Concert reviews: MOSAIC MUSIC FESTIVAL 2014
Esplanade Recital Studio / Last Friday
Esplanade Theatre Studio (Mosaic Club) / Last Friday
One of my favourite things in life is to catch bands at the beginning of their careers - the frisson of unadulterated joy, that tingle of being there… those feelings are fleeting, and are seldom replicated.
I felt that as I imbibed two young acts at their Singapore debuts at the Mosaic Music Festival last Friday.
English indie-folk sylph Lucy Rose was exactly what her name would suggest: petite, abashed and genuinely happy to be here. She was bowled over by the sight of "buildings with boats on them" (Marine Bay Sands) and was awed to be at the intimate Esplanade Recital Studio (what she called "the poshest" place she's performed in).
Hailing from Bergen, Norway, the six chaps in Young Dreams were chuffed too. It was great to be at "Moh-sey-ic!", one member squealed excitedly. Their music, likewise, oozed sunniness, a perfect state between awakening and boundless brilliance. They were Beach Boys iced with Nordic chill.
Who cares that one could smell a whiff of charred grass in the hazy heat outside? These people were neither blase nor cynical - and the audiences responded likewise.
Rose's voice was a wonder of airiness. Its porous beauty permeated each song, a veil upon translucent skin. Her pretty voice belied youth's tumbling, bittersweet sentiments: finding one's direction, observing people, falling in and out of love.
"I sleep in the middle of the bed you don't know is it fine to hold my hand," she cooed in Middle Of The Bed, a song characterised by spry chord changes, well-timed handclaps and five-o'clock electric guitar fuzz. It was like Ellie Goulding without being overly stylo and full-blown synthesizer.
Her three-piece band framed her like big brothers and sister, as she stood safe in the cocoon. Strobes of purple, yellow and blue cast a starry spell. She sang and strummed tricksy melodies, negotiating the travails and surprises of life.
She could still the venue with Shiver, a gently shimmering ballad of secret love and love not meant to be. How rarefied was the feeling of actually physically shivering, as her voice dove in, and touched a chord.
In the chilling portraiture Night Bus, her voice reached out to a woman with "trouble in her eyes", cascading acoustic guitar braiding with lonely, starlit bass. That's Rose's metier: Her approachability means she could access the mother lode of emotions, and all were blessed in her presence.
Young Dreams have a similar knack of reaching out. They invoked an echo chamber, of memories ricocheting in a wall of sound.
There was joie de vivre in their ceaseless, democratic rampaging of their dads' musical coffers - Beach Boys, Prefab Sprout, Tropicalia. Add the more contemporary Arctic Monkeys and Animal Collective records to the mix and impossible was nothing.
You were tickled by how carefree they looked. They shuffled on stage without much fuss. Uncoordinated attire aside, they rotated vocal duties as if they were household chores.
Once you closed your eyes, you'd have been amazed by the sheer musicality of it all. An Afro-pop twang or two accented the psych-pop doozie Footprints, while a fuselage of F/X - post-dubstep tics, four-part harmonies, techno stabs, Daft Punk disco, elegant, pizzicato strings - streams in and out of Fog Of War.
One would be silly to second-guess what the hell everything was about, or even bother to dissect the lyrics, but one thing was crystal-clear: These guys are in love with music, they thrive in it, they live it. Lucky folks.
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