Saturday, September 08, 2007


A super-packed gig weekend began last night at the National Museum. Yeah, you read that right, the National Museum, with Homemade ’07, celebrating Singaporean creativity. Or something like that…
Man, I really missed watching the Great Spy Experiment perform – I believe it’s been more than a month (!). The band was in high spirits, probably relieved that its brilliant debut album was finally in the stores.
(And if you haven’t picked it up yet – please do, you will not regret it!)
After getting the usual warm up intro song out of the way, the band launched into A Kind of Love, a little tentatively, as Saiful was not getting a proper feed from his monitors and his vocal was slightly out of tune.
However, normal service was resumed with the cracking hat trick of Class ‘A’ Love Affair, Late Night Request and Siti in the City before the brief set was over! Just when the jet plane was taking off too… the power, the glory and the sweat… a great set!
Bushmen followed and delivered a tight reggae selection, whilst competent enough, did not do much for me. I don’t why but reggae seems so time locked into the 80s now that unless it’s mixed around inventively with other styles and genres, its is going to sound dated.
At about 10pm, Stoned Revivals took to the stage – all ten of them! Good on them! It seems that the nucleus of the band viz. Ezam and Syed Ahmad basically surround themselves with musicians for live gigs so there was a drummer, a bassist, a percussionist, a violinist, a flutist, a sax player and a trumpet player…
Not only that but when the set started, there was even a mime artist and another guitarist who joined in – their jam sessions must be interesting!
Ambition – you got to admire that.
I must confess that I could never quite get into Stoned Revivals in the past – other than Teenage Queen and of course, Goodil – sometimes too much funk can be a bad thing… but as they ran through the songs (including Loose Boogie, New Way, Papa, Eve of Destruction etc), I began to appreciate their campy hybrid of disco, soul, indie and yes, even funk.
To be honest the extra musicians looked bored except when it was their turn to play but it was a fascinating sight nonetheless.Inspiring as I consider expanding the Groovy People to fifteen (!) people, so it was a learning experience too… now for today, Open Stage, the Great Spy Experiment (again – YAY!) and then perhaps back to Homemade ’07 to catch Adam and James backing Maia Lee… see you around!

...still there's more...

Thursday, September 06, 2007


The Speak Good English Campaign 2007 is reaching out to the youth with the concept that good English is an asset when being creative, as in songwriting or performing. To that end, several local indie bands are being showcased at Timbre on a Wednesday night and last night, it was Allura's turn.
Now, there's not much of a crowd at Timbre at 7.30pm on a Wednesday night but even to those who were there, local indie music is not exactly their cup of tea. Top 40 radio covers being more up their alley.
So, Allura being the restless musicians that they are, decided to experiment a little with song structures and arrangements, which I suppose in hindsight, the Timbre crowd is not the right audience to try out these creative ideas. But you've got to credit Allura for giving it a shot.
The band started out with a revamped Closure, which I did not like, to be honest and the first set seemed to be somewhat dampened by that decision. Though, ironically enough, things picked up when Allura did U2's Sunday Bloody Sunday.
A cover also opened the 2nd set with Foo Fighters' My Hero and the increased energy levels and perhaps having sufficiently warmed up, Allura gave sterling performances of (the proper) Closure, Limbo and of course, La De Da. Inch's voice was noticeably getting softer (she was suffering from a sore throat) but still gave a good account of herself.
A different, more challenging audience, then say the (moshing) kids at Baybeats but these are the people you need to convince and convert if mainstream success is on the agenda. I believe it was a good experience for the band, with more certainly to come...
.... Sangwich? Still a work in progress I believe, an arena-sized rock song which time is still to come...
... Closure, for now, is the real deal...

Monday, September 03, 2007


Quite a lot of people accuse me of exaggeration on this blog.Well, all right, maybe two persons have commented that I can be a little loose with the hyperbole.I have described the Great Spy Experiment as the most important band in Singapore right now. Let me go further by declaring that Flower Show Riots, released (finally) today is the most important Singaporean album right now.Here’s why…The Singapore music scene has grown by leaps and bounds in the last year or so. Visit the “Gigs and Concerts” forum at and you will find a healthy number of events featuring local bands being discussed.In fact, glance through any of these events and the sheer number of local bands is mind-boggling. The enthusiasm of local fans is growing exponentially, to the extent that fans are making even paid gigs a success.But where do we go from here?The Great Spy Experiment has, in the last two years, done everything right. Written strong, melodic songs, presented these songs in high quality, performed regularly, aggressively marketed itself and even venturing into the USA with SXSW festival and Singapore Day events.Today is the acid test for both the band and the Singapore music scene.How well Flower Show Riots sells will be a barometer of the maturity of the local scene. I guess what I’m saying is that it’s time for local fans to put their money where their mouth is.So if you’re a fan of the band, run to the nearest music store and purchase your copy of Flower Show Riots! If you’re on the fence, run to the nearest music store and purchase your copy of Flower Show Riots!!I’m not kidding, boys and girls. This is your chance to show your support for the local scene and it starts with buying Flower Show Riots.Have I gone mad?Look at it this way, if an album like Flower Show Riots does not sell like hotcakes in Singapore, even when the Great Spy Experiment has done everything right, then what hope is there for the Singapore music scene?Look, if you love the local scene and want it to grow in the years to come, then we need to see local albums being bestsellers, local songs on heavy rotation on local radio, local bands headlining their own sellout gigs and so on… you get the picture.So, local music fan, the future of your beloved local scene is in your hands… use your power wisely, and ensure that … still there’s more…

Sunday, September 02, 2007


The event is called Literati.
It's rather artsy fartsy compared to your usual local indie gig and combines poetry, dance and of course, music.
So about 50 people gathered together at the Substation Theatre to witness a hodge podge of artists in these diverse fields.
There was no moshing...
Zack Yusof of Deserters closed the night with three songs, two of which viz. 24 Hours and Last Chance can be found on the Deserters' wondrous EP, Last Chance. (Go get it!)
This is the third time in a month that I've seen Zack and it was great to hear his execllent songs, stripped down, again. Zack has good control over his voice, doesn't attempt anything too flashy but creates a dreamy mood. He always complains about the experience of playing solo acoustic as "nerve-wrecking" but you wouldn't know it from the effortless ease in which he delivers his first class Britpop-infused music.

Ben Harrison probably best straddles the middle ground between poetry and music as he has often been described as the most literary of our local songwriters. I've known him for so long now I can't believe he's just turned 30... Ben blessed the audience with the fairly newish Dancing to the Smiths and closed with the crowd pleasing Handphones on the Dancefloor which gets funnier and funnier with each succeeding listen. The man has some wit on him. He should publish a book of his lyrics.

Unfortunately for local music fans, Patrick Chng was quite obviously under the weather and had sadly, lost his voice (get well soon, Pat!). I was disappointed as I was hoping to hear some Oddfellows songs - Stand and Stare would have been cool - but instead it became a Typewriter set as Chang Kang more than filled in as a substitute. The duo ran through Beautiful Knows, My Enemy and one other and whilst Chang Kang looked distinctly discomforted by standing in front of a seated audience without guitar or microphone, I though he did well and excelled in the unfamiliar context. Chang Kang mentioned that he first met Pat at the Substation some 16 years ago... has it been that long?

The rest of the night was dedicated to one dance item and three poets. The highlight being Yong Shu Hoong. Now, Shu Hoong and I first met in 1991, when he interviewed me for BigO and our paths have intersected ever so often in the intervening years. Shu Hong is one of the top local poets around and he treated the rapt audience to a dazzling display of rather homespun wordsmithery. The words rolled off his tongue very smoothly and the many giggles and guffaws clearly indicated that the crowd enjoyed every minute of his spoken delivery. Shu Hoong has written three books of poetry viz. Issac, dowhile and Frottage - the latter having earned Shu Hoong the Singapore Literature Prize 2006 (which he shared with Cyril Wong) an achievement he somewhat skewers humorously in a poem which left the crowd in tears...

An unusual event all told (for me anyway) and whilst I tend to be cynical about artsy pretensions, it was good to see local music thrown in the mix. Other than the musicians (and Shu Hoong) I confess I didn't recognise anyone there, which I suppose suggests to me that the potential for the Singapore local scene to grow and grow is not as limited as some people may imagine...