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No shortage of great gigs so far this year, but we’re always hungry for more. Feeding off 2010’s live-music frenzy, Chris Swiderski extends his obsession overseas

First published on 11 May 2010. Updated on 11 May 2010.

You’re addicted to live music and as far as 2010 goes, you’ve crushed it so far – Basement Jaxx, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Green Day, Muse, Florence + the Machine with The xx, Stereophonics… hell, you’re even contemplating seeing Mika. The bad news is that there is generally a mid-year hiatus in great live acts coming to Singapore, a hole that not even the mighty Michael Bolton can fill. Never fear, for TOS has the lowdown on all the music festivals staged in the coming months and how to turn it into a world tour.

24-27 June

Glastonbury Festival, Somerset, United Kingdom

The grandaddy of European festivals is marking its 40th anniversary this year and as expected, organiser, farmer and general festival doyen Michael Eavis is promising a great occasion in (the hopefully mud-free) English countryside. With an awesome array of stages, Glastonbury has come a long way from its hippy roots with this year’s A-list headliners: U2, Muse and Stevie Wonder.

Cost: S$400 for the five-day event; ticket price includes the camping fee. Go to www.glastonburyfestivals.co.uk for more information.
Get there:
Emirates (www.emirates.com) has flights to London from S$1,370 (return); train/bus tickets to the site will add on additional costs starting from S$110.
Side trip: After a weekend of musicbased debauchery, centre yourself with some culture. Explore the pedestrian- friendly city of Bath, famed for its architectural masterpieces: take in the Roman Baths Museum, and stop for tea at the Pump Room before retiring to the Thermae Bath Spa. After a week of camping, shake off the soil and shack up at the Queensberry Hotel (www.thequeensberry.co.uk), where a three-night stay will set you back around S$2,130 for a couple.

1-4 July

Rock Werchter, Leuven, Belgium

This festival does what it says on the tin – it rocks. Devil’s horns are the order of the day in Belgium, where acts come and go over four days in a park setting in the hometown of the Stella Artois brewery; how convenient. This year Faithless, Rammstein, Pearl Jam, Arcade Fire, Stereophonics, Paramore, Gossip, Editors and Empire of the Sun will grace the stage for your aural pleasure.

Cost: A four-day pass for the event costs S$350 with a camping pass for S$30. Go to www.rockwerchter.be for more information.
Get there:
Jet Airways (www.jetairways.com) has flights to Brussels from S$1,260 (return); once you are in Belgium, train journeys to and from Leuven are free.
Side trip: Indulge in two Belgian passions: chocolate and beer. Head to Bruges and spend a day visiting the Choco-story – The Chocolate Museum, as well as the Brewery and Diamond Museums. In the evening, retire to the Markt for some quality people-watching. Stay at the Boathotel De Barge (www.hoteldebarge.be) a marine-themed hotel set on a bright blue barge. Three nights for a pair (including breakfast) will cost around S$500.

9-11 July

Rainforest Festival, Sarawak, Malaysia

Lauded by many as one of the finest stops for culturally diverse world music, the Rainforest Festival is a prime example of how festivals can succeed not only in showcasing musical talent but also in bringing people together. Last year over 20,000 people attended despite obstacles such as H1N1, the economic downturn and inclement weather. Here you’ll find music from all corners of the globe in some pretty esoteric shapes and sizes – to give you an idea, two of this year’s headliners are the Narasirato Pan Pipers, who hail from a mangrove forest in the Solomon Islands, and Burkina Faso’s hip-shaking ethnoveterans Farafina.

Cost: Expect to fork out $100 for a weekend ticket. Go to www.rainforestmusic-borneo.com for more information.
Get there:
Tiger Airways (www.tigerairways.com) has flights to Kuching from S$68 (return), or less if you take only hand luggage.
Side trip: Spend a few days taking in the sights, sounds and delights of Kuching, the capital of Sarawak. Browse the Sunday market (if it’s open), relax on the Kuching Waterfront before heading out later for a serving of manok pansoh (chicken and other delicacies stuffed in bamboo and cooked over an open fire). If you are feeling active, diving, kayaking, cooking classes and tribal experiences are on offer. Rest your weary head at the Limetree Hotel (www.limetreehotel.com.my); rooms go from S$70 per night.

29 July-1 August

Fuji Rock Festival, Naeba Ski Resort, Japan

The best festival in Asia for music lovers, set adjacent to the serene ski slopes north of Tokyo, Fuji has consistently played host to rock’s biggest bands since it kicked off in 1997, when Red Hot Chili Peppers were literally blown off stage by a typhoon. The 2010 line-up is as eclectic as ever with Muse, Hot Chip, Massive Attack and supergroup Them Crooked Vultures leading the way.

Cost: Tickets are S$600 for the three-day pass with a S$45 add-on for a camping ticket. Go to www.smash-uk.com for more information
Get there:
United Airlines (www.united.com) has direct flights to Tokyo from S$1,200 (return).
Side trip:
If your other half has come along for the ride, why not round off your trip with a journey along the Romantic Road? Stretching 350km from Ueda City to Utsunomiya City, and winding its way past a number of man-made wonders, hot springs and active volcanoes, it’s an ideal way to see a part of Japan that has previously been off the beaten path. Hiring a car will cost around S$60 per day and a valid International Driver’s Licence is required.

6-8 August

Lollapalooza, Chicago, USA

Ah, Perry Farrell – take a bow. The flamboyant singer can be held singularly responsible for this icon of the festival circuit, having conceived the event back in 1991 as a farewell tour for his band Jane’s Addiction, and then subsequently reviving the event in 2003 and basing it in Chicago. The only thing he hasn’t done for it is have hometown hero, Barack Obama, confirmed as a headliner. This year, standout names include Soundgarden alongside Green Day, Lady Gaga, The Strokes and The xx.

Cost: S$300 for three days, or there’s a two-person package for S$1,580 inclusive of accommodation, tickets and merchandise available. Go to www.lollapalooza.com for more information.
Get there:
United Airlines (www.united.com) has flights via Tokyo from S$2,067 (return). If money and time are no object, why not do both Fuji Rock and Lollapalooza?
Side trip:
Dedicate the rest of your trip to eating your way around the ethnic districts, or do your own remake of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and mooch around the city sights. Feed your architecture bug and scope out Frank Lloyd Wright’s designs, or head up to the 94th floor observation deck at the Hancock Center for a view that stretches forever.

29 December-1 January

Falls Festival, Lorne, Victoria, Australia

What better way to round off your ‘punishing’ year of live-music heaven than by spending three glorious days on the south coast of Australia? An annual fixture on the festival scene Down Under, the Falls is a great way to ring in the new. 2009’s headliners included Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Moby, Temper Trap and Wolfmother, so expect a similar mix of both Antipodean and international acts to round off a stellar festival year.

Cost: Expect to pay S$450 for a three-day pass. Go to www.fallsfestival.com.au for more information.
Get there: Jetstar Airways (www.jetstar.com) has flights from S$830 (return).
Side trip: Move from the rainforest to the ocean and try the Great Ocean Walk. Keep the tent and the backpack handy and set off from Apollo Bay. You can trek along just over 100km of pathways to end up near the 12 Apostles, camping at small towns along the route. Do some fauna – and floraspotting while you’re at it – certain sections pass through prime koala territory, so keep your eyes peeled.

*All prices are converted and rounded up to approximate figures from local currencies.

By Chris Swiderski
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