When a party is spearheaded by the incongruent minds of would-be revelling locals, you can expect an onslaught of mismatched highlights, like torrential snow foam to whelm you while you make a run for it. Although we didn’t quite get how a few options fit into the theme (perhaps the falling blobs were a draw from notorious countdown foam parties), it’s scenes like Tiger Beer’s Unofficial Official Party Of SG50 that will invariably be packed with people, ultimately enjoying the crazy gimmicks like the Chilli Crab fountain that they gleefully voted for in the first place. But amongst the dissonance that came with the myriad of interesting Singaporean highlights, complete with a bevy of party favour parachutes and a sweaty hawker ‘uncle’ DJ, the real showstoppers were ironically the bands that came from (or left us) beyond our shores.
While the crowd that shuffled into the refurbished Capitol Theatre was met with more trivial entertainment to hype them up whilst they awaited for the main ensemble, not much changed when opening act The Griswolds took the stage. Perhaps it wasn’t quite the progressive house set that local ravers expected from the already synth-laden indie rock group, or maybe they were just awaiting the headline act - but the audience wasn’t as crazy as we were for the Aussie group. After all, the band of Sydney-siders managed to pull off an impressive show despite a medley of technical glitches, while performing on the edge of the stage (literally) throughout their set.
Though it would’ve been great to have had a chorus sing-along to the rousing tracks like “If You Wanna Stay” and “Beware the Dog”, the four-piece’s upbeat melodies, marked by tuneful electric guitar riffs and pulsating beats, still got the dance-floor well heated up. They even repped their hometown glory, Vance Joy, with a rendition of “Riptide”, a song that every head in the crowd knew the lyrics to. But The Griswolds’ first time in Singapore was riddled with a bad sound mix from the start, placing emphasis on counter-melodies and other textural elements - ultimately translating to a live experience that was slightly off. Nevertheless, the band’s presence was in the ardent delivery of their catchy hymns that doubled as a pleasant musical release, and we hope that the band will come back for their own show in a more fitting setup.
Exploding on stage after a three-year-long wait for some, British rock band, The Kooks, kicked off their set with “Around Town’’, from their latest album Listen, complete with their newfound funk-inspired musicality and their usual capacity for the anthemic. As with their hits like “Ooh La” and “Bad Habit” that followed, it was almost impossible not to relish in their penchant for melodies that drew total audience accompaniment in what was a baptism for some partygoers, who had only a smattering of what the band was about. Going into acoustic territory with “She Moves in Her Own Way”, a tune that resides in everybody’s obsolete iPods, the group’s sound was malleable, while retaining a distinct British post-punk vibe that Luke Pritchard effortlessly conveys.
Pritchard also confounded audiences with little snippets of “Seaside” twice, once with the guitar and then on keys, before going into different tracks entirely. Remaining as the biggest tease of the night, all was forgiven as they let us have “Naïve”, a satisfying conclusion to their performance and the SG50 party altogether, enveloped in sparks flying, confetti, and a complete sing-along session after all. Undoubtedly, the quartet’s long journey dotted with reinventions and experimentations of genres had paid off when we saw it in its cumulative entirety, presented in a gratifying condensed live set list of evolving sounds. And while “Junk of the Heart (Happy)” might be about unrequited love, we believe fans feel that they their love needs no reciprocation — their music makes us happy and alive.
Text Austen Choo
Images Various Sources