Editorial text: Fung Wan Pei, Gideon Lee & Marian Saturno
Originally published on Esplanade / Baybeats
Location: Chillout Stage (Esplanade Concourse)
Photo: Hazman Azri
Packed full of young singing fans, Forests enchanted the audience with their charisma and math-rock, emo rock music. This is the first time Forest has done an acoustic set with drummer, Niki, 26.
The popular band sang to an intimate crowd of over 450 audience members. They performed mostly songs from their new EP, Sun Eat Moon Grave Party like 'You Seem a Little Anxious', 'Biting Straws', 'Feels Like Your Best Friend is Going Away Forever' and 'Who Cares, Really?'.
In between songs, they lightened the mood with a fidget spinner giveaway and thanked the audience for singing along, joking, "thanks for buying our merch and reselling them on Carousell". The Esplanade was full of engaged audience, and some of them knew the words to most of their songs. Noticeably, even children around the age of 9-12 were into the music; a boy in the front row was 'all in dancing' as Adam (guitarist), 22 would put it. Crowd favorites like 'Tamago' and 'Dakota' managed to get the entire concourse of people singing and jamming along to the music.
Compared to their set at the big Powerhouse stage, this one was a lot more intimate and it was nice that fans got to get up close and personal with the musicians. After Baybeats, Forests will be writing more songs—stay tuned for new music coming your way.
Tim De Cotta
Photo: Sharlene Maria Sankaran
“If you guys were there for our set yesterday, you’d know why we’re seated down tonight.” says Tim, returning from the much wilder set from the night before at the Annexe. He was joined by Josiah Suthan on Cajon and Percussion, who chuckled as he agreed with Tim’s description of the previous gig.
Although this Chillout Stage performance was short of back-flips, conga lines, and cypher circles, Tim was not shy to involve his audiences and asked the crowd to fill the ‘la la’s’, ‘ooh’s’ and ‘aah’s’, even with his first song, Rain.
His velvety vocals cut through the mix as the bass flooded the concourse and moved along with the beat of the percussion. The listeners felt the energy although he was sitting down. Perhaps it was the intimacy that the Chillout Stage provided. Wielding the bass and his charming persona, it was apparent that Tim was still able to capture his audience just as much as he did in the Annexe.
Location: Arena (Esplanade Outdoor Theatre)
The first thing that's noticeable about Faux Pas' set is the surprising number of senior folks in the audience. Frontman Nabil wasn't fazed, “It’s a thing. We cater to mostly old people at our other shows too.” It was difficult to tell if he was joking. For the budding band, playing Baybeats was a dream come true, and their happiness was all too apparent in their high-energy riffs and jumping around—undeterred even by the mild lethargy of the afternoon crowd.
The F16s (India)
In frontman Josh’s words, the F-16s might be “the mellowest band” playing this year’s Baybeats. It is true that for the most part, the band favours reverb and delay effects over the straight-up overdrive of most hardcore music, but if anything, the band has range—from falsetto-ridden synth based numbers reminiscent of English indie-rock band Glass Animals, to the heavier rock songs in the second half of their set that any of the heavier rockers at Baybeats would have been proud to have written.
Photo credit: Isyraq Irfan
Japanese instrumental rock band, Qu made their debut Singapore performance at the Arena at Baybeats 2017. Great interest in the band was apparent as keen listeners filled the Arena from the front seats to the back of the venue.
A unique combination of electronica, emo and heavy rock, Qu rocked the stage singing mostly their new songs. There was a good mix of Japanese, English and other interesting sounds. The eccentric group consists of lead singer, Gine who was clad in traditional clothing which seemed like a fusion of Japanese and Indian clothing as well as guitarist, Yone, bassist, マツヤマシンヤ and drummer, みさきまさゆき who wore t-shirts and baggy jeans. In the band’s last song, GINE (human beatboxer)’s emotional humming struck a chord with the audience. They then surprised the audience with some loud and powerful screaming as electronica, melodic guitar elements and drums build up, ending off their performance with a bang.
Photo: Isyraq Irfan
Bowing in gratitude, Gine thanked the audience for the great support and shook the hands of many eager fans who went up to the stage. When asked about how Qu felt about Singaporeans and the show, they expressed that they had a lot of fun performing to the enthusiastic Singaporean crowd and were very encouraged by the response. If you would like to see more of Qu but do not have the means to travel to Japan, don’t worry—they plan on returning to Singapore in the near future.
Just four short years ago, sub:shaman was merely a Baybeats budding band. Today, they have toured Japan and are one of the biggest alternative bands in Singapore. During their performance, their stature was clear in the confidence and showmanship with which they took the stage. For the most part, the band played songs from Apnea (their most recent release) in just about the order they appeared on the album, according to “what felt most natural”. When explaining the album name, frontwoman Weish joked that on the Japan tour, she discovered that “all [her] bandmates snore."
Location: Powerhouse Stage (Waterfront Carpark)
Every Rage I Seek
Photo: Sharlene Maria Sankaran
The first thing you hear during ERIS' set at the Powerhouse stage would be lead singer Azhar tearing down the Powerhouse with his crazy, jaw-breaking vocals. The band opened the third day of Baybeats with ferocity and head-banging fun with a total of six songs. The highly energetic band engaged with the audience through the entire set.
Though the audience took some time to warm up during their first two songs, a number of hardcore metal fans started forming a mosh pit near the stage area well into the third song as they felt for the heart-pumping performance. ERIS’ strong and brutal vocals, chaotic thrashing of the guitars and the intensity of the drums gathered fun and frenzy all in one place. 'Tireless' was a clear fan favourite among the audience as they head-banged and rocked their bodies.
ERIS sure played their hearts out. I could see in their faces how exhausted they were when I checked in with them right after their set. “I am pretty tired, but it was an experience,” drummer Rasul said with a smile of contentment. The other band mates echoed the same sentiments, “Tired. Relived and also excited for what’s in store for the future”, Azhar expressed in a voice full of gratitude. Aidil, on the other hand, remarked that he felt 'speechless' and 'almost dead'. He explained how the entire experience was 'electrifying' and he was very happy to see familiar faces of people who have been at ERIS gigs previously.
ERIS, one of the seven budding bands of Baybeats 2017, have come a long way from playing intimate crowds in the past 10 years to playing the biggest stage on Baybeats. As Azhar aptly described, "eventually with years of practice, it paid off”.
Photo: Hazman Azri
Drawing the second biggest crowd of Baybeats 2017, Generation 69’s ferocity and jaw-breaking music managed to garner the most crowd surfers and one of the biggest mosh pits of the festival.
Generation 69 took the Powerhouse stage, making their grand entrance with a thunderous and intense Intro and their first song, 'Filthy hands'. With powerful vocals and guitars and the pounding and crashing of the drums, more than 2000 people were in for a treat by the Lion City Skinheads. A diverse crowd of punks, skinheads and young adults were having a blast during the band’s 30 minutes set at the Powerhouse stage.
Although crazy, there was a sense of respect for fellow concert goers surrounding the mosh pit as the bigger guys lent a hand to those who lost their balance and fell. A few of the younger moshers Amirul, 16 and Rusye, 19 described the experience as 'scary and exciting'.
Generation 69 played many of their popular songs including 'Holiday Punk', 'Punx n’ Skins', 'One More for the Bois' and 'Hatred Collided'. Their adrenaline pumping set was what ignited many zealous fans to chant in unison for an encore, begging for the brilliant hardcore pink band to sing a cover of 4 Skin’s Evil to which they obliged. The veteran band closed with an encouragement to budding musicians saying, "To those who didn’t make it, do not be discouraged – there’s a platform where you guys can perform” as they inspired fans to “support the local scene”.
Photo: Nur Seryhana
Boon, the guitarist of Generation 69 expressed, “the crowd was awesome man. It was nice to see a lot of familiar faces". He was also grateful for the support from everyone.
Almost right after Baybeats, Generation 69 would take stage again at the 100 Bands Festival on July 22 as well as an exciting performance organised by their label Decline at Geylang Lorong 23 in Aljunied on July 23.
If you caught Villes in the concourse on Day 2, you would already have figured that they are quite a heavy band, playing the Chillout Stage with an electric guitar and full drumset.
At the Powerhouse Stage, they took it to another level and even opened up a space in the middle of the set just for their fans to mosh. Despite the dark content of the songs Villes played that night, like ‘Stage 4’ which was about frontman Dominic’s grandmother’s passing, the crowd was euphoric. In a post-set interview, the first thing Dominic told us was, “It’s been such a fun night, you could see everyone in the pit smiling.”
Photo: Danial Hashim
“This is really homecoming for us”, says Ginette Chittick, the beaming frontwoman of the psychedelic, post-rock band. It was a dose of nostalgia for Astreal, playing their fourth Baybeats and returning as the closing act on the Powerhouse Stage after over ten years. Unbeknownst to many, Chittick helped to organise Baybeats for two years in its earlier editions, which was why she regarded this performance with even more sentimental value.
Seeing old friends and new faces in the crowd added to the band’s gusto when they took the stage. Unsurprisingly, they did not disappoint the fans who waited eagerly for their set even if it was a little late for a Sunday night. Chittick’s mellifluous vocals floated above the band’s heavier sound, which juxtaposed it all the more.
The band, who had just released their third studio album LIGHT in January this year, mentioned that they managed to write a new song in the process of preparing for their Baybeats set.
Having Astreal on the Baybeats stage again was a reminder of the growth that bands are capable of, especially with the recent surge of bands in the dream-pop and shoegaze scene.
SA x NADA
Photo: Nik Voon
Upon walking into The Annexe Studio at Esplanade on the third day of Baybeats, one might wonder if SA and NADA were in the middle of a religious ritual. This collaboration was an interesting way to open the final day of the festival. The combination of drums, percussion, a strange-looking instrument, Didgerido, mixed with the sound of GuZheng, DiZi (Chinese flute) as well as beats and music samples sparked curiosity in the audience as they listened to the music intently.
Cheryl Ong of SA played a fascinating multi percussion set-up of Chinese drums, western toms, snare, kick drum, cymbals and percussive toys like woodblocks and bells. The most distinctive of all was the singer of NADA, Rizman Putra whose face was painted white (he was also the only one wearing white). His dance was a combination of Kazuo Ohno’s Butoh Dance (a form of Japanese dance theater) as well as Marcel Marceau’s miming style. His singing style, a distinctive combination of Malay, gibberish and also other strange sounds. The set was very much improvised and Putra was mostly singing to whatever came to his mind which made the performance even more raw and compelling.
The audience were certainly impressed as some of them nodded their heads in enjoyment as SA x NADA played their set. One of the audience member, Kristina, 36, whose husband works at National Arts Council (NAC) described the performance as “pretty amazing” where “there were different musical vernacular and cultures but still very modern—something that people would want to listen to even if they are not so familiar with these traditions.”
When asked about how the singer himself felt about the show, Putra expressed, “[It] was interesting. People were listening”. Ong commented, “We didn’t expect much people because this set is super early. We’re just surprised by the outcome.”
Considering how well the cultural clashes of Malay music of NADA and traditional Chinese music of SA fused together sounding like a cohesive band in itself, we can look forward to more upcoming collaborations between the two groups as well as with visual artist, Brandon Tay who works closely with both groups.