As the five bearded horses galloped on to a stage of a barren land with unadorned trees as stage drop to kick off Big Night Out 2013, a chorus of silence echoed across the 6,000-strong crowd at Fort Canning Park, conjuring up a collective gloomy rapture.
Band of Horses have proved themselves to be a thundering herd when they go full throttle live. They raced into raucous versions of favourites like Ode To LRC, Islands On The Coast, The Great Salt Lake, and Knock Knock from their latest effort Mirage Rock. Pensiveness shot up exponentially when the Seattle quintet also dished out their famous wedding ballad Marry Song. No One's Gonna Love You and signing off track The Funeral brought on an onrush of dull ache as some dispersed after their set with hands clutched to their chest, in a daze.
Everyone flung themselves into their own little dance as soon as Chris Tomson dropped his first beat for Cousins. Vampire Weekend came outfitted with a brand new stage drop and more vigour this time. Looking like a teenage boy headed for a high school class , in a plain shirt and his signature pair of berms, Ezra Koenig exuded his talent of an effervescent voice that is an impeccable complement with the band’s West African and South American accented instruments sounds. With only two studio albums under their belt, they put up an uptempo, electronic 18 songs set in 75 minutes. Each song brought the crowd to a new highpoint, greeted and rewarded with gutsy cheers and hearty dances. Vampire Weekend brought us home with Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa, Holiday, Horchata and Oxford Comma and premiered Unbelievers from their upcoming album. Watching Ezra’s quirky yet slightly reserved presence while lounging in the happy tunes with (mostly) sunburnt strangers skin-to-skin while being baked in the nightfall heat was nothing less than what these lads brought.
Man oh man Karen O! Nothing is too beasty for this seasoned stage tigress. She burst on to the stage together with her band in a flashy glitzy coat, white spandex, bright red shoes and a head of newly blonde hair. True to every review that had been written about the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Karen O never stopped prancing. With her remarkably chaotic and muscular backing band Nick Zinner and Brian Chase, she gamboled, strutted, crawled and kneeled and literally had the crowd eating from her hands throughout their 90 minutes set.
They served up a bulk from Show Your Bones like opener Cheated Hearts, Gold Lion and Phenomena, which garnered the loudest wolfcalls and sing-alongs. In succession, they launched into the new ferocious Suck Your Blood. We have said this and we will say it again: Yeah Yeah Yeahs are the epitome of rock and roll. In between Black Tongues, Pin, Down Boy and Skeletons, we witnessed the legendary “Karen O spits water” classic twice and two times of confetti party of pink and blue coloured ‘Y’ cut outs. Yeah Yeah Yeahs are by far the most exuberant put-together.
Encore was crowd-obligatory acoustic rendition of Maps, which was slow build-up to the voltage explosion during Date With A Night. Abrasive vocals and intense pounding bass and beats closed the night as Karen O, sweat-swamped, hurtled the corded microphone and smashed it to the ground repeatedly till the music ended, but the howling wolfcalls – never.
A truly unstoppable feral feline, oh Karen O, you are something like a phe-no-me-na.
Check out our Facebook page for more photo highlights!
All photos by Nor Asyraf for Spin or Bin Music