By Joan Ang (17A01B), Ernest Lee (17A01A) and Lee Yun Ning (17A01E),Additional Reporting by Jeanne Tan (17A01B), Photos by Nicole Lai (17S06D), Esther Chin (17S06D) and Victoria Ang (17S07D)
ANARCHY — a state of disorder characterised by the absence of authority. Indeed, it was this theme that set the tone for Raffles Rock’s annual concert: Rockout, held on the 27th of May at *SCAPE Ground Theatre. Decked out in outfits based off villains from the Batman series, each band went beyond their limits to give their original take on both newer and older songs from bands, ranging from Queen to Bring Me the Horizon, never failing to disappoint the large, buzzing, crowd.
The concert began proper with short visual clips which introduced each band, and hinted at the dark undertones that would be channeled through each band’s performance. The clips themselves were cuts from the Batman Arkham games with flashes of the band member’s faces, each band being themed after a different member of the Rogues’ Gallery. Coupled with the impressive costume design we would later see throughout every band, one of the reporters’ initial disappointment at the lack of “actual punk” in the setlist would soon be ameliorated by the bands’ close adherence to the Gotham theme.
J1 band Osaka Sun opened the show with a slow-paced, melancholic cover of Coldplay’s Violet Hill, followed by U2’s political Sunday Bloody Sunday and finally Of Monsters & Men’s Crystals. Despite these songs’ emphasis on the keyboard, the other instruments were equally represented, with each player’s efforts and talent clearly discernible to listeners. Particularly outstanding was the guitar solo by Jesse Tan (17S06N) in Violet Hill, and energetic drum fills by Ethan Cheong (17S03H) in the opening and closing moments of Sunday Bloody Sunday.
It was in this more instrumental-heavy setlist that issues with the theatre’s speakers became evident. Lapses in sound quality were a bottleneck to the bands, obscuring the nuance and skill present in the set. The high volume of the speakers were also initially a problem, but were corrected over the course of the set. Nonetheless, the opening act made it clear to the audience that each Rockout band would inject their own energy and nuance into varied, sometimes demanding songs.
Next up was Daybreak. Capitalizing on the initial energy of the first set, they quickly jumped into a rendition of Skyfall, with vocalist Su Ying (17A01B) opening the song with a chilling solo line. The band chose to ditch the classical orchestration of the original in the second half of the song, instead opting for a killer bassline and violent drumming to create a rock-ier interpretation of the ballad.
Following an energetic performance of Bring Me The Horizon’s True Friends, their set ended on a high note with the catchy Na Na Na, featuring a hook which the audience was able to sing along to, and punchy, danceable fills by drummer Sophia Kim (17S03P). By the end of the song, audience energy was at an all-time high, with the entire crowd hyped up and ready for the J2s to take the stage.
The Diversion teased the inclusion of harder rock, starting with Jet’s Are You Gonna Be My Girl. This gave drummers and guitarists ample opportunity to rise above the disappointing mixing: and this they did. Their pacing around the stage was never a distraction, instead giving them comparatively greater presence, which noticeably heightened the hype of the audience.
The band’s set was also largely faithful to the original versions of songs, allowing them to showcase technical ability while retaining the characteristic flair and style of bands like Queen. One thing that stood out was the second inclusion of an Adele track: an unusual yet surprisingly clever choice for an Anarchy-themed rock concert. Though unorthodox, the energy-filled, almost vicious interpretation of Set Fire to the Rain meant their set was a seamless transition from one song to another.
The last song played by the band was the ever-famous Bohemian Rhapsody. While the song itself was played with technical finesse, it was heavily hindered by unbalanced miking which, together with a lack of the original instrumentation, disrupted the flow of the Queen anthem. Nevertheless, the Diversion performed with a polished quality that truly demonstrated their status as veteran musicians.
Atlas Hour ended the show alongside special guest DJ Akmal “AK” Hidhir (16S07D) who was equally pumped for the concert as they were, evidenced by his excited dancing along to the music while DJ-ing. As the last band, Atlas Hour was able to capitalise on the built-up energy of the previous three, and they did so with finesse — at one point, vocalist Eunice Png (16S03C) even threw a snapback cap into the audience, signed by all seven members of the band.
With AK’s help, Atlas Hour was able to perform genres different from that of the previous band, which saw the audience to grooving to the The Weeknd’s Can’t Feel My Face and party hard to the upbeat riffs of Victorious by Panic! At The Disco. The band ended their set with Closer To The Edge by 30 Seconds to Mars, with its refrain of “No no no no!” and energetic guitar riffs electrifying the crowd, bringing their set to a satisfying end.
The entire J2 batch came onto stage for the last item: I Don’t Wanna Miss a Thing by Aerosmith. While the performers themselves acknowledged their lack of familiarity with the song (some even having to pull out their phones for lyrics), they still managed to capture the emotions of the song and perform it well. The song choice itself was particularly tear-jerking: this would be their last performance together as a Rock batch. The piece, and the meaning of its lyrics, was able to bring out that sense of nostalgia, creating a sense of closure for Rockout 2016.
When interviewed, audience members generally expressed a sense of approval towards the concert, with many particularly impressed by the technical abilities of the senior batch. However, there were divided opinions over the setlist, with those who were completely new to the genre feeling that the songs performed were largely inaccessible, while those who had slightly more exposure thought the exact opposite.
Despite this, the concert was still overall largely enjoyable, audience member Rachel Lim (16S06I) adding “I thought it was quite a good experience, because some of the songs that they did were some of the songs that I knew, so it was very good jumping around to the music and like, headbanging and stuff.”
Mr Sowden, Teacher I/C of Raffles Rock, congratulated the bands for the impressive performance and fantastic atmosphere that they created. Towards the J2 batch, he further added, “[they] have to put this aside and get on with their studying. But, they also have to remember the Law of Diminishing Returns, so don’t study too much, and NEVER STOP ROCKING!”
- Osaka Sun
- Violet Hill (Coldplay)
- Sunday Bloody Sunday (U2)
- Crystals (Of Monsters & Men)
- Skyfall (Adele)
- True Friends (Bring Me The Horizon)
- Na Na Na (My Chemical Romance)
- The Diversion
- Are You Gonna Be My Girl (Jet)
- World on Fire (Slash)
- Set Fire to the Rain (Adele)
- Kings and Queens (Thirty Seconds to Mars)
- Bohemian Rhapsody (Queen)
- Atlas Hour
- New Divide (Linkin Park)
- Resistance (Muse)
- Can’t Feel My Face (The Weeknd)
- Victorious (Panic! At The Disco)
- Closer to the Edge (Thirty Seconds to Mars)
“The quote. I have a quote.” — Leo Wattanapon, drummer of The Diversion, who proceeded to contemplate deeply before exiting the room.
“We should have Banroc Funnels every year.” — Tan Keming, certified guitarist
“HI!!!!!!!!” — Peng Muzi, resident memelord