We saw, we crowd surfed, and we definitely conquered.
As of recent years, our tiny red dot saw the demand for more concerts, and boy were we all satisfied. Barely 3 months into the new year, we saw big names such as Phoenix, Empire of the Sun, and well as bands who came for the highly coveted Laneway Festival — CHVRCHES, James Blake, Savages, etc. and Hostess Club Weekender — Mogwai, The National, King Krule, etc.
However, this week was special. We saw underground Irish rockers And So I Watch You From Afar, hugely successful Foals who recently played at Glastonbury, and lastly the all time emo band that we all worshipped when we were once teenagers, Taking Back Sunday.
Let’s just say that Popspoken bore witness to the busiest weekend in Singapore’s concert history.
AND SO I WATCH YOU FROM AFAR (28 Feb 2014)
On Friday, we saw Irish instrumental rock band, And So I Watch You From Afar, take their debut stage in Singapore. It was simple to say that they successfully turned the notorious clubbing outlet, Zouk, into a post-rock haven for like minded post-rock enthusiasts and avid fans to escape into another realm.
Kicking off the night with some doozy vibes from local experimental rockers, sub:shaman, the crowd was definitely getting hyped for what was anticipated from the band after. Fresh from a recent release of their latest EP, Outsider, the band fronted by looper queen Weish played both old and newer songs. We’ve been catching these guys for quite a while now and we’ve grown to love everything from the odd syncopation to the intensity of their live shows.
The opening riffs to ‘Eunoia’ had set the tone right, ASIWYFA was ready to put on a good show. They breezed through song after song, and proved why they were worthy to take on an Asia tour. With antics all rolled up under their sleeves, it’s when only during a live performance that their music would do it justice. Unsurprisingly, guitarist Rory Friers brought the party closer to the crowd, to much delight. He played his notes effortlessly, as the audience opens up a path for him to the dance floor (literally).
As the band played AMBULANCE, it became a highlight for the night as everyone sang along to the syllables. As the song melts into 7 Billion People all Alive at Once, the guitar solo was received to much awe as it left people’s mouth hanging. It was clear that the boys of ASIWYFA are wired to connect music and audience as a live act; not… never MP3s.
Backed with applause and cheers from a tight-knit crowd of about a hundred people, the quartet took the stage with their batteries charged to maximum, and left the stage all recharged for round two, asking the crowd where could they take this party after. For an instrumental rock band who’s emerged from the Belfast’s up-and-coming underground scene, ASIWYFA is indeed on the right path to pushing their music to the masses.
On a scale of 1-10, Popspoken gives this an eleven-and-infectious out of 10.
FOALS (1 March 2014)
Singapore was lucky to have Foals come to our shores for the second time, delivering the hungry souls pizza… I mean, epic pizza. If Thailand’s Silverlake Music Festival 2014 wasn’t cancelled, our Saturday wouldn’t have been… well, spent crazy-dancing with Foals.
Unfortunately, because of the political situation (which can’t be helped) in Thailand, the organizers decided to forgo the event, and fortunately for the Foals fans in Singapore, Symmetry Entertainment brought them in for albeit a last minute show, but it was a special one indeed.
Following their set since St. Jerome’s Laneway Festival debut in Singapore back in 2011, the Englishmen released Holy Fire in 2013, and received mainstream success with “My Number”. It was of no surprise that the lads were back again for more of Singapore’s crazy antics. But this time, it was too long a wait since doors opened at 7pm as Foals only hit the stage a little after 9pm, with no opening band. They came on one by one, and immediately started playing an extended version of ‘Prelude’ and it progressed into ‘Total Life Forever’.
Armed with world touring experience, the talented lads belted out song after song while moving, twirling, and jumping around the stage, as though second nature. Whereas Yannis Philippakis has the tendency to do a spectacular stage dive, and Foals’ Singapore show was no different. As he jumped into the crowd while still shredding his guitar, the sounds of fans squealing echoed through the auditorium. Ironically, the people supporting Yannis unfortunately collapsed, as though he was falling into a black hole, but it made path for the crowd to go mad-crazy. Yannis knew better than to end the show then, he got up and climbed back to the safety of the stage. And the show went on, on an even higher note.
Foals’ setlist was a balance of crowd favourites, “My Number” and melancholic anthems, “Spanish Sahara”. During the encore, the band came back on seemingly more drunk in the fun, and frontman Philippakis, with a cigarette in his mouth. As the band launched into their very last song of the night, “Two Steps Twice”, it felt as though The Coliseum was going to topple from too much energy from the crowd. A couple of people started crowd surfing (not front, but left and right!), and apparently it was so intense that a girl lost a shoe in the process. Get that for memorable!
Having played to huge huge (say… 30,000 people) crowds at Glastonbury and Coachella, all of us were in for a treat, which the band delivered oh so generously. A major miss was that they didn’t play “Cassius” and “Bad Habit’ but all is good, we all went home satisfied, reeling from an explosive live experience that is Foals. To say we bought tickets to a concert was probably an understatement; we bought tickets for the party of our lifetimes.
On a scale o 1-10, Popspoken gives this we-lost-our-shoe out of 10.
TAKING BACK SUNDAY (2 March 2014)
Let’s admit it: the most highly-anticipated concert of the decade was probably Taking Back Sunday’s show in Singapore. Twelve years after releasing Tell All Your Friends to worldwide acclaim, the lads didn’t realize they were THAT huge here, until an eventful Sunday happened (yes they Taking Back Sunday played on a Sunday).
For one night only, SCAPE* Ground Theatre (once known as the SCAPE Warehouse) was packed to the brim, with devout fans, both young, old, and older. It was clear: this night was way too long overdue.
A successful by-product of Long Island, New York, Taking Back Sunday were the founding fathers of the “emo” genre, people refer to them as the band who “got them through their high school heart breaks”. More than a decade later, the band is still making waves in mainstream media, especially the upcoming release of the their album “Happiness Is”.
On Sunday, they played their ONLY Asia show (previous show was in London, next show in South Africa), and for the first time, in Singapore. Local band, The Cave, opened the show for them, playing songs that sounded like a mix of classic rock and punk rock. They weren’t your average Joe’s; each of them had enough talent on their own, especially lead guitarist Huxley, whom apparently was scouted by Berklee. Collectively, they sound like a band still in the works, trying to find that very signature that would define them entirely. While crowd’s enthusiasm for them wasn’t enough at the start, a couple of people in the crowd started jumping and cheering them on, and then everyone else joined in.
As The Cave wrapped up their set, it was palpable that everyone was all very eager for the band of the night, as though little kids begging for their snacks. In no time, the lads of Taking Back Sunday strutted onto the stage like rockstars, and kicked off the concert with crowd favourite, ‘A Decade Under The Influence’. It was amazing that we all got to see the very first line-up of the band on stage, playing songs from their very first album ‘Timberwolves at New Jersey’ and the anthem of everyone’s teenage years, “Cute Without the ‘E’ (Cut From the Team)”.
Throughout the entire show, Adam Lazzara was swinging his mic around and showing his prowess as the singer of the band, to fans and photographers’ delight. Effortlessly, he commanded the stage and the crowd, with his actions. At times when the crowd gets a little too loud, the sound of his voice is drowned beyond recognition and all we hear are a hint of John Nolan’s backup vocals, cheers and everyone else singing along, but no complaints there. Energy was bouncing around the entire stage through the different members, despite almost playing music for close to 15 years, they weren’t showing any signs of stopping.
Taking Back Sunday were clearly strong advocates of the saying ‘music unites people’, when a dedicated fan, Phillip, requested a special cover of John Nolan’s old band, Straylight Run’s Existentialism on Prom Night and Lazzara was kind enough to play it and mentioned his name when they did.
Heavier songs such as ‘Error: Operator’, ‘Twenty-Twenty Surgery’ were fuel for the crowd, everyone was having a good time moshing, crowdsurfing and sang along whilst doing so. Unfortunately, all good things come to an end. When ‘Cute Without The E (Cut from the Team)’ came on, the moshpit was on a high. We saw the older audience start an even bigger and more epic moshpit during the encore, crowd favourites such as MakeDamnSure transformed the venue into a scene reminiscent of something you’ll see at Soundwave Festival.
Was Taking Back Sunday worth the wait? Yes. Why? With their original line-up, it was refreshing to see them play songs meant for their younger selves effortlessly to older crowds and newer audiences alike. Taking Back Sunday wasn’t just a gig. It was a very special night for all ages — teenagers and married men, to be able to see people’s passion for music uniting all generations from all walks of life.
On a scale of 1-10, Popspoken gives this we-lost-our-ipod out of 10.
It’s a rare sight to have 3 shows scheduled back to back on the weekend, although the demand for gigs have massively increased. Concert promoters are now jumping on the hottest band to bring in to Singapore, and this quarter of the year was proof that they’re doing a good job. But is the live music scene over-saturated? If bands come ever was so often, then would it be special any more?