Okay, picture this. 300 music lovers on board a rustic ship – styled in the vein of an old Steamboat Willie ship – complete with the rollicking waves, musical entertainment by acclaimed Singaporean acts, accompanied by authentic comfort American-style root-beer floats and Coney Island hotdogs.
No, this ain’t 1930’s Louisiana hombre, this is the Bandwagon Riverboat II we’re talking about.
In music portal and gig-finder Bandwagon’s second effort in throwing an unconventional music festival-cum-party, revellers were treated to the sights and sounds of established Singaporean artists such as revered singer-songwriter Charlie Lim, as well as young up-and-comers Cockpit, Forests, bittymacbeth, and international friends such as Filipino electronic pop starlet BP Valenzuela, hip-hop beatsmith CRWN, and Malaysia’s Bassment Syndicate.
In this spectacular two-day event which encompassed amazing acts, great food and even greater people last Friday and Saturday – we give the complete lowdown on what we enjoyed from this boat-festival.
1. The Amazing People
Yo, people of the Bandwagon Riverboat, give yourselves a hand. We’ve got to hand it to the motley crew of party-goers of the riverboat for livening things up. The basement deck – aptly named the Mermaid’s Cove – was filled with the raucous cheering for perennial favourites Charlie Lim and Filipino electronic pop crooner BP Valenzuela. On the sandwich deck – named the Pirate’s Parlour – revellers geared up and laughed at the antics of comedic Spinal Tap-ish parody metal band Cockpit, and on the top deck, jammed to the chilled-out sounds of house DJs Oliver Osborne and Maurice Simon.
2. The cozy atmosphere
The Bandwagon Riverboat’s cozy atmosphere can be attributed to the Stewords Riverboat, which played an amazing host for the festival. The various nook-and-crannies of the boat left revellers scurrying around like excited buccaneers, searching for various chilling-out hangout spots around the vessel. Need a sit-and-chat with friends? The second deck aisles will do the trick. Need some entertainment? The crow’s nest on the fourth level houses giant-sized Jenga blocks, Connect Four and Pick-Up sticks. Wanna re-enact your favourite Titanic moment? Sure, go right ahead.
3. Technical dexterity of the acts
We’d like to applaud the technicality and dexterity of all the acts. We had the likes of Bassment Syndicate‘s bassist supremo Idris Koh, who carried the band with his Squarepusher and Thundercat-like bass-guitar sensibilities. The likes of Cockpit, who despite their slapstick manner and parody schtick – impressed with their twin Avenged Sevenfold-like harmonic guitar solos and fills. We’ve got mad love for psychedelic rock outfit Spacedays as well, who decided to rouse audiences by spilling into a splitting rendition of Michael Jackson‘s Thriller. Classic.
4. Arrangement and theme of the party
Have we mentioned how much we love the Bandwagon Riverboat’s pirate-themed concept yet? Bandwagon’s partnership with bank magnate OCBC’s Frank saw organisers handing out pirate hats, free balloon sculpting, and even nautical-styled tattoos. The decks were conspicuously decorated with jellyfishes, and there was even a pirate-themed Photo Booth for revellers to channel their best inner Blackbeard or Captain Jack Sparrow impressions.
5. The Rage
We’d like to put in a word for emo-math rock stalwarts Forests, who pulled together an impressive setlist of songs from debut EP worst beach vacation ever, circa 1997, and critically acclaimed debut LP Sun Eat Moon Grave Party. The inclusion of the fun-loving trio in the festival was an astute decision by Bandwagon – and revellers were duly entertained by the hilarious banter and antics of frontman-bassist Darrell Laser and guitarist Adam Jared Lee. The fluid basslines, spiky choruses and angst-laced lyrics had the crowd chanting – and in this case headbanging – in unison to the sounds of the Forests.
6. Mr Clarence Chan, the illustrious Krabby Krab
We’d like to elect Bandwagon founder Clarence Chan as president. No, really. The Bandwagon Riverboat emcee was on a roll that night, re-enacting dad jokes and chartering into slapstick territory. Some of his jokes included a salacious bit about a choir master touching Charlie Lim‘s larynx, and a joke about restaurant chain A&W being renamed B&W because “it was the Bandwagon Riverboat (ha ha),” and proudly showing off his balloon animal – which he dubbed Krabby The Krab to the crowd. Move aside Neil Patrick Harris, we’ll let Mr Clarence Chan host the Oscars this year.
7. The chilled-out afterparties
The aftermath of live-band performances on the sandwich deck led to revellers being directed to the top floor – the Captain’s Deck – for sounds by Oliver Osbourne and Maurice Simon on the first day, and hip-hop honchos Darker Than Wax’s Rah and Syndicate’s Intriguant on the second. We’d like to bring attention to the performances by the latter two, where the duo narrated the dance floor with hip-hop remixes all night – ranging from hip-hop aces A$AP Ferg, Danny Brown, Dumbfounded, to even grime king Skepta. Audiences lapped up the music with intense fervour, busting out their best intense moves on the dance floor.
We’d like to give the Bandwagon Riverboat II two-thumbs up. Ranging from the curation, the food, the setting, the people to even the backdrop of illuminating ships, The Bandwagon Riverboat II proved to be the perfect homage to the local music scene, culminating into an event where established acts meets the young up-and-comers. Kudos to you, Bandwagon!
All photos taken by Axel Serik and Jensen Ching