the old format of 1024 pixels.
I was having dinner at McDonald’s Tun Perak (popularly known as the Masjid Jamek branch) when I noticed its receipt said #101. 101? What did that mean? Was it the 101th outlet ever to open in Malaysia? Driven by such curiosity, and knowing that McDonald’s Bukit Bintang was the first ever outlet to open in Malaysia, I went down to that outlet after that, to find indeed, that it was #001!
I then set out on a journey to find the branch codes (Jessica Choong says that is what these numbers are called) and see which were the earliest McDonald’s in existence. There was a certain amount of suspense when you go to a really old outlet and discover its number! There was also disappointment with certain outlets, e.g. McDonald’s Bandar Utama Drive-Thru (popularly referred to as McDonald’s Centerpoint), which William Lau thought would be #053 (and I betted #055). I won the bet, with him buying me a cone sundae, because its branch code was in fact #133. We both thought it came soon after McDonald’s 1 Utama (old wing), which was known to be #050 (I later found this to be in fact, #056 – but the 50th in existence; source: http://mcdamansara.blogspot.com/2008/08/badminton-ttdi.html).
My journey was documented with receipts, on my Instagram.
This soon developed into a hobby when I had no better hobbies.
Interestingly, I have been to all the McDonald’s outlets that I went to again to get branch codes – meaning I’d been to a lot of McDonald’s! I intentionally did not contact anybody from McDonald’s to get the full list. That would spoil the fun and sense of adventure!
As for why I’d been to so many McDonald’s, it is not that I am a big fan, but for some reason the people I hang out with tend to prefer McDonald’s for many practical reasons. It is in fact the cheapest place you can have a gathering in an air-conditioned place, in most neighborhoods. Nobody would have any objections to meeting at McDonald’s when you don’t know where to meet, or where to eat. It is a landmark for many people. We’d have our camera meetups (Teh Tarik sessions) at McDonald’s. We tried KFC once, but it was messy trying to have fried chicken and play with cameras at the same time! The fact that KFC was a piss-poor, badly managed fast food chain in general, didn’t help their case – same for A&W. You get a consistently better experience with McDonald’s.
The other interesting thing about the branch codes is that it shows the growth of the middle class – McDonald’s outlets opened in order with the expanding new townships and areas. It didn’t open in high-class areas like Starhill Gallery, and it also closed in areas that were no longer frequented by the middle class (Petaling Street, Citypoint Dayabumi, Hang Kasturi/Central Market). McDonald’s is quite apparently, a middle-class barometer, and an indicator that your area had “made it”.
The element of suspense soon died towards the end of my journey, when I found McDonald’s SS2 – it had a JAKIM Halal certificate on the wall beside the counter, printed large. There it showed #16. More importantly, though, is that I realized I could find all outlets on the Malaysian Halal Directory! There, the full list of existing McDonald’s outlets were, complete with branch codes!
I noticed that if an outlet moved to a different location it may or may not change branch code (#191, formerly the Mutiara Damansara Drive Thru at Kidzania, is now at The Curve, but Mutiara Damansara Drive Thru got a new branch code.) The original 1 Utama branch #056 moved to the new wing and became #256. Fortunately, the Cold Kiosks and McCafes all share the same branch code as the restaurant they are in – to one weird extent that the Cold Kiosk in Carrefour Subang is #018, just like its parent in Subang Parade, across a road! (The Subang Parade branch also has a Cold Kiosk inside!)
“Presently, McDonald’s 21 stores are in Johor (one), Malacca (one), Ipoh (one), Penang (two), Klang (one) and the rest in Klang Valley, the newest being the Ipoh store which opened last Dec 15.“
So we know there were 21 outlets as of 19th March 1990, with the latest being Ipoh City, but that was #023, given that #002 Plaza Yow Chuan has moved, and #009/#010/#011/#013? TTDI has closed. After accounting for Johor, Malacca, Ipoh, Penang (both) I don’t know which is the first one in Klang (but it would be #009/#010/#011/#013?) and I don’t know where 3 more outlets in the Klang Valley were.
McDonald’s Bukit Bintang is outlet #001. This was photographed 27th September 2009. This is the Jalan Bukit Bintang/Jalan Sultan Ismail junction, before the MRT construction work. Note the open space on the left, in front of Maybank in the Yayasan Selangor building, where buskers, street performers and skateboarders and the general public could do what they wanted there without having to pay. Note McDonald’s #001 (the first branch, opened 29th April 1982!) and the Giordano signboard above it. It has been a Giordano signboard for ages, but no more. The Quicksilver to the left became an A&W for a short while, and is now a Starbucks, while the shop on the far-left is now a Burger King. You might even spot a short-lived Steven’s Tea Garden (now closed, busted as an MLM) next to KFC!
This was taken at its launch. I am not able to trace the original photographer. It apparently used to be a Lee How Fook restaurant.
McDonald’s The Mall (gone) is outlet #014. I was here a lot after visiting PC Fair or anything in PWTC. Such memories! Here’s a teh tarik session with some photographers.
This is the only picture I have of Mcdonald’s Bangsar Shopping Centre (gone), and sadly, not from the inside.
All that you’ve read above was written in 2013; now fast-forward to 27th April 2022, and I’ve been to every single McDonald’s that is still operating in the state of Selangor and Kuala Lumpur (commonly referred together as the Klang Valley.) I ended my journey in the northernmost McDonald’s in Selangor, McDonald’s Sabak Bernam DT, outlet #344.
Avril Chan, working at Leo Burnett, who services McDonald’s as a client, picked up on my Instagram journey and got her colleagues to contact me. Through them, I found out that the 3rd outlet was McDonald’s Tuanku Abdul Rahman! I did not push them for the first 21, though. This was the only outlet I knew from official channels.
Below is the list of McDonald’s in Malaysia that I could scour from various sources over the years, in Google Sheets. I don’t know branch codes for some outlets that have closed too long ago; the list starts with some mystery outlets where I only have an address but no store name, and I don’t remember how I got those addresses.
I don’t like travelling in general, but if I was in a particular state in Malaysia I’d try to visit the oldest McDonald’s in that state. McDonald’s Holiday Plaza (Johor) #006 and McDonald’s Soon Seng Plaza (Malacca) #012 were in very old buildings which added a feeling of travelling back in time.
Edited 21st May 2022: I found my favorite old McDonald’s, Sri Serdang #145, and notably the most ghetto! This was photographed on the 4th of April 2012, before I even realized there were branch codes. The outlet is two separate shoplots which wrap around behind a staircase; the staircase leads to residential units upstairs.
Separately, I’ve also been to all 7 Taco Bell outlets in Malaysia (they’re all in the Klang Valley so this was easy), as well as the first and only Jollibee in Peninsular Malaysia, in Sunway Pyramid.
In the middle is the first A&W in Malaysia, with KFC #002 to the right, taken 5th June 2013, when this KFC was still operational. Both these outlets have closed down. KFC has store IDs, but it seems to be a running number not exclusive to Malaysia.
1) 79, Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman, gone 2) 120, Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman, gone by May 2014 (from Google Street View) 3) PJ State (existing, store ID 1010010) 4) SEA Park (existing, store ID 1010052) 5) Wisma Thrifty, gone
People have asked me for their impression of their relationship with their significant other. I often tell them this parable, which I thought out:
A couple goes into a room where there is a computer which asks questions, and they answer. The computer hears their tone of voice to determine, using Artificial Intelligence (A.I.), if they have a good future together.
I am the A.I.’s programmer. I see that the girl is cute, so I click a button and the computer claims that the guy has been cheating on her. The guy leaves in anger at the computer, and the girl comes out crying inconsolably. I comfort her, and use her emotional vulnerability to my advantage.
Thus I say, people should not ask any external party about their relationship. Friends can either say positive things (good for you) or negative things. Alternatively, a friend may have a hidden reason in saying negative things, in order to get you in their arms instead.
A well-meaning friend could also have nothing to say, and if you keep asking, they’ll try to think of one thing to say, for your improvement, which ends up being heard as negative. This ends up sabotaging your opinion of the relationship, for no benefit at all.
The only time you should ask an external party, is if you are unable to recognize that you are in a toxic or abusive relationship. At this point I can only hope your friends will tell you, before you ask them, that the relationship is unhealthy.
KL Sport City is pretty, but you don’t have to walk through it to find the car park.
I came in time for Thy Regiment.
Even Bukit Jalil National Stadium in the back is real pretty! The revamp was for the 2017 Southeast Asian Games.
I have yet to crowdsurf.
Thy Regiment, full of energy!
I brought two lenses with my Sony Alpha 7s. This was from the Sony Carl Zeiss Distagon T* 24mm F2.0 SSM ZA. Gotta love Eric’s expression behind as he walks through the stage! (Well I think that’s Eric…)
It gets close and gives enough context around the subject.
Cool shades, bro.
A wild Big appears!
Color mosh time.
The crowd was given packets of colored powder.
On go, usually with Butterfingers – The Chemistry (Between Us) blasting on the speakers.
Some opened their packets earlier though.
Poor dude right under the right leg of the crowd surfer. At least he’s not wearing steel boots.
This crowd surfer is so familiar! I’ve probably seen him at previous Rock The Worlds, doing exactly the same thing. I wonder if he recognizes me, too!
I don’t usually get colored despite being relatively in the action. This time was different.
Massacre Conspiracy, regulars.
It rained, and for some reason all the powder mixed into this bloody red. Slayer – Raining Blood comes to mind!
They keep it old school.
Gotta love these vintage instruments!
That and their shades.
Meanwhile, in the ROTTW booth nearby, Abang Rom is having a chat.
Chaps hanging out on a wooden bicycle.
This concert was sponsored by Tune Talk.
This is not my food truck.
I really like this banner.
This is not from the banner though.
I had this for dinner. Not bad.
Gerhana Ska Cinta.
The regular big ska band!
The second lens I brought was the Sony Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* 135mm F1.8 ZA.
Seven Collar T-Shirt. Here’s Ham, on guitar and special effects.
Here’s Duan on vocals, guitar, and feeling.
The 135mm always comes in handy for drummer shots.
Rock and roll is gold.
Ijam, also of Restraint, who would announce his departure from Naratu on the 2nd of January 2018.
Big the emcee, in the artiste lounge.
Nope I don’t know what’s up with the camel.
Then came the last act…
The band featured all my friends. Here’s Josh from Seven and Tokyo Blue, or at least how I remember him.
Izuan Shah of Auburn.
Julian Lim of The Infernal Conundrum and Bokazzi.
And of course, Emmett Ishak, most known as the vocalist for the now disbanded Butterfingers.
He brought back his grunge glory days, singing in English.
Still the rock powerhouse.
A guest drummer came on stage. It was Loko, his bandmate from Butterfingers!
So you had the regular crowd-pullers – such that Rock The World has been the same – and yet, differently, I’d noticed that they have been very strict to the schedule, which I could really appreciate since I could leave after the concert finished and still take the LRT!
People call you by your stage name or online handle
You start a Facebook Page
You change your Facebook name so people can’t find your personal profile
Your personal profile disappears from Facebook
Your Whatsapp profile appears to be someone else so we can’t be sure if you’ve changed your number
I am both happy and sad for Talitha Tan, for having achieved Stage 5 in what feels like a speedrun but was in fact a few years. Could this blog post be written with more stages? Sure, but I have no friends who have gone past Stage 5 so I have no idea what comes next. I guess I’ll have to follow her new Facebook page (which I have no idea if it is legit or not), or something, to find out.
A new structure, a big tent to house the food trucks and tired rockers!
Up on the big Main Stage…
…was Republic Of Brickfields!
You’ll all know it from Aru.
Slyde emcees for the Acoustic Stage.
…out of a box…
…from the likes of…
Most shots with the Sony Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* 135mm F1.8 ZA.
David who I’d not seen on guitar for a long time.
It was good ol’ singalong time.
Kids enjoying themselves.
Rest and relax. This tent was the best idea ever, as it usually rains at Rock The World and everyone runs to the hills. Well no, not really.
Joined by a full band!
Eu Gene on ukulele bass!
I took a break and had myself one of these Pau Mushroom Viral Putrajaya. Filled with a chicken-mushroom paste, it was actually really, really delicious. Don’t be fooled by its hipster food look, it’s really awesome!
Color mosh time!
Cool Tarik T-shirt!
Jimmy with Jack watching behind.
Look ma I can reach behind my back to hold my bass…
Jack and his scalloped Telecaster.
High energy rock and roll!
They were throwing out free shoes. Box included.
Emcee Big for the Main Stage!
Back at the acoustic stage…
…which you might be able to discern from the different background.
No restraint in rocking on stage!
Wei bro lama tak jumpa!
Love it when the band visits the lonely drummer at the back.
They had quite an ardent fanbase!
The vocalist jumps in.
I like photographing them when they kneel down.
I’ve never noticed this before.
What a sofa was doing there, I don’t know.
Big, big band.
Some familiar faces.
Plague Of Happiness, another big band.
Retro surf pop yeh yeh!
More rock and roll.
They have too much fun on stage.
Wearing Beatles influences on their sleeves and straps.
Good ol’ skins.
Portaloo queue. This was hilarious! One guy appeared to be impatient and wanted to cut queue, but his friend stopped him. He eventually broke free and instead of going to the toilet, he entered an opening to the bushes behind where a few guys were peeing in the bushes. He shouted, “JAKIM! Apa buat di sini?” A bunch of us laughed loudly!
I love their Opeth-like introduction.
It then goes into some super heavy death metal.
Five strings for more bass.
They have the instruments to suit their retro sound.