28 September 2012
Photos by Cliff Yeo
28 September 2012
Photos by Cliff Yeo
After a long hiatus, Zouk Live returned last Saturday with Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs’ (TEED) debut live show in Singapore. The show was scheduled to start at 11pm sharp. TEED, also known as Orlando Higginbottom, took the stage at 11:15pm, welcomed by loud cheers from an excited audience. Looking calm and confident in his signature dinosaur jumpsuit, he started his set with the very upbeat ‘Panpipes’ to warm up the dance floor. The small stage couldn’t accommodate the light show and dancers that usually complement his live performances but that wouldn’t stop the crowd from moving their feet.
Despite looking seemingly aloof behind his keyboards and laptop, Higginbottom did take a few seconds to introduce himself and address the audience. You could tell that this guy knew how to work the venue’s atmosphere and the crowd to his advantage, there was a smile on everyone’s faces when he popped streams of confetti onto the dance floor in the rare intermissions between songs. What was great was that he performed hits from his debut album Trouble, such as ‘Household Goods’, ‘Stronger’, ‘Tapes & Money’, and his latest single ‘Your Love’, a 90s house track with deep bouncy bass lines. He segued into ‘Your Love’ from a part of his DJ set by looping the intro using parts of the chorus to build the song up which of course had a much fuller sound live than the studio version we usually only get to hear.
Although TEED is a newcomer, only releasing debut album Trouble in June this year, fans of his would know that he’s also incredibly versatile as a DJ, having heard his Jungle set for Boiler Room, his BBC Essential Mix and his Disco House mix on Beats In Space. He showcased this versatility during his hour long set when halfway through the show he launched into a Jungle DJ set reminiscent of his Boiler Room mix that made everyone feel like we were in London where that kind of music is really ‘trendy’ right now. His choice of music during the DJ parts of the show was rather predictable though, perhaps he could have gone the other way and played some disco or house music which would have made for a smoother transition from his originals.
TEED ended his set and left the stage a few minutes short of an hour, only returning after some chanting from the crowd. He announced, “I’ve just been told that I have time for one more song,” which, to his fans, sadly made it seem like he couldn’t wait to get it over and done with.
The show left more to be desired. Don’t get me wrong, the crowd had fun dancing, we all enjoyed ourselves, but the night would have felt more complete if he’d performed more of his originals and spent less time DJing. Most of the audience enjoyed his DJ set but it just didn’t seem like his heart was in his performance. If only we knew why… Perhaps a bigger stage could have changed that, one big enough that he could incorporate the visual elements that are usually present in his live shows that amp up the atmosphere? But as a fan, I’ll take what I can get.
By Cindy Tan
An aspiring festival director studying the arts in hopes of making a name for himself in the music industry.
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The doors were set to open at 6:30pm but the usual, anticipated mad rush before gigs was nowhere near happening. Several small groups of gig-goers hung out by the entrance, and perhaps it was because the night had yet to fall, or the lack of alcohol, but most of them looked almost… unexcited.
For the next hour, crowd movement was slow and by the time local pop rock band The Summer State took the stage to open the show, only a little more than 40 people stood in the audience. It wasn’t exactly a measly number, but for a venue designed to hold up to ten times the crowd, the floor looked pathetically desolate. Yet, be that as it may, the five-piece group kick-started the set with a whole lot of spunk and showmanship, not looking the least bit defeated by the absence of enthusiasm and numbers. Just a week before, the band had another invaluable opportunity to open for California-based pop punk band Yellowcard. Held together by neat guitar riffs, zealous lead vocals and impressive harmonies by the drummer (yes, that’s what we call multi-tasking at best), The Summer State’s catchy melodies like ‘Love, That’s What They Call It These Days’, got everyone’s heads bopping and hands clapping.
The generous involvement of the lightings, backdrops and even fog machines also added a certain element of glam to the stage, and it was obvious that TAB’s acoustics were designed for live music events like these. Before the band ended the set with ‘Hush, We’re Taking Over’, the frontman, Ryan Lopez, looking quite blown away perhaps by the fact that they had successfully opened for two shows in a row, gave his earnest acknowledgements to a long list of names. By this time the crowd had doubled, and the fans in front were ready to sing along to the familiar tune.
Taking over The Summer State was another Singaporean band, one that would probably be remembered by many for their “no-frills” performance. After a quick sound check, The Caulfield Cult dived straight into their first song, ‘Withdrawal Symptoms’, ridding their act of any typical introductory speeches. With his raspy yells, lead vocalist and guitarist Nick “Prasat Kumar” (that’s a pretty cool stage name) had a voice the likes of Jamie Rhoden from Title Fight, so much so that even first-time watchers would probably give them an instant stamp of approval. Unlike The Summer State that put up a well-paced and amiable performance, The Caulfield Cult covered twice the number of songs in the same amount of time and filled the in-betweens with simple words of gratitude and drunken yet amusing “F*** You’s”. If that’s not the punk attitude, we don’t know what is.
It was undoubtedly clear though, that despite some glitches like Nick’s strings going mad off-tune, the four members of the band showed little worry about these hiccups and continued to entertain the crowd, with Nick rolling around the stage as he sang. The melodic hardcore and punk-influenced quartet was fortunate to have a tight bunch of fans who knew by heart the lyrics to every song played. Their last song ‘Burden’ even left the boys from The Wonder Years nodding as they watched on from the upper tier.
Finally, the flashing lights were shut off and we were kept under soft light while The Wonder Years prepared for their act. The short intermission gave the audience a brief moment to perk themselves up with some booze from the bar, but even so, the atmosphere in the crowd just didn’t quite cut it for a pop punk gig, and we couldn’t put a finger on what exactly was wrong.
The six-piece pop punk band from Pennsylvania quite literally ‘Came Out Swinging’. In fact, the upbeat, anthemic tune which came from their latest album Suburbia: I’ve Given You All and Now I’m Nothing, was a great set-starter for the semi-awkward crowd that consisted of some lost shoe-gazers and girls in bodycon dresses looking thoroughly out of place.
Asking the crew to cut off the fog machine because he felt like he was going to “suffocate”, it was quite evident that frontman Dan “Soupy” Campbell didn’t believe in the necessity of these theatrical effects in straight up punk gigs.
Known for sounding as amazing live as on their studio tracks, the boys charmed us with crowd-favourites like ‘Melrose Diner’, ‘Don’t Let me Cave In’ and ‘Local Man Ruins Everything’. While it was certain that these were the audience’s much anticipated songs because eager cheers were heard at every intro, it was disappointing to see the their enthusiasm and energy stagnate at the mere mouthing of the lyrics and, well, swaying. That’s not to say that the crowd was bad – credit goes to the fans who did more exercise than the rest, jumping and screaming with much valour, as if wanting to make up to The Wonder Years on behalf of the little less than enthusiastic crowd.
The six-piece band, often quizzed for having more members than the usual 4 or 5 in the pop punk scene, seemed to belong on TAB’s stage, for they fitted on stage quite perfectly, albeit a tad too cosy for swinging guitars and microphone stands. It was a pity that while Soupy sang with so much conviction, the guitar and keyboards used interchangeably by Nick Steinborn, however, were overpowered by the two other guitars most of the time, and all the three instruments put together came out sounding a little muddy.
Into the second half of the gig, the crowd finally got pumped up when Soupy dedicated ‘My Last Semester’ to “Benjamin”, who apparently couldn’t make it to the show because he was studying for his finals. We were expecting some moshing to take place during the angsty verse that went “I’m not sad anymore, I’m just tired of this place/ The homophobic bullshit that’s somehow okay”, but that didn’t really happen. Someone, however, was gutsy enough to jumpstart some crowd surfing, but it was an unfortunate first attempt, and ended there and then.
Much sincerity could be felt as Soupy specifically named and thanked the each and every one who helped make their first trip to Singapore so memorable. He also admitted that the band has had their fair share of gigs in shabby bars, and so, was extremely gratified to be able to perform in a venue with a “full” and “serious” setup.
The band closed their set with ‘And Now I’m Nothing’, leaving behind a quiet and confused crowd that dispersed, and only a few fans calling for an encore. Despite the disappointing response, the band still came back up respectably and played 2 more songs for their true-blue supporters, finishing the encore set with ‘All My Friends Are In Bar Bands’.
On the whole, it was a successful first concert by The Linch Agency, with a good choice of venue and incredible performances by the 3 bands, despite the less than stellar crowd. What happened, my friends?
Some sound advice: If we truly want to keep the “Pop Punk’s Not Dead” legacy alive, we’ve got to do way better than this the next time round.
By Serene Yap
I just take photos!
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Despite being an avid lover of all noise and sounds, Cliff could never master any instruments, or play music to call his own. To feel better about these disabilities, he tries to live in an illusion of being a rockstar, by photographing, and occasionally writing, about music.
With a strong affection for music and an undying passion in photography, gig photography is perfect for Alvin. The two elements have coincided in perfect harmony during his youthful days of tertiary education, and give continuing reasons to move on in the persuasion of photography.
Ever since, Alvin’s eyes and mind have been searching for a sound in every image and strives to capture images that evoke the sound of a moment kept alive.
Music and photography enthusiast. My favourite musician is Andrew McMahon and I have a penchant for documenting musicians and people in their environment.
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Dawn is a jack of all trades, but is mainly an entertainment, lifestyle and fine art photographer. In her free time, she enjoys Diablo 3 and plain cheese pizzas.