Let There Be Rock! — Raffles Rock Concert 2012

By Karen Gwee (12A01C)

“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).

Photos by Nandaru Annabil (Raffles Photographic Society)

3 thoughts on “Let There Be Rock! — Raffles Rock Concert 2012”

  1. Hello, as someone who thoroughly enjoyed “Let There Be Rock” (along countless others in the audience), there are a few points in the above review that I have to disagree with, and I doubt it reflects what the majority of the audience feels about the concert.

    As the reviewer mentioned, it is a rock concert, and I felt that the songs that they chose to perform reflected their own interpretation of rock. Rock music has its roots in so many other genres, and perhaps the bands didn’t perform the reviewer’s perceived “rock classics”, but they performed solid rock numbers in their own right – the electric guitar solos and pounding drum beats, what more symbolises rock music? Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ On A Prayer” is easily one of the mainstream rock favourites of the 80s, for example. Moreover, what the reviewer cited as a “rock classic”, Nirvana’s hit Smells Like Teen Spirit, is arguably more grunge than rock, so perhaps what the reviewer cites to be a “rock classic” is subjective.

    To clarify a point, to say that After Indigo “sang” One Direction’s What Makes You Beautiful is overstating it. They played with the riff, knowing it would be instantly recognised by the audience, with no intentions to perform it, and showed good musicianship in transitioning into their intended song Arlandria.

    I feel that the above review is a little harsh on Raffles Rock – they delivered great sets, engaged the audience, and isn’t that what a good rock concert is about? Give them credit where it’s due, perhaps it was a bittersweet experience for the reviewer, but I think I speak for most when I say it was one of the strongest school concerts this year.

    1. Hi Yun Ting,

      Thanks for your long thoughtful comment on my review! If you don’t mind I’ll address some of the points you brought up.

      Your point that rock spills over and has its roots in many other genres is definitely a valid one. I don’t blame Rock for not singing as many classics as I’d hoped or expected them to – after all ACDC isn’t exactly our generation. Maybe I should’ve made it clearer that by naming it after an ACDC song and clearly stating the inspiration, they built up my expectations for rock classics by bands a la ACDC. Bon Jovi are hardly the contemporaries of ACDC, and I personally don’t consider Bon Jovi classic, but point taken. And Smells Like Teen Spirit – yes, grunge, but as you pointed out, rock spills over into many genres – and as classics go, Smells Like Teen Spirit is seminal.

      You’re right when you said I overstated After Indigo playing the One Direction song. I should’ve been clearer. But me saying it was “positively sacrilege” was definitely sarcasm. I guess it was my fault it wasn’t obvious enough. I loved the transition into Arlandria.

      You are definitely right when you say Rock did a great job. I think so too – personally I think my review was overall positive, but maybe what you didn’t like about it made it seem more negative (also I must clarify that I wrote LTBR was bittersweet for the Rock CCA members, not me). You said in your first paragraph what I wrote didn’t reflect what the audience probably felt about the concert – but I think my last line did! Also, although as a reviewer, I do have to take into account popular opinion, I believe I reserve the right to express my own as well – which you are free to disagree with.

      I hope my response has addressed your grouses about my review. Thanks very much for reading and I hope you’ll stick around and lend your discerning eye to our other articles as well. :)

      Karen

      P.S. I took a look at your WordPress and you’re a great audiophile and music lover. That’s cool. You’re cool. Cheers. x

      1. Thanks for the clarification, look forward to more reviews in the near future! (Oh, and the bit about bittersweet, it was probably a careless word choice on my part)

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