Two features for the price of one!
Technology is as advanced as it already is, but if there’s one thing that Sony could do on one eventful night on Saturday, 3rd December 2011, it would be to somehow make the rain go away.
But that didn’t stop the party from happening down at *Scape, as fans of international superstars Mike Posner and Train made their joyous way to watch an evening of performances. Already in the day-long event, regional superstars like Hao Ren from Malaysia, Julia Abueva from the Philippines and Slot Machine from Thailand, had graced the stage and showcased their homegrown singing talents.
With anticipation, the fairly packed crowd (however, much lesser than I myself had anticipated) were mainly youngsters, and gathered themselves before a relatively compact stage. Newcomer Mike Posner would be to appear first, as he only has an album under his belt (31 Minutes To Takeoff) so far. Fans need not wait any further, as second offering Sky High will be released sometime early 2012, with first single off it ironically titled Looks Like Sex. You read it right – and um, how much more intelligence can you expect from that, really?
Dressed in a bright and dashing red jacket, with a back embroidery titled Brain Trust, a plain black tee inside, black three quarter pants and loud sneakers, Mike looked refreshed and alive, as he looked ahead to his own debut Singapore performance and interaction with the fans alike. But alas, has he not been told or informed of the basic Singapore crowd behaviour – conscious, cautious and careful?
He performed songs from his debut, kicking start with Please Don’t Go, Do U Wanna, Bow Chicka Wow Wow (less Lil’ Wayne), a new song from the upcoming record (which I think he lied in saying that it was the first time he was performing it live, as an artiste’s marketing and hype technique to get more cheers and screams), covered Adele’s Rolling In The Deep (with an interesting drummed-up version) and a surprise slowdown to Oasis’s Wonderwall, away from all the current mainstream dance-pop that he is well associated with.
He had the look and eyes of confidence, arrogance and stride as a musician may have, and maybe that of an American. His energy was contagious, as he bounced and jumped up, down and across the stage, standing atop the sound speakers and various attempts to get close and intimate with the front of the audience. However, as much as he worked the crowd, it was quite concrete evidence (through his expression) that he was disappointed with the whole response – it wasn’t like an O2 Arena, U2 concert type. Nonetheless, both sides of the spectrum (Mike as performer and the audience at large) did their best, especially much so the ladies when Mike joined the crowd and lost his tee in the process. You can just imagine and visualize the girls go weak in the knees as a buffed Posner stood onstage to conclude his set and greet a goodbye.
With the success of Hey Soul Sister, Train reconnected with the mainstream this year, and the young ones talk about Train as though they know every single thing about them (when they don’t). And in a way, I pity Train for that, as they are more of an adult contemporary act than pop.
And how about did the fellows do to connect with a younger crowd, you may ask?
(a) got a handful of ladies from the audience onstage to just sing the line “hey soul sister”, in as many soulful attempts and versions as possible?
(b) got Mike Posner back onstage and covered Journey’s (or Glee’s, for that matter) Don’t Stop Believing?
(c) gave away an autographed acoustic guitar to someone in the audience?
(d) added random oh-oh’s during the musical bridges of songs?
(e) all of the above?
And the answer is (e). Patrick Monahan appeared onstage with messy hair, as though he had done up his nicely in the hotel room but had to rush to sing at the concert in the pouring rain. But he was entertaining, in an actor kind of way, as he cracked some very straightforward jokes. I suspected that there may be a bottle of liquor somewhere backstage, as sometimes it does help, when dealing with an audience who spent half the time with their hands up in the air, and a camera or a camera phone on it, taking non-stop snapshots. Jimmy Stafford looked the most sincerely merriest, like a person embracing this part of the world and the culture for the very first time.
If you have to ask, yes, despite not being a particularly big fan of their smash hit for the year, I couldn’t resist but to sing along to the lyrics out aloud (maybe I’m a closeted Train fan?). The Journey cover went down pretty bad, in my books, and I thought Patrick had the regretted look almost immediately as he started performing it together with Mike, as though he was trying to figure out what he was doing and what was going on here (the sobering stage, post-liquor, I reckon).
Other familiar songs performed in the quite short timeframe were their 1998 smash Meet Virginia, Calling All Angels (from the 2003 album My Private Nation), the title track from latest offering Save Me, San Francisco, and others like If It’s Love and the very close, intimate (he went around and took pictures with fans throughout the entire song, how much sweeter could he get, really) and some-may-consider romantic number Marry Me. He even joked just before singing the last round of chorus, saying, “now you really have to marry me”, in a slightly impatient manner, and in a very warm way, poking fun of their own selves and own hit song.
But the definite song of the night has got to be their biggest smash still, Drops Of Jupiter (Tell Me), which they performed as a one-song encore before closing the night. Yes, the same one local singer/songwriter Tanya Chua covered. I remembered myself belting out along, with emotions switched on full gear mode, and felt this small part of the world well connected together for that one particular moment. And then I took the train home.
Thank you to Sony for inviting Power Of Pop (and three pairs of our lucky readers) to this event.
On December 2 the Sony Group of Companies held the UPHORIA Party with Sony press conference, with guests Grammy-nominated international hit band Train, and recent break-out star Mike Posner. The artists were in town for the UPHORIA Party with Sony, where their performances would be the highlight of the event.
First widely known as the ones behind massive hit Drops Of Jupiter (Tell Me), in the last two years Train has returned with a bang from their three-year hiatus. Especially with multi-platinum hit single Hey Soul Sister, which certainly took the airwaves by storm. As for Posner, his following has grown enormously from the time he was releasing mixtapes from his dorm room at Duke University to his 2010 debut album 31 Minutes to Takeoff featuring Billboard Hot 100 Top 10 single Cooler Than Me.
This “press conference” with Train and Posner was more of a media promotional event, with contest winners, regional press, bloggers, the local reporters etc. all present, making the headcount about two hundred in total. It felt rather like Sony were trying to squeeze everything into one event and milk the most out of it, which was a pity as we didn’t get to spend much time (or any at all) actually interacting with the artists.
The session opened with a question for Posner: Will we be hearing any new material from the upcoming album at the UPHORIA party? “I’m planning on doing one or two new songs,” the singer/songwriter/producer replied.
Posner later talked about how he never expected to be performing on such a platform, sharing the stage with established international stars like Train. It’s certainly heartening to consider how far he’s come since he recorded his first mixtape in his dorm room. And he was evidently thankful for his label, family and fan support, and for friends who apparently treat him worse now to keep him grounded.
Throughout the hour the level of enthusiasm from the media was lukewarm at best. Disappointing, but then again, as the main interviewer helplessly acknowledged, welcome to Singapore. Fortunately the artists tried their best to liven things up, especially Train lead singer Pat Monahan, who had no problem throwing out jibes at the main interviewer and the other artists present like Thailand’s Slot Machine, or bantering with Posner.
On the topic of a special collaboration between Train and Posner being planned, Monahan teased the gathered crowd with suggestions of a Pussycat Dolls cover performed with hot pants and tank tops. And when there was the customary awkward pause waiting for the first question, Monahan came to the rescue with: “I have one! Mike, is it true that I’m cooler than you?”
When asked what advice they would give to aspiring young artists, Monahan emphasised the importance of staying true to oneself: “The only advice I have for anybody is, be yourself, because if you’re successful, then you get to be yourself for a little longer, but if you try to be something you’re not and you’re successful, then you gotta try to figure out how to be that other thing for a really long time to keep it together. So if you’re not successful but you’re being yourself, then the reward is still cool because you get to make the work that you want. I mean you know money ain’t everything, so being yourself can be pretty awesome, and then you just get better at it.” And then in characteristic cheekiness he added, “Money isn’t everything, but it’s about nine-tenths of it.”
Somehow the topic of stars being discovered on the internet came up. “I’m one of those people,” Posner grinned, “so I think very highly of social networking and things of that nature.”
Monahan weighed in with his view that things like giving away music for free, which is what Posner did and continues to do, is a very smart move because it gets people to see his shows when they like his work. “If you come into this business to be a business then you’re not gonna probably be here long,” Monahan mused, “but if you come here to make great work then, you know how like Mike proving… You could be here for a long long time.”
What’s next for all of them? Posner has just done another free mixtape, and his second album is scheduled to come out next year, “March-ish”. As for Train, according to Monahan their new single Drive By is lined up for a January release, with an as-yet untitled new album in April: “We don’t have a title for it, we’re thinking maybe, something along the lines of ‘Singapore kicks ass’.”