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Justin Bieber - Love Yourself

 

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album picks

Album Review: Bloc Party Gives Us 'Hymns', A Special Album That Indie Rock Has Not Seen In A While
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Album Review: Charlie Puth Manoeuvers His Way To A Signature Style In
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Album Review: Troye Sivan's 'Blue Neighbourhood' Is Pleasing Evidence Of His Maturity
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World Bloggers And Social Media Awards
SBA 2014
SBA 2013
SBA 2012

 

 

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On paper, the sixth instalment of St. Jerome’s Laneway Festival promised to be the biggest one yet.

Roping in a whopping 22 acts (including a last minute RSVP by coolest kids on the block, The 1975), any misgivings involving hipsters, their unbelievably encyclopaedic knowledge and utter lack of public hygiene were promptly forgotten in favour of the musical smorgasbord laid out for all to feast on.

In reality however, such an oversized buffet – more akin perhaps to Laneway’s larger international counterparts – necessitated several thumb-sucking inconveniences; all part of the festival-going experience, of course. With the addition of the brand new White Room, The Meadow (and its surrounding areas) now housed a total of four stages. Any individual attempt then, to document the 12-hour event in its entirety would vary according to one’s willingness to drag themselves through the throng for that one act some music publication deemed “You Should Check Out” and let’s be honest – the weather.

Clashes were therefore unavoidable as were the unfortunate circumstances surrounding DIIV’s emergency pull-out (and song-writing whiz Tobias Jesso Jr.'s premature one), sadly depriving us of the band’s muscly dreamscapes which would’ve been just in time for the super recent release of their sophomore LP, Is the Is Are. 

Clawing their way to the top, local experimental rockers Riot !n Magenta were tasked with the responsibility of stoking the metaphorical fire atop the Bay Stage, drawing quizzical looks from those uninformed of the late line-up switch (NB: the official app doesn’t update too well). Despite the delayed start, a handful of early-birds were sufficiently enthralled by Eugenia Yip’s jerky movements which, combined with Ritz Ang’s hypnotic beats, stirred some movement amidst the sleepy midday lull.

A palatable appetiser, it wasn’t until Cheats descended upon the adjacent Garden Stage with their sunny brand of guitar-driven anthems that the slowly-growing crowd got truly warmed up.  Possibly a symptom of the ominous clouds looming in the horizon that threatened to herald Rainway 2.0, the 8-piece thriller from Manila imbued a much-needed sense of urgency with rousing tunes such as Again, Professor Manny? and the breezy debut of Talks during which the charismatic Jim Bacarro urged audience members to call out “the animal” within themselves. Flanked by vocalists Saab Magalona and Candy Gamos, the syrupy harmonies the ladies provided for the likes of Summer boded well with Bacarro’s crispier tones.                

Splitting time between Violent Soho and East India Youth, it came as a pleasant surprise to discover that the former enjoys Blink-182’s stamp of approval especially when frontman Luke Boerdam sports a DeLonge-esque drawl. Coming across as the secret love-child of The Front Bottoms and Smashing Pumpkins, Boerdam’s occasional yowls bristled with irresistible torment as riff master James Tidswell busted out the afternoon’s most crunching chords. Similarly, William Doyle pulled no punches – sweating it out as a one man army, constantly manning his array of equipment on the Cloud Stage. Situated in what was unmistakably a parking lot, the almost DIY setting showcased the Mercury Prize nominee in his element, dressed (quite brazenly) in a white, long sleeve shirt seamlessly transitioning from one hit (Take Away) to the next (Carousel). Doyle might sound mellow on record but IRL, the Bournemouth native is a manic multi-instrumentalist with the capacity to melt faces right off.

In spite of the sweltering heat, many had already began to swarm the Garden Stage in anticipation for the top-billed solo act, Thundercat. His sweet falsetto crooning and constant grin fell onto a swaying crowd who was enamoured by his charisma and nonchalance. 

Sprinkled with careless swagger in each motion, The Internet's Syd tha Kyd (real name Sydney Bennett) took the baton dressed in a simple striped hoodie and nike trousers, flanked by two equally enthused hypemen. Halfway through the set, she couldn't help but join in the hot topic of the festival - which was, well duh, the weather. "It is hot!" she concluded. 

It is no wonder that local band, Cashew Chemists, is often referred to as the representatives of Singapore's rock 'n' roll scene. The five-man band lived up to the prestige as they charmed the main field with a series of bright and catchy tunes, such as Over You and Feel Amazing. Their retro ensemble of intricate paisley and floral button-downs served as a perfect complement to the concoction of twangy guitar riffs over the bluesy bass vibrations. Like cherry on top, frontman Yuji Kumagai spurred a revival of the classic rock sound, drawing analogous influences from the likes of Alex Turner from Arctic Monkeys. 

All was well up until it was Battles' time to shine. 'I've got no electricity up here', insisted guitarist/keyboardist Ian Williams as the band faced technical glitches right from the beginning. While it took some time for the trio to get back on track, drummer John Stanier wasted no time and took advantage of the situation by distracting the audience with a transient sequence of drum solos. His efforts didn't go unnoticed as the crowd cheered on with encouragement. By the time all technicalities were under control, he was already dripping with sweat as the band finally began with the set that they had originally planned for. 

Though they were only allocated an hour, the return of Manchester’s The 1975 was well worth the wait. Doused in neon lights, the stage was set aglow in a dance of purple and white. The atmospheric set was led by the sleek Matthew Healy who looked straight out of a fashion magazine. The band made the best out of their limited stage time, sending good vibes through crowd-favourites such as Chocolate and Girls. As cheeky as we have all known him to be, Matt took his shirt off later, sending the meadows into a collective scream. 

 

Snooze time came as Beach House performed under cascading lights of the Garden Stage. "Thank you for welcoming us to your jungle," said the dreamy frontman Victoria Legrand. It's not that I hold anything against the duo (I really like some of their songs, I really do), but rather the dim lighting that didn't save my drooping eyelids after a long and tiring day. It also didn't help that those watching the band from the screens could only see black patches. In any case, Beach House was an apt intermission with their whimsical and soothing melodies between the other upbeat acts that night.

Thank heavens for Grimes who pretty much picked up the energy where it had been almost non-existent after Beach House. We had the privilege of seeing Grimes off-stage during the media interviews. With hair still wet from after a shower, she was quirky, jovial and seemed like a genuinely nice person whom you would want to be friends with. On-stage, she was like an magnified version of her off-stage self who held nothing back of her eccentric persona and gripping choreography. Prancing across the stage and then back to her synthesizers, Grimes gave the impression of a gazelle in the woods. Before I knew it, her far-too-short set had come to an end with Kill V. Maim

"Is anybody else sweating?" Chvrches' Lauren Mayberry asked the crowd before exclaiming "Me too!". Arguably the most awaited act of the day, Chvrches was a real treat to watch. Unfazed by the heat, the trio put up a show far beyond expectations. Their entire set was captivating and exceptional despite Lauren struggling at times with the tangled cables. Lauren's magnetism was at its peak that night as all eyes trailed after her while the band played a mix of old and new hits. 

Friendships were put to the test amid what was the most deplorable clash of the festival between Flume at the Bay Stage and Purity Ring over at the Cloud Stage. Compromises were grudgingly made and groups were reluctantly split as a result of the existential dilemma: 'who is more worthy?'. As soon as Chvrches' electrifying set came to an end, the masses were forced to make their final decision then and there. While a majority stuck out in the meadow for the Australian EDM producer, a rebellious throng made their way to catch the Canadian synthop duo. It came as a difficult decision to pick the latter, but soon unfolded to be the right one as Flume started his set late (i.e. I got to see both!). 

Make no assuming thought about Purity Ring's comparatively smaller stage. The labyrinthine stage set was constructed with the purpose of wowing the audience, and so it did. Donned head to toes in white underneath a translucent poncho, Megan James presented a futuristic glimpse with her entrance of Stanger Than Earth. Even as he stood behind the pedestal, Corin Roddick glistened with allure as he took charge of the instrumentals. 

As the last show of the night, the burden on Flume's part was real. How it was possible that he could make one momentarily forget how tired and sunburnt he/she was, speaks of his undeniable skills of hyping up a crowd with his music. While being focused on his equipment most of the time, he would look up once in a while to check out the audience. In front of a huge display of psychedelic visuals, Flume continued to impress as the masses jumped and waved in response.

Text: Solihin and Donwei
Photo credits: Spin Or Bin Music

It would be an understatement to say that the British quartet, The Vamps, captured our wild hearts on a warm Tuesday night at The Coliseum. Though I don’t consider myself an avid fan, the group did leave an impact that touched my former fangirl heart. What others would typically describe as a normal school day turned out to be “one of the best days” of our lovely Singaporean Vampettes' lives.

Just a couple of minutes after sunset, American newcomers and opening act, The Tide, lit up the stage with a cover of Walk The Moon’s Shut Up and Dance. As the song has been my jam ever since, I did not hesitate to sing as loud as I could, leaving me with a rapid heart rate just after the first song. This all happened as my sister took embarrassed glances at me while whispering, “I’m saving my energy for The Vamps.” This was perhaps the mindset of all the fangirls around me as I jumped in a sea of a still crowd. Nevertheless, most people in the audience were still very welcoming despite not being familiar with The Tide’s original songs such as Young Love.

Just when I thought I was totally over boybands, came the contagious fangirl feels that have been the driving force of my sister’s life. The Vamps rekindled that tiny spark in my chest as they came on stage. Charming smiles and waves were met with piercing screams and hundreds of arms lifted up high, everyone too absorbed in capturing the moment on their phones.

Devouring energy took over Resorts World Sentosa as Brad Simpson kicked off the first line in the hit song, Rest Your Love. Nothing could make me feel more nostalgic than being around innocent secondary school girls singing and screaming their favorite song in unison. I did feel like I was teleported back to my "tween" years as The Vamps played Last Night.

With backpacks on the floor and portable chargers in hand, I’m pretty sure most of them even came straight from school. Talk about DEDICATION! Their eager anticipation exceeded expectations when the band covered the much-awaited Uptown Funk/Shake It Off/We Can’t Stop mash up followed by Tris’ Drum solo.

My personal favorite, I Found A Girl, did resonate Connor’s romantic backstory especially with Brad’s mesmerizing vocals and curls that were made more striking with sweat. If you think those already received deafening screams, imagine Brad joking about living in Singapore as the boys “do need to get tanned.” Let’s not forget about the tear-jerking solo acoustic version of A Million Words by the charming frontman.

At first sight, you might think of The Vamps as “just another boyband” with catchy tunes, killer smiles, and cute puppy eyes. But the British lads can definitely play, and this was evident in Oh Cecilia and Wake Up!

Despite the stuffiness in the hall, fangirls proved that they were more than just “people lurking on the internet.” If you think fangirls can’t mosh, think again. It was pretty touching to see kids finally seeing their favorite band live when a few months ago they were completely oblivious of the fact that someday the boys will know of their existence. All those intense tweeting, reblogging, and cyberstalking were worth the effort. With this, it’s accurate to say that The Vamps left a memorable mark in Singapore for their first ever show made even special with devoted fangirls.

Did you miss the concert? Were you buried in homework last night? Don’t worry!

Here are 3 HIGHLIGHTS from The Vamps Singapore Debut!

 

1.     James wearing an “I <3 SG” shirt all throughout the show

 

2.     Tris rapping "Volcano"

 

3.     Fangirls swarming around Brad

 

Setlist:

Rest Your Love
Cheater
Somebody To You
Uptown Funk/Shake It Off/We Can't Stop
Tristan's Drum Solo
Last Night
I Found A Girl
Wild Heart
Volcano
Can We Dance
Cecilia
Wake Up

 

Photocredit: Live Nation Lushington SG (facebook), Alvin Ho, valenciakwek, nicshields, mhdayatr (instagram)

It first began in *SCAPE Warehouse (now known as The Ground Theatre, approx. capacity of 500), where J-rock band ONE OK ROCK held their 2012 debut concert in Singapore. The quartet, formed by Taka (vocals), Toru (guitar), Ryota (bass guitar) and Tomo (drums), returned the very next year with their Who Are You?? Who Are We?? tour, held at The Coliseum (approx. capacity of 1,000). Yesterday, they took the last stop of their 35xxxv5 tour to Fort Canning Park (6,500 strong attendance).

Not sure about you guys, but I see a pattern here in the increasing venue sizes, indicating the band's ever-growing fanbase in Singapore. As one might be able to deduce, there is almost a 500% increase in the number of concert-goers within the span of slightly more than two years. Incredible but understandable, as the band's enduring rise in popularity comes with no surprise. Apart from their prominence within the J-rock scene, OOR has also made their mark in pop punk by touring alongside Tonight Alive and Sleeping With Sirens across Europe and America.

Perhaps it was the collective prayers of OOR fans that were answered, as the weather was very much in our favour that night. It was cooling and unusual of Singapore's otherwise hot and humid climate. After setting foot in the park, I found a nice spot to sit and wait for the next hour or so. I watched on with a sparkle in my eye as young Japanese families, all dressed in their newly-purchased tour t-shirts, run across the field excitedly.

Reinforcing the stereotype of Japanese punctuality, the band took the stage just a minute or two past 8pm. There were not many changes in their fashion choices over the years. Similar to when they were here the last time, Ryota performed shirtless while the rest were donned in oversized muscle tanks.

Having been the opening band for the likes of Yellowcard and All Time Low, OOR were no strangers to stirring up a crowd. By the time they moved on to their second song, Take Me To The Top, the audience was already at full force. The band maintained the high energy level all through Memories to Stuck In The Middle, before mellowing down with Last Dance. The spotlight was then handed over to Toru, Ryota and Tomo who got the throngs headbanging to the intense harmony of instrumentals.

Early into the set, Taka called for a circle pit. As I was far off back in the park, it didn't seem like anything was happening from where I was standing (although according to a Facebook post, a number managed to form a mini pit during Cry Out). Moments later, he called for a wall of death. Unfortunately, with the same result. Taka's disappointment was apparent as he made a desperate plea, amongst a stream of expletives, for the crowd to move back and split up before giving up entirely.

Some have commented on the event's Facebook page how they tried to initiate a pit but were stopped by others who complained about the pushing. Assuming that the complaining bunch were dedicated fans of the band who queued for a long time to be in front that day, it does come across a little strange that they did not participate in executing what was customary of the band's concerts. 

One of my favourites that night was the sentimental performance of Heartache with Toru on the acoustic guitar. Taka serenaded in a mix of English and Japanese, as the crowd sang along in perfect unison. The band left the stage after a spirited performance of Mighty Long Fall, before coming back on with a four-piece encore that ended with their older hits, No Scare and Kanzen Kankaku Dreamer.

Despite not being able to see a pit or wall as he had hoped for, Taka still saw the good in the audience as he promised the band's return to our sunny island soon. Perhaps we might see OOR perform on a bigger scale at a larger venue, such as Suntec International Convention & Exhibition Hall (approx. capacity of 6,000) or even the Singapore Indoor Stadium (approx. capacity of 12,000), for their next concert. We'll see. 

 

Photo credits: Aloysius Lim for LAMC Productions

From the start, Walk The Moon's debut concert in Singapore was "doomed to fail". This was evident from LAMC Productions introducing the 1-for-1 earlybird promo (before prolonging it to a "while supply lasts" basis) and later extending the show to Bring Me The Horizon's concert ticketholders when the BMTH show was postponed. Only with these attempts to boost the attendance numbers, did the organisers finally expect "a full house but some tix still available at the entrance". 

Is there a lack of Walk The Moon fans in Singapore? It seemed so.

The concert kicked off with special guests, Take Two. The local band took on the challenge of warming up the crowd and did a fantastic job at it as they played originals such as Ariel and In Your Arms, along with a cover of Two Door Cinema Club's Sleep Alone. The well-dressed lads were on fire throughout their 45-minute set and deservingly earned themselves a substantial number of groupies by the end of it.

Just a little after 9pm, Walk The Moon made a memorable entrance alongside The Circle Of Life from The Lion King. As soon as they started jamming to their opening song, Jenny, my mind was taken off how ridiculously humid the weather had been all night.

The stage lighting was not to be missed as it illuminated the set with an explosion of multicoloured rays during Different Colours.

Frontman Nicholas Petricca is a dancing machine that just cannot be stopped. He channeled his inner Mick Jagger through Avalanche and Tightrope, and held absolutely nothing back while the band paid tribute to the late David Bowie with their cover of Let's Dance. The best part of it all was his unapologetic attitude. 

As I took a quick glance around the audience, I noticed that most could not sing along to the band's lesser-known tracks (a girl on my right even had the lyrics of their songs opened throughout the night). Nevertheless, the energy within Fort Canning Park was undeniable. The band was giving out nothing but good vibes that were at least infectious enough to have everyone on their feet and grooving to the beat (whether they know the lyrics or not). 

I'm sure many would agree that the force is with guitarist Eli Maiman. Eli played a quick guitar solo of the Star Wars theme in between Work This Body, much to the delight of all Star Wars fans in attendance.  

If only half of the attendees were existing fans of the band prior to the concert, by the end of the night, Walk The Moon had won the hearts of the other half. It isn't difficult to like them though, especially when it comes to bassist Kevin Ray, who did most of the onstage banter. One thing that really stood out for me was how every member was just enjoying the whole experience and their time on stage. It was genuine and conspicuous. Their unpretentious yet impressive stage presence made me realise then that a band CAN be more than just their ticket sales.

Thank you Walk The Moon and LAMC Productions. 

Photo credits: Spin or Bin Music

My love for Finland's most successful band, Nightwish, go back to my secondary school days (wow, that's more than 7 years ago). Whether I was angry with someone or I just needed some motivation to study for my exams, the band's music always made me feel like I could overcome anything in this world.

Catching them live in a metal festival in Europe has been on my bucket list ever since and never did it cross my mind that I would one day be able to see the same band, who could command a crowd of tens of thousands in Wacken Festival, perform here in our little red dot of a country.

So who better to bring along to the concert than the person who introduced to me them - my brother. It was the first time attending a concert together, so here are samples of what he screamed into my ear during the intense set that lasted for almost two hours.

 

"Wah not bad, still got free drink"

He was referring to the cups of Monster Energy that were handed to us just after we passed security check. Already a fantastic start to the gig!

 

"I didn't know he so skinny sia"

Me neither. I guess we kinda always imagined bassist Marco Hietala to be ~meatier~ than what we saw that night... Not that it matters though, because Marco charming as ever, regardless of his physical appearance (as long as his silky blonde hair and beard is still intact, that is). How is he already hitting the big 50 this year?

 

"I didn't know they also play that live"

While other bands would probably just play pre-recorded instrumentals for their live performances, what really blew me away was how pre-recorded tracks were kept to a minimum that night. Troy Donockley traded his guitar for the uillean pipes and tin whistle during My Walden and a couple of other songs following that, and you could also see Tuomas Holopainen furiously going back and forth between the keyboard and synthesizers throughout the entire set. 

 

"Okay lah, she's not as manly as I thought"

Frontwoman Floor Jansen is a goddess and it's a pity my brother never realised that until the night of the concert. Her luscious hair flowed photogenically with the wind and every little thing she did oozed with grace and elegance. It was so effortless. Girl crush indeed.

 

"She damn poor thing"

That was his half-assed reaction to when Floor tripped and fell on stage. Perhaps she just wanted to make a physical pun out of her name. Probably not though. Floor immediately got back up before giving the crowd shrug and picking up from where she left off. 

 

 "Wanna bet if they are going to play it?"

A common favourite of ours by the band is The Poet And The Pendulum. Having followed the setlists of the Australian leg of their world tour and seeing that the band didn't play the song in any of their first four stops there, I almost lost hope. That was until I saw that the song was added back to the list for their last Australian stop in Fremantle that my hopes went up again. Please Nightwish, pleaseeeeeeeeee.

 

"WOOOOOOO!!!"

You can't even imagine the relief I felt when the intro to The Poet And The Pendulum started to play after 7 Days To The Wolves. I imagine that feeling akin to that of striking 4D. 

 

"Floor kicks Anette's ass"

This is his exact Instagram caption. Prior to the concert, my brother would make it known how he preferred the band's previous frontwoman, Anette Olsen, over Floor. I refused to agree. Floor is the perfect in-between of Tarja Turunen (the band's first frontwoman) and Anette, and the band truly struck gold with her and her versatility. It was so surreal to witness her death growls in Yours Is An Empty Hope before switching to operatic soprano in Nemo and Ghost Love Score

 

"Haha the hobbit haha"

Guitarist Emppu Vuorinen is often lovingly referred to as the hobbit due to his height. With his small build, it's often easy to overlook his skills (no pun intended). But, my god, once the limelight is on him, the hobbit slays his guitar solos like no orc's business. Also, now that I think about it, the entire band looks like characters out of middle-earth, especially Floor the elvian queen. 

What an epic night it was. Thank you Nightwish and thank you Impact Live.

Photo credits: Spin or Bin Music, Instagram (@wandering_shepherd, @gaijintheoutsider, @guohao.exe, @elizammm)