NATIONAL DAY CELEBRATIONS

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It has been a good 2009 for Kevin Mathews, singer-songwriter-performer, as I have been playing gigs at least once every month. Never would have imagined this scenario two and a half years ago when I had decided to “give up” music! But God does work in mysterious (and wonderful) ways…

I am also extremely thankful to the Esplanade for their continued support of Singapore music and in particular, mine. Being invited to be part of their National Day Celebrations at the Concourse is/was an honour. I was specifically requested to sing my Singapore-centric songs and so that was the brief and it gave me the opportunity to debut some new material as well, which is always rewarding.

My set on Friday started at 8.15pm and the crowd was mainly old folks and young kids. A little bizarre but the trouper in me ensured that I was up for it, albeit barely. Saturday’s first set at 5pm was better. If I wasn’t late that is. You see, I met up with Rachael Teo after the sound check for a chat and the time really flew and before I knew it, I was late for my own gig. Never done that before. But somehow, it worked out (Thanks, God!) and my heightened adreneline resulted in a pretty good set, if I do say so myself.

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But it was the second set at 7pm which I thoroughly enjoyed, with the benefit of a baby grand… I tinkled and banged away to some newer material including my own version of a National Day song which I believe went down well. This is the third time that I’ve done a solo set with piano/keyboards and it was immensely satisfying. Must do more!

Anyways, here are the set lists

Friday (8.15pm)/Saturday (5pm)

I Love Singapore, Pasir Ris Sunrise, High Cost of Living, Past Tense, My One & Only, Gum.

Saturday (7pm)

Late Night Request (Great Spy cover), Texas, Little Red Dot, My Life, Better, Happy Theme, My One & Only.

Thanks to the Esplanade crew, especially to Delvin & Hairon, for taking care of me and for Rach, Ivan and Samuel for kindest support. Oh, and if anyone shot videos, please share.

… and there’s more …

IGNITE! MUSIC FESTIVAL 2009

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I heard about Ignite! Music Festival 2009 through A Vacant Affair’s status updates on Facebook. I couldn’t make it for their set on Friday due to other commitments, so I trooped down after work on Saturday.

By the time I arrived, Tacit Aria had already started their set. I hadn’t heard that much from them, other than through their Myspace account.

They had decent stage antics but I felt that they relied too heavily on their influences, and they sounded similar to a lot of the other bands we have within the scene. Some of their songs also sounded mashed up and it was a bit confusing to follow.

They did better with the last song and they meant it when they said they were rocking out to end the set. They’ll be performing alongside Fire Away Samson and Saving Someone! on August 15 for Transitions EP Launch @ Scape Labs ($15).

I hope they improve because I really liked the last song they performed, and based on that, they have the potential if they come up with a sound that’s unique to who they are as a band.

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King Kong Jane were next, and I’ve always though they were one of the more consistent bands in the scene. They won Powerjam 2008 & were Vivian Wang (The Observatory)’s apprentices for NOISE Singapore.

By the time they started the set, there was a small crowd, mainly seated at the back in the shade. Colin commented that it was like playing to the seventh month audience, which was partially true considering the wide gap between the stage and the audience.

They played songs like Waiting for Friday and Lollipop, which were catchy. The band themselves looked like they were having fun, it was such a pity they got such a poor response. I really liked the band’s performance. It’s been far too long since I caught them live.

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Vertical Rush was the band I came to see. I was a bit disappointed with their performance and it wasn’t their best one. They played the usual songs like Spaceman, Your Last Song and Collide. Their redemption came when they played a revision of Wasting, which was fantastic.

The thing I didn’t like about the set was how Esmond’s vocals kept fading in and out throughout the set. The sound was problematic, ranging from drowned out vocals to the bass being too loud.

It was an interesting festival and even though I didn’t stay the rest of the day, I heard positive feedback from people who stayed throughout. I heard that by the time The Great Spy Experiment played, there was a big crowd of people moshing. ‘Moshing to The Great Spy Experiment!’, you may exclaim. My sentiments. I figure the GSE played music you could dance to, but you never know what to expect with youths these day.

I had a good time while I was there, although there’s still room for improvement. Nonetheless, it was great that they brought back Ignite! Music Festival this year with fantastic bands.

(Rebecca Lincoln)

Pix by Shiro Ang

THE FIRE FIGHT

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Every now and then, a band comes that totally blows one’s mind. In 2005, I found myself captivated by B-Quartet. This year, The name of the band is The Fire Fight. The story of Henri was conceived 3 years ago, now, the story of Henri the Bear has been unveiled and I had the chance to check out the album launch of their full-length album, Henri.

The evening started with Iain playing the introduction to the Sonnet, followed by the rest joining him onstage. From where I was, there were smiles on faces around the room as Joakim Gomez narrated the journey of Henri.

Throughout the launch, The Fire Fight were accompanied by special guests Angel Lee (backing vox, guitars), Joakim (backing vox, keys),  Esmond (backing vox, trumpet) and Calvin (trumpet) on songs like Portrait Lover and Covenant. It was really nice that they got (a little) help from their friends, talented musicians themselves!

The crowd was engaged with the narrations from Joakim, coupled with the music The Fire Fight played that told the story of Henri the Bear. Everyone warmed up pretty quickly to the music, and as I looked around the room, they were definitely enjoying themselves. The energy throughout the night was kept at a constant high, with most of the people around me dancing and waving their arms around. At some point in time, light sticks were given, and they were waved enthusiastically to the music.

Everything about the launch was outstanding, from the transformation of the Recital Studio to look like Elemenopee, to the party hats, animal ears, the balloons, the sing-alongs, the connection the band had with the audience and the band themselves.

I really enjoyed Iain’s drum solo, Josh and Angel singing an acoustic version of People and Spaces, the balloons which were thrown into the crowds, the decorations and the stage lighting, which changed with the mood of the songs. My favourite song of the night would have to be Portrait Lover, which incorporates expressive, poetic lyrics with melodic tunes.

All the jamming sessions The Fire Fight put in paid off, because they sounded incredible! There were some hiccups along the way but they still managed to engage the audience while keeping the energy levels up despite being out and about the whole day with soundchecks and preparations that needed to be done. They definitely delivered an outstanding performance, which ended with everyone shouting for an encore, before they finally ended with inevitable crowd pleaser, Train Song.

After the launch had ended, everyone hung around talking to their friends and congratulated the band before being going out. By the time I left the Recital Hall, there was a call for the last Henri CD, which was immediately snapped up. It was heartwarming that all the months of hard work the band put in paid off when all the CDs that were on sale and tickets to the album launch of Henri were sold out.

I was very impressed that so many musicians from other local bands turned up to support The Fire Fight. Some of the members from The Great Spy Experiment were there, in addition to those from Cardinal Avenue and Giants Must Fall, to name a few. It’s fantastic that they’ve got the support of other musicians within the scene.

In my opinion, The Fire Fight has what it takes to mature musically and join the ranks of other famous S-ROCK bands like Plainsunset, Electrico and The Great Spy Experiment. I look forward to what they have to offer in future!

On a side note, The Fire Fight was also impressive in their use of social media. Those of you who follow The Fire Fight on Twitter (www.twitter.com/thefirefight) would have known what they were up to throughout the day, whether it was photos of Iain soundchecking his drums or Josh eating a foccacia sandwich through the photos that were taken. The Tweets added to the buildup to the launch of Henri. Wake Me Up (www.twitter.com/wakemeupmusic) gave updates ‘live’ from the Recital Studio, complete with photos!

(Rebecca Lincoln)

The S-ROCK scene lives on the hope that its fellow countrymen will wake up to the fact that there are exciting, talented & passionate musicians and songwriters in their midst. But even more than that, a belief that one fine day, our best bands will get the recognition they so richly deserve from outside their own home town. Watching, cheering and dancing to the sublime music of the Fire Fight last night ignited that flame of conviction that indeed the former will become a reality sooner rather than later. The launch of Henri was a celebration, not only of the Fire Fight’s magnificient achievement but the realization that these young men are our very OWN. My sense of pride shook me deeply, not only at what Josh, Iain, Jon and JBarks had wrought together but looking around at the like-minded souls around me – Mike, Song, Rebecca, Daniel, Caleb, JBoss, Leonard, Huza, Weiwen, Roland, Fir, Poh Soo, Ivan, Audie, amongst many others – this is a victory that we all share. Together.

The Fire Fight’s inspiring new album, Henri, is in the stores now.

…and there’s more…

Pix by Ivanified.

CHRIS COLLINGWOOD – LIVE IN SINGAPORE

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Dreams do come true! Sometime in 2008, I posted an event on Facebook for my performance (with the Groovy People) at Rock the Sub. I got a bit of a shock when Chris Collingwood (the voice of power pop legends Fountains of Wayne) wrote on the event wall that he would love to play in Singapore!

Well, in about 5 weeks’ time, Collingwood will in fact be playing in Singapore at Baybeats 2009 on the 29th of August to be precise. And if that wasn’t exciting enough, yours truly will be backing Chris playing rhythm guitar and singing backing vox! Yes! Really!

Let’s just say that I have been a big fan of FOW since their gorgeous eponymous album was released in 1996 – the one with the kid playing Superman holding his pet bunny – and I can barely wrap my head around the fact that I will be on stage with Chris playing great songs like Radiation Vibe, Sick Day (my favorite!), Red Dragon Tattoo and Stacy’s Mom!

So, stay tuned as Power of Pop begins its countdown to Baybeats 2009, with special emphasis on my experiences with Chris in the coming weeks! Oh by the way, rounding up the band are Eugene Wee and Desmond Sim out of S-ROCK legends The Lilac Saints!

Check out my review of FOW’s third album, Welcome Interstate Managers, which I wrote a few years back. Still there’s more.

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Ten tracks into this, the third and latest album from Adam Schlesinger, Chris Collingwood and company, Fountains of Wayne delivers a truly incandescent pop moment with the ‘70s soft-rock evoking “Halley’s Waitress.” With the inspirations of Burt Bacharach and the Carpenters trailing in its wake, “Halley’s Waitress,” with its baroque piano, poignant string arrangement, vibes and theme of wistful regret, represents the rare indications of heart (rather than mind) dictating the Fountains Of Wayne pop agenda.

This superior mood and tone is mirrored in the folky “Hackensack” and the balladic Fire Island, not to mention the radio-friendly “All Kinds of Time.”

Not that the band’s trademark driving sunshine pop-rock doesn’t in itself justify a recommendation. It’s just that I’ve always felt that this particular kind of Cheap Trick meets Pixies melodic crunch has been better served up by the likes of Weezer and Grandaddy. Worse still when juvenile urges are indulged with the rather distasteful “Stacy’s Mom” – imagine a much creepier “Jesse’s Girl,” where instead of lusting after another guy’s girlfriend, this time it’s your girlfriend’s erm mother – although I presume it’s done as a parody but why go there at all?

That aberration apart, the songwriting duo’s knack for stitching together vivid novelettes ala Ray Davies remains intact. The working class dilemma is outlined in tracks like “Mexican Wine” – “I used to fly for United Airlines/Then I got fired for reading High Times,” “Bright Future in Sales” – “I had a line on a brand new account/But now I can’t seem to find/Where I wrote that number down” and “Little Red Light” – “Stuck in a meeting on a Monday night/trying to get the numbers to come out right.” Even happier to report that the boys’ sense of humour is not lost in songs like the bizarre action-replay paean “All Kinds Of Time,” which simply describes an American Football TV scene, “No Better Place” with “Is that supposed to be your poker face/Or was someone run over by a train” and “Hey Julie” which illustrates the mundanity of the working stiff – “Working all day for a mean little man/With a clip-on tie and a rub-on tan.”

Hailed years ago as the Great White Hope of power pop, Fountains of Wayne do not disappoint with Welcome Interstate Managers, clocking in at 55-plus minutes and 16 tracks, discerning pop fans will relish every nuance and every lick. Indispensable.

POWER OF POP FESTIVAL

If Power of Pop organized a one-day rock festival, the line up would probably look a little like this…

My headliners would be –

WILCO

NADA SURF

FLEET FOXES

GARY LOURIS

So far, so good eh? And my supporting acts would include –

WHITE DENIM

ELIZABETH AND THE CATAPULT

DAVID MEAD

SPLITSVILLE

… and of course, my favourite S-ROCK bands will all be given primo spots for maximum exposure as well!

Okay, day dreaming over.

…still there’s more…

LING KAI

Here’s a video that Singaporean singer-songwriter (and youtube superstar) Ling Kai has just posted online. Its a new song called Perfect Today and features an off-camera kazoo. Yeah, really. Ling Kai will be opening for Aimee Mann at the Esplanade Concert Hall on 29th August at 7.30pm. In the meantime, enjoy…

S-ROCK UPLIFT

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For reasons I will not bore you with, it was important for me to get a lift this weekend, to recharge these batteries for yet another demanding week. Friday and Saturday nights promised much, first with the performance of the Great Spy Experiment at dbl O for Hennessy Artistry and then for my collaboration with Jon Chan at the For This Cycle EP launch the following night.

On Friday night, I met up with Firdaus, Audie, Nigel & Deborah for a meal before the GSE gig and had a fine time bascially talking cock (foreign visitors would need to google that). By the time, we got into dbl O, Freaky Z was on stage. The sound was less than optimal but I really dug what Freaky Z was all about. Unfairly lumped together with Singapore’s hip-hop scenesters, Freaky Z never tries to ape African-American rap culture in the way he looks or performs, instead he remains himself – Singaporean! His musical style, to my ears, is more reggae/ska filtered through indie Brit-rock, like Arctic Monkeys. I enjoyed his set. When GSE finally came on (sans Song – holidaying in Spain), the crowd rushed to the front of the stage obediently at Saiful’s prompting and from then on it was a half-hour of blissful mayhem. Yes, the sound basically sucked (inaudible guitar, distorting vocals etc) but the band soared above that limitation to deliver a heady set. The crowd certainly played its part as the connection between band and audience elevated this gig to sweet highs! New songs Wasted and The Lights stood their ground amidst “old” faves like Dance With Me, The Great Decay, Late Night Request, Siti in the City and of course the communal event that is Class ‘A’ Love Affair. I personally like the way Mag’s keyboards are more prominent in the newer material, a welcome development. So thanks to Saiful, Fandy, Mag and Khai for a magical night! Shout-outs also to Mike, Rozz, Huzaifah and Ian (The Fire Fight)…thanks!

Here’s a little “secret”, Jon Chan and I only rehearsed for our guest spot on Saturday night at 4plus on the day itself! Don’t try this at home, kids! Heh! I love Jon Chan! He’s one of our best singer-songwriters – talented and versatile. But most importantly, he’s a gent, no egos and hang ups, an absolute joy to work with. After the run through of our set, we ran over to the Cineleisure food court for a satisfying dinner with Esmond and Brian (always great for a chat). When we returned, there was a pretty big crowd (200 peeps?) waiting to enter scape, not bad for a ticketed event. No doubt that For This Cycle (aka Weiwen Seah) is going places indeed. After Fire Away Samson, Tacit Aria and Trella, we made our way onto the stage and did the set. A cover of the ever-reliable All Along the Watchtower, Jon’s wondrous new untitled song about grace – (“you know you can’t make it/and you know you can’t fake it”) and Gum. Judging from the bemused faces of most of the audience, I’d say that it was the youngest crowd I’ll played to since I started performing again but I wanna say “thank you” to the kids at the front who actually sang along to Gum. Made my night!

As young as Weiwen is, he has the mature sensibility to explore so-called older approaches in his music and as much as I agree with Esmond that he is the “Next Big Thing” in S-ROCK, I believe that Weiwen will be more than a passing fad and that he has it in him to be an exciting singer-songwriter/performer anywhere. I highly recommend you to keep an eye on this young man, and of course check out his EP (review to come…).

So that’s my re-charge sorted, high fives(!) to Jon, Esmond, Brian, Weiwen, Roland, Jordan, (Mr) Dex, Azly (thanks for the Postbox EP), Zaki (Peepshow), Joakim… later!

(Pix by Jane Liew)

… still there’s more …

AIMEE MANN LIVE IN SINGAPORE

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I recently wrote a review of David Mead’s excellent new album and lamented how difficult it is for sophisticated pop songwriters to earn their keep in the superficial modern rock scene. Well, Aimee Mann has certainly faced her fair share of challenges since she left 80s band ‘Til Tuesday in 1990. Releasing her first two albums (Whatever and I’m With Stupid) to critical acclaim but relatively weak sales, she was released from her contract with Geffen who were indifferent about third album, Bachelor No. 2, which she subsequently self-released under her own label, Superego.

Fortunately, director Paul Thomas Anderson was introduced to Mann’s music via husband Michael Penn and composer Jon Brion (Brion who has also scored Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Punch-Drunk Love & I Heart Huckabees, was once a member of seminal powerpop band, the Grays!) and featured Mann’s songs prominently in the Magnolia soundtrack (starring Tom Cruise). This brought Mann the public attention her talent deserved.

Since then, Mann has had the luxury of creative freedom with subsquent albums Lost in Space and The Forgotten Arm, establishing Mann as one of the foremost singer-songwriters of this epoch.

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Mann’s latest album, @#%&*! Smilers, is a collection of character vignettes written from the perspective of a novelist or journalist but rendered in song form. The title itself is a rather cynical comment on our current smiley culture and people who are always “up”! The music covers a wide range of pop-rock styles from folk to country to piano ballad to pop and hearkens back really to the 70s singer-songwriter era. Overall, the album is fairly introspective but not downbeat, with most of the tracks not intended to quicken the pulse with the lyrical concepts given room to breathe.

My favorite song is the opening Cars-channelling Freeway with its hilarious line, “Where everyone’s a doctor or a specialist in retail/They’ll sell you all the speed you want, if you can take the blackmail”. Heh. The soaring Looking for Nothing comes close with a look at a girl with no thoughts of the future – “Just spend the money I made/I ain’t gotta do nothing today”.

The rest of @#%&*! Smilers retains that lyrical bite whilst exploring diverse pop-rock agendas. Not for casual pop listeners, Aimee Mann is highly recommended for anyone who is serious about pop music as an artform (which means you, faithful PoP visitor!).

More info on Aimee Mann –

Official Website

Myspace

So get your tickets for Aimee’s Singapore show here.

MARIE DIGBY

gawk away… apparently she’s performing in Singapore soon…

…still there’s more…

RE: PLAY

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RE:PLAY is an initiative of NHB’s youth outreach programme. Like how the pairing up of the contemporary bands with traditional musicians lets the audience enjoy music differently, NHB wants youths to see culture and museums differently too. It’s free!

Facebook page here.

FOR THIS CYCLE EP LAUNCH

PRESALETICKETS

People always gasp, “Oh, he’s so young!” upon discovering that Weiwen (aka For This Cycle) is 16 years old. Fact is that when I first met Weiwen, it was in 2007 at Deafcon 5, when he was 14! He has certainly come a long way and his on-stage personality and the breezy import of his songs make him a S-ROCK fan-favorite.

Well, the good news for all For This Cycle fans is that the debut EP will be launched this Saturday night and I get to team up with the talented Jon Chan (again!) as special guests. So its a double bonus I guess you might say. Information is in the flyer above, though I believe that it all begins at 7.30pm. See you all there!

Check out For This Cycle’s Myspace page.

…still there’s more…

ELVIS COSTELLO LIVE IN SINGAPORE

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I was reading a news item on Channel News Asia online about Joan Chen doing something or rather at this year’s Singapore Sun Festival when almost as an afterthought, the article mentioned that singer-songwriter Elvis Costello will also be performing.

WHAT!?!

I could not believe it and I scoured the internet for news on this and sure enough, the man who is one of my chief musical inspirations, will be giving a solo performance on 5th October at the Esplanade Concert Hall! What fantastic news! And so, the moment the tickets were available, I got mine – third row centre with early bird discount to boot!

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So… with the new Costello album – Secret, Profane & Sugarcane – out now (kick-ass country-folk-blues), the months leading up to 5th October will be a time when I will be reflecting on the man’s recorded highlights. I am so excited!

More info here.

…still there’s more…

ME & MY GUITAR GOES OUTDOOR

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And so, a week of gigs ended for me with two satisfying solo acoustic sets at the Esplanade Outdoor Theatre. I got Nick Tan and Narisa Chan, two young singer-songwriters to open each set for me with two songs and it was rather affecting, I must say, to watch them delivering their own originals to the crowd.

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Narisa seemed rather nervy but I think she handled herself well. Just needs more experience. Nick more seasoned now and his new song together with You (one of my favorites) pleased the audience. More to come from these two I predict.

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I felt the first set was a little hard going for me – although the crowd was always appreciative – for some reason, I felt the songs weren’t coming across, especially the Singapore-referencing ones, which surprised me. Or maybe it was my own imagination. In any case, set list – Jealous Guy, I Love Singapore, High Cost of Living, The Offender, Pasir Ris Sunrise, Lament, Here, Beautiful, My One & Only.

I started with the electric piano for my second set. Was a little apprehensive about this, I don’t usually do this live but I thought that Texas and My Life went down well. And that pleased me no end. So from that point in time to the end, the set went very well and I could see many mobile phones raised recording my performance. Always a good sign! Also very much enjoyed the debut of (It’s Not A) Fact after all these years. Yes, it’s time to record some of these babies! Set list – Hey Jude, Texas, My Life, Beyond the Ashes, (Its Not a) Fact, Easy, Heaven, My One & Only, Gum.

Thank again to Chloe (and all at Esplanade) and of course to Nick and Narisa.

Pictures courtesy of Soh Poh Soo.

… still there’s more …

KEVIN MATHEWS/THE GROOVY PEOPLE

It has been a fruitful week for Kevin Mathews/The Groovy People as we played two gigs in five days!

On Sunday, 21 June, we play an half-hour set at St James Powerhouse in aid of Mercy Relief’s humanitarian effots in Pakistan. Even not feeling 100% well, the (rock) therapy of playing with the Groovy People more than carried me through. It was a kick watching Mike Cho, Ark Analogy and my pals, King Kong Jane doing their bit for a good cause, as well.

Set-list

Jealous Guy, I Love Singapore, Orchard Road, Easy, Heaven, My One & Only, Gum

Thanks to weetz for the youtube videos!

On Thursday, 25th June, our mini-tour concluded with an appearance at Milestone at Empress Place for the 1990s segment. Appearing as Watchmen we took the stage after legendary 90s bands, Concave Scream & Force Vomit. It was a fun time although for some reason I totally screwed up the lyrics of Damaged and fluffed chords here and there. Whatever…

Set list – Hot Burrito #1, I Love Singapore, Orchard Road, The High Cost Of Living, Climate of Fear, Easy, Jealous Guy, Damaged, Heaven, My One & Only, Gum.

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Videos of the Milestones gig can be seen on Facebook. Thanks to Narisa for uploading!

And today, Saturday, 27th June I’ll be playing two solo sets at the Esplanade Outdoor Theatre from 7.30pm to 8.15pm and from 8.45pm to 9.30pm. See ya there!

… still there’s more …

THE GROOVY PEOPLE

So far, Kevin Mathews/the Groovy People have barely done two gigs a year. Really. So how does one figure two gigs in FIVE days? Cool, huh?

First up, on Sunday, 21st June, we will playing a charity gig at St James Powerhouse, e-flyer below.

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Then, on Thursday, 25th June night, we’ll be playing in front of Timbre @ The Arts House disguised as Watchmen. Poster below.

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Hope to see ya there.

…still there’s more…

ROCK THE SUB 2009

ROCK THE SUB, Saturday 6th June 2009. Timbre @ Substation / Guiness Theatre

Having a mindset that gigs always start fashionably late, I walked into the Substation at 7pm to find The Fire Fight sound-checking. I’ve always enjoyed going for The Fire Fight gigs, and Saturday was no exception. They played songs from their 2007 EP, as well as new songs from their upcoming full length album. The audience responded positively, singing along to favourites like Dreamer and The Train Song.

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There were some technical difficulties, but that didn’t stop the boys from playing an outstanding set. The Fire Fight boys still pressed on and did whatever they could, despite the difficulties. I was impressed by Iain, who still played with the same fervency he’s always had, despite recently sustaining a knee injury. He did a excellent job, which was commendable, although he was limping after the set.

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The last time I caught Allura, I was blown away by how consistent they sounded. I was a bit surprised to find that this time around, Allura didn’t have the same prominent trait that had set them apart from other local bands.  However, I did enjoy their set, especially one of their old songs (Closure), which was done in a different way.

A Vacant Affair played a dynamic set. They played a mix of songs from the 2007 EP and their full-length album, which was released late last year. I wasn’t too pleased with the sound, but Matt’s energy was contagious, and within moments, there were people moshing near the stage. There were so many people in the Guiness Theatre, and people continued to stream in throughout the set. A Vacant Affair has certainly come a long way, having opened for numerous bands like As I Lay Dying and Story of the Year for last year’s Taste of Chaos tour, amongst others.

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Urbandub brought the night to an end with its catchy and expressive lyrics. I’d heard them on Myspace early last year, and I liked their music. I missed them the previous time they were in Singapore, so it was a treat to finally catch them. By that time, Timbre was packed with people, even while they sound checked (to rapturous applause). They played a variety of songs, especially ones from their second album, which I really liked. When they ended the set, there were unanimous shouts for an encore, which Urbandub happily obliged.

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Some of the other outstanding acts included Nothing to Declare, Caracal, The Great Spy Experiment and For this Cycle. Credit must be given to the wonderful people who selected the acts. It made the gig one of the more notable ones in the past few months.

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The thing that surprises me is how divergent yet congruent home grown and regional bands are. Experiences, culture and beliefs are all part of the musical process which helps to shape a band’s music. Often, we want similar things in life, which enables us to create bonds with other like-minded individuals. In perspective, Urbandub and The Great Spy Experiment might be from different regions in Asia, but each still has the ability to draw from their own experiences in order to reach out to their audiences.

There’s so many facets of our scene and I admit that a lot of times, I come to gigs with preconceptions about certain bands. How many of us can honestly be willing to give a band a chance to share with us what they feel without being so judgemental based on what we’ve heard or perceived? Have we reached a point where we’re only willing to stay for bands we like instead of discovering other bands we might not have heard of?

I’m a strong believer that we must always keep pushing ourselves further in order to improve ourselves. At the end of the day, I’m grateful for the people who believe in our scene and are willing to have gigs like Rock The Sub to showcase local and regional talent.

Everyone left Timbre with smiles on their faces, proving once more that Rock The Sub was an immense success. Many thanks to Timbre Music and The Substation for putting together a stellar show.

(Rebecca Lincoln)

I must admit that I was thoroughly blown away by Urbandub. Their brand of melodic emo hardcore went down well with the crowd and they were entertaining from start to finish. The strange thing was that the technical sound problems that had plague S-ROCK bands throughout the gig seemed to magically disppear during Urbandub’s set, which sounded really good.

So what it is, a more professional attitude and approach? I just can’t put my finger on it. All I can add to Rebecca’s review is that we definitely need to up our game if S-ROCK bands are to be taken seriously in the region, never mind at home. Overall, Rock the Sub was a success but after three years, it may need some tweaking and reinvention. In fact the entire S-ROCK scene really needs a jumpstart to get things moving on to the next level. What that means, exactly though, is still in the air.

…still there’s more…

(Pix by Thomas Tan and Firdaus)

AIMEE MANN – LIVE IN SINGAPORE

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The good folks at Greenhorn Productions have pulled out another veritable winner from the hat with Aimee Mann. After pleasing audiences with Death Cab For Cutie, Stars, Ani DiFranco and Rachael Yamagata, the sophisticated pop-rock of Aimee Mann awaits Singaporeans live music enthusiasts at 7.30pm on Saturday, 29 August 2009 at the Esplanade Concert Hall.

Tickets at $118, $98 and $68 (excluding SISTIC fees). Fans of Greenhorn Productions facebook page will receive a password for early bird booking/discounts. Details to be announced at www.sistic.com soon.

Ling Kai will be the opening act.

…still there’s more…