Hostess serves up new indie acts

The Asean Rocks! Music Festival.

SINGAPORE- In a crowded musical festival scene, a new Hostess is preparing to make her debut.

American rock darlings The National and Scottish post-rockers Mogwai will perform at indie music gig, the Hostess Club Weekender, at Fort Canning Park on Feb 22. Ticketing details will be announced later.

While both acts have played in Singapore before, the multi-act event will also feature three other acts making their debut here. These are British singer-songwriter King Krule (below), Icelandic singer-songwriter Asgeir and Brooklyn duo Buke & Gase.

The National, who recently released their sixth album Trouble Will Find Me, is best known for singer Matt Berninger's baritone voice and their melancholic but rich, textured music. The band performed at the Esplanade in 2011.

Mogwai, famed for their moody and layered instrumentals, performed at the Esplanade Concert Hall in 2009 and the Esplanade Theatre in 2006. The quintet are expected to release their eighth album, Rave Tapes, in January.

The Hostess Club Weekender gig is a local offshoot of an acclaimed series of gigs in Japan that started in 2011 and are organised by pan-Asian music company Hostess Entertainment Unlimited.

As a record label, the Japan-based company works with Sony Music and distributes releases by top indie labels such as XL Recordings, 4AD and Rough trade in Asia, which counts acts such as Radiohead and Adele.

Its gigs in Tokyo have featured sold-out sets by indie icons such as American band Dinosaur Jr and Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore as well as acclaimed acts such as Okkervil River and Youth Lagoon.

Hostess Club Weekender comes hot on the heels of other indie-centric music festivals here, most notably Laneway, which takes place at Gardens By The Bay on Jan 25 and has 18 acts, and Camp Symmetry, which took place at the same venue early this month with 10 acts. This year's Laneway last January attracted more than 10,000 fans, while Camp Symmetry had a 4,000-strong audience.

Hostess' British founder Andrew "Plug" Lazonby acknowledges that there is an increasingly crowded indie concert scene here in Singapore, but says that his event is never meant to be in competition with the other indie festivals.

"There is a purpose to what we are doing other than just putting on a festival. With Hostess Club Weekender, you don't expect bells and whistles. We're not interested in making the show 50 per cent bigger, it's really about the artists' engagement with the audience." A lot of festivals around the world, he notes, feature artists performing back to back or at the same time, such as Japan's Fuji Rock festival, which has 14 stages. The organisers of Hostess gigs would rather have audiences immerse themselves in one act at a time.

"We want the audience to be able to watch a show, and then have half an hour to digest what they had just seen, and talk to people about it and have a drink and just calm down a little bit before the next performance happens," says Mr Lazonby in a telephone interview from Tokyo.

Besides the ongoing music distribution, Hostess has plans to make the Weekender series a regular feature in the concert calendar in Singapore.

Says its founder: "Our drive is to try and stimulate the music markets and encourage people to want to consume broader and more music. We all love pop music but we'd rather push new and interesting artists." 

 


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