SINGAPORE - The wide range of music on display by more than 30 acts at the 13th instalment of Esplanade's annual Baybeats music festival over the weekend is a testament to how much the home-grown alternative music scene has grown.
From post-hardcore act Villes' dense and bottom-heavy riffs and Inch's haunting melodies to Stopgap's perky ditties and Aspectrum's bouncy anthems, there was probably a little something to suit every music fan with a taste for the less mainstream.
For many of the acts, boundaries fly out the window.
Monster Cat, which performed on Sunday at the venue's Outdoor Theatre, renamed the Arena, serenaded the packed audience with dulcet, two-part harmonies one moment and broke into cacophonic spazz-outs almost without warning.
Later on the same stage, Atlas, barely two years old, channelled the spirit of free-form jazz in their cerebral brand of rock, layering complex riffs and deft drumbeats with soaring vocals by singer Catherine Yeo.
Of course, Baybeats' apparent staple of muscular beats propagated by hardcore and metal acts were present too.
On the biggest stage, the Powerhouse, there were the aggro sounds of metalcore favourites Fall Of Mirra on Saturday, and hardcore band Straight Forward and Villes sparked off mini-melees in the mosh pit - all in good spirit, naturally, with security keeping a watchful eye.
Over on the Chillout stage at the concourse, the mood was markedly different. Electronic act .gif, led by the vocal swagger of singer Weish, crafted soothing, lush soundscapes on Sunday evening while singer-songwriter Jaime Wong on Friday played a tender yet bluesy set of introspective tunes.
The rising acts under the festival's budding bands initiative who sat through auditions and went through mentorship by scene veterans held their own as they opened all three days with early evening sets.
Indie quintet wyd:syd (pronounced "wide side") at the Arena on Saturday lived up to their name with towering guitar- and groove-driven anthems that would not sound out of place in stadiums.
Attention! The New Portsdown at the same venue on Friday had the crowd jumping on their feet with buoyant, pop-punk tunes from their new EP, Take Control.
Post-rockers Sphaeras' ear-splitting set of instrumentals on Friday proved that having a frontman is not always necessary. If anything, the lack of vocals sharpened the focus on the four musicians, especially drummer Zakhran Khan's frenzied, scene-stealing playing.
Beyond the shores of Singapore, the festival also reached out to buzzing and established names from the region's independent and undeground scenes.
Malaysian punk veterans Subculture were all chunky power-chords and singalong melodies at the Powerhouse on Saturday. Indonesian metal mainstays Seringai on the same evening played a throaty and beefy set marked by speedy, serpentine riffs.
While the Esplanade has declined to reveal attendance numbers for all its events since last year, past instalments pulled in 70,000 to 80,000 at the various stages over three days and last weekend looked like the turnout hovered around the same figures.
Given the diverse menagerie of sounds on the three stages, it was to be expected that Baybeats would attract a mixed crowd comprising mostly teenagers and young adults that do not show up for acts they were not into.
The fans into the twee sounds of Lost Weekend were hardly there when psychedelic rockers Spacedays played and black-clad fans of Japanese rockers Survive, Said The Prophet gave Monster Cat a miss when the two bands' sets overlapped.
Still, this year's programming - compared to the sameness of the previous years - represents progress for drawing from the wide and growing musical palette that the local scene has to offer.
This article was first published on July 01, 2014.
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