The Greatest Show on Earth: Rockout 2015

by Karen Cuison (16A01D)
Photos by Jacqueline Yu (16S03L) and Brenda Tan (16S03P) of the Raffles Photographic Society

On the 29th of May, the Multi-Purpose Hall (MPH) was transformed for the ear-splitting extravaganza that was Rockout 2015. This year’s edition of the annual showcase put up by Raffles Rock was served well by its circus-themed aesthetic, which lent the show a whimsical edge.

Mark Ho (15S06Q) as ringmaster for the night.

After much popcorn and even more raving, Rockout 2015 finally got started. Opening the night was Year 5 act The Diversion, with hearing-loss-inducing renditions of Muse’s Supremacy and The Trooper from the popular Iron Maiden. Tee Ming Zee (16A01A), newly-elected chairperson of Raffles Rock and guitarist for The Diversion, explained that the rock-focused song picks were meant to showcase the technical proficiency of each and every band member. She adds, “Supremacy was our choice to open because it has a very grand, theatrical feel that set the stage for the rest of Rockout!” By their final song, the quintessentially ‘80s Welcome to the Jungle by Guns N’ Roses, they were clearly at home on stage.

The Diversion at the end of their set.

Next up was Austere, the Year 5 act that got the audience head-banging to Make Me Wanna Die (The Pretty Reckless) and Bring Me To Life (Evanescence). Like The Diversion, Austere also rounded off their set with a sing-along friendly Guns N’ Roses number, Sweet Child O’ Mine. Vocalist Jemi Lu (16S07B) quipped that Rockout had been an “exhilarating” experience, and that “being able to do what we love together made the hard work worthwhile.”

Austere looking anything but austere.

Both Year 5 bands got off to a mildly shaky start, but both bands soon eased into controlling the stage and hyping the audience up well before their respective sets were over. They also demonstrated a remarkable chemistry, which was no mean feat given that their bands were formed just over two months ago.

The next act to inherit the stage was The Misfit March, the first of two Year 6 bands. Buoyed by the strong performances of the previous acts, the band of ‘Cinderellas and Tin Soldiers’ shone during their powerful renditions of pop hit Chandelier (Sia) and a mash-up of Lady Marmalade (Christina Aguilera) and Back in Black (ACDC).

“I can’t believe they wrote a song about Buona Vista!” “WHAT?!” “The Ballad of Buona Vista right?” (overheard in the crowd)

Taking turns to take the stage with The Misfit March was Debonair. An enthusiastic mosh mob lapped up the more contemporary, crowd-pleasing hits they played like Locked Out of Heaven (Bruno Mars), and The Ballad of Mona Lisa by Panic! At the Disco. Debonair lived up to its moniker, delivering numbers ably and confidently.

The Misfit March ft. couch

The Year 6 rockers were clearly seasoned performers, and it showed in their constant awareness of each other as well as their ability to engage the crowd. It was a real pity that as Rockout’s ante was being upped exponentially, the crackly sound system and uneven mix were becoming increasingly apparent. Tee Ming Zee shared that this was a result of changes in venues and sound operators – part and parcel of preparing for a live gig.  Nonetheless, the Year 6 bands remained undeterred, and moved on to deliver a lovely, rousing performance finale in the form of Carry On by fun.

This year, instead of leaning towards the standard eclectic modern rock and alternative music, Rockout 2015 brought with it a more diverse range of songs, with the inclusion of pop tracks, which in turn increased the general appeal of the set. Some might have found the move towards pop music too populist (and opposed to the non-conformist ethos of rock music), but as Mark Ho revealed, “We chose our songs because we wanted to give the audience a good time, since we were the closing band, and I think we were able to do that. For that, we’re proud of ourselves and our setlist.”

Reflecting on the process of organising this big gig, Ming Zee revealed that they had faced many obstacles, including the General Paper Common Tests and working with external sound vendors for the first time on the day of the gig itself. This year’s event had brought new challenges, because on top of just managing the music, Rock also “had to manage publicity, merchandise, videos, logistics and costumes.” Instrumental to accomplishing all that and more was Mr Ian Toh, Rock’s music teacher, who provided  “guidance in thematic direction”, and Mrs Lena Lui, Rock’s teacher in-charge, who coordinated and supported the entire Rockout planning process.

And finally, we bring you some closing words about Rockout’s experience in this quote from Jemi: “The atmosphere and audience was amazing, we had a blast and we hope you guys did too!” We did.

Setlist
The Diversion:
• Supremacy by Muse
• The Trooper by Iron Maiden
• Welcome to the Jungle by Guns N’ Roses

Austere:
• Make Me Wanna Die by The Pretty Reckless
• Bring Me to Life by Evanescence
• Sweet Child O’ Mine by Guns N’ Roses

The Misfit March:
• Chandelier by Sia
• Can’t Stop by Red Hot Chilli Peppers
• Lady Marmalade/Back in Black (Mashup) by Christina Aguilera/ACDC
• Carry On Wayward Son by Kansas
• Plug in Baby by Muse

Debonair:
• Ballad of Mona Lisa by Panic! at the Disco
• Uptown Funk by Mark Ronson ft. Bruno Mars
• Shut Up And Dance by Walk The Moon
• Panic Station by Muse
• Take Me Out by Franz Ferdinand
• Locked Out of Heaven by Bruno Mars
• Beggin’/Toxic/Can’t Hold Us (Mashup) by Madcon/Britney Spears/Macklemore & Ryan Lewis

Postscript:

Reflecting on his experience performing for the Raffles Model United Nations Dinner & Dance just five days after The Greatest Show on Earth, Raffles Rock drummer Leo said “I have cellulites.”

Rock member Bing Tian quipped, “Dumbledore’s sock!”

Guitarist Keming, deeply moved by the audience’s encouraging cheers, said tearily, “Banroc Funnels!”

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