By Gan Chin Lin (17A01B), Abdul Qayyum (17A01B), Calista Chong (18A01A), and Grace Lau (18S03I)
With a social media campaign involving an intricate formation of Smuckers strawberry jam packets, as well as mysterious video snippets on Instagram – Raffles Rock successfully drummed up much anticipation and excitement for their gig. Testament to this was the excited buzzing of the crowd, packed into the TSD on 13th April.
True to the pun that served as their advertising catchline, the aforementioned packets of jam were placed outside free for gig-goers. By 5.30, the room was packed so much so that people were seen leaving, unable to get a good spot in the room.
Crowds watched with mounting eagerness as amps and microphones were adjusted and plugged in – the Rockin: Space Jam gig was soon to begin. As a thrilling precursor to Raffles Rock’s full length annual concert Rock Out, the evening’s high-energy performances served as a sweet sample of more to come.
Soon, the cacophony of crowd conversation was hushed and replaced by the authoritative growl of the electric guitar and the commanding drumbeat. J1 band Hothead opened the gig, launching into a poppy, funky rendition of Fred Astaire by San Cisco.
The constant pulsing beat by drummer Julene Ngew (18S02A) made for an infectiously catchy tune that renewed the crowd with much head-bopping and clapping vigour. Frontmen Sarah Leong (18A03A) and Timothy Chin (18S03B) in particular delivered the mellow refrain in a silky crooning harmony to great effect, especially when juxtaposed with the peppy tempo of the song’s main rhythm.
Most memorably, the band covered Feel Good Inc. by Gorillaz, seamlessly blending the melancholy poptune with a spicy bopping beat. The band implemented many vocal ornaments in the song: energetic rapping, Timothy whispering “Shake it, shake it” into the mike, and a classic moment where guitarist Kevin Nathaniel (18S03D) recreated the hyena laughter of the original track with immense glee, letting out whooping, screeching hoots. This initially threw off the audience, with many looking around confusedly for the source of the crazed laughter, but thereafter responding with hoots of approval.
The band left the stage to raucous applause, with a roar of laughter when Kevin threw his pick into the crowd. When interviewed later, he said “I wanted to be like Yngwie Malmstee!”, citing the Swedish guitarist as the inspiration for his pick-pitching.
There was simply no time for the audience to take a breather from the breathtakingly splendid performances. Without missing a beat, J2 band, Osaka Sun, strode onto stage, prompting hollers from the enthusiastic crowd. The band began with Head Full Of Dreams by Coldplay, leaving the audience enraptured by the dexterous drumming by Ethan Cheong (17S03H) in a skilful live play of the song’s synthetic dance pulse.
Osaka Sun then covered the upbeat Taking Off, by One Ok Rock, leaving the audience clapping and jamming to the funky tempo. The music took a slow turn with the relatively mellow I Of The Storm by Of Monsters and Men. This was when Jesse Tan (17S06N) demonstrated his prowess on the guitar, and singer Sophia Goh’s (17S03H) gentle voice allowed to shine. Coupled with soft blue lighting strung on the microphone, the music has managed to lull the audience into wistful, poignant melancholy.
Perhaps the most unforgettable rendition by the band would be the Dive and If I Ain’t Got You mashup that ended their set, which was set into motion with Alicia Key’s iconic keyboard harmony. These familiar tunes got the audience swaying to the beat, singing along at the chorus.
The night reached a new high as veteran J2 band, Daybreak, took over the stage, palpably excited to perform before the exhilarated crowd. Kicking start with A Love Like War by All Time Low, the powerful drumming combinations by drummer Sophia Kim (17S03H) heightened the atmosphere and left the audience rocking to the rhythm, chanting the lyrics back to the band.
Vocalist Su Ying (17A01B) exuded immense charm, drawing the audience in by making eye contact with each corner of the room as she performed Don’t Wanna Fight by Alabama Shakes in a fluting, mesmerising falsetto, harmonizing with bassist Lee Yun Ning (17A01E ). Drawn by the enthusiasm of the band, the crowd responded by echoing ‘I don’t wanna fight no more’ at the top of their voices, adding to the already electrifying atmosphere.
Silence soon settled as guitarist Adam Teo (17S07B) truly shone in his open for the next song, Slow Dancing In A Burning Room by John Mayer, demonstrating skillful and clean bends. As the song started proper, the instrumentals, while cadenced, proved to be surprisingly emotive and calming, with even the noisiest segments of the room quieting down to let Su Ying’s immaculate vocals take centre stage. Daybreak ended their set with Ocean Avenue by Yellowcard, filled with brilliant electric guitar riffs to round off an immersive and technically superb performance.
With the closing of Daybreak’s set, the euphoric bands clustered on stage to take their bows, basking in the rounds of thundering applause from the audience. When interviewed, ground sentiments were of an enthusiastic approval for the evening’s performances, with many lauding the energy of the J1s and the seasoned stage presence of the J2s.
Daarin Annur (18S06B) fully admitted that she’s been “missing out” all this time, and would totally “watch it again given the chance”. Similarly, Kavya Sundar (17S03D) quipped that the performance was “amazing and brilliant”, citing Slow Dancing in a Burning Room and guitarist Adam’s solo as her favourite moments due to the “Spotify chill playlist vibes” the song created.
However, many felt the blinding nature of rapidly flashing stage lights detracted from the experience, with audience members seen to be shielding their faces and turning away sharply in discomfort when they came on.
Before being instructed to clear the TSD of their instruments, Rock chairperson and Daybreak frontman Su Ying (17A01B) explained the etymology of the moniker ‘Space Jam’ for the day’s performance. “We named it ‘Space Jam’ because it symbolises mystery, with many possibilities! Plus it’s a pun on jam! Like the jam we were giving out – did you take some?” She also congratulated her junior batch, saying that “They were all already very experienced and adapted very well”.
Lastly, when asked if he had any words to say, Hothead bass and guitar player Shane Tan (18S03T) excitedly announced “Ceteris Paribus, long non polar hydrophobic hydrocarbon chains”, followed by a loud guffaw from his other bandmates. True enough, with all other things being equal, Rock Out 2017 looks set to be jam-packed with even more brilliant performances from a group of amazing musical talents.
Raffles RockOut: Space Odyssey will be held on the 26th of May at the *SCAPE Underground.