As the local music scene is gradually growing, more opportunities are being presented as platforms for showcasing new talents and give them a helping hand in public exposure. Besides the annual festivals such as Baybeats and places with Open Mic nights such as Timbre or Hood Bar and Cafe, holding concerts seem to be an option that a couple of bands have undertaken recently. After all, it is a relatively common practice overseas and bringing this culture to Singapore might prove helpful in the long run.
Popspoken received an invitation to attend the very first concert of a local mando-pop band Don’t Play Play. In collaboration with Livehouse, a local concert production house, the 90-minute concert was held at 10 Square Auditorium on May 28th.
The concert was a small, intimate affair within the cozy confines of the auditorium. With no opening act, Don’t Play Play took to the stage the whole way with both full band and acoustic sets. The band played their repertoire of original tracks and cracked jokes in between songs to provide the audience with a breather. Being relatively new, the band’s interaction with the audience seemed awkward at some points but eventually, the crowd warmed up and participated by clapping along.
As a show, it was a good effort for the band to take this leap of faith by staging a concert despite being so new in the scene. Each band member is an experienced musician in his own right, and the various considerations that they made, such as troubleshooting logistics, did not stop them from embarking on this journey. Musically-speaking, the set list flowed well and the band showed plenty of promise.
But did this collaboration particularly succeed in terms of reaching out to a wider audience and provide better public exposure?
It was an observation that audience members for the night were mostly made up of personal friends and family. The event was mainly found out through the band’s Facebook page, where the members themselves had been diligently promoting the event once the collaboration was established. However, there is only so much one can do especially before making oneself known within the music scene.
Surprisingly, even though the organisers could have helped with the social media promotion of the event since they would have reached out to a different pool of people, not much was done besides a single sharing of the event page at the beginning of May. With many concurrent events happening at the same time, this concert seemed to have taken a backseat compared to plenty of the others being organised by the same company.
This then begs the question if just providing a platform is enough, or if other support is required to truly make this venture a fulfilling and fruitful one.
Of course, with more spaces and companies recently opening up their doors to make way for performance opportunities by local bands, that is a significant shift compared to previous years where chances were scarce. Now, regardless of experience or genre, most musicians will be able to find platforms to showcase what they have got and gradually gain a following from then on. With such support for new and up-coming indie acts, the scene will flourish and our culture of local music appreciation will follow suit.
However, now that this road towards progress has been paved, perhaps it is a possibility to start looking at building upon such platforms to maximise their potential.
Maybe educating or aiding bands in establishing an online presence through social media marketing, or even linking them up with the relevant people within the industry to help them grow as performers might prove helpful beyond just providing a space for performance. The conversation is no longer centralised merely on venues and outlets available for gigs, but also on the various skills and knowledge required behind-the-scenes to truly help these bands be self-sufficient and capable of sustaining themselves in the long run.
Otherwise, the scene will constantly reach out to the same few audience members or towards obligations as friends or family, and not growing fan bases might prove troublesome in the future as the majority of Singaporeans might still be in the dark of what local music is about.
So, maybe we should be asking if just organising concerts is effort enough to help bands within the scene? Or is much more needed?
Photography credit: Darren ‘Merovign’ Tan