Monday, August 31, 2009

Baybeats Day 3

Right, this will have to be plain text for now till Blogger wakes up it's idea. Or maybe my Mac. But I'm calling Blogger on this.

So my army mates and I went to catch the last day of Baybeats. I with another was quite heartbroken that we couldn't go on Friday because we already had our churascurra dinner, which meant we missed The Great Spy Experiment and West Grand Boulevard. Of course the only band I remotely knew on day 3 was Anberlin, and only because my friend wanted to go there specifically for them. Don't matter. I got their discography already. ^^

So we meet abit earlier to makan, and ended up... quite predictably when you're around guys, at Carl's Jr. SAFRA card saved the day, I ordered the new Western Bacon Thickburger, very nice if abit dry, and the discounted large upsize meal is still 45c cheaper than the normal undiscounted meal ($13.50, probably the most expensive burger on the list at the moment).

We originally wanted to catch Anberlin's acoustic set at 7, but we arrived quite on the dot, which meant that we couldn't even see the stage. I decided that we should give up watch it, and also because I just don't like this kind of music (hardcore) on acoustics. No, just no. It sounded awfully pop-rock, and the hundreds of girls singing along to every single word of the song didn't help lift that image. I herded my friends (we take turns leading the pack) to the venue dedicated to the heavier acts, the Outdoor Theatre, redubbed The Powerhouse for the festival.

The next band up was at 7.30, and a band that by pure virtue of its name attracted me - Velvette Vendetta from Hong Kong. We heard the sound check and we though 'Oh hell this is gonna be rockin.' We didn't know it would be that rocking - turned out to be metal. Not that it mattered to us, although things got quite steadily more cheesy as the set went on. The vox did that raspy metal voice and went "Dis is da Pawahaus, so I wanna see some fuckin pawahhhhh.' And his falsetto... dude go watch more BeeGees vids kay? Still, I thought they were ok. Their riffs were solid, and everyone was decently skilled.

Now I must confess we weren't very optimistic about the next band up, Singapore's Zero Sequence. We were sitting by the water and talking about what next. "Local band leh, don't feel like watching." "Yeah sia..." Still, we didn't come all the way down to a music festival to not see bands play, so we duly took our places up front sometime before the set was scheduled to start. We saw a whole rack of like 10 basses and guitars, and wondered whose it was, and whether it was Zero Sequence's (turned out to be Anberlin's). And I joked that it was just like a Singaporean band to have all this awesome equipment (the combined SRPs of the instruments might have gotten you a small car overseas) and shitty music. Zero Sequence started and because I didn't even have a clue that I was listening to a progressive rock band, I wondered what the hell they were doing (some atmospheric keyboard and tapping on the guitar that made some doobldy-duba-dana-dibi-dunun). And then the distortion kicked in and the blast that roared from the amps was so heavy my eyebrows went straight up. This dude came out in a Reaper costume, hooded, and shredded the shit out of his guitar, and unveiled himself and started singing. I was there, unable to clap because I was holding the Zoom H2 recorder reeling everything in, and all I could do was nod my head approvingly like some ambitious father, when the singer held a high note, and the power that suddenly resonated throughout the whole venue shocked the shit out of everyone, and my friend and I stared at each other stunned as the crowd started wooting appreciatively. And my otherwise great recording was nearly ruined by this CBK who tried to Superman on me and my friend. I think we shrugged him right off, but my recording got abit muffled after that.


After the set was over, we immediately went to the CD booth and purchased their CD. I wanted to be a cheap bastard and kope the CD from my friend after he'd ripped it, but I decided to buy one myself in the end, and as I called for one more copy please, the guy turned around and pulled a stack out of a box, and taped to my copy of the CD was a guitar pick.

I dunno why my friends were so miffed. One's a bassist and the most musical thing the other one does is...... headbang. Or well, headbob. Lol I'm so bad. But SERIOUSLY!

We went to find our other friends at the chillout stage (no drums bass or distortion bleh) because our other group of friends were quite bewildered as to how one could even be attracted to such noise ("It's good noise kay!" I reasoned.)

Seems quite obvious but I think I'll mention for archive's sake that it had rained previously, just a couple of hours before the festival got into full swing in fact, and the result was that the grungy gravel/sand ground at the Powerhouse turned into a messy gravel/mud pit. And thanks to the fucking cocksters who just want to jump into the fray of moshing and push shove punch and kick anyone within arm's reach, our shoes were covered with a fine layer of mud by the time we reunited with our friends. Needless to say with crowds and typical SG weather it got humid, and we were quite happy to listen to ukeleles and soothing rings of acoustics while enjoying some aircon. It got clear though, that the artiste performing was the type that had a message to tell the world, and either had no lyrical artistry or didn't bother with it, with the result of quite a dry performance. So even the other guys who had ducked away from the noise joined us in going back to the Powerhouse to give The Ambassadors from the Phillipines a chance. They hung out right at the back while we moved up front, although we din get too far because we arrived just in time again. Being further away meant no close up shots of the band, but it meant that we got better (but louder) sound because we were within the speakers' targetted firing range.

Right well anyway, long story short, Ambassadors, sound like Switchfoot, pop-rockers obsessed with seeing people mosh in circles squares and pentafostigonals. I enjoyed it only because it was live. Atmosphere seriously lowers your standards. Although we had alot of fun watching would-be bodysurfers failing the crap out of themselves. They always get raised in the air by their friends, triumphant look on their faces (I'm floating muthafuckas!) and then the next moment nobody bothers catching them so they plunge right down into the crowd. Sad. Sad but funny. Should have videoed that shit.

Quite amazingly, a quite a big bunch of people made their way out of the venue after the band took their leave. I'd have though everyone would be kiasu and sit through a band they knew shit about just to wait for the famous band from halfway round the world. But we needn't have worried about that. The crowd really started coming in just then, and we found ourselves inevitably sandwiched. Having already experienced the crazy moshers earlier and fully expecting them later, we tried as much to move to the side without kicking ourselves out of the venue. At the end, we could have stood smack in the center for all we cared, because latecomers who couldn't get to the moshing area barrelled their way through anyway. About halfway through amidst the full blast of the speakers (we were sidelined right into direct range of the speakers) I heard my ears start ringing. I should mention for those who don't know that I have ears particularly sensitive to high pitches, which is why if you're the type to notice I always go for warmer sounding audio equipment. I quickly dug my Ultimate Ears out and plugged them on - I had absolutely forgotten to bring my concert earplugs in the typical rush out of the house.

So how was it then? I'm not one to belittle experiences, good or bad, so I'll say it was a great eye-opener being almost in the center of a mosh pit. I was tempted to the point of twitching arms to join in and push back, but seeing as that was utterly pointless in enjoying the music the most I did was dig into my position and not get shoved forward or back. I also found out that the moshers who subscribe to the kind of music that is Anberlin are royal idiots who just want to slap someone hard in the face without having to face repercussions. Metalhead moshers are a different thing - they follow the etiquettes set by the largest music festivals in the world. But this... I don't wanna say la, but you know the people. Miffs me abit that I'm also listening to the same music as them, but well, I'm not gonna ditch something I love because someone else is spoiling the image am I? So yeah, Baybeats was great, even though I only attended the last day. Hopefully Great Spy and West Grand will be back next year so I can see them live (still haven't got their CDs sia). And more importantly, hopefully my friends and I wouldn't have gotten too busy with work or studies to take time out to enjoy these precious moments of life.

Anyway, those bodysurfers. You surf surf 20m from your friends and finally land on earth again. Then? Headbang alone ah? Weird not eh?

Links and photos coming up, soon as Blogger sorts itself out.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Spirit of Adventure

No I just borrowed the name. The Up post will have to wait. And YES O HAI I IZ BACK FROM HIATUZ I CAN HAZ PAGEVIEWZ?

I just thought I should blog about this fantastic evening. It's not actually fantastic, for the most part, but the absolutely positive feelings I'm floating about in right now just leads me to describe it as such.

It started when I was watching Pushing Daisies at 3.30pm. My aunt IMed and asked if I wanted to go out. I said yes I would like to go to Vivo, which is the nearest mall to my place, but I also had an almost unrelated itch to go there.

So alright we set 4.30 as the time to meet at the carpark downstairs (oh yes my aunt and my family have units in the same condo. Convenient, since we're practically stuck together since forever). While strolling over to her car I saw her walking in and out and around the car and was immediately hit with a very strong "Something's very wrong" aura. True enough, her car refused to start, but not just that, everytime she turned the ignition, a horrible rattle crackled out of her engine area, as if some metallic lizard got it's tail wound in the gears. And now we shall pause to fleetingly entertain that possibility.

Okay. Freaky wasn't it?

I smart-guessed that it wasn't a flat battery like my aunt thought. It had every indication of one - dim headlights and flickering dashboard - but the engine rattle somehow put that thought out of my head. So calls were made and we went upstairs to her unit and I did the usual IT support routine. Oh no I'm not resentful or tired of it. I actually like to be of use, sometimes. While I was watching abit of Bleach, the tow guy reached and she went down. I got a call soon instructing me to shut off everything, lock up and bring her purse down. The guy had come and deemed it to be an exhausted, and not flat battery, and simply jumpstarted the car back to life. He'd told my aunt that a slow drive to Vivo City should be sufficient to recharge it, a statement I quite rightly doubted when she told me, but if you threatened to slowly buzzsaw me in half from groin up you would end up having to do it because I don't know about car intestines for shit, so I just accepted it lor.

As we settled into our parking lot at Vivo I told my aunt we should try restarting it then to see whether it really worked, but she saw no point to it, and I quite strangely saw little point in pushing my suggestion. But it's probably better that we didn't do so, even though we should have, because I do think that if we have the result would not have allowed us to have as good an evening as what followed. Blissfully unbothered about the state of a car essentially brought back from the (temporary) dead, we headed straight for Akashi, a Japanese restaurant stuck in my head forever because when the first branch opened at Citylink my aunt ordered ootoro, the quintessentially Japanese fatty tuna belly, and brought the bill from what should have been just over a hundred to a ball-shrinking $300+.

Akashi did not open with the aim of being a budget restaurant for desperadoes to get their Jap fix, I'll say that first. I think it is just about the best upper-middle class restaurant to go to. It will not come cheap, but you won't walk away feeling unsatisfied. The salmon sashimi was 5 slices of centimetre-thick springy softness, its natural fresh taste amplified by soya sauce. The seaweed wrapping and fried skin of the salmon skin makimono (rolled-sliced sushi) was unbelievably crunchy. The broiled seabream head... well I can't speak much for it because it's not really to my taste, being cooked in sweet gingery sauce, but it was well-done, I can at least say. And the yaki-niku I ordered. Oh my frigediricking God.

Loads of onions, and not just to cover up for lack of beef strips, swimming in a huge load of sauce, with a side of shredded salad. Only in one other place have I had something as heavenly as this, and it wasn't in Japan. It was at SIM, at the Japanese stall before the fucking idiots calling themselves management did not renew their contract and they moved to who knows where (no it's not Akashi la. Close but different). And that was like what, $3.50. We paid about 20 bucks for this order, though granted it had good miso soup (always with that slightly burnt taste), watermelon, pickles, some black pepper salmon ball thingy, and rice. It was utterly fantastic re-living the wonderful memories I had with my friends eating that yakiniku.

I'm sentimental. Suck it.

After a completely satisfying meal (what did I tell you right) and copious amounts of burnt rice tea (the waitress, who like the rest of her colleagues was nice, knowledgeable, prompt, and most of all sincere, didn't get it when I asked for brown tea in Mandarin, but I realised shortly after that brown tea, or more correctly, Japanese tea with bits of burnt rice to give that lovely and kinda addictive nutty flavor, was their default tea. And that's saying alot because rice tea is rather expensive), sorry that was a long aside, our first stop was the Nat Geo store, which I can't help but think is much more of a museum than anything else. Honestly why would anyone by any sort of clothing from there at a very premium price? Well, insanely rich fans of Nat Geo maybe but is that really enough to sustain such a beautiful store? We proceeded from there to look for a thumbdrive and earphones. I'd only moments before recommended Sonic Gear Earpump to my aunt as we strolled through Best Denki when she mentioned she was looking for new earphones. It's what I've been recommending everybody asking me. Crossroads are still good but they're abit ex for the casual user and has an audiophilish kind of audio signature. Sonic Gear's signature suits modern music and ears accustomed to such music much better. Quite like vintage distortion versus modern distortion, my dear guitarist friends, whoever you may be. So my aunt got the Earpump Pro ($50) and I got the original Earpump ($30) for my mommy's upcoming birthday. Because really, there is a thin line between looking down on people's hearing and people who just aren't as bothered with hearing 2000Hz in all its resonating clarity as they are with comfort. A thin line, but one that definitely exists.

We then proceeded to the true aim of our hike across Vivo - Page One bookstore. Seeing nothing in the bestseller shelf (briefly tempted by the new novel from White Tiger author Aravind Adiga but I don't like hardcover. Anymore) I drifted to the magazine section to do my usual browse for gaming mags, but none of the relevant mags (which is to say only two or three) was interesting enough to make me pay $17, so I moved on down to the music section, from which I ended up picking two mags, one of which featured my second favorite guitarist Jimi Hendrix (first is Albert King) and the other of which featured Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck and "How THE YARDBIRDS changed rock forever", and both sporting juicy looking CDs, so after considering which one or the other to get I gave in to that nagging thought which essentially said "Fuck it get both." The CDs turned out to be just as juicy as they looked. Also, I floated down to the stationery section, and got myself a Uniball Jetstream Premier, a pen with promising ergonomics, excellent smoothness and a brilliant blue ink (and also a brilliant price tag of 10 bucks. Better work well and long dammit) when who should I meet but Singapore's favorite Hi There Kitty, Daphne! Just as I was about to make my mind up to pay, I was halted in my tracks by a beautiful hardcover book (I only don't like hardcover novels because I get so many of them) called The Advertising Concept Book, by Thames and Hudson. I was stuck for so long on whether to spend another $60 on it, until I went to look for my aunt who said "Don't, the price may go down later."

And so I saved myself 60 bucks. For now. And that's why you shouldn't shop alone. Try your best not to, at any rate.

We walk back to the car, time and money well spent, but not before I get myself a Coffee Bean Ulimate, which is essentially ice blended mocha on crack and a dash of speed. Try it sometime, but it's not for the caffeine-faint hearted.

"Well let's hope it works," my aunt said, turning the ignition.

Quite expectedly, the death rattle wasn't followed by a painful silence as my aunt swiftly swore. The next tow guy that came 40min later explained that it probably was a dead battery, but that new Borneo Motors cars can't just work on car-to-car jumping because the voltage was different and this to that may cause that to happen to this leading to that possibly making this that and that this an' cor blimey tha'll cost ye thousands, not hundreds, miss. I mean goodness how much shit can you come up with? I'm not calling bluff, I'm just saying why can't this world be a better place where everyone tells you the unshaded truth?

Oh I know. Because we're humans. 'Cause nothin' lasts forever in the cold November rain. Hard to be free as a bird now, these days. Honestly, everything you say to me takes me one step closer to the grave. And I'm about to break.

Good for you if you fully understood that. Or did you?

Anyway my aunt instructed him to tow the car away. Before that while we were waiting her iPhone ran low on battery, so she had to call... whoever again to change the contact number to mine.

So then we walk back up to take a cab back, but my aunt swears again after looking at the taxi queue. She must take cabs alot. Like, ALOT, because I take cabs half the time and I didn't even notice the atrocious queue at 11pm until she pointed it out, 75m away. So we change course for the bus stop, and my aunt didn't bring her EZ-link card and didn't have enough coins, but luckily I had just enough to combine with what she had (2 10c and 2 5c) to make $1.40.

And yes. SBS accepts 5c coins. How sweet.

On the way back I ask to see her iPhone because I've long suspected that the Maps uses cellular triangulation instead of GPS, and was wondering how to activate the GPS if possible. So I was playing around in her options, and was explaining to her about Internet tethering when...

We missed our bus stop. By two stops.

Luckily, the bus stops were near each other, so it wasn't that bad. My aunt was tired, but it felt like a carefree midnight stroll back to me.

And that is that. An evening that should have left me in emotions equating to the storm of the century but instead inspiring me to finally blog again with this long winded tale of misfortune. The moral of the story?

Always have jumper cables ready in your car. Always. You could be next.