Concert review: Hostess Club Weekender

American outfit The National ended their set by leading the 3,000-strong crowd in a rousing mass sing-along.

Review: Concert


Fort Canning Park

Last Saturday

The arrival of the Hostess Club Weekender festival to Singapore might have sceptics doubting the effectiveness of having yet another indie music festival hit our shores.

Especially since it comes hot on the heels of two other similar indie-music festivals, the annual Laneway and Camp Symmetry, which made its debut last November.

But the inaugural session of the highly regarded series of multi-act indie gigs from Japan proved that with quality acts such as The National and Mogwai headlining the bill, yes, another festival is very much welcome.

American outfit The National were the perfect show closers, capping off the festival with a triumphant set at the festival held at Fort Canning last Saturday.

With an arresting frontman, Matt Berninger, providing aural and visual impact, the quintet and their dual horn sessionists tore through tunes that were at once morose yet strangely danceable.

His baritone drawl punctured with occasional screams in songs such as Sea Of Love and Squalor Victoria, the tall, all-black clad singer would restlessly pace the stage or hit his microphone stand aggressively in the more intense moments of the band's performance.

During the band's encore, he surprised and delighted fans by going into the crowd, walking among them and running through the entire perimeter of the audience while fans scrambled to take pictures of the bearded frontman.

Ending their set with an acoustic rendition of Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks, the entire band led the 3,000-strong audience in a rousing mass sing-along.Earlier in the day, English teenage wunderkind Archy Marshall, aka King Krule, brought some sass and groove with his brand of jazzed up punk-rock.

"It's the last show in a long tour, so let's make it special," said the 19-year-old, in that gruff, baritone voice that reminded one of Joe Strummer, the lead singer of iconic British punk band The Clash.

He sang in a similar manner, sometimes half-talking, half-rapping, a punk-like approach to each song he took on.

The pencil-thin redhead, who wore a buttoned- up checked shirt and pants, proceeded to entertain the crowd with an amped-up version of songs off his debut album 6 Feet Beneath The Moon, a collection of tunes with breezy guitars, jazz samples and mid-tempo hip-hop beats.

His songs sang of the struggle of life through the eyes of a world-weary adult but Marshall showed his teenage adolescence, wearing a kiddish hat in the shape of what looked like a puffer fish, grooving somewhat awkwardly on stage to his melodies.

It was a shame though, that the crowd had not yet built up when he came on stage at 6.15pm because he delivered a tight performance well deserving of bigger support.By the time Glaswegian post-rockers Mogwai - a clear crowd puller - took the stage close to 8pm, the audience had swelled to more than double the number during King Krule's set.

The Scottish post-rock titans played a mood-swinging repertoire marked by their trademark soft-loud dynamics in their strictly instrumental songs.

The triple guitar attack from Stuart Braithwaite, John Cummings and Barry Burns created dense soundscapes, with atmospheric, reverb-laden rhythms segueing to harsh dissonance.

Their last performance in Singapore was back in 2009, where they played within the confines of the Esplanade's Concert Hall.

This time around, in a more spacious outdoor vicinity, there was an arena-rock quality to the quintet's music, which transitioned between ear-deafening guitar onslaughts and soft guitars, with plenty of effects and distortion thrown in the mix.

Lengthy, instrumental pieces gave jolts of adrenaline as they kicked into their heavier, more aggressive guitars that sauntered between hardcore and metal. The audience clapped and cheered during these transitions between soft and loud.

Performing new material off their latest album Rave Tapes (2014) and old favourites spanning their eight-album career, they gave a spine-tingling, unforgettable performance.

First-time festival organiser Hostess Asia did well for its first event here, even arranging autograph-signing sessions earlier in the evening for eager fans to rub shoulders with their idols.

But more could have been done with the food options - there was only one vendor selling kebabs that night.

That could be a consideration should the festival become an annual staple in Singapore's gig calendar.

Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to for more stories.