I’ve been going to Electric Peacock since it started (three years ago) and it’s really grown. Last weekend’s show with Tinie Tempah and the New Young Pony Club was huge. A lot of people have doubted whether Sri Lanka could host international quality shows, you know, with the sea of people all rocking out. Well, we can.
You can see everything from the photo above, from Tinie Tempah’s Instagram. The crowd was huge. I’m not great at eyeballing this stuff but there were thousands of people. The acts were also really good. Alunageorge quite unprofessionally pulled out at the last minute, I think to do a TV show in London, which was lame and really unfair to fans. However, they got New Young Pony Club to replace at the last minute, which is a band I’ve been listening to for years. I don’t think the crowd of teeny-boppers really understood them but they were great.
The main act, however, drove the young crowd wild. They cleared the stage and it was just Tinie Tempah and one other MC roaming around. He’s a great performer and the crowd knew a lot of his songs. I’ve actually never been at a show in Sri Lanka like that. I’ve been to DJ performances and live acts where people aren’t really paying attention, but this was different. It was everyone captivated by one MC and enjoying themselves together.
This show was a long time coming, and God knows the organization still had its flaws. However, I’m not sure people understand how hard the organizers – Leah, Tasha, Lee, etc – have worked, and in the face of how many setbacks. A lot of people have said that having cool international acts in Sri Lanka is impossible. That we’re a destination for either pop fluff (like Mohombi or, bit better, Shaggy) or a retirement home (Englebert Humberdinck, Olivia Newton John). Not to denigrate either demographic, but the best music in the world is flying under the radar of both pop radio and time, it’s in festivals and clubs and YouTube and Soundcloud. That’s a network that people have said just didn’t fit in Sri Lanka, that neither artists nor fans would show up.
And, honestly, for the first two Electric Peacocks you could say that those people might have been right. The first fest had good acts but low turnout (due to realistic but also unreasonable pricing). Then, due to rain, the main acts couldn’t perform and it ended in a bit of a mess. The second festival had a great venue but was also unlucky in that another international act (Avicii) was scheduled on the same day, reducing the crowd.
I mention this not to criticize but actually to praise. After being told that this dream was impossible in the first place and then getting organizationally and financially hammered twice a lot of people would give up, but the Bazalgettes née Marikkars kept going, and it’s finally bearing fruit.
Tinie Tempah is an internationally huge act with real artistic credentials. He showed up and put on a great show and enjoyed himself as well. And a huge crowd of (extremely) young people showed up, showing that there is demand for this sort of thing. Bumps and farts aside, Electric Peacock is finally solidifying as a brand, both locally and internationally. It was a fun night and just look at the picture. I think it represents the country well.