It’s been a long time since I’ve come across a weekend as packed with mouth-watering gigs as this. For starters, ‘90s indie rockers Livonia are reuniting after 10 years to play at the Esplanade Outdoor Theatre. At about the same time, B-Quartet will be playing at the Esplanade Recital Studio to preview their highly anticipated new album. Talk about a dilemma!
The fun begins on Friday night at the Esplanade Outdoor Theatre with the +65 Indie Underground weekend – a three-night event that’s tied to the must-have three-CD box set of the same name. Amterible is the only act over the weekend that’s not in the box set but you will recognize Justin from The Boredphucks (aka The Suns) who are in the +65 Indie Underground compilation. Any band with Justin in it is bound to be kick ass.
The original line-up of Force Vomit, billed as The Return, was scheduled to play on Friday night but had to pull out last minute due to circumstances beyond their control. Replacing them is Etc, fronted by Ben Harrison, who have been performing as a duo for many years now but will play with a bassist this weekend. I gathered that her name is Grace but little else is known about her.
Ben told me, “She invited herself into the band just a few weeks ago - probably not expecting to be fighting on the frontline quite so soon because she hasn't had much Etc-training. But she's kept pretty busy for an Etc-rookie since joining and wish us luck because our drummer is flying in from overseas, with minutes to spare, for this occasion.”
Etc is also playing another gig on Saturday April 10 at The Black Hole – a small intimate venue at 212 Syed Alwi Road. SubScene TV starts at 3pm and also features My Writes, Last Minute Heroes, Recapturing The Otellis, Rockvival, Opurzit Youth, Renegadez and Trieste on the bill. A stone’s throw away from the 24-hour shopping paradise that is Mustafar, The Black Hole is fast becoming THE venue for fringe art – kind of like The Substation in the early 1990s.
The +65 Indie Underground weekend continues on April 10 with Amateur Takes Control, The Oddfellows and I Am David Sparkle. A Vacant Affair and Livonia wrap up Sunday night.
Sunday also sees the return of B-Quartet. The band is no longer a quartet though. They have expanded into a six-piece band and just released their second album on April 7. Titled Conformity Has Replaced Consciousness, the band has described its new offering as ‘more organic and mellow’.
In a brief interview with B-Quartet, I asked how the band thinks it has evolved musically since its debut album.
Frontman Bani Haykal said, “With regard to songwriting/compositions, I guess it's taking a turn where it's now a lot more focused on every individual note and nuance heard. It's about understanding what we know and what we can do and actually applying it to achieve the most creative ways in developing a sound - not that it's a direct reflection of the record, but it's nice to be a lot more conscious when writing yet retaining the thrill of a subconscious approach at the same time.”
There are now officially six members too. Has that affected the sound and dynamics of the band in any way?
“Having six members in the quartet was a means of exploring more depth in music. Since the intention was to create a bigger sound live and in the studio, the need to have two additional people on board was important. We're a six-piece act only because we want a different experience for the listening audience. And having Luqman and Siraaj with us, both really good songwriters, we get more substance injected into the songs and it's been quite a ride.”
What can people expect at this Sunday's gig at the Esplanade Recital Studio? Doing anything special?
“A warm hug… and maybe a bit of Slayer. Maybe.” said Haykal.
About Patrick Chng
Forever young at heart, Patrick Chng loves going to gigs and checking out Singapore bands. He has also been playing in bands since the late 1980s, writing about music and being an important mover and shaker in the Singapore indie music scene. When he's not checking out or playing gigs, he's at home playing with his guitars and updating his Facebook.