Happily rocking through the years

Happily rocking through the years
Music Group: Vertical Rush

Veteran Singapore hardcore act Stompin' Ground's Suhaimi Subandie cannot forget a highlight in his band's career in 1993, when they played a memorable show at iconic nightclub Zouk for a more mainstream audience.

The 51-year-old guitarist tells Life!: "For that gig, you needed to wear a pair of Dr Martens shoes to get in for free and it was a full house. It was a high point for us as a band."

That night is among the top 100 moments of Singapore rock music, according to a photography exhibition, So Happy: 50 Years Of Singapore Rock, which opens at The Substation today.

To be held till April 17, the show celebrates the best moments of Singapore's rock music community, dating from the 1960s to the present day.

Comprising 100 photographs, the exhibition was conceived and curated by Mr Little Ong, 44, co-founder and creative director of Singapore-based multi- disciplinary creative agency fFurious.

He says So Happy was "an idea that was brewing for 10 years, starting out as a vain attempt to exhibit my photography of Singapore's bands, which eventually evolved into the current objective".

The exhibition takes its name from home-grown indie band The Oddfellows' 1991 hit So Happy, a song that speaks of "going against the grain and not letting yourself down".

Mr Ong says: "It seeks to remind us that behind all those great photos, cool artefacts and vivid stories is an amazing spirit that refuses to burn out. No matter the obstacles in our music history, the music has always found its way back on its feet and this is something we can cherish and be so happy about."

The exhibition is fully funded by the Singapore Memory Project's irememberSG fund, with support from The Substation, paper company Antalis and Thunder Rock School. Singapore Memory Project is led by the Ministry of Communications and Information and facilitated by the National Library Board.

Mr Ong, who declines to reveal the cost of organising the exhibition, says he took three months to curate the photos, working with more than 80 photographers whom he connected with via Facebook or through contacting the bands.

The bands featured span six decades, from well-known 1960s bands such as October Cherries and The Quests to radio veteran Chris Ho's short-lived new wave band from the 1980s, Zircon Lounge, to 1990s acts such as The Oddfellows and punk-rock band Plainsunset. Each photo is accompanied by a write- up about the band, written by some familiar faces in the local music industry, such as music historian Joseph Pereira and Joe Ng, a film composer and the frontman of defunct Singapore band Padres.

The exhibition also features memorabilia, such as concert fliers, vinyl records, cassettes and ticket stubs, and video interviews and music by the bands.

Beyond the exhibition, Mr Ong says a Facebook group (www.facebook.com/ groups/sohappysg/) has been set up for music fans to share their memories and photos. "That social space has created a greater sense of understanding about our rock music history," he says.

To kick off the exhibition, there will be performances by home-grown bands tonight and tomorrow night at The Substation. Bands to be featured include The Oddfellows, retro-pop band The Pinholes, Plainsunset and electro soul-pop act Riot !n Magenta.

Oddfellows frontman Patrick Chng, 47, says: "I think it is a pretty cool idea and the Facebook group is pretty nostalgic. Personally, I like to listen to stories from older musicians."


View it


Where: The Substation, 45 Armenian Street

When: Till April 17, noon to 10pm (today and tomorrow), noon to 8pm on all other days

This article was first published on April 8, 2015.
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