ELLIE GOULDING – LIVE IN SINGAPORE [NEWS]

British songstress Ellie Goulding returns to Singapore on Friday 13 June at The Star Theatre. Read Melissa Ng’s review last time out. Tickets available from SISTIC – Friday 7th Feb.

Mark your calendars!

Listen to Goulding’s best selling 2013 album Halcyon Days at Spotify.

THE CRIBS: CAMP SYMMETRY ROUNDTABLE BY MELISSA NG

The Cribs Interview – Camp Symmetry 2013
2nd November 2013 

Power of Pop, along with representatives from other media, sat down with Ryan and Ross of The Cribs at Camp Symmetry two weekends ago, at a roundtable interview. It was conducted after their energetic, frenetic and rocking set at Camp Symmetry, and though the guys were tired and sweaty, they obliged us in answering our questions and were very fun to talk to!

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CAMP SYMMETRY BY MELISSA NG

Best Coast courtesy of Symmetry Entertainment
Best Coast courtesy of Symmetry Entertainment

Camp Symmetry
2 November 2013
The Meadow, Gardens By The Bay

Last Saturday, indie fans descended on The Meadow at Gardens By The Bay for the first edition of the annual Camp Symmetry, organised by Symmetry Entertainment, who has brought us gigs by Beach Fossils, Yacht, Carl Barat & The Libertines and The Drums. Starting at 12 noon, the festival line-up presented 12 hours of indie folk, indie pop, indie rock and post-rock. The festival expectedly attracted hipsters and music lovers ranging from the ages of 15 to 40. Camp Symmetry invited comparisons to Laneway Festival – having similar programming, targeting the same audience, being held at the same venue, and the festival held up very well. There was a good variety and somewhat affordable F&B choices for a festival, with more activities like bouncy castles and ping-pong tables. The festival also ran like clockwork, with each set starting and ending at its scheduled time, which is remarkable for a festival!

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THE XX – LIVE IN SINGAPORE [REVIEW]

The xx
2 August 2013
The Star Performing Arts Centre
by Melissa Ng

The xx played to a very enthusiastic crowd last Friday at The Star Theatre at The Star Vista, which was packed to the brim. Besides playing to 5000 fans, there was also an additional show on Thursday because of the demand. This response just goes to show how popular indie is growing as a genre. This is a remarkable feat for the band, whose last performance in Singapore in 2010 saw them open for Florence + The Machine. Having released two albums, xx and Coexist, the band certainly had more to play around with this time.

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THE MTV SHOW

“The MTV Show” Season 2 Premieres Saturday, 20th April 2013

Two weeks ago, Power of Pop was invited to the preview of the second season of The MTV Show at the Waterfront Studio at Resorts World Sentosa (RWS). MTV’s popular original series, The MTV Show, a weekly music and lifestyle show that features top-rated music videos, movies, celebrity news and popular culture, returns for its second season with a new format. The refreshed programming format enables its millennial viewers to determine what goes on the show, through active social media engagement.

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ELLIE GOULDING – LIVE IN SINGAPORE [REVIEWS]

Courtesy of Dominic Phua & Now/Live
Courtesy of Dominic Phua & Now/Live

Judging by the response at the Esplanade Concert Hall on Tuesday night, Ellie Goulding’s first performance in Singapore was an undisputed success.

The full house consisted of a good mix of young tweens and older hipsters, who eagerly lapped up her every word and note. Even Goulding herself repeatedly remarked at her awe and surprise with the number of people at her first show here.

Starting off the night with songs mainly from her recently released sophomore album, Halcyon, such as “Figure 8” and “My Blood”, Ellie Goulding blew us away from the very start with her beautiful voice. It was amazing to hear the entire audience sing along to the chorus of “Guns and Horses”. However, it took some time for the sound engineer to get the mixing right, as it was difficult to hear her voice over her backing track in the beginning.

Also, it appeared that she took a while to adjust to the stage, only moving around to interact with the inviting audience after taking awhile to get used to the venue.

Goulding was not fazed for too long though, and one of the most memorable segments of the concert was when she slowed things down with tracks like “I Know You Care” (she admitted it was about her father) and “Joy”. The audience was also in for a special treat as she sang a wonderful cover of Elton John’s “Your Song”.

Picking things back up with harder hitting songs “Only You” and “Salt Skin”, Goulding gamely danced in her sheer dress through these songs, eliciting more cheers from her fans. During other parts of the show, she also treated the audience to performances of “Hanging On” and “I Need Your Love”, which she wrote with Tinie Tempah and Calvin Harris respectively.

Most of all, it was impressive to see how she took her music to a whole new level with her live show. Her music sounded so much bigger, expansive, richer and complex live than on her studio albums. Moreover, her live energy was explosive, even reminiscent of Hayley Williams (of Paramore fame).

All in all, Eliie Goulding had great charm and clearly enjoyed performing, and her infectious energy in turn made it especially fun and enjoyable for all present. With “Lights” as her final euphoric song, she left everyone without a doubt that she could just very well be the reigning queen of the current crop of synth rock songstresses.

(Melissa Ng)

Thanks to Dan Gordon (Now/Live) for making this review possible.

 

 

KNIVES AT NOON

BREEZY INTENSITY

Dunedin-based band Knives at Noon sure makes an impression with their EP Glitter Guts, power-packed with slick and dark tunes to get your feet moving. Fans of The Bravery, Bloc Party and The Killers are sure to love this well-produced EP and the indie/electronic rock band. The first track on the EP, Violins 2.0, is a massive indie dance track, reminiscent of fashionable parties downtown, yet slows down and increases in intensity toward the end with amplified vocals, a la Brandon Flowers. A personal favourite on the EP is the second track, “Human Heart From Modern Art”. Besides the epic song name, the track also has elements that make up a great indie rock anthem, having a catchy tune that stays in your head, crunchy guitar riffs and solos that create space and also giving a sense of euphoria (experienced across indie clubs across the world). Ending as abruptly as it began, it leaves you wanting more. Fortunately, the next track, “Licking Plastic”, doesn’t disappoint with its use of sudden stops, use of synths and ringing goodness of the guitars and keyboards. “ThunderVeins”, the last track, sounds much like the previous track, but with lesser intensity.

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THE CRIBS – IN THE BELLY OF THE BRAZEN BULL

BACK TO BASICS

In The Belly Of The Brazen Bull is a stunning return to form by The Cribs, fresh off the departure of guitarist Johnny Marr (of Smiths fame) from the band. Their long-awaited album (long-awaited as they have been waiting for the corporate indie ship to sink, article here) is their best yet, marrying the best of their signature no-holds-barred grunge and punk sound and the slicker and cleaner sound of their last release, Ignore The Ignorant. Declaring that with this album, The Cribs are taking on the mainstream “pop hell”, it sure doesn’t disappoint being chocked full of tunes, anthemic choruses, raw emotion, direction and attitude.

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KEANE

BACK TO THE EGG

Keane returns with their fourth effort, Strangeland, after three albums and an EP. Best known for the hits “Everybody’s Changing” and “Somewhere Only We Know” from their debut album Hopes and Fears, they produced a third album that heavily drew on their 80s influences. Strangeland, on the other hand, is a return to their piano rock roots and is an enjoyable listen but still lacks the staying power of their first two albums.

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FRIENDLY FIRES – LIVE IN SINGAPORE

Friendly Fires | 16 March 2012 | Avalon

Fans of indie band Friendly Fires were treated to an energetic and highly enjoyable set at the band’s performance in Singapore last Friday. Having released two albums, the band commanded a much larger fanbase than their last performance in Singapore supporting Faithless. Ed, Edd, Jack and their live band certainly showed their appreciation for the crowd as they provided non-stop entertainment for the audience for ninety minutes, especially with Ed’s manic dancing.

Greeted by familiar indie tunes at the beginning of the night (spun by Home Club BEAT! resident Ginette Chittick), the crowd made up of young adults filled up the dancefloor at Avalon, cheering as Ginette played songs by The Cure, The Smiths, Franz Ferdinand and such. But the crowd had clearly conserved their energy for the performance, as the band took their places on the cramped stage and sent the crowd into a wave of dancing as they launched into “Lovesick”. Singing along to every word, audience members altogether moved to the beat, encouraged by Ed’s hip-shaking.

As with many other bands, the first album from Friendly Fires was clearly more popular among their fans in Singapore, apparent when the band started on “Running Away” and “Blue Cassette” and many paused to take a breather. But they were soon sent into a frenzy when Ed jumped into the audience and danced his way through the entire crowd on the dancefloor, all the while singing “True Love”.

Performing most of the tracks from their two albums, it was a night of euphoric dancing, especially so when they seemingly ended the night with “Paris”, their biggest hit. “Every night, we’ll watch the stars, they’ll be out for us, and every night the city lights, they’ll be out for us” – never seemed so apt set against the backdrop of the city skyline with the crowd jumping, arms raised to the sky and singing every word.

The band proceeded to leave the stage, and yet – there was more. The band ran back on stage within minutes, dripping with sweat while launching into “Hawaiian Air”. Their encore of “Hawaiian Air” and “Kiss of Life” would have easily impressed anyone, let alone a roomful of their fans. Performing an extended version of “Kiss of Life” with the help of their extensive percussion section of their live band, they ended the night on a high. Overall, their live performance was highly enjoyable with the infectious energy of the band, but was marred by the venue’s sub-par sound system, as Ed’s vocals could barely be heard throughout their set, drowning in the sound from the bass and drums.

(Melissa Ng)

Photos courtesy of Dominic Phua and Ryan Peters/ Untitled Entertainment. Thanks to April Lam for making this review possible. 

THE PEOPLE’S PARTY – DAY TWO

The People’s Party – 15 January 2012 | *SCAPE Warehouse

After the success of bringing in MGMT, French Horn Rebellion and Hurts last year, Untitled Entertainment expanded The People’s Party tour to Singapore, bringing in acts such as Metronomy, The Jezabels, The Naked and Famous and Bombay Bicycle Club. The line-up for the second day of the mini-festival held at *SCAPE featured MUON (SG), Noughts & Exes (HK), Analog Girl (SG), Unknown Mortal Orchestra (US/NZ), In Each Hand A Cutlass (SG), The Naked & Famous (NZ) and Bombay Bicycle Club (UK).

MUON opened the festival right on schedule, playing to a crowd of about hundred people, which slowly expanded as people trickled in on a lazy Sunday afternoon. Their set was overall disappointing, as they sounded unprepared for their performance. Their first attempt to perform their new track Failure of Plan B ended in a mess, which Nick (programming/bass) somewhat saved with an awkward joke about “the failure of the intro”. At a point in their set, a few sound samples were played and quickly cut, as if the band was indecisive or unrehearsed. To their credit, the rest of their set was wonderfully intense, but unfortunately the crowd had not fully warmed up to the ambient soundscapes created by the band.

Noughts & Exes’s performance that day was their third one in Singapore (last being Baybeats ’11), and received an overwhelming positive response from the crowd. Playing tracks from their albums The Start of Us and Act One Scene One, the band soared through songs such as The Crime and Everything. Their set was heartfelt and honest, especially Joshua’s vocal performance. Their set became an intimate affair as he the strain of his vocals revealed him laying bare his feelings through the songs, and the interaction with the audience felt sincere. The rest of the band was also lost in the music when they played, showing their utter commitment and faith in the music they were making. However, the actions of the backup vocalist marred their set. Her vocals were very suited to the songs and matched Joshua’s vocals, but her hand actions and dancing felt extremely forced and awkward, as compared to the natural movement and charisma of the other musicians on stage. The placing of the drumset could also have been improved, but perhaps due to logistics, the drummer was very far upstage, so much that he was visually unnoticeable. As a whole their set was a real treat for those present at the time, as they also played a new track that they had not played anywhere else yet.

Following Noughts & Exes’s indie-folk set was The Analog Girl’s brand of electro-rock. Her set was an impressive visual and aural experience, with her use of a Tenori-On and AudioCubes. The lighting design during her set was also particularly noticeable, as it created a strong and dark atmosphere for her creation of soundscapes. Her vocals contributed to the impressive live experience as they were not the sole focus of her music, but added an element of the dreamy and ethereal to her music.

Unknown Mortal Orchestra (UMO) also made their Asian debut at the festival, immediately making an impression on everyone in their tribal-ethnic clothing, prompting an audience member to shout “nice shirt!” Surprisingly, the band already has a fanbase here, clear from the roar that went up in the crowd as they arrived onstage. Playing tracks from their self-titled debut album such as Bicycle, Jello and Juggernauts and Boy Witch, they had everyone in the crowd grooving and jumping to their lo-fi psychedelic rock. Their brand of guitar rock was definitely a breath of fresh air in the festival after much electronic music. The band members, Ruban Nielson (vox, guitar), Jake Portrait (bass) and Julien Ehrlich (drums) also communicated well with each other, continually maintaining eye contact with each other throughout their set. The band also thoroughly impressed the crowd with Ruban’s shredding on his guitar and Julian’s relentless and precise drumming. Their performance ended on a high as the audience were very pumped up and sang along for their biggest hit, Ffuny Ffrends.

Next up was In Each Hand A Cutlass, who only released their debut album late last year and brought the intensity to the festival. In Daniel Sassoon’s words, they are “from Singapore and we (they) represent”! Their brand of post-rock was the heaviest music heard that day, with tracks such as A Universe Made of Strings and Chocolate and the Lovelorn Girl, verging on metal. Unfortunately the crowd noticeably thinned after UMO had left the stage. But Daniel Sassoon was certainly the most dynamic musician performing that day, with his jumps and twirls, and even sliding on the floor with his guitar. The crowd was receptive to the band, but they definitely did not enjoy their performance as much as the others, as audience members were overheard saying the music was too heavy for their liking. Nelson Tan’s imitation of Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean certainly drew many comments and much (good) attention.

The crowd swelled up to the warehouse’s full capacity in anticipation for The Naked And Famous, whom the crowd went wild for throughout their set. It seemed as though a majority of the crowd was there for The Naked And Famous rather than Bombay Bicycle Club, with their catchy indie-pop tunes. All eyes were on Alisa Xayalith during their set as she lost herself in the songs and led the sing-alongs to their famous tunes Punching In A Dream and Girls Like You and of course, Young Blood. Though most present thoroughly enjoyed their set, it felt a little stale to this reviewer as the organisers could easily have just done a playback of The Naked And Famous songs, as the band didn’t attempt to change any of the songs and they sounded as if they were entirely played off a recording, which at the same time also attests to their musical skills. There was also little attempt to engage the audience, as the band chose to simply perform their songs instead of bantering.

The last band of the night was Bombay Bicycle Club, which Power of Pop also interviewed earlier that day! General opinion among the crowd was that Bombay Bicycle Club’s set was better than The Naked And Famous, perhaps because of their engagement with the crowd. All the band members besides Suren (drummer) repeatedly made an effort to come closer to the audience and play to them, especially Jamie (guitar). It was a special night not only for fans of the band present, but also Jack (singer) as it was his birthday, and Jamie led a massive sing-along for Jack, who added that he was glad to celebrate his birthday playing in Singapore. The crowd lapped up every moment of the hour-long set, as they played songs from three albums, but especially their first, I Had The Blues But I Shook Them Loose. The audience also expectedly chanted for an encore following the band’s departure from the stage. Combined with the strobe lighting used and the band’s infectious and obvious love for performing their music, their set was an enjoyable and special experience for everyone there.

Much thanks to Untitled Entertainment and props to them for improving the overall sound quality of the venue those two days and for making the festival an intimate and enjoyable experience.

(Melissa Ng)

Picture of Bombay Bicycle Club courtesy of Alvin Ho.

BOMBAY BICYCLE CLUB

Bombay Bicycle Club Interview – 15 January 2012

Indie-folk rockers Bombay Bicycle Club were in town a few days ago for The People’s Party festival, presented by Untitled Entertainment. I caught up with Ed (bass, left) and Suren (drums, right) with other media at the swanky (more like sweltering) Ku De Ta on a Sunday afternoon at Marina Bay Sands.

Touring Asia for the first time and being in Singapore, what has it been like?

Suren: It’s been very nice but to be honest, we haven’t seen much since we just got here yesterday. We haven’t seen much apart from the hotel, which is pretty mindblowing.

Ed: We can see a lot of it, and after this we’ll walk around before the show.

You have quite a solid fanbase in the UK, but were you surprised by the response in Asia?

Ed: Obviously we had some idea from Facebook that people wanted to see us here. It’s always surprising that on the other side of the world, people are singing back to you. I don’t think I ever really predicted that, and it’s really a big shot.

Watching your Shuffle video, it seems you guys really have a lot of fun on tour. Were you up to any crazy antics in Tokyo or even here?

Ed: I’m not sure if it counts as crazy, but we had some time off after show in Japan, and we were going sightseeing. We thought if we come this far away from home, we might as well try to experience as much as we can, so we always tried to see the city. The Shuffle video is basically us walking around Amsterdam and Berlin partying and stuff, just us trying to make the most of being in a cool place.

What are your plans immediately following this tour?

Ed: Immediately we’re spending a week in Tokyo, in fact we might go from Tokyo to Russia then to Kyoto.

Suren: Then we go home, and have an American tour coming up, so we’ll start getting ready for that. This is the first time we’re doing an intensive tour, since we haven’t done that much touring. We’ll see how it goes, we might end up killing each other!

Since you have been touring non-stop intensively, how do you cope with that? Are you guys on the verge of going insane?

Suren: Yeah I think we’re going insane!

Ed: We just try to take the most from every place we go to, I think that really helps because it gets you away from hanging in the band because we get to see new cool stuff and that helps a lot. Exercise is also a good, like swimming.

What is your favourite memory of the tour so far?

Ed: I would say being up here is pretty mindblowing, you can see the whole of Singapore from here. It’s one of the nicest places I’ve ever stayed in my life. I think this is the coolest thing on the tour so far.

Suren: Indeed.

Did you have any idea that you would become this big or did you have any big dreams?

Ed: I never really thought about it, we were just four people at school!

Suren: It sounds really cliché but we just “go with the flow” and even now I don’t think we dream of being a massive band. We just see what happens and are just having fun, really.

You guys began your music career at 15, so how did you juggle school and music?

Suren: It was kind of tough at times, but to be honest the band took a backseat while we were at school. It was just something we did for fun in our spare time. We made a decision that we wanted to finish our school education and work as hard as we could.

Ed: It worked out really well because we could build the band really slowly, play gigs on the weekends and tour when we had time off from school. We could get the band to the point where we wanted it to be without it being really big and having people look at us.

Were you guys the rock stars of the school?

Suren: There were actually quite a few bands at our school, there was another band in our year called Cage And Dance Party, and they’ve since split up. They were much bigger than us while we were at school and took a different approach. They went for it quite quickly. They didn’t have the time to build up but tried to get as big as they could while they were at school. They even signed a record deal while we were at school, whereas we wanted to wait.

Ed: And we can see which one is better now!

Suren: There was also another guy at our school who is now writing songs for Mika I think? He seems to be doing pretty well for himself. I don’t know how there were so many bands from the same school.

You guys have released an album every year since 2009, so what are your plans for this year?

Ed: I don’t think we’re going to do another album, but I think we might need a little time off. For the first two albums, we didn’t tour as much as other bands would. As soon as we finished one, we were straight onto making the next one, which is why we haven’t been out here.

For the new album, Jim Abbiss was the producer, who also produced your debut album with Ben Allen and your frontman Jack. What was the dynamic between the three producers? Is there a reason why Ben was chosen?

Suren: Basically we worked with Ben on the more electronic sample-based songs, and we thought he would produce them pretty well. We did worry whether the album would end up coherent, since it was produced by three sets of producers, but we did get them mixed by the same guy, who tied the album together quite nicely.

Ed: I’m a huge fan of Ben Allen, and he produced some of my favourite records last year, three of them actually. He’s a very prolific guy.

How is it like to have a change in your music direction on the second album and then back to electronic music on the third?

Suren: It was always our intention to go back to that electronic sound for the next album, and the second album was kind of a little diversion. We just wanted to put it out for our own pleasure really, and our label back home wasn’t sure about releasing it, but it blew up into a thing we didn’t expect and managed to get into the Top 10 in the UK, which was very unexpected. It took on a life of its own.

How long did you take to record A Different Kind of Fix? Was it a smooth process and can we see any B-sides from the album?

Ed: We only did one B-side in the album recordings. We literally had the songs we wanted to put in the album, and dropped one off that has already been released. So we’ll have to record some more, because we have more songs that we didn’t record that we would like to do. It took just under a year to record the album, and we started in September 2010. It was bitty, as we would do a little bit of recording and Jack would have some time to write more songs, then we would book some more time and record some more songs. Since we had different producers like Ben Allen, we only had blocks of time. It was kind of three recording sessions over a period of six months.

You guys have played many festivals, and are even playing one in Singapore. Do you prefer playing at festivals or having your own concert?

Ed: I prefer playing our own concerts, but festivals do have their charm as well. We’ve done many festivals in the UK, and it’s completely different. You play to a lot more people, and the people in the crowd may not necessarily know who you are. They’re kind of passing by or have been recommended your music and you have to work very hard to win over the crowd, whereas at your own show they’re there to see you and they know what to expect. But we get to play with really cool bands and that’s always lovely. On this trip, we’re playing with Metronomy and The Naked And Famous, and that’s always amazing. That’s my favourite part of festivals.

How did your song end up being featured in the Twilight movies? It’s also one of the songs written earlier, is there any reason why it didn’t end up being the lead single of an album?

Ed: We had it a long time ago, and I guess we just submitted it or someone submitted it for the Twilight soundtrack. The soundtrack stands apart from the movie; even Thom Yorke has a song on it. The version on Twilight is actually the demo version recorded in Jack’s room, not the album version. We always knew it would be the lead single on the album, before Twilight. That was always the intention before Twilight. Suren actually went to watch Twilight, and the song was in the background for a few seconds.

Suren: I actually took my whole family to watch Twilight on a big trip, and it was a letdown, because the film wasn’t very good and you couldn’t really hear our song at all, so it was disappointing.

Lucy Rose has been part of your album and the live line-up, are there plans to include her in the future in any of your albums?

Ed: She’s been on tour with us for a while, but she’s not here in Singapore. She’s recording her own solo album, which means she might be around less because obviously she’s going to concentrate on that. But we’ll have her when she’s free!

Looking back since you guys started, would you say your sound now is really representative of who Bombay Bicycle Club is?

Suren: I don’t know if we really know what Bombay Bicycle Club is, since all our albums have been very different from each other. We just made music that felt right at the time, simple as that. So this album best represents us now.

(Melissa Ng)

Much thanks to Sarah and Alan from Universal Music!

SOLEY

We Sink

Icelandic artist Sóley releases her debut solo album, We Sink, which is in the vein of artists such as Joanna Newsom and El Perro del Mar. The album, being honest, raw and lilting, establishes Sóley as an individual artist, having been in the bands Sin Fang and Seabear for many years. Her songs are certainly not to emphasise her singing voice, but the unusual yet captivating melodies and arrangement of her songs.

First single and track of the album I’ll Drown is a beautifully crafted piece, where percussion defines and appropriate pauses lure the listener in to the rest of the album. Despite the album being acoustic-folk, the use of multiple instruments and Sóley’s unique vocals sets her music apart from the usual (sometimes boring) fare offered by acoustic artists. Each track on the album is unique enough to be a single, but they are also altogether cohesive and form an album that is enchanting and creepy enough, to be the background music of an abandoned circus scene in a movie. Given the current popularity of many indie female artists, Sóley has the potential to be one of the most popular indie/folk artists around, given more publicity and marketing.

(Melissa Ng)

Official Site

GOOD CHARLOTTE – LIVE IN SINGAPORE

Good Charlotte 18 November 2011 The Coliseum at Hard Rock Hotel, Resorts World Sentosa

Good Charlotte was in town for their second concert in Singapore on Friday night, held at The Coliseum in Resorts World Sentosa’s Hard Rock Hotel. Support act Urbandub opened with an excellent set and the night was enjoyable overall, apart from the terrible sound quality. The moshing was rough and unsuccessful crowd-surfers plentiful, while VIPs hobnobbed at the back of the venue, with Jack flowing and platters of foods being served to them. There was a great contrast between the VIPs and main audience, and the setup of the entire event could definitely have been arranged in a less jarring manner.

Urbandub opened the concert earlier than the slated time (8pm), and pumped the crowd up with songs such as First of Summer and A Call To Arms. The crowd was surprisingly open with their reception of the Filipino band, perhaps due to encouragement from the roaring and enthusiastic Filipino fans present. But singer Gabby’s repeated calls to sing along fell flat, since most were unfamiliar with their material. Nevertheless, the band put on a performance that had some of the crowd rocking along and certainly set the mood for Good Charlotte’s arrival onstage.

The filler segment in between the sets sent the audience into a frenzy, as freebies such as merchandise from Radio 91.3 and event posters were thrown into the crowd. The squeezing and pushing at this point were only a tiny indicator of what was to come later with the arrival of Good Charlotte. Weezer’s Blue Album played before the arrival of the band, since Good Charlotte had just performed the album in full in Australia.

The five-piece band from Maryland, USA, then took their places onstage promptly 15 minutes later, to screams and a mad rush of pushing among the predictably black-clad crowd. Walking onstage to Introduction to Cardiology, the band quickly jumped into The Anthem and a slew of songs from their second album, The Young and Hopeless. The audience euphorically sang along and everyone present was covered in sweat within two songs. The band seemed to recognise that their older material were more popular with Southeast Asian audiences, as songs from their second album made up half their set. Despite their first album being more obscure in the worldwide context, the crowd never missed a beat as they shouted out the words to Little Things, The Motivation Proclamation and Festival Song.

Madden twins Joel and Benji interacted most with the crowd throughout the concert, repeatedly asking the audience what they wanted to hear, while guitarist Billy Martin jammed, sprung and jumped around the stage. Drummer Dean Butterworth (who joined the band in 2007) and bassist Paul Thomas chose to stay in the background for the entire performance. They performed popular hits such as Dance Floor Anthem, The River, Like It’s Her Birthday and more from their 2010 effort, Cardiology, but it was peculiar that they left out many tracks from their third album, The Chronicles of Life and Death. As Joel sang the opening words to We Believe to test the crowd, the audience collectively sang out the rest of the line for him, leading him to comment that audiences in no other country besides Argentina and Singapore knew the words to that song. Though Benji had commented in interviews that the Chronicles record was selfish and did not do as well commercially, they did oblige the audience’s want to hear more songs from that record by launching into I Just Wanna Live.

Making comments such as “I’m not telling you what music to like and I’m not talking about anyone”, and “like what you like and stick to your guns”, Joel and the rest of the band could do no wrong with the crowd full of hardcore fans. Ending their set abruptly with their breakthrough hit Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, they left the crowd chanting “we want more!” After coming back with an encore of a mashup of The Story Of My Old Man and Blink 182’s Dammit, they left the stage and fans eagerly climbed over the barriers for guitar picks, towels, setlists and everything else they could grab before security came and shooed them away. As the crowd left the venue bruised and battered, there was a sense of satisfaction among most of the crowd with what they had witnessed, and stealing food from the VIP tables surely added to that immense pleasure.

(Melissa Ng)

WESTLIFE – LIVE IN SINGAPORE

Westlife | 3 October 2011 | Singapore Indoor Stadium

A screaming crowd greeted Westlife at the Indoor Stadium on Monday night as the boyband made its dramatic appearance on stage. With their 90-minute performance in Singapore, the four lads proved their staying power with their vocal ability and capability to sell out half the stadium (a feat that even Slash couldn’t accomplish earlier this year).

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TWO DOOR CINEMA CLUB – LIVE IN SINGAPORE

Two Door Cinema Club | 11 August 2011 | Esplanade Concert Hall

Two Door Cinema Club played to a sold-out crowd at the Esplanade Concert Hall on Thursday night, with Cheating Sons opening for them. Even before the concert started, the merch booth was totally swamped with fans buying copies of the band’s debut album, Tourist History, unsurprising since most would have heard their music through illegal downloading!

Cheating Sons kicked off the night with the first track off their debut album (Masters, Wives, Daughter), Isles. It was such a pleasant surprise to hear plenty of cheers and applause for the local band. The warm reception set the tone for the rest of the band’s 30-minute set, where they played songs such as The Kids Ain’t Right, Amber Lights and Mr. Green. The crowd responded enthusiastically to frontman Renyi’s banter, which definitely contributed to the band’s palpable joy in playing that night (Cheez, Don and Andy Yang were positively grooving!), while Don’s constant change of instrument fascinated and thrilled the audience.

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NEON TREES – LIVE IN SINGAPORE

NEON TREES INTERVIEW | 26 July 2011

I met up with Neon Trees when they were in town earlier this week, along with other media. They performed with We Are Scientists on Tuesday night at Fort Canning. The band was extremely sincere and nice to all the fans and media they met, even remembering those who met them at MTV World Stage Malaysia as well.

It’s your first time in Singapore, so what have you guys been doing since you arrived?

Tyler: We’ve went to Newton Hawker Centre, and had good food!

Branden: The grilled stingray was really good!

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NEON TREES/WE ARE SCIENTISTS – LIVE IN SINGAPORE

We Are Scientists and Neon Trees | 26 July 2011 | Fort Canning Park

We Are Scientists kicked off the night with a 50-minute set at Fort Canning Park on Tuesday night, and had warm reception throughout their set from the largely hipster crowd. As heard and seen on Twitter, many felt that Neon Trees should have opened for We Are Scientists instead of the other way around. That prevailing opinion resulted in about nearly half the audience being there for We Are Scientists. The WAS fans eagerly shouted out all the lyrics to their songs, such as After Hours and The Great Escape. Keith, Chris and Andy’s experience in touring showed in their casual and quirky conversation with the audience, which had none of the cheesy and typical “We love you Singapore!” and “How are you Singapore?”

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AUSTRA

AUSTRA Feel It Break (Domino)

Austra is a three-piece band that formed in 2010 in Toronto, and Feel It Break is their debut album. Fronted by Katie Stelmanis, the band’s main songwriter, the band’s clarity in music direction is evident in this album. Labelled as goth electronica and also shortlisted for the 2011 Polaris Short List (alongside Arcade Fire), the album seemed more intimidating initially than it actually is.

As with many goth-influenced albums, the emphasis in the music is on the vocals. Katie Stelmanis’ vocals are excellent on this record, unsurprising considering her operatic training. Her voice complements the rhythm and beats in the percussion and bizarrely, the electronic effects too. The lyrics likewise are similar to those found in other goth and symphonic-related music, by bands such as Nightwish.

Electronica brings to mind dancefloor fillers, but this album is haunting and cinematic, yet uplifting at times through the background electronic music, such as in The Future. The album is however, not entirely un-danceable. Beat And The Pulse is a great atmospheric song to be heard in a dark (and maybe shady) club. It is also clear that every note and every trill was sung with precision and not without purpose, such as in Lose It and The Beast.

(Melissa Ng)

Official Site

IGNITE! MUSIC FESTIVAL – DAY 2

Ignite Music Festival Day 2 @ Republic Polytechnic (2 July 2011)

The crowd numbered around a thousand when I arrived on the second day of Ignite Music Festival. West Grand Boulevard was playing, and the RP Alumni Band featuring Replug, The Sets Band and Tacit Aria had already finished their sets. The second day’s line-up featured bands such as Fatskunks, Plainsunset, and Caracal. Compared to the bands that played on the first day, such as Typewriter and SIXX, the music featured on the second day was intense and REALLY loud.

Every band played well with no glitches, but I felt that the atmosphere was dull and stale. Majority of the audience stood far from the stage, arms folded and seemed disinterested, perhaps impeded by the mud. However, things did pick up prior to and during Caracal’s set. Cheers and applause was heard from the audience when Caracal was preparing to come on stage, and some in front of the stage jumped and headbanged non-stop during their set. The crowd-pleaser of the night was clearly Caracal. As with Baybeats, the more hardcore bands seem to be the acts that attract more crowds and support.

Fatskunks played an enjoyable reggae-ska set, getting some to even start dancing and singing along to the simple choruses. The band tried its hardest to move the thousand-plus strong crowd, but most of the crowd was still unreachable and unmoveable, and the band was starting to tire. Their set probably sums up the atmosphere that day. While the crowd was not lacking in numbers, but spirit and enthusiasm was.

Ignite Music Festival is one of the most successful local music festivals around, some say second only to Baybeats. It is definitely successful in terms of audience numbers and sponsorship, but the motivation of people in attending the festival is questionable. The crowd was largely made up of RP students, probably there only because it was a major school event. But nevertheless, the effort was commendable, considering it was student-run, and it also allowed these bands to play to a new audience. Hopefully, as more of this generation gets exposed to local music through the Internet, events and the radio, it will no longer remain stigmatized.

(Melissa Ng)

COLOURMUSIC

COLOURMUSIC My__ Is Pink

My__ Is Pink is the debut album from Colourmusic, a quintet from Oklahoma, who released two EPs previously. They’ve been hyped as “Wayne Coyne’s favourite new album”, which of course raises expectations of this album. It is introduced as a concept album, but ironically, seems to have a lack of it. The album is largely instrumental and seems to have absolutely no organisation and seems to be a jumbled mess of electric guitars, raspy vocals, gospel singers, heavy percussion, distortion, and to refer to their video for Tog, a whole lot of blood and cum (!).

On this record, the band sounds like they tried to cram all their influences and everything they ever experimented with on this record. Tracks like Beard and The Little Death (In Five Parts) are a relentless hailstorm, full of distorted sounds and heavy percussion, while the rest of the album alternates between dreamy soundscapes, remotely resembling post-rock, and rough, raw and lo-fi. Seeing them live would probably instil fear in some of the audience, but tracks like You For Leaving and Yes! are great for soundtracks, having different phases and a mix of vocals, cymbal-heavy drumming and distortion. From this album, the band comes across as indecisive, but also sick (in a good way) and full of musical ideas.

(Melissa Ng)

Official Site

CHEATING SONS

Cheating Sons @ Beer Market (28 May 2011)

Cheating Sons brought their brand of blues and rock ‘n’ roll to Beer Market last Saturday night, as part of the Music Matters Live festival. The pub was filled up but judging from the applause and cheers the band got, only a third of the audience was there to see them. The Jezabels from Australia (interviewed earlier on Power of Pop), who played before the Sons, also had a much larger audience, with many standing just to see the band.

Nevertheless, the quality of the Sons’ set was no less than their best, as they played with energy and seemed to enjoy themselves, though their frontman Renyi appeared a little tired. Their performance was commendable considering it was their second set of the night and the late hour (midnight). Their set was only thirty minutes long, but it was enough to impress most of the audience, including those who were not there for the band. Andy was relentless on the drums and his precision showed why Cheating Sons are one of the best bands around, while the joy of performing was apparent amongst all of them.

The band played songs from their debut album, Masters, Wives, Daughter, such as Mr Green and Ah Long On The Run. Their set got a small group dancing, and part of the crowd that were not there to see the band also began to pay increasing attention to the band throughout their set. But as some might say, “haters gon hate”, and a vocal member of the audience shouted “more A minor”, mocking the band. But they quickly shut the hater up with Isles, and he was overheard saying afterward that “the song was really good”. With this short set, the Sons proved once again why they are the pride and joy of local music.

(Melissa Ng)

Photo by Iskander Abori

ASOBI SEKSU

ASOBI SEKSU Florescence (Polyvinyl)

Asobi Seksu, one of the most well-known dream-pop and shoegaze outfits around, is back with their sixth offering, remarkable since their popularity has only grown, proving their staying power. Fluorescence offers the same brand of dream-pop which many are probably familiar with, and perhaps that provides a reason for the album feeling average.

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ADEBISI SHANK

ADEBISI SHANK This Is The Second Album of a Band Called Adebisi Shank (Sargent House)

This album is well, er, the second album from Adebisi Shank, an electronic band hailing from Ireland. The band is to say the least, ambitious. They aim to “create a global new form of music” which captures “the anthemic optimism of your era (which) will eventually enrich the entire world”. And do they match up to their aim? Well, whether it will reach the entire world is one matter, but it does create a type of futuristic-progressive-electronic-robots-talking-to-each-other music I’ve never heard before. d.v.d, recently in town for the Mosaic Music Festival, produces the closest type of music found in this album.

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