Inaugural Indie music festival blows fans away

Michael James of American post-rock band Explosions In The Sky performing at The Meadow, Gardens by the Bay on 2 November 2013.

Review Concert

CAMP SYMMETRY 2013

The Meadow, Gardens by the Bay/Last Saturday

American post-rock band Explosions In The Sky do not need lyrics to have their audience enraptured. They do not even have to speak to them.

Last Saturday, at the inaugural indie music festival Camp Symmetry, the Texas-based instrumental quartet let the music speak for itself, blowing away the audience.

The emotion came through their songs, carried by the band's ability to meticulously build them up with elaborate guitar work, transitioning between gentle melodies and periods of loud, guitar distortion drowned in reverb.

Their hour-long performance culminated in a riveting closure to the 12-hour festival, making it all the more memorable for the music-lovers who stuck it out until the end of the night. It left them wanting more, shouting for encores after the band closed their set with the tumultuous 11-minute epic The Only Moment We Were Alone.

Explosions In The Sky's performance was just one of many highlights at Camp Symmetry, which boasted a stellar line-up of hot indie music favourites that included American rock duo Best Coast, Danish alternative rock band Mew and American dream pop band Wild Nothing.

Earlier in the day, the festival got off to a slow start. The crowd was still thin and the mostly late teenage and young adult crowd were still streaming in when English quartet Veronica Falls kicked off the festival a little after noon.

Besides such acts as American singer- songwriter William Fitzsimmons, whose dulcet voice and beautiful folksy tunes were only matched by his massive beard, there were also plenty of non-musical distractions for the crowd, which ranged from bouncy castles to outdoor ping- pong.

The ominous dark clouds gave way to a spell of rain in the afternoon.

There was a sense of deja vu - the inaugural edition of another, more established indie music festival, Laneway, back in 2011, was plagued by heavy rain.

But it was not to be the case. The brief downpour made the field a little muddy, but not enough to turn the proceedings into a mudfest.

What the rain did do was made the air extra muggy. But the sweet sounds of Californian indie-pop band Best Coast in the early evening did wonders and their breezy pop tunes cut a welcome swathe through the humid atmosphere.

Frontwoman Bethany Cosentino was a charming presence, constantly engaging the young crowd, reading out the placards and flags that they held up.

"This is the last gig that I am going to play," she announced as the audience gave a collective gasp.

"As a 26-year-old," she continued as the fans breathed a sigh of relief. Apparently, Sunday was her birthday, so the audience gamely sang her a birthday song.

British garage rockers The Cribs infused the spirit of 1990s grunge by channelling Mudhoney and Nirvana while retaining a good dose of English indie sensibilities.

The Jarman brothers - twins Gary and Ryan and younger brother Ross - were a ball of manic energy, whether they were writhing on the stage floor or going down to get up close with the audience.

And while the twins might not be the most melodic of singers, their sometimes out-of-tune vocals worked well with the swirl of distorted guitars and urgent drumbeats in fleshing out a dynamic live performance.

Spirits were heightened by the time alt-rockers Mew took to the stage.

For an hour, the band, led by frontman and lead vocalist Jonas Bjerre, tore through 15 songs that included favourites such as Special and Am I Wry? No.

Mew's music - a mix of shoegaze, post-hardcore and rock - was arena- rock-worthy and the crowd was feeding off the energy of the trio, who were accompanied by two touring musicians for Saturday's show.

Bjerre fought the heat and humidity, insisting on keeping his black blazer on despite it being "really hot" because he "wants to look cool". But that only lasted temporarily, as the heat eventually forced him to ditch his jacket mid-way through his set.

Under the flurry of blinking lights, Mew performed Comforting Sounds, a nine-minute rock opus that ended the band's maiden performance in Singapore on a high note.

First-time festival organiser Symmetry Entertainment should give itself a pat on the back for putting this event together. It did well.


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