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Oct 092014
 

According to its press release, The Spider Sessions came about as a response to a lack of paying gigs for musical artistes in Singapore. Which is in itself, an excellent cause, of course and the folks behind this initiative should be commended.

Apart from organizing more paid gigs for indie bands, “the Spider Sessions aims to build a strong community, holding networking sessions prior to events in order to allow featured artistes to build rapport with each other as well as to facilitate pooling of fan bases. Similar avenues will be provided for the audience to interact with the artistes both during and outside of the events”.

Which is also to be applauded as the sense of community within the local music scene can definitely be built upon. The inaugural event will feature boxchild, Koji, Knightingale and Orange Cove. Ranging from melodic hard rock to grunge to pop punk, these bands represent the lesser-known albeit up and coming modern pop-rock scene in Singapore.

Venue: Pink Noize
Date: Saturday, November 15th 2014
Time: 7 PM to 10 PM
Ticket Pricing: $10
(inclusive of a complimentary non-alcoholic drink)

Oct 092014
 

The best part of being in Singapore? The availability of awesome #sgindie music at my doorstep! MAAD Sounds has going for it two main things – a wonderful selection of S-ROCK and the presence of the effervescent Andy Yang – artist, musician & all-round fun guy! This Friday, MAAD Sounds returns with four exciting indie rock bands – The Psalms, MONSTER CAT, Spacedays and Ellipis! Don’t miss this!! Check out the music below and will see you tomorrow!

… still there’s more …

Oct 072014
 

DRACULA UNTOLD
Directed by Gary Shore.
Starring Luke Evans, Sarah Gordon, Dominic Cooper & Samantha Banks.

There was a time Dracula was portrayed as a monster. Nothing suave or romantic about him, for sure. But of course, in these modern times, the vampire has become a sex symbol and Dracula is the King of Vampires! Eschewing any reliance on Bram Stoker’s classic storyline, the producers of Untold have opted instead to create an origin story for Dracula set in the 15th century. A good idea that has seldom been examined in the movies but sadly, the execution is an absolute letdown.

Continue reading »

Oct 072014
 

Is there a mini classic pop-rock happening in 2014? Well, you could argue that it has never really gone away when guys like Bob Mould, Guided by Voices, Tom Petty, J Mascis, Johnny Marr, Sloan and the like have continued to make vital music. Never mind the fact that Guardians of the Galaxy soundtrack has all but brought classic 70s pop-rock back to the mainstream. AND with ex-MCR frontman Gerard Way releasing a debut solo album that has the ‘emo-punk-pop’ kids in an uproar, then you know for sure that something is going on. In any case, here’s a couple of 70s-era song videos that will demonstrate, I hope, why this is the kind of music that I will always be rocking to!

… still there’s more …

Oct 072014
 

John Lennon was my very first musical hero back when I first started listening to pop music and remains to this day, in my humble opinion, the ultimate embodiment of rock n’ roll. As a songwriter, Lennon has always been my primary inspiration, equally at home writing rockers and ballads whilst expressing topics ranging from love to politics to the whimsical but always personal and honest.

Thus, it was good news this morning, when I discovered that Lennon’s back catalogue is now available at Spotify. Finally! Yes, of course, I possess virtually every single track that Lennon ever made, either with The Beatles or as a solo artist but it’s so convenient to have all these wonderful songs at a finger click now. So, here’s my John Lennon Spotify playlist. Enjoy….

… still there’s more …

Oct 042014
 

THE INFINITE SADNESS OF BEING

Every now and then, I get depressed. It just happens. Often there could be a simple, trivial trigger that sets it off. Today, it was about only getting two classes for RP next semester. I know it’s not a big deal but I can’t shake the feeling that it’s a criticism of my work at RP and it’s difficult to convince myself otherwise. And that starts a avalanche of self-loathing and I begin to list out the different ways I suck as a musician, as a songwriter, as a writer and as a human being. I look for clues to justify this negativity and usually social media is fertile ground for this very bad exercise. Haha yeah. Every time somebody does well, I feel like a loser and failure in comparison, especially in music circles. Which is silly, of course, but the emotions are there nonetheless. I am sad about ending my North American adventure and returning home partly due to the fact that I have to face so much disappointment. Again, this is illogical but in my mind, 2014 has been an abject failure. None of my plans for writing and music have actually moved forwards and in fact, I really feel that I have gone backwards. How much of this is my depressive mood and how much is honest reflection is a bit hard to tell. Writing it all out like this does help and I am hoping that things will get better in the final quarter of the year.

… still there’s more …

Oct 042014
 

LET IT ALL HANG OUT!

It does seem that in order to succeed in pop music in 2014, one really needs to ramp up one’s sex appeal. Especially if you are a woman, of course. I’m no prude (far from it!) but it is a lil disappointing to think that a female artiste has to present herself in such a crass manner to win over the contemporary pop music fan. Don’t believe me? Well, take a look…

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… still there’s more …

Oct 032014
 

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Couple of recommended new releases you should be listening to at Spotify.

AMPLIFIER – Mystoria

This Manchester hard rock band has been around since the late 90s and their 5th studio full-length is a wonderful distillation of 70s classic rock that include knowing references to Black Sabbath, Genesis, Rush & Pink Floyd. Tastefully done to emphasize both melodic and metallic aspects, this is one of the kind of rock music that should be getting more attention in 2014! Singer-guitarist Sel Balamir is the main attraction here as his vocals and superb guitar work takes center stage in every single track. Check out “Magic Carpet”, “Cat’s Cradle” & “Crystal Anthem” for maximum rock ‘n’ roll!

CHRISTOPHER OWENS – A New Testament

This is good old fashioned country gospel music that one is unlikely to hear on the hip and cool playlists in 2014 – until now, of course. Kudos to Owens for breaking away from the crowd with this gorgeously authentic tribute to classic country-folk/R&B gospel. A New Testament (typically religious reference from Owens) is evidence that there is plenty of goodness to mined from classic pop-rock, especially in the right hands. One of the albums of the year, no contest!

DARK WAVES - s/t

I really don’t give a shit about what ‘genre’ a band/artist is considered to be a part of, I only need to know one thing – is the songwriting any good? Well, Dark Waves (aka Nick Long) certainly possesses the songwriting chops to keep my attention on its debut eponymous EP. ‘Memorable melodies & appropriate arrangements’ is always my mantra when it comes to assessing music and virtually every song here fits the bill. I am truly digging “The Heartbeat The Soul” and “Echo” immensely. Keeping a close eye on Dark Waves…

… still there’s more …

Oct 032014
 

News about the lineup for Laneway Festival 2015 came out yesterday. There was the usual hand-wringing and whining about why so-and-so wasn’t coming etc but overall, I believe that the response has been fairly positive. For me personally, having endured the dark days of the 70s, 80s & 90s when rock music events were far and between, I never take these things for granted. Sure, none of these bands compare to Pink Floyd, Black Sabbath or Deep Purple in their prime but in the context of rock & pop music circa 2015, this lineup looks intriguing. Apart from St. Vincent, Lykke Li and our very own .gif and Hanging Up the Moon, I am not too familiar with most of the names but that’s the joy of discovery, I guess. So expect more information about the above bands/artists in the weeks leading up to the festival, from our typical critically objective perspective!

… still there’s more …

Oct 022014
 

Songwriters Open Circle

SGMUSO is proud to present SONGWRITERS WEEK

Our friend Adam Lyons (Lyon Apprentice/FAIRCHILD, Alumni of Music Matters Live) has informed us that he will be coming to town for a week in October for a songwriting collaboration project with a few Singaporean acts at the amazing Beep Studios! At his request, SGMUSO will be helping to facilitate a couple of side events to open up the opportunity to even more Singaporean musicians to get together, know their community, perform and also encourage cross-collaboration amongst each other locally and internationally.

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SONGWRITERS OPEN CIRCLE

7th October 2014, TUESDAY
7PM – 9.30PM
LITHE PARALOGUE STUDIO

We will be kicking off the week with an intimate SONGWRITERS OPEN CIRCLE, a sharing session in which we would like to invite all songwriters, producers and music-makers to join us for a chat and jam. We hope to provide a small creative space for everyone to get together to know their community, discuss and exchange ideas, stories and processes, tips on getting ideas on paper and then in the studio, to collaborate musically – all in an relaxed and improvised setting. The intimate vibe of the songwriter’s circle will allow for a unique discussion and improvised performance. Musicians can choose to bring along their own instruments to share a couple of songs at the open circle. Musicians that attend will be encouraged to sign up for our open jam at the Songwriters Night at Timbre Barbershop at the end of the week. Special guest, Adam Lyons will be present to drive this Open Circle session!

Big shout-out and love to Lithe Paralogue Studio for letting us use their lovely space!

*Limited seats only. Send your RSVPs to info@sgmuso.org by 6th Oct to reserve a seat!

Bring your own food and booze!!

Songwriters Night

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Oct 012014
 

Glass Animals - 2

As you can see from my blurry pictures, the Biltmore Cabaret was absolutely packed and rocking for Glass Animals last night. Playing songs mainly from their lovely debut LP - Zaba – the quartet hypnotized the young-ish audience with its dynamic mix of indie pop and EDM vibes. Everything seemed to happen in a slo-mo trance as frontman Dave Bayley bedazzled the crowd with tasteful melodies & sharp guitars whilst the insistent groove keep the momentum going into 7th heaven. Songs like”Black Mambo”, “Gooey” & “Walla Walla” had the kids in dance extacy!

Continue reading »

Sep 292014
 

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Singapore born and raised hip hop duo Trick blew the crowd away at Hood Bar and Café with a fast tempo heady rushed of lyrics. Supported by AMPed and hosted by Gerald Koh, the place was teeming with girls who were trying to catch a glimpse of their idols. Often resembling Jay Park and T.I., the duo threw the crowd off their feet with covers such as “Ringa Linga” by Taeyang.

Trick showed us how covers should be done, as lyrics were being changed to fit their personal styles into the songs. It is not something which every band is doing hence making them unique.

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Keeping the crowd “Up All Night”, with hits such as “BPM” and “The Life”. My personal favourite was “BPM” as the high energy level brought out the essence of the song together with the hypnotic groove which left the audience sashaying their hips away.

To commemorate their success, champagne bottles were popped and a cake was being presented upon to the duo by die hard fans. Some lucky fans were fortunate enough to have themselves sprayed with champagne by Richard.

Ending their set with their latest single “Sunshine” an acoustic strip down approached was being adopted. The audience were certainly in for a treat as they smiled widely when the performance drew to a close. Excited fans started to flock to the meet and greet both to have their photos taken with Trick.

Trick certainly gave it their all as they interacted with their fans, whose live set was a dynamic blast of  pop music that remained engaging throughout.

Photographs by Cherlynn Lian – www.onefiftythree.com

Thanks to SONY Music for making this review possible. 

(Nikita Wong)

Sep 282014
 

Directed by Omori Tatsushi. 
Starring  Eita, Matsuda Ryuhei, Maki Yoko, Masatoshi Nagase, Kora Kengo, Maro Akaji, Omori Nao, Iwasaki Miku.

Caught this excellent Japanese movie’s world premiere at the Vancouver International Film Festival. Brilliant story telling in a matter of fact style. The plot itself started out slowly enough but once the key factors were introduced, the movie felt like an emotional roller-coaster in slo-mo. Actually, the 2nd movie of a trilogy, Disconcerto revolves around the antics of odd couple Tada (Eita) and Gyoten (Ryuhei) as they try to come to terms with their past and deal with the pressing issues of the present.

Director Tatsushi keeps the sophisticated narrative simple whilst revealing details about the lead characters bit by bit. There is an inherent sadness in both leads that impacts their actions. Significantly, their individual plans are interrupted by little children, a lesbian couple, a cult, protesting old folks and the Yakuza! Despite all that, the duo still manage to plough through life in their inimitable manner.

But ultimately, it is the relationship between Tada and Gyoten that anchors the movie well – in this respect, one can look forward to the next installment of Tada’s Do-it-all House with anticipation.

Sep 282014
 

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My first indie gig in Vancouver was at the Future Sound Club and by the time I got there, Smash Boom Pow – 2nd band on the bill – were already on stage. This young band certainly has some intriguing ideas – at some point even blending blues rock riffs with post-punk structures – but certainly the songwriting has much room for improvement. Nothing too memorable about most of their music although there was clear potential evident.

The headliners for the night – The Oceanographers – were definitely popular with the crowd. Although somewhat generic post-punk revivalist, there was also sufficient melodic development in their songs to suggest that the quartet had the promise of more sophisticated work ahead. Frontman Clayton Dupuis certainly had the cheekbones for the part and played the part of focal point credibly as the band led the frenzied crowd through danceable post-punk numbers that at least provides them with a strong foundation for further improvement. One to watch out for!

… still there’s more …

Sep 272014
 

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I had the privilege of getting a tour of Nimbus School of Recording Arts in Vancouver. Founded by Bob Ezrin, Garth Richardson and Kevin Williams, Nimbus is a music school which emphasizes audio recording but also provides modules relating to music production, post-production, live sound and music business. Campus Director Rob Stefanson was kind enough to walk me around the Nimbus facilities, which were pretty impressive.

I managed to catch a few classes in sessions (even an exam!) and a couple of students fast asleep after a night of work (the facilities are available 24/7!). But more importantly, I learned from Rob about the impact that Nimbus had on the Vancouver music community as many bands were given valuable assistance from Nimbus students which enhanced the quality of music in Vancouver by the same token. For instance, JPNSGRLS had recorded parts of their debut EP at Nimbus as had a few other Vancouver indie bands so definitely, the music scene has benefited from the presence of Nimbus within the community.

Food for thought for our own local music scene, for sure!

… still there’s more …

Sep 272014
 

Writer Ken Sharp’s new book Play On!: Power Pop Heroes Volume One is available for pre-orders for 1 month with a cut off sale date of October 28th.

In the first installment of a three-volume series, Ken Sharp honors the musical innovators who built the genre’s foundation. Featuring a foreword by Eric Carmen of Raspberries, the 480-page book culls exclusive extended interviews with 20 artists that defined the genre, including members of the Beatles, the Who, the Kinks, the Beach Boys, the Byrds, the Hollies, the Dave Clark Five, the Zombies, Bee Gees, the Turtles, the Left Banke, Small Faces, the Move, Jeff Lynne and others. Also covered in this volume are representatives of the first generation of dedicated acolytes who followed the progenitors’ trail: Badfinger, Raspberries, Big Star and Emitt Rhodes.

 

Available exclusively from http://www.ken-sharp.com/power_pop/index.html

Sep 252014
 

BobMouldLive

THIS IS HARDCORE

My first proper gig overseas went without any hitch whatsoever. Got a nautical wheel stamp on my inner right wrist to indicate that I was on the guest list! (Well, it was the Neptune Theater). The Neptune was a small venue with ornate trimmings and classical ambience. Stained glass images of gods and goddesses of the sea. Arrived early and was actually carded (!) as the floor was meant for ‘+21′ only!

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Opening band Cymbals Eat Guitars started at 8pm in the dot and played a lively 30-odd minute set punctuated by energy, passion and musical endeavor. Playing mostly songs from the new LP, LOSE, the crowd was suitably impressed and for me the final two songs viz “Jackson” & “Laramie” were outstanding with singer/guitarist Joseph D’Agostino and drummer Andrew Dole, the focal points. Definitely a band with tremendous potential as their style mixes up decades of rock & pop influences intelligently. I would love to see them do a full set in Singapore!

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Of course, all of us were waiting for the legendary Bob Mould and I daresay nobody was disappointed with his visceral delivery of melodic alt-rock that spanned the decades from Husker Du, Sugar and recent solo material. Right from the get-go with the triple punch of “Flip Your Wig”, “Hate Paper Doll” and “Changes”, you just knew you were in for a wild ride. The crowd went ape shit as young and old in the audience moved along to the high energy hardcore punk and sang along to those catchy tunes. What a killer combination – no exaggeration to describe Bob as a godfather of grunge (on equal footing with Neil Young) or a seminal influence on a slew of 90s bands that came in the wake of Husker Du (including Nirvana & Foo Fighters).

Backed by the amazing rhythm section of drummer Jon Wurster (Superchunk) and bass player Jason Narducy (Verbow), there was no stopping the intensity and dynamism emanating from stage as Bob, Jon and Jason managed to present old and new songs as a coherent whole – fast, loud & infectious. Thus, brand new instant classics like “I Don’t Know You Anymore” had no problem whatsoever blending in with legendary tracks like “Makes No Sense At All” (a blistering encore song).

But for me, the most memorable moment arrived when Bob slowed things down with “Hardly Getting Over It” (from Husker Du’s Candy Apple Grey) where Bob beat Neil Young at his own game – a feedback drenched country-folk ballad that sent chills down my spine and tears into my eyes. Truly incandescent. Bob sent everyone home happy with an obscure Husker Du cover of the Mary Tyler Moore theme – “Love is All Around”. There was little doubt in my mind that we were in the presence of a living rock n roll legend – thank you Bob Mould!

Thanks to Jesse O’Connor/Tell Your Friends PR for making this review possible!

Sep 232014
 

Here’s a lively soul pop number with a fun video to boot! It’s awesome to see tons of familiar faces from the local music scene in the video as well (but what about moi?). That sense of playfulness is nicely contrasted with Gareth’s (and band’s) sophisticated image – y’know the suits etc. The song itself has a catchy horn(y) motif and chorus (though the song title seems a bit of a mouthful). Am glad to announce that Gareth’s debut EP will be dropping soon and the launch will be held at Barbershop at Timbre on 22nd October. This suave boy is going places so better get in on the bottom floor before take-off. Tickets available from http://garethfernandez.peatix.com/

… still there’s more …

THE FUTURE OF GAMING

 HARDWARE  Comments Off
Sep 232014
 

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Yup, boys and girls, that’s yours truly wearing a prototype VR headset experiencing a VR demo somewhere in VALVE HQ. Suffice to say that it was a life-changing experience! After all, as scifi buffs will tell you, ‘virtual reality’ has always been the stuff of science fiction – well, now it is FACT. I was privileged enough to experience quite a few scenarios based on VALVE’s award-winning games and others put together purely to demonstrate the potential of this new cutting edge technology.

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Initially, I was placed into a Portal scenario which seemed sedate enough but then suddenly I was in a room filled with characters from Left 4 Dead and my heart almost jumped out of my chest! Life-sized zombies hovered around me and even though I knew none of them were real (heh!), I could not help but freeze in my tracks! It was like living within a game – literally. Mind you, these environments were in very early stages of development but the detail was amazing.

As I left VALVE HQ, I could not help but ponder over the limitless possibilities of VR – a whole new world has literally opened up. Personally, I can’t wait…

A humongous thank you to my good friend Chris Chin & VALVE for making this article possible.

 

Sep 212014
 

On track #2 of BRONCHO‘s new album – “Class Historian” – the band unleash a hook so infectious it should be illegal. There is something indefinably timeless about the song even though it exists firmly within the post-punk revivalist milieu. I supposed it is impossible for bands like BRONCHO not to wear evoke the sound of their influences even if it is somewhat second-hand Arcade Fire by way of Interpol. At its most basic, BRONCHO parlays a generic fuzzy guitar-driven rock style into a indie pop structure that is at once familiar and unique – if that is at all possible. With Anglophile baritone vocals, drone-like bass, rudimentary mid-tempo drumming – it’s hard not to dismiss most of this album as an exercise in Velvets mannerisms but it’s hard to argue with the appealing nature of the tunes of “Stay Loose” and “Kurt”. I guess you could say that this 2014’s version of a guilty pleasure – a Bon Jovi for the post-punk set. (Dine Alone Records)

KEVIN SAYS

 PERSONAL  Comments Off
Sep 212014
 

Meritocracy is bullshit. There is no such thing. Success is often the confluence of race, family and nationality. If every human being was truly equal at the starting point of life then maybe just maybe, there would be true meritocracy.  The only people that push this idea of meritocracy are the wealthy, so that they can insist that their wealth is deserved and also to keep the poor down. But this is probably something you are aware of but also something that you know is almost impossible to do anything about.

In this cruel world, the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. But there is a silver lining to all this. In the final analysis, being wealthy does not make you a better person. Wealth is transient and you can’t take it with you when you die, and if you can’t use your wealth to improve the lives of others, then what is the fucking point? Amassing wealth and possessions for the sake of it is ultimately meaningless.

All this is easier said than done, of course. But there is no use in lamenting your lack of wealth – if you can learn to be contented with your  lot in life, then your financial position will have no impact on your emotional state and you can be happy in any and every circumstance. Surely, that must be the objective of every human being and thus, I have resolved to find the good in every situation and to live every day as if it were my last….

PoPTV

 MUSIC  Comments Off
Sep 212014
 

RAGLANS – “White Lightning”

This Irish band has released a fabulous music video for its “White Lightning” single (off new eponymous album). Directed by Finn Keenan, the video contains a couple of inventive visual gags and the song itself is great guitar rock in its own right. At almost 3 minutes, it’s a dose of classic pop-rock that certainly deserves your attention. Check it out!

Raglans available from iTunes.

Sep 202014
 

Other Sounds is presenting American singer-songwriter and guitarist Bill Callahan in Singapore this November. Callahan is probably best known for his work in the lo-fi genre of underground rock, with home-made tape-albums recorded on four track tape recorders. Leslie Low will provide support.

Details: –

The Substation Theatre (45 Armenian St)

Sunday, 30 November 2014

Doors open: 8pm

$35 (early bird, limited quantity), $45 (standard), $55 (at the door)

TICKETS ARE AVAILABLE NOW VIA PEATIX

http://www.billcallahan. peatix.com

 

Sep 192014
 

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My first ever indie gig in North America! It might have been a modest affair at the LoFi Performance Gallery in Seattle but there was genuinely exciting music making going on in this low key event. It was $6 at the door and the crowd in attendance was sparse on a Wednesday night but there was no mistaking the passion the three bands had for their music.

I was particularly impressed by The Crush, who actually sounded even better as a live outfit! A very tight performance marked out by Jacob’s astute guitar playing, Daniel’s timely drumming & Kira’s stage presence. And the songs were good fun – flavored with melodic color and powerpop flair – the kind of wonderful pop music nobody seems to make anymore. Jacob worked his red Rickenbacker perfectly, optimizing its use with Byrdsy arpeggios, Paul Weller crunch & Mike Campbell virtuosity – a handy package to possess! Guess you could say I have a crush on The Crush! Haha!! (Facebook)

Continue reading »

Sep 192014
 
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Stephen Christian by Aloysius Lim

I often use observations at gigs in Singapore to comment on how things have changed. And this final show of Anberlin’s in Singapore certainly revealed a lot about how far our indie music scene has come. I first saw Anberlin in 2007 and whilst the crowd then was exuberant, that show did not come close to the excitement displayed by the audience at TAB last Friday (12th Sep). In addition, the opening band this time round – Caracal – were rapturously received by an audience that easily accepted a local band on stage unlike say 7 years ago when local bands were tolerated at best as a necessary evil.

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Caracal by Aloysius Lim

By the large, the main takeaway from this was the obvious mutual love between band and its audience – almost every song was sung in gusto, moshing broke out every and then & at the very end, the band was presented with a fan-made video that brought everyone in the venue (especially the band) to tears. All very sentimental, you will agree, but considering that Anberlin consists of men in their thirties (by and large) and is not a bunch pre-pubescent K-pop boys, the adulation is commendable.  That Singaporean indie rock fans are able to make an emotional connection to a band beyond basic functionality proves that there is indeed hope for the future of arts and music appreciation in our formerly cultural desert of a country.

Kudos to everyone who made this performance a smashing success. Take a bow!

Thanks to Upsurge Productions for making this review possible.