Home Club: This is the end, beautiful friend

Jim Morrison sings, “this is the end, beautiful friend” on the classic track ‘The End’, and these are the words that Home Club owner Roy Ng has left us with, following the announcement that after nearly 10 years, the venue will  be closing its Doors (ha).

The song pretty much encapsulates the whole situation perfectly, as the venue has been a labour of love right from the start, “our elaborate plans, the end“.

Arguably standing ground as one of the few and longest-standing venues in Singapore to bring live music to  us, the venue has played host to a number of our most memorable shows over the years, including controversial Canadian electronic musician Peaches, Bloc Party’s Kele Okereke, experimental glitch artist Baths, and all-round weirdo Mac DeMarco to name a few, and more recently, the Blue Hour Sessions in collaboration with longstanding local music programme Identite.

The announcement of the club’s closure however, doesn’t come as a total surprise, given that Home Club’s in-house programming has been relatively sparse in recent months (and some may even say “uninspired” for years). It’s hard to tell whether this stems from punters’ lack of interest in supporting live music, or the fact that it may just be easier to simply settle for the catering of external events — a catch-22 either way you look at it, really. External factors have surely not made it easy either, considering the difficulties we face in the current state of our music scene.

Home Club will now be transformed into yet another ’boutique’ dance spot, resulting in the blaring of overplayed drivel, muffled beats, and D-grade cover bands that can be heard on an evening stroll along Clarke Quay. Shame.

The sad reality is that we have almost come to expect these closures. The Pigeonhole on Duxton Road, despite persistent crowd-funding efforts, was forced to shut down in December 2012; just last July, probably the city’s only truly underground (i.e. perfectly scungy) bar and sometimes-venue, Night & Day, also closed its doors for good.

Most recently, Broadcast HQ in Little India was another piece to fall in this looming domino effect. Although short-lived, the venue showed great potential, however, they were never even given a chance to find their feet due to preposterous licensing restrictions — a massive hinderance to the progression of our music scene.

The closure of Home Club may leave many misty-eyed, but even more so, we are curious to see how things pan out without it: what does this loss mean in the grand scheme of things? Where do promoters put on shows? How about local bands, where do they perform?

Having said that, not all is lost.  With the opening of Pink Noize on North Bridge Road in March, and with recent renovations at BluJaz’s third floor, we see that there are still people dedicated to fighting it out.

RIP Home Club.

by Ale Launech

Two Seas – I Will See You In Empty Spaces EP

Catching Two Seas at Identite’s 100th show, we already had a glimpse of what their debut EP I Will See You In Empty Spaces sounded like live. So you can only imagine that we were pretty excited to have a listen to the recorded versions of their songs.

I Will See You In Empty Spaces features six of the band’s tracks. And though recorded very DIY in one of the band’s friend’s bedroom, I have to say that this EP was very well finished, the sound mix as good as one could expect from a home recording — everything was clear, and every instrument can be distinguished without any of it overpowering lead singer Jerald’s vocals.

‘Bedlam’, the first track on the EP, served as a tight intro to the whole package of songs. It starts out with samples from the movie The Sixth Sense as the music builds with bass kicks, creepy yet effectively creating suspense, this theme of suspense and release carrying throughout the EP.

In ‘Glassmouth’ and ‘You Are Disappearing’, the second and fifth track respectively, the power of Jerald Giam’s vocals is really put on show. The ranting styled vocals have a slight hint of an Emery influence and really seem to capture the emotion behind the song atop its many instrumental layers, from complicated drum fills, to all the effects of the guitars.

The band take a slightly more mellow approach in Earl Grey/I’ and ‘Earl Grey/II’, the two-track song allowing them to show us what they’re capable of, yet again revealing another side of Two Seas. Their post-rock backdrops against screaming vocals that culminate in such a heavily textured onslaught when the whole band plays simultaneously — it’s an explosive confrontation at the very least.

The last track, ‘White Yolk’ gives the EP a nice closing —  a personal favourite, as the sonic embodiment of their whole sound.

You’re either going to love or hate Two Seas’ I Will See You In Empty Spaces. Vocals could lean towards being “too whiny”, swells “too predictable”, but I think these things provide a face for the character of their songs. The amount of detail that has gone into making each track could be so clearly heard, the vibes really flowing throughout. I would definitely recommend this EP to anyone keen on a bit of heavily intricate, instrumental music — especially those yet to have had a taste of our local underground music scene.

7/10

Listen to: ‘Glassmouth’, ‘Earl Grey/I’, ‘Earl Grey/II’, ‘White Yolk’

Glassmouth:


By Jared Rezel

Identite – The 100th show @ Home Club (12.07.13)

Just last week, we had the chance to speak to Razi Razak, the man behind the Identite series at Home Club every Friday night. It has certainly come a long way; the series’ hundredth show was celebrated last Friday, 12 July.

With ten bands on the bill, some of whom we’ve seen at previous Identite gigs, the event may have sounded like it would have been a massive affair. However, staying true to itself, the relatively small venue coupled with the informality of the bands made the event feel personal and intimate, especially with line-up of homegrown bands.

Armed with a ticket-entitled free beer, we caught the first act, Bravepaper. The singer-songwriter, aka Chris Tang, set the mood with a couple of his acoustic originals and even treated us to a Copeland and Circa Survive cover. The problem with starting off the show with an acoustic set, unfortunately, was that quite a number of people were still hanging around outside, unaware that the show had started. Nonetheless, he still managed to give us the chill vibes and get us ready for all the music that to come.

As soon as Bravepaper had ended his set, Tall Mountains started theirs at the main stage across the room. The two-stage setup was pretty neat, and ensured that all the bands would be able to play immediately without having to spend time setting up after one another. But this also meant that there was no break for the crowd; if we needed to get out to use the washroom or have a smoke, we would miss a few songs.

Sydney Yeo, more commonly known as Tall Mountains, managed to bring most of the crowd into the room as she played her folk pop songs alongside her band, which included a violin, adding an entirely different dimension to the music. A highlight was the mash-up they did with Justin Timberlake’s ‘Cry Me A River’.

Surprisingly, the crowd at this point was still rather quiet for a Friday night; perhaps a tiring day at work or school? To our amusement, Sydney encouraged everyone to drink up, and we did so compliantly.

Exhibitors was up next at the acoustic stage. They dished out several covers like Ellie Goulding’s ‘Lights’, Paramore’s ‘My Heart’ & Emarosa’s ‘A Toast To The Future Kids’. It was their first time ever playing an acoustic set, which became apparent in terms of the almost messy set. However, there was something different about Exhibitors that made everyone happier and the environment more generally enjoyable. It began to feel like the earlier days of Home Club’s gigs, where bands really just played for the fun of it, perfection be damned.

I was highly anticipating the next band to come on — Two Seas. Rather new to the scene, they gave us a really energetic set. The band was tight and the screams, courtesy of vocalist Jerald Giam, added another level of emotion to their experimental sounds. I later caught up with drummer Zakhran Khan, who also designs the band’s art. He stated plainly to me that they do not like being labeled in any particular genre of music, so, for the purpose of this review, I’ll just say that I enjoyed Two Seas’ eclectic sound; they are definitely a band to look out for regardless of what genre you usually listen to.

Rezzarezzarezza’s soulful acoustic set was up next. Afiq Rezza, the man behind the music, looked and sounded incredibly suave with a certain swag in the way he played and sang. However, this was the mid point in the gig and many went out for a break.

Soon after his set, Aspectrum was up at the main stage. Fresh off their EP launch and new branding, these boys really put on an engaging show. One notable performance was their cover of Swedish House Mafia’s ‘Don’t You Worry Child’, which got the crowd passionately involved. They’ve definitely grown a lot since their time as Godzilla.

Mannequins decorated the acoustic stage with their life-sized mannequin, similar to their set-up at Baybeats earlier this year. It was nice to catch them again, and it was nice to see them mixing it up with an acoustic set instead of their usual full band set up. This did not, however, stop them from sounding full and clear. Their set was also filled with energy, as the crowd sang along.

Following Mannequins, The Auditory Effect hit the main stage. Watching them again at Identite, I expected their very full-sounding music to be supported by synth effects and drum beats, but they impressed me even more when they played a song that featured dark house beats. They had an aura of Muse, but with a more experimental edge.

Over at the other side, Yuji of Cashew Chemists wrapped up the acoustic sets for the night. With his Gibson acoustic guitar, he serenaded the audience with some pret-tee smooth vocals. The chill vibes came back as we stood there, transfixed by his performance. He played several of his own originals and then covered a Cashew Chemists song, ‘Over You’ to finish up. Thereafter, our nerves were calmed as we prepared for the grand finale.

Now this was the band that many had been waiting the whole night for. ANECHOIS played a really, really good set. As always, they put so emotion into their performance and music; watching them was like going on an emotional adventure through the soundscapes of post-rock. Many were just absorbed in their music as they played both familiar and new songs, all executed with technical brilliance. They were so well-received that everyone wanted more, forcing the organisers to let them play one more song. Guest vocalist Myn eventually came up to assist them, and they ended the night on a high.

Identite is always going to have a special place within the local music scene. It has been extremely successful at providing a space for new and rising bands to perform, old bands to rehearse new material, and for us gig-goers to discover and appreciate new music. This hundredth show may have been a long one, but it certainly showed us that the local music scene is alive and thriving, and isn’t something that should be at all underestimated or neglected.

By Jared Rezel

Identite: Making Friday gigs possible

When his series of weekly Friday gigs first came about three years ago, music lover and art curator Razi Razak only saw five people show up.

Now, the crowd he hosts can sometimes reach the hundreds.

Identite‘, a name that aligns with the unique identity of the local music scene here, is synonymous with Friday nights at Home Club, while most other gigs take place over the weekend.

In the beginning, the then-29-year-old produced the gig series alone, with the help of his music-savvy friends and contacts he had made from Home Club. Seven months of planning took place before the series’ launch in 2010.

Identite: Making Friday gigs possible

Now, he works with a team of sixteen, six of whom are in charge of gigs, while the remaining ten handle ‘Canopus‘, its merchandise arm, as well ‘Statement’, who handle all the artwork.

Razi has been challenged more than once before he saw Identite become the success it is today, as he revealed to Other Sounds during an interview just four days ahead of the series’ 100th show.

Facing the challenges

Organising weekly gigs and building the Identite brand has certainly not come without challenges. In fact, Razi was not hopeful that his ambitious project would take off in the beginning, but pressed on nonetheless.

“Back then, you didn’t see gigs happen on a Friday, you only saw them happening during the weekends. So it was hard to get people to come down [for Identite],” he remembers.

Only five people attended Identite’s first gig, and the line-up was made up of three bands – Circuittrip, Lovejets and Jerlinn. Now, his gigs often pack out the whole venue, with the biggest to-date (held on his birthday, 1 March) seeing over ten acts performing across three stages.

The “fast turnover rate” of the gigs has been a continuous problem too. “Once a gig is done, we have to immediately move on and plan for the next week,” he says. “Sometimes bands will bail out at the last minute, which means I need to rush to find a replacement.” In light of this, Razi feels he owes a lot of “time debt” to the bands that have agreed to be a part of his gig line-ups at such short notice.

And perhaps the challenge that brought about the most uncertainty, was that the series didn’t bring in the big bucks. Financial worries remain a constant challenge as he tries to pay the bands, his team, and earn enough profits to sustain the project. “We barely make any profit, actually. Whatever profits we have, we give it to Home Club,” he says.

Giving back to the scene

“I wanted to give back to the music scene and fill the void which I thought [existed] at that time,” Razi tells us. And, as the former bassist of hardcore band Anaconda, he appreciates that Identite is able to provide musicians with “opportunities that I didn’t have while growing up”.

Razi believes his gigs have provided a platform for old and new bands to perform over the years, and he likes to scout for hidden talents that “need to shine”. Unknowingly, Identite has also provided an opportunity for aspiring gig organisers.

He wants Identite to remain as a stepping-stone for people in the industry for as long as it is needed, believing that it will naturally cease to exist when “something else better” than his project sprouts in the scene. And when that happens, “It just won’t make sense to have Identite anymore”.

Passion is overrated, it seems.

So what has driven him to push through to the 100th show? Not passion, it seems.

“The word ‘passion’ is overrated. You need to have the drive to prolong, push boundaries and awareness,” he says.

2013 is a big year for Identite, with an impending collaboration with Noise Singapore, a local arts event produced by the National Arts Council (NAC), on the calendar. He is also hopeful that he will be able to turn the weekly event into a festival one day — an amplified Identite experience with bigger bands, booths for Canopus, ample space for art exhibits by Statement, and their relatively new spoken word event called ‘Speak’.

What’s next for Identite?

Razi is flirting with the idea of applying for government grants, but his fear of becoming dependent on them is holding him back. Without grants, he maintains that “you weigh your options better”.

He applies this to bands as well, believing there is a difference in the quality of bands that receive grants, and those that do not. He argues that receiving grants to produce an album seems futile, since “nobody really buys albums or EPs anymore”. Similarly, he aims at bands who apply for grants for international tours, stating that “a band won’t make or break it if they go on a tour”.

Despite all this, he continues to toy with the opportunity. And he continues to support the bands – with or without grants – because they all contribute to a more “vibrant” scene.

For the future, Razi maintains that Identite will continue to focus on local talent, with the international acts they bring in – including twelve Australian bands in 2013 so far – only acting as “the cherry on top”.

By Nurl Azlea

Identite is presented by Home Club every Friday night at 8pm. For more information, their Facebook page.

Identite – The 100th Show
with The Auditory Effect, Anechois, Two Seas, Aspectrum, Yuji (Cashew Chemists), Tall Mountains, Mannequins, Bravepaper, Exhibitors, and Rezzarezzarezza
Home Club
Friday, 12 July 2013
8pm
$12 at the door