By Karen Gwee (12A01C)
Photos by Nandaru Annabil from Raffles Photographic Society
“Let There Be Rock”, Raffles Rock’s annual concert, brought the house (or rather, PAC) down on the night of 11 May. However, for a concert titled after a legendary AC/DC song, this reviewer was rather disappointed at the lack of rock classics its name had promised. Nevertheless, Raffles Rock was a night of earnest, energetic rock music that had the entire PAC on their feet whooping and cheering for their favourite Rafflesian bands.
Year 5 band The Fifth Degree kicked off the gig with rousing renditions of “Paralyser” (originally by Finger Eleven) and “Living On A Prayer” (Bon Jovi). The latter in particular got the crowd going with its singalong chorus, opening up a mosh pit. The mosh pit eased when The Fifth Degree started “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You”, popularised by the Carlsberg commercial. The famous “Da-da, da-da, da-da-da-da-da”s had everyone in the audience singing along, ending The Fifth Degree’s set on a high note.
The next band, After Indigo, started their set with “Cough Syrup” (Young The Giant). Perhaps “Cough Syrup” wasn’t such a good choice as an opener – energy levels noticeably waned, and the audience had returned to their seats. This induced vocalist Jonathan Lee to exhort the audience to get up and mosh with a cry of: “What kind of concert are you at?!” After Indigo also sang pop ditty “What Makes You Beautiful” (One Direction), which to this reviewer was positively sacrilege. However, the band wryly acknowledged this, making a marvellous segue by way of a gritty guitar solo into the rockier territory of “Arlandria” (Foo Fighters). Vocalist Jonathan Lee and lead guitarist Chia Yaim Chong were livewires throughout the set, constantly hyping up the audience.
The last Year 5 band Eclectic Theatrics were welcomed with applause and cheers. They performed a tight set with little banter, including the crowd-pleasers “I Don’t Care” (Fall Out Boy) and “Move Along” (All-American Rejects). Vocalist BJ was highly charismatic – pointing to and beckoning the audience to sing along, he had the audience chanting his name and eating out of his palm. The three Year 5 bands thoroughly impressed this reviewer with their confidence and stage presence, and they will no doubt fill the big shoes their seniors will leave.
Year 6 band The Painted Owls also performed a three-song set, which included perhaps the only truly classic rock song of the night – “Smells Like Teen Spirit”, by grunge legends Nirvana, which saw the most intense mosh pit of the night, what with its angsty lyrics and sludgy riffs.
However, where the band truly shone was during their acoustic interlude early in the concert. The Owls performed beautiful renditions of “Safe and Sound” (Taylor Swift and The Civil Wars), of ‘The Hunger Games’ fame, and “Fake Plastic Trees” (Radiohead). With the songs stripped down to their essentials, vocalist Shermaine Chng had a much more expressive delivery. On the other hand, the guitars in the full band setup often drowned out her husky voice, which was a real pity.
Bucket of Six took to the stage to the screams and cheers of their fan following, waving signs as proof of their dedication. Dressed snappily in dress shirts and ties, Bucket of Six performed an energetic set, including standout track “Holiday” (Green Day). With the singalong choruses and constant “Hey!”s, the crowd went mad with moshing. Bucket of Six also saw bassist Beck Sung Hyun, the anointed “North Korean representative”, perform the bridge of the song, which was a pleasant surprise as the bridge, with its inflammatory and politically-charged lyrics, had been left out at Raffles Rock’s performance at Take 5 last year. (It was also during Bucket of Six’s set that glow sticks were thrown to the audience, which were immediately fired back onstage, or at the bands. So kudos to Raffles Rock for enduring a barrage of painful plastic projectiles throughout their sets.)
Vocalist Joshua Phang and guitarist Marcus Yeo also came back onstage for an acoustic performance of “Poor Man’s Son” (Noah Gundersen) and “You And I Both” (Jason Mraz), which saw Josh express his heartfelt thanks to the audience through the way he knew best – song.
“Let There Be Rock” ended with a selection of crowd favourites from previous gigs, namely “Yellow” (Coldplay), “Vertigo” (U2) and “Diary of Jane” (Breaking Benjamin). Unfortunately, everyone was getting tired – Josh’s fatigue was clearly showing as he struggled to yell out the lyrics to “Vertigo”, and had to get the audience to help him on a few occasions. Although a conga line consisting of Y5 Rock musicians and enthusiastic audience members upstaged Bucket of Six during their performance, the moshing also wasn’t as intense as it should have been, and it seemed “Let There Be Rock” would go out with a whimper. However, the audience refused to let that happen – there were calls for an encore and Rock good-naturedly obliged with a spontaneous rendition of “Dani California” (Red Hot Chilli Peppers).
“Let There Be Rock” was a night of beginnings and endings – it saw three Year 5 bands making their debut, and two Year 6 bands saying their goodbyes. Thus, for Rock, “Let There Be Rock” was indeed bittersweet. But for the audience, it was put simply, a hell of a rock concert.
For an insight into Raffles Rock’s “secret rehearsal”, see this video on Facebook (only available for viewing by friends of friends).