Before I start, a big "thank you" to Kyle, the manager of Copeland for getting me on the guest list at the gig last night...
The missus dropped me off at Far East Square at 6.30 plus and the place was deserted - "am I at the right place?" Then I came to the Glass Pavilion and I saw queues of kids and knew that I was.
So I got in and walked around, hoping to catch a familiar face, without any success. Then suddenly, this guy next to me asks me if my name is Kevin and did I perform in New York for Singapore Day. Did I?!!!
James, apparently had just finished his MBA in New York and was now in town to watch his younger brother, Josh, perform with his band, the Fire Fight. Daryl, James' friend - who has also completed his MBA studies in New York - was also on hand to view the festivities and the two of them kept me company almost throughout the entire gig. Thanks, fellas!
Okay, if you read my previous post, you'd know I had some harsh words for Singapore indie bands. So what did I think of the Fire Fight, Vertical Rush and Marchtwelve...?
Well, I liked Fire Fight although I could not hear the singer at all and the songs tended to all blur into one (same accusation can be leveled against all the opening local bands) but I enjoyed the 80s inflections (you can hear a bit of Big Country, Comsat Angels in the mix). Vertical Rush and Marchtwelve were a bit emo by the numbers and were not quite distinctive enough. They must really work harder at their songwriting - no two ways about it. Marchtwelve were virtually indistinguishable from Allura, except of course that Inch is by far the better singer.
There was an half hour break and the three of us went to get some drinks and then I noticed how young the audience was - many of them looked like they were still in secondary school! I mean, if James and Daryl, in their 30s, felt um older, what about moi?
Got back in time for Copeland and straightaway, they made an impact with Aaron Marsh on the keyboards, with his angelic voice, providing the critical spark that carried the band far and away from the opening bands. After a couple of numbers, Marsh strapped on his guitar and the band gave the audience a few rockers before ending on a very high note (and sustained scream from Marsh) and they were gone...
Now, prior to this gig, I'd hadn't heard of Anberlin. Obviously the kids have. They basically went apeshit as Anberlin took the stage and owned it. Personally, I found their hectoring emo-punk a little samey albeit uplifting. Frontman Stephen Christian knew how to work up a frenzy and the crowd were deep into it - singing along, pogoing and even body-surfing... and Anberlin has a simple formula - energetic songs, anthemic choruses and many call-and-response sequences, kind like Fugazi meets U2... it's irresistible, you can't fault their showmanship. Man, the crowd got their money's worth.
But in the final analysis, I guess I prefered Copeland's slightly more trad-rock approach and really dug Marsh's high register larynx. However, I do want to get hold of a copy of Cities, Anberlin's latest album.
What's really cool is that both bands are composed mainly of Christians (as I'm given to understand) though technically not "Christian" bands (whatever that is) AND their rise to the top has been done the old fashioned way - paying their dues by performing and recording at least three albums. Great!
Understand that the bands did a "secret" gig at Home Club tonight - too bad I had to work...
Check out their music: Anberlin Copeland