A Sweltering Gathering with Empire of the Sun and Monster Cat

(Featured image credit: My Life Symphony)

Could one of the factors attributing to the recent rise in temperatures possibly be a case from a little further down under than usual? We surely thought so, especially with the arrival of the Empire of the Sun!

Held at Fort Canning Park, this event saw the births of debuts: the first time that the band performed here in Singapore, as well in a new live music series called The Gathering, organised by Forefront Asia.

First up, local indie folk-rock band MONSTER CAT paved the way as the opening act, performing their monstrous tunes like “Mannequins” and “Underwater” off their debut Mannequins EP – no stranger to fans -, and spilling the beans on arresting news of their upcoming release due the following week (which is this week). They performed a highly charged and emotive set to one of their best audiences yet (as they proclaimed before crashing into their closing song of the evening), although being met with certain unvarying and enthusiastic support. At times, it made us ponder if there could be any bigger appreciation for the local music scene in general.

With an elaborate stage set, the dawn of the Empire of the Sun had finally shone its way onto us – the eagerly anticipating and hungry crowd of the night. Lead singer Luke Steele never failed to disappoint in looking the part of delivering good live showmanship (who is to doubt his headdresses anyway?), and he sure didn’t fail in actually achieving the results. Armed with bursting energy, Steele was like a restless soul caught throughout the night’s performance, bouncing from one place to another – up the steps to the wheeled platform and down the stage to meet and greet the standing front-row fans. Rest assured that the quality of music delivery was not impacted from this much ongoing activities, as he sounded almost as on par with what was heard on the records and on the stereo.

One thing that definitely impressed and left markings of memories in the audience’s minds would be the visual elements showcased – headdresses, loud attention-grabbing style and shimmering outfit aside, there were the four imported dancers in intriguing intergalactic costume changes than any of the member in the band – at one point, one of the dancers was even dancing with a broom, easily making one think out loud whether this was a Lady Gaga or a Peaches show. Midway through, there was even a gigantic headed creature that sprayed mist out of (the tubes from) its body, bringing the show to a (WTF?) climax.

Certainly, there were dynamic moments of pure pop bliss, and without a doubt, Empire of the Sun wanted everybody to dance their Friday nights and worrisome lives away right at that moment. However, as motivated and obvious a mission statement that latter one might be and to be made by a band or any for that matter, there were occasions where the songs sounded pretty much similar and surfaced a slight lack of variety, especially when presented and sang over hard thumping dance beats, with the exception of familiar popular numbers and the mellow switch to downtempo with “Without You”.

Clearly the lines between indie, indie pop and pop music had once again blurred and further depleted, with the music and live antics of a band like the Empire of the Sun erasing the fine lines and crossing genre boundaries and horizons, but really, what’s and who’s to care about classification and generalization anyway, if it made us feel like “We Are The People”, “Alive” and “Walking On A Dream”?


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