Indie gigs get cosy

Indie gigs get cosy
The Drums
American surf-pop band The Drums performing at *Scape’s ground theatre.

When the British set up their military base on what local residents called Forbidden Hill in the 19th century, little did they know that one day, rock stars would invade it.

The Old Married Soldiers' Quarters at Fort Canning Hill - once known as Bukit Larangan, Malay for the prohibited hill - is these days a sought-after space for concerts by indie and international bands.

The indoor location has seen acts such as hardcore bands Touche Amore from the United States and 50 Lions from Australia perform to crowds of more than 100.

Tattoo artist Andray Kwoh, 25, says of the conservation venue in the middle of green Fort Canning Park: "It's quite a nice place to hang out at while waiting for the next band to set up." He attended the 50 Lions gig in October last year.

Intimate, unusual venues such as these are becoming the choice du jour for music fans, as they crave getting up close to their idols in interesting, even rougharound-the-edges, settings.

Gigs are being held at venues as surreptitious as Pink Noize, a recording studio in North Bridge Road, and as versatile as gallery-cafe Artistry in Jalan Pinang, in the Bugis area.

Last week, American black metal band Deafheaven played to about 200 music fans at Beep Studios, a concert space in Bukit Merah Central, which opened in August last year and became a gig venue in January. It can hold a crowd of 400.

Beep's owner, Mr Kevin Foo, 36, says his recording studio and gig space, housed in the former Spring Singapore building, was inspired by London's Abbey Road studios, where Jimi Hendrix and The Beatles recorded their albums and also the site of secret shows. "This building has been around for decades and has a history to it," he says of his studio.

Attendees say they like the intimacy and edgy vibe of these smaller-sized venues, which often accommodate fewer than 100 people, compared to the polished confines of, say, the Esplanade's 1,600-seat concert hall or larger clubs such as Zouk, which can house several hundred.

Ms Nurin Rosli, who has been organising shows under the Crooz SG name for the past two years, has used Old Married Soldiers' Quarters and The Substation in Armenian Street. Crooz SG's smallerscale gigs attract fewer than 100 people.

On Sunday, it will present a line-up of independent hardcore bands from Australia, Malaysia and Singapore, at the multipurpose hall in Aliwal Arts Centre near Arab Street - a venue fast becoming popular for live music.

Says Ms Nurin, 24, who is a full-time nurse: "Most of us who do shows don't have well-paid jobs, so we have to find affordable and good venues." The charges at Aliwal Arts Centre can range from $500 to $900. In comparison, rental for theEsplanade's 245-capacity recital studio can cost $1,200 for four hours. Holding a private event there on weekends or the eve of a public holiday incurs a peak surcharge of $1,200.

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