Gigs by two a capella groups coincide

Gigs by two a capella groups coincide
In-A-Chord comprise of Jason Ong (centre) and (clockwise from top) Patrick Wong, Vaughan Tan, Dominic Teo, Cecil Wilson and Chua Kim Beng.

The May 23 weekend will be a significant one for the home-grown a cappella scene - a veteran act are reuniting, while a prominent group are playing farewell shows.

On May 23, members of In-A-Chord are going tutti after a decade-long hiatus. The pioneer sextet will perform at the Esplanade Recital Studio, to coincide with the release of their fourth and new album, Elements Of Cool.

Also on the same night, popular quintet Budak Pantai will stage the first of their final pair of gigs before calling it a day. The swansongs - the other show is on May 24 - will be held at the Esplanade Concert Hall.

Tickets for In-A-Chord's reunion gig at the 245-capacity recital studio are sold out. Similarly, Budak Pantai's May 24 show at the 1,600-seat concert hall is also sold out. The May 23 gig was later added to cater to the overwhelming demand.

The gigs are on the same night by sheer coincidence, say both groups.

"Budak's kind of music is very different from ours," says In-A-Chord co-founder Jason Ong, 47. "They have their own fans and we have our own."

He adds that his group has always maintained cordial relationships with Budak Pantai, along with others in the local a cappella scene, such as Key Elements, MICappella and Vocaluptuous.

He adds: "The scene is really small, everybody knows everybody."

Similarly downplaying talk of inter-group competition, Budak Pantai member Ho Kah Keh, 54, says: "We're good friends with all the other a cappella groups here."

His group-mate Gordon Ng, 41, adds that Budak Pantai is not a "pure" a cappella group, unlike In-A-Chord, because they have guitars in their music. Traditional a cappella singing features only the singer's voice sans musical instruments. Ng adds: "Budak Pantai have never liked labels."

For the guys in Budak Pantai, the Esplanade shows are their way of going out with a bang before they retire the group. Joseph Wong, 56, says the members decided that the time is right to call it quits. He says: "20 years is a long time for any group to be together and the journey has been wonderful. We've grown up with our fans."

True to the comical nature of their music, Michael Loh, 50, jokes: "When we found out the first show was sold out so fast, I felt partly inspired and partly sad. Inspired that so many people wanted to see us, sad because so many people wanted to see us die."

The group first came into prominence in 1994 when they emerged champions in a Beach Boy-themed contest (their name is a literal Malay translation for "Beach Boy") conducted by local television entertainment show Rollin' Good Times.

Their humorous and tongue-in-cheek renditions of pop hits, including a square dance version of the Titanic theme, My Heart Will Go On, and originals that use local colloquialisms, such as Abuden, made them firm favourites in the gig scene.

With an average of two shows a month, including major events like the 2012 Singapore Arts Festival, as well as regular gigs at Blue Moo Cafe, the group have also taken their act overseas with performances in Mumbai and Tokyo.

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