Baybeats, 28 – 30 June 2013
This past weekend heralded the return of Baybeats to the local music calendar. The annual festival has garnered a well-deserved reputation for showcasing acts from around the region and introducing music fans to lesser-known bands that might otherwise have escaped their radar. I have fond memories of attending the previous instalments, having seen Typewriter in 2010 and My Little Airport and The Lucksmiths in 2008. While I found this year’s lineup less than stellar, I was still keen to check out the bands and soak in the atmosphere.
First up was Pastelpower, the indie electronic bedroom project of Cherie Ko who also fronts Obedient Wives Club and Bored Spies. She was accompanied by Adel Rashid of the instrumental bands Amateur Takes Control and I Am David Sparkle. Her synth-infused twee pop songs and whispery vocals were pleasant enough, conjuring up images of dreamy soundscapes and imaginary characters. Unfortunately they came across as rather one-note and bland as her set progressed, with the exception of the last tune “Discoball.” With its unabashedly 80s vibe and thumping dancefloor beat, it was a welcome change from the rest of her repertoire.
Day 3 saw The Pinholes take to the Concourse with their infectious brand of breezy rock and roll. They played mostly songs from their Youth of Gold EP. Frontman Fahmi kept up a constant stream of stage banter in between songs such as “Shake and Bake,” “Sunshine” and “Preferably,” and they had the crowd clapping along by the time they ended their set. Next up was L’Alphapha from Indonesia who engaged with their soulful songs. As night fell and the temperature dipped, a lazy calm washed over me as I took in the music. Another act that I enjoyed was Taiwanese trio Windmill, who alternated between Hokkien and Chinese songs. It was interesting to hear songs being sung in Hokkien and it took a little getting used to. Though I no idea what they were singing about, I nevertheless enjoyed their tender and melodic songs very much. Then it was off to the Powerhouse to see A Vacant Affair. Having been around for 10 years, the seasoned veterans put on a hard rocking angst-filled set. The band thrashed and stormed about the stage as the hardcore fans in front pumped their fists and headbanged to favourites “We Are Not The Same” and “Mirrors.”
Rounding off Baybeats was orchestral pop five-piece Sloppy Joe from Japan. Led by a frontman with shades of Morrissey in his vocals, theirs was a tight energetic set that included the brassy number “Sometimes,” the melancholic “Growing Pains” and the Beirut-influenced “Once And For All.” There was a hilarious moment where one of the members, in quintessentially quirky Japanese style, proclaimed their love of Singapore and their desire to come back and play next year. It was definitely a lovely note to end Baybeats on.