100 Bands Festival is back with 50 more

100 Bands Festival is back with 50 more
PHOTO: Aliwal Arts Centre

How do you get bigger than a festival featuring 100 bands?

Well, you put in even more bands. To be precise, 150 of them.

The 100 Bands Festival is back for the second year. Inspired by SG50, this year's edition, which will take place over three weekends starting today, is titled 100+50 Bands Festival.

The free event, held at Kovan Hub last year, is also moving to the more outdoorsy location of Bedok Reservoir, with the theme of Day Time Play and Night Time Fun.

Headline acts include local favourites such as electronic jazz darling Charlie Lim, indie pop band Pleasantry and rockers The Observatory.

Other acts to look out for are shoegaze duo Cherie and Ferry, the collaboration between Cherie Ko of Obedient Wives Club and Ferry of Giants Must Fall, as well as The Stoned Revivals, whose three founding members are reuniting for the first time since 2010.

There are 13 to 15 bands performing each day, and each band will play a 30-minute set.

There are two stages set up side by side, with a band performing on either stage at any one point in time, while the other stage is being set up. This is so that audiences do not have to wait long in between acts.

There will also be booths hawking band merchandise such as T-shirts, posters and albums. But food will not be sold due to NParks restrictions, though visitors can bring their own food and drinks.

The festival is part of a larger project, Plus, by PAssionArts, an initiative by the People's Association and the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth to make the arts more accessible to the common man.

The festival, put together by gig organiser Rockstar Collective, aims to reach out to residents in Aljunied GRC.

Apart from band performances, there will also be 10 installation artworks by artists such as Kiat And Cherry and Zero (Zul Othman), as well as a new multi-disciplinary theatre performance, The Conscious Pirates, by artists Vertical Submarine, which will incorporate drums, ballet and even dragonboating.

Says Mr Razi Razak, 34, who runs Rockstar Collective: "We want to support local acts and provide a big opportunity for them to perform."

He hopes the festival will again be a success and become an established annual event for the local music scene. Last year, 10,000 to 15,000 people attended the festival every weekend.

Most of the bands are excited about the return of the festival and the prospect of it becoming a yearly affair.

Says Chew Wei Shan, 25, better known as Weish and lead vocalist of .gif and sub:shaman: "The festival last year felt like a miracle; it was planned by just a few individuals.

"This year, the line-up has grown, but the team behind it has shrunk - many of us are abroad or tied down by work this time, and yet we managed to put this together.

She adds that .gif will play some of their new unreleased material from their upcoming album.

"I think it's going to be even more spectacular than last year. We're very excited to be playing among trees, wildlife and a line-up of my favourite bands."

Sano Shimano, 23, guitarist for The Good Life Project, notes that having 150 local acts in one festival is "a testament to how much the music scene has grown".

"The scene is small, so we all know one another and are very supportive. But now, it's evolving into a thriving industry people can make a viable career out of."

Some of the acts even believe this is a better showcase than the more established Baybeats - which is held annually in June at the Esplanade and also features other regional and international acts - as it is held over three weekends, compared with three days for Baybeats.

But, as Hayashida Ken, 35, keyboardist for Riot !n Magenta, points out, unlike Baybeats, the organisers of 100 Bands Festival have to grapple with logistics and funding issues.

Some of the acts also feel that the festival's heartland venues are more accessible than the Esplanade, which may draw only a certain crowd.

Says Isa Ong, 25, bassist and vocalist for headline act Pleasantry: "We got very excited when we heard about the venue. We're east-siders and have always wanted to play at a public venue like this."

He adds: "People always ask if there really are 100 bands in Singapore. The truth is, there are probably 200, or even 300 bands.

"Having the festival in the heartland really helps us reach out to the public. Last year, we saw so many uncles and aunties come with their families, and we're sure we'll gain even more new fans this year."

Fans of The Stoned Revivals who have missed them in the last five years are also in for a treat. The group, formed in 1990, are pioneers in the local indie rock scene, and even opened for American rock band No Doubt in 1997.

In 2010, vocalist Esam Salleh moved to Melbourne. He is back here to visit family and play at the festival.

Says bassist Kamal Yacob, 42: "We're very excited to be playing together again after such a long time. We all grew up in the east, so Bedok Reservoir is very familiar to us.

"We'll be playing a lot of new songs, but also classic hits such as Goodil and Stoned Alleycat."

Undergraduate Rachel Lee, 22, is looking forward to the festival.

"It was awesome last year, being able to see my favourite local bands in person in my neighbourhood (Kovan). I am psyched I can catch Caracal and Charlie Lim this time."

100+50 Bands Festival
Today to Sunday, Aug 7 to 9,Aug 14 to 16
Where: Bedok Reservoir
Admission: Free
Info: www.facebook.com/events/111508195856292/

This article was first published on July 31, 2015.
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