I may have mentioned before in these pages that the Singapore music scene, like most scenes worldwide, is fragmented into various genres and cliques. Yesterday, at the kind invitation of eXe (vocalist of Firebrands), I made my way to DXO Esplanade to experience DEAFON 4 for myself. However, due to the National Day Parade rehearsal going on at Marina Bay, the roads around the Esplanade were all blocked and by the time I got to DXO, it was almost 5pm and by the time Inch and Han Quan (who had kindly agreed to be my company) arrived, it must have been half an hour later.
So we got in without any fuss and Firebrands was deep into its set. The club was fairly populated with a bunch of young kids huddled in front of the stage as the band was delivering its um brand of hard rock. Immediately, I got a flashback to 1978 as it seemed I had been transported to the era when heavy metal was the cutting edge music of the day.
(Yes, I know punk had broken in London around the same time but made little initial impression in Singapore - though I remember a few of us scratching our heads upon hearing the Sex Pistols' Never Mind the Bollocks at the time - "these guys can't "play" guitar and the singer can't 'sing'... hahaha)
Anyways, watching the kids give (Firebrands' singer) eXe the rock star treatment on a Saturday afternoon brought back memories of reading about tea parties in the 60s where the bands of the day (The Quests, the Cresendos) would play to excited teenagers... not much has changed then, eh?
... and these kids looked to me like secondary school students - all decked in black tees and jeans and carrying on activity that wanted badly to pass itself off as moshing but somehow it wasn't quite...
...which I found quaint, amusing and comforting - I mean, if Firebrands are able to engender this kind of response from their fans, does it matter if their music was not really my cup of tea? Credit where it's due... it takes work and effort to build up a fan base. A music scene is not a scene without fans.So kudos to Firebrands.
Next up, was a pop-punk band called Face Off. Now, the whole idea of pop-punk makes me nauseous. It's really got nothing to do with punk, as I understand it, teenybopper bubblegum pop in punk clothes and it's pretty crass.
However, that's not Face Off's fault is it? Whatever they lacked in technical ability and experience, they more than made up with stage presence, especially drummer Miguel (the little girls' favorite) and vocalist Titus, who looked a bit too happy to be on stage, with his silly grin and NS botak haircut! Nevermind if the songs bit... hard. Maybe they should stop listening to Simple Plan and begin a punk 101 course run by yours truly and purchase every album by the Sex Pistols, the Damned, the Jam, the Clash as homework!
Thankfully, along came guitar wiz Rosli Mansor to spice up the proceedings with some good old fashioned instrumental virtuosity. With obvious nods to Santana, Satriani, Vai and Allan Holdsworth, Rosli got the teenage set oohing and aahing to his every move, which left Rosli looking very embarrassed and uncomfortable at the attention and yet he was smiling like a nut-filled chipmunk by the end (hey, don't tell me you didn't get off on that, Rosli?)
...and here's how something's come around... playing drums for Rosli was a young man named Adam who happens to be the son of ex-Heritage lead guitarist Shah Tahir (who I saw at my first rock concert at the National Theatre in 1978) - heh! Adam also plays bass in You and Whose Army. More about them later.
With the Rampage the Durian gig imminent, I left DXO - with Inch and Han Quan in tow, and Bonk & Benita (also of You and Whose Army) - and went for dinner...