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Friday, June 15, 2007

WOCHMUN?

It’s almost two months since I got back from NYC. Apart from a couple of cameo performances at Timbre (mainly) and Wala Wala, I’ve haven’t done anything on the live music circuit. Having now disbanded Popland, I’m also trying to figure out how to approach this whole deal of performing live again.
I mean, I could go it alone like in the old Watchmen days – just me and my axe. Which is fine but can be terribly limiting as well. Or perhaps as a duo with another guitarist to embellish the songs. Or maybe even full band i.e. drums, keyboards, lead guitar, bass and female singer, yes, like the band at New York.
But the question is – who do I get to play? Or more likely, who would want to play for/with me? It’s not easy to find likeminded musicians who would, in this case, not go under a band name (sick of trying to establish another “brand”) but essentially back “Kevin Mathews”. An aside – was toying with the idea of calling the band “Wochmun” – as in “Kevin Mathews & Wochmun” – geddit?!!!
*Ahem*
So, if any one out there (and there’s at least ten of you visiting each day) has any ideas on how I should proceed… please, please leave a comment. Thanks in advance…
… might be at Timbre to watch Timmy tonight… again, depends if I can find any kaki to come along…

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

STATE OF THE INDIE SCENE – PT. 2

There is a sense that Singapore bands have it real good in 2007, there are so many opportunities to perform and maybe the bands have it too easy that they become a little sloppy and complacent. Maybe some of them may even forget it’s about passion, touching lives and yes, entertainment – nobody watches you perform so that you can get off posing… and no one has a divine right to be appreciated just because you step up on a stage and play. Having being “involved” in the Singapore music scene for more than 10 years, it’s not enough to play an instrument and write your own songs – you must be able to justify your existence as an artist. There must be something distinctive about you, something special and you must have something to communicate. Cos if you don’t connect with your audience then its masturbation, nothing else.
That said, in the next two weeks, there are a couple of major gigs that will continue to test and challenge the indie rock scene here, both performers and audience. Is the scene merely incestuous composed of wannabes, hanger-ons and friends or is there something worthy genuinely happening here?
In terms of importance, we have the Rock for Wayne concert on Saturday, 23 June 2007 at the Glass Pavilion, Far East Square commencing from 3pm. Originally, called Rock for Good, it has become a tribute gig for the late Wayne Thunder, who epitomized all that was great about the local indie scene. The line-up is a veritable who’s who of the Singaporean rock scene viz. The Great Spy Experiment, Electrico (both appeared at the recent SXSW festival in the USA), a reunion of the legendary Humpback Oak, Force Vomit and Astroninja All-Stars, a supergroup of sorts. I understand that the proceeds of the gig will go to Wayne’s family, so there’s gonna be great music for a good cause, there’s really no reason not to be there. More info at Gila Rock.
The Great Spy Experiment will also be playing at Timbre on the same night – alternating with Timmy – from 10.15pm onwards. Not to be missed, either.
In the meantime, here are some events worth checking out –

Something REALLY good! 15th June 2007 (Friday) 5pm – Late *Scape @ Youth Park.featuring Silence Of Gabrielle (5 20pm), Trella (6pm), Giants Must Fall(6 50pm), Allura (7 30pm), Vertical Rush (8 20pm), Caracal (9 10pm) & A Vacant Affair (10pm).

CAVEvents presents: Crush! @ Top 5 Disco! 16th June 2007 (Saturday), featuring Allura, The Fire Fight, Deputy Siren, Cardinal Avenue, Plushfools & Armchair Critic! Presale: SGD$14 Door Charge: SGD$16

Loads of so-called “lesser lights” and apart from Allura and the Fire Fight, unknown quantities to me so attendance is up in the air…

… still there’s more…

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

E-I-C

Have you heard Fiona?
Jack and Rai, the guys who front EIC have been performing this self-penned piece about one of Singapore's more nubile actresses for a while now and it's a really fun and catchy tune.
One of the best Singaporean songs I've heard in a while... and it has this misty-eyed Everly Bros vibe that is intoxicating, to say the least. Expect Fiona to be a big radio hit when the new EIC album is released... in the meantime, check out this live performance.

Monday, June 11, 2007

WORDS TO LIVE BY

It's Monday folks and I'm glad to have read these words from Romans 12: 9 - 21 this morning... words to live by every day, month, year and for the rest of my life...

Love from the center of who you are; don't fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle. Don't burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant. Don't quit in hard times; pray all the harder. Help needy Christians; be inventive in hospitality.
Bless your enemies; no cursing under your breath. Laugh with your happy friends when they're happy; share tears when they're down. Get along with each other; don't be stuck-up. Make friends with nobodies; don't be the great somebody. Don't hit back; discover beauty in everyone. If you've got it in you, get along with everybody. Don't insist on getting even; that's not for you to do. "I'll do the judging," says God. "I'll take care of it."
Our Scriptures tell us that if you see your enemy hungry, go buy that person lunch, or if he's thirsty, get him a drink. Your generosity will surprise him with goodness.
Don't let evil get the best of you; get the best of evil by doing good.


Thank you LORD, I needed that..."ooh you know it's hard..."

Sunday, June 10, 2007

ROCKING THE SUB

As I expected, Saturday (9 June) was a fun day filled with Singapore indie rock music and cool funny moments with funny cool people.

I arrived at about 2pm at the Substation Theatre on a blistering Saturday afternoon and could not wait to get into any room with air-conditioning. So I quickly picked up my comp ticket and rushed into the hall. It was empty...

In typical Singaporean fashion, the show which was scheduled to start at 2pm had still not yet begun... rubber time and all that. I had a short chat with Ben Harrison (Etc) who was supposed to play at 2.30pm... but we've been there already.

Yay! The gig kicks off with My Writes who promptly announce that this would be their last gig as three members would be serving their national service. MyWrites is part of the twee pop scene and from the get go, you can hear the usual twee pop influences - Felt, Orange Juice, Belle and Sebastian, Camera Obscura and so on. What the band lacked in the songwriting department, it made up in enthusiasm and by all accounts it was a fine way to bow out, if only for a season.

An aside - Singapore kids are a cooperative bunch but apparently unable to enjoy a rock gig without being told how to. So the kids would only stand if they were asked to. If not, they would happily sit on the floor while the band is performing... strange, but true.

And oh yeah, Inch had made her appearance too, of course. (hi inch!)

Etc, viz Ben and Lennart took the stage and immediately the entire mood was altered. The banter was priceless with Ben and Lennart joking around, it was almost like an informal jam session. Ben was in fine form, and once again proved the adage that it is the songs that makes you, not the flash and style. With top notch material like "When I Was A Store Detective," "Astrogal," "Meet Me At the Supermarket," "Love is No Alibi" and my personal fave, "Superhero" (with its classic lines, "I am a super-hero/I'm not a weirdo" resonating), and Ben's dynamic guitar work, it was a brilliant set. Thanks, Ben & Lennart!

Once the Etc set was over, I rushed over to the Youth Centre to catch Openstage @scape and just got there in time as HYR began his talk on song writing. When he was done, he handed over the reins to Xiaohan to speak about lyric writing. All informative. Then, Jack and Rai (EIC) sang three songs from their upcoming album viz. "The Falalala Song," "Release Me" & "Fiona." Every song a winner - funny, entertaining and catchy. What more could you want? I was truly impressed especially by the fact that Jack and Rai mined the rich vein of folk-pop-rock to great effect - which is rare in the Singapore music scene. If there was any justice in the world, they would be superstars! Can't wait for the new album, fellas...

Anna Judge April was the showcase band and all I really wanna say constructively is that they really need to rehearse more cos it just didn't work for them.

Edward (from Timbre) was kind enough to give me a lift back to the Substation just in time to see Analog Girl on stage. Armed with laptop and microphone, it was a different gig experience and whilst I must confess that electronica with deadpan vox is not really my scene, I could appreciate the fact that she was good as what she did.

Astreal, a veteran band of the indie scene (formed in 1992!) were greeted by an enthusiastic crowd and delivered a competent shoegazing performance although the guitar was so low in the sound mix, it stripped much of the power out of the set. Honestly, as with many in this genre, the songs get pretty samey fast and thankfully, the band trotted out a sexy trip-hop number which kept things interesting.

By then, Saiful had turned up and it was fun chatting with him, as always. Saiful had come for the Pinholes, of course. The hall was so suffocatingly hot that people had to troop out for some fresh air (debatable as most would light up) and so we waited until we heard the Pinholes start up and we rushed in to...

... the Pinholes giving up one of their best performances as they launched into "Shake and Bake," "Long Live Rock n Roll" et al in cool retro outfits and delivering their usual high standard of showmanship. The band was in good spirits and the songs were tighter than the set at Playden two weeks ago. I love the Pinholes! Great attitude, great songs and they always look like they having loads of fun and they make no pretence about being entertainers - isn't that what rock n roll is all about!

It was almost 10pm and I was frankly getting rather knackered but I wanted to watch B-Quartet, after all the good things I've heard. I have to report that the hype is justified. Having expanded to a sextet, the band proceeded to impress with their jazz-infused indie rock, spotlighting the influence of Jeff Buckley, Radiohead and a little Muse. The highlight for me was a song called Shoebox, which began as a jazz ballad and ended as an emo punk stomper. Exhilirating...

... and that was that! Overall, Rock the Sub was a success, notwithstanding the usual technical sound glitches and the heat. The response was heartening although lacking in audience participation (it's still Singapore, folks) and I'm glad to report that there are indeed outstanding bands in Singapore, based on this evidence - Etc, the Pinholes and B-Quartet, ahead of most of the pack yesterday. Not forgetting EIC...

Would appreciate it if anyone else who managed to see the bands I missed, please let me have your comments... thanks!