Recovering from Camp Symmetry
Sure this review on Camp Symmetry is long overdue but like an irrevocable cold that never goes away,
our team never fully get onboard the road to recovery from all the screaming we did to our favourite songs and dancing ourselves silly throughout the festival. Set at The Meadow, Gardens by The Bay, the festival site was a creative sight to see with bouncy castles, ping-pong tables, jostle ring, photobooth, merchandise table and the usual food and beverages stalls. The weather was a real tease the entire time, with dark clouds looming and it was excruciatingly humid. Thanks to our lucky stars, it did not rain and our already-dirty shoes were saved from a deeper splash of mud.
Here’s our report on each of the performing acts at Camp Symmetry:
This rad clad had the honours to be Camp Symmetry’s opening act and they did not fail in warming up the seemingly sleepy crowd! Although performing to a relatively small and tight-lipped audience, we were swooned by the vocals of Roxanne Clifford who looked exceptionally adorable in her tortoise-shell wayfarers and daisy-printed crop top. Performing hits from their self-titled album such as “Beachy Head”, “Wedding Day” and our personal favourite “Come On Over”, Veronica Falls performance was a definite crowd pleaser.
Performing for the first time in Singapore and on tour promoting their album ‘A Million Years’, the boys of Last Dinosaurs were easily likable with their wonderful stage presence and constant interaction with the audience in between songs. Lead vocalist Sean Caskey commented on how humid Singapore was and discussed his contemplation to take off his shirt as he was perspiring badly and his nipples were showing (his shirt stayed on throughout the set to our disappointment). Playing songs from their latest album such as ‘Zoom’, ‘Honolulu’ and ‘Weekend’, Last Dinosaurs surprised us with their mashup of Modjo’s ‘Lady, hear me tonight’ and Spiller’s ‘Groovejet(If This Ain’t Love)’ which was sensational. The delightful Australian boys clearly stole some hearts throughout their enjoyable set!
Just like the previous bands before them, it was San Cisco’s debut in Singapore and their performance did not fail to disappoint. Cladded in their festival’s best and looking super chic despite the hot weather, the band performed hits from their previous EPs and self-titled album such as ‘Fred Astaire’, ‘Beach’ and ‘Awkward’ where backup vocalist and drummer Scarlett Stevens explained that it was about stalking. Although San Cisco got some of us on our dancing feet and singing in unison, the Australian quartet somehow lacked in stage presence and interaction with fans, pumping song after song till the end of their set. We have to say it was a performance not worth remembering.
Being a huge fan of dream pop, Wild Nothing’s set was one we were looking forward to. Kicking off the set with ‘Nocturne’, fans were immediately transfixed to the band’s tranquil and bewitching beats, complimented with the vocals of Jack Tatum. Unlike his earlier lo-fi bedroom music, Jack Tatum has progressed as a musician over the past four years and its noticeable in Wild Nothing’s current full albums, ‘Gemini’ and ‘Nocturne’. Halfway through the set, they had technical glitches which affected the keyboards and we can see the unconcealed frustration on Jack’s face. Other than that, we thoroughly enjoyed Wild Nothing’s dreamy set and we are hoping for them to come back to Singapore for a full concert in future.
Most of us were in our mid-afternoon sleepy mood after an afternoon of frolicking around The Meadow that when William Fitzsimmons came on, we were thankful for some indie folk in the air while we rest on our picnic mats. Sporting overalls and a fierce beard, William Fitzsimmons came on stage smiling humbly with a guitar in one hand. In contrast to his surly appearance, William’s smoky and alluring voice melted many hearts when he sang songs from his various albums like ‘Passion Play’, ‘Everything has Changed’ and ‘Just Not Each Other’ to name some.. We were in for a treat when William performed his rendition of The Smiths’s ‘Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want’ that won us over again and again. Wonderful indie folk by a soothing voice surrounded by the greenery of The Meadow, William Fitzsimmons’s set was pure bliss.
Ra Ra Riot
We were back on our two feet when New York indie rockers Ra Ra Riot pounced on stage and dished out their 80s inspired dancey hits from 2008’s ‘The Rhumb Line’ to their latest album ‘Beta Love’. The band delivered song after song with an impressive energy and lead singer Wes Miles was dancing feverishly around the stage as he sang the lyrics to songs. We enjoyed Ra Ra Riot’s delightful set and can’t help jumping up and down to ‘Beta Love’. What a catchy tune!
“We’ve got the ocean, got the babes, got the sun, we’ve got the waves! This is the only place for me!”, we sang along with lead vocalist and frontwoman of Best Coast, Bethany Consentino. Decked in a fisherman’s hat, tartan punk skirt and a worn-out Metallica tshirt, Beth braved our humid weather and gave us an hour of punchy surf rock ditties despite recovering from a cold the previous night. The duo belted out hits after hits such as ‘Goodbye’, ‘When I’m With You’ and ‘No One Like You’ from their two albums, ‘Crazy For You’ and ‘The Only Place’. Hundred points to both Beth and Bobb for interacting with their fans constantly, even reading signboards made by fans in the audience. Halfway through the set, Bethany confessed that it was her last performance as a twenty-six year old and fans spontaneously sang happy birthday for her. We had so much fun during Best Coast’s set, thinking about it puts us in a cheery mood. The sun was high that day, and so were we.
Being no strangers to the indie rock scene and having been around for eleven years, The Cribs lived up to their name being the “biggest cult band in UK” at Camp Symmetry. Nabbing the slot before two of the night’s anticipated acts, Mew and Explosions In The Sky, The Cribs were at an advantage as there was already a large audience waiting in front of the stage. Kickstarting their set with the high-spirited track ‘Chi-Town’ to warm up the crowd, the setlist then escalated to fan’s favourites such as ‘I’m A Realist’, ‘Hey Scenesters!’ and ‘Men’s Needs’. Seen in the crowd were the boys of Last Dinosaurs who were clearly fans of The Cribs. On another note, we loved how Ryan Jarman displayed some rockstar behavior, hurling his guitar in mid-air and hitting it against the drums, before being escorted off stage while attempting to hit the amplifiers with his guitar. These blokes are legends!
Camp Symmetry answered our hopeful prayers when they announced they were bringing the highly anticipated Mew to our shores. Crammed between hipsters and indie rock fans, our team managed to make our way to the front where lead vocalist Jonas Bjerre was standing. Fans cheered in unison when the trio got on stage, waving humbly to the audience before beginning their set with ‘Making Friends’. “Is this a soundcheck or is this real?”, we overheard a girl behind us asking her friend as there were no stage lighting available during the first song. But she spoke too soon. Right after, breathtaking stage lightning skyrocketed onto the stage as Mew performed powerful anthems back to back from ‘Special’ to ‘The Zookeeper’s Boy’ to ‘Snow Brigade’ to ‘Am I Wry? No’.
Our hands were clenched so tight as we were bewitched by Jonas’s angelic voice and sang our hearts out to songs by ‘the world’s only indie stadium band'(as said by Mew’s guitarist, Bo). Mew ended their flawless set with the heartwrenching ‘Comforting Sounds’, making some fans weep and most of us indebted to the amazing band for a spectacular evening. If I had to choose a set to relive at Camp Symmetry, it would definitely be Mew.
Explosions in the Sky
“Explosions in the sky! My body is ready!”, we heard a guy yelled from somewhere behind us. Many of us in the audience started giggling as we can relate to what he was yelling about. It was the band most of us were waiting for the longest time to make their debut on our shores, the band that is the soundtrack of our everyday lives and the band that relates to our every emotion and feeling in all the right places and at the right time. After twenty minutes or so of waiting, the band came on stage on time at 10.40pm and received an overwhelming eruption of cheers and applause from the audience.
As soon as we heard the first guitar riff of ‘First Breath After Coma’, some people started weeping deep inside them as the song is made of sheer gold, cloaked in emotions. Performing several songs from each of their critically acclaimed albums such as ‘The Earth Is Not a Cold Dead Place’ and ‘Those Who Tell the Truth Shall Die, Those Who Tell the Truth Shall Live Forever’, Explosions in the Sky set was intensely satisfying as the band managed to play all of our favourite songs in one power-packed performance. The band closed their set and the festival with ‘The Only Moment We Were Alone’ , which was delivered flawlessly and leaving us fans on the brink of tears. If there was a band whose music defines epic, the title goes to Explosions in the Sky. Three cheers for Post-Rock!
So that concludes our report on Camp Symmetry. Kudos to the team at Symmetry Entertainment on a great job done with the festival. There were no further delays in between each performance and all the acts started on time. As for amenities, plenty of lavatories were available and the queue for food and beverages were fast-moving. Given a good overall experience with the first installment of Camp Symmetry, we look forward to the next one in 2014. Two thumbs up! No pressure guys!
Text by: Erin Riduan
*Images courtesy of Nur Amali Effendy, Jared Ryan Rezel & Shaun Tan
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