By: Alyssa Loo (19A13A), Loh Lin (19A01D) and Asfar Alim (18S03J)
Photos courtesy of Michael Chow (18A13A) and Melvin Liam (19S05B) of Raffles Photographic Society
The members of Raffles Rock had quite the challenge — putting on an engaging performance for the students who had just returned from an exhausting Tuesday afternoon was no easy task. Despite this, they were ready to fill the TSD with their infectious enthusiasm and energy at their showcase, Rock In 2018.
The showcase opened with a performance of Linkin Park’s ‘Numb’ by the J1 band, named afterhours. The group wasted no time in bringing exhilaration to the atmosphere as Janika Oh (19S05B) on the drums set up a fast tempo for this piece. Together with Sneha Bobba (19S06K) and Manish’s (19S03T) strong vocals, the performance displayed an invigorating intensity that rendered Raffles Rock’s new blood unforgettable.
The next performance, ‘Zombie’, started off with a deceptively slow melody by Jonathan Soepadmo (19S06J) on the keyboard before the fiery chorus by the guitars kicked in. The guitarists looked focused on strumming the chords with precision and speed, with Joash Ho (19S03J) delivering a shredding solo. The dynamic instrumentals melded with the vocalists’ dulcet delivery to fill the jam-packed TSD with a rush of adrenaline that saw an amusing display of earnest head-banging.
After a dystopian-sounding piece, ‘The Sky is a Neighbourhood’, the band wrapped up the first half hour with an energetic cover of ‘September’, which was declared by both Sneha and guitarist Xavier Lim (19A13B) to be the “hardest song to perform” due to the technical skills and stage presence required. Despite this, the band pulled it off with well-practiced ease. The cheerful tempo prompted an irresistible urge in the audience to clap along, which brought delighted grins to the performers’ faces. Alas, their time on stage was short: three snappy staccato notes marked the end of the set, and the band made their exit amidst hearty cheers.
The next segment consisted of a few mini-bands, some which comprised of a mix of J1 and J2 performers. Here was where the members of Raffles Rock were able to showcase their versatility with various genres. Some performances were slow melodies which tugged at the heartstrings of the audience, such as ‘ILYSB’ (AKA I Love You So Bad) and ‘High Hopes’. Another memorable performance was the sweet duet by guitarists Shane Tan (18S03T) and Kevin Nathaniel (18S03D) of ‘Thinkin Bout You’, where they did not just play proficiently but also exuded a dreamy vibe by harmonising with one another. These contrasted with the ear-splitting performance of ‘Sex on Fire’ (or rather, ‘“Love” on fire’ due to censorship rules), where Shane on the drums and Charlene Ng (18A01D) on the bass gave an extra grit to the performance.
The audience was also surprised to see a creative rendition of ‘Canon in D’ put up by one of the mini-bands. This piece is typically played with a piano but this group put their own twist to the song with the addition of the electric guitars and drums, which had members of the audience excited. Janika commented on how this was the most difficult song to play on the drums. Despite this, she gave a thrilling performance and was able to play extremely fast with high energy.
The J2 band regrouped and formally introduced themselves as Hothead. They kicked things off with a performance of ‘Under Cover of Darkness’, which brought about another bouncy beat, and matched the energy level of the J1 performers. Their introductory performance highlighted that though the J1 band preferred to perform more hard-hitting and energetic songs, the J2 band leaned towards a hybrid between energetic rock and catchy pop hooks.
If that performance didn’t convince the audience members that this group was exceptionally skilled, their next piece, ‘Girls Chase Boys’, would have changed their minds. Notably, Sarah Leong’s (18A03A) stage presence as a vocalist had the audience hooked and clapping along to the song. It became clear that she owned the stage. Her smooth vocals were also a good match for this song as she effortlessly belted high notes and amplified the playful nature of the song.
The next song, ‘Superstition’, followed the same vein where the groovy, somewhat mellow song was made more upbeat and interactive by the band. They also joined in on throwing out leg kicks as they played their respective instruments.
This was contrasted by their next song, ‘Redbone’, which was prefaced by a call for everyone to “think of someone you love very much, then imagine them leaving”. This elicited an immediate response of slumped shoulders and bowing of heads in contemplation. Julene Ngew (18S02A) on the xylophone together with the sharp and distorted guitars from Shane and Kevin made this sombre song feel more heavy.
After this dark turn, Timothy Chin (18S03B) took the role of the lead vocal in their performance of ‘Hold It In’, where he encouraged the audience members to sing along with him whenever he sang the words “hold it in”. Towards the end, the audience no longer needed prompting, spontaneously bursting into song to echo the iconic line. This song also put Seraphine Loh (18A13A) in the spotlight as her fingers slid effortlessly across the keys during her own keyboard solo.
The audience was then instructed to stand up and rave as this group geared up for their final song, ‘You Know It’. It was clear the performers poured out their remaining energy on delivering an exciting performance as Dawn Wee (18S03G) on the drum pads and Julene on the drums made the song sound especially bouncy and energetic. The high energy levels were infectious and had some members of the audience bouncing up and down, though this was a bit subdued. Perhaps, if it weren’t for Rafflesians general inability to rave when required, the response would have been more explosive to match the energy level of the performers.
As the members were saying their goodbyes, many audience members shouted for an encore: specifically, a performance of ‘Starboy’ from Rock Out 2017. The rock members easily obliged and each picked up their respective instruments to start performing. After the performance, Sarah playfully exclaimed, “After this, no more Starboy! No more!” unless the audience members purchased tickets to go to Rock Out 2018. With this, the Rock In showcase was concluded.
The Rock members had delivered an impressive set of performances that showcased their versatility and their skill as musicians and performers. It was also astounding that the J1 batch was comfortable on stage during their very first showcase, and were able to make their performances unique.
Even as a considerably more laid-back precursor to Rock Out 2018, Rock In still presented members with various sets of challenges. Sneha shared that she “struggled with hitting the high notes in ‘September’”, while Xavier remarked that it was important for them “to feel the groove […] feel the music, and have stage presence”.
The J1s had nothing to fear, though, as their seniors only had beaming praises for them. Timothy observed that “[the lead vocalists] capitalized on their good blend of voices”, and that the entire J1 band was “at least 3-5 times better than [the J2 batch] was last year”. He also commented that while “they have a long way to go in terms of […] finding out their direction as a band”, they have “potential to be the best Rock batch [Raffles Rock has] seen in a long time”. Raffles Rock Chairperson Dawn echoed this sentiment, expressing that she was “really proud of the J1s” and their stage presence.
Meanwhile, Seraphine admitted that her batch was worried about the success of Rock In, considering that they had to “divert more energy to Rock Out due to the sheer number of songs [they] had to cover”. It would seem that their concerns can be allayed, as evidenced from the high turn-out rate of this event and the encouraging reviews from members of the audience, many of whom remarked that they found the “energy and stage presence great”.
All things considered, Rock In has borne testament to the immense talent the Raffles Rockers possess, and is a promise of even more thrilling performances to come.
Raffles Rockout: Press Play will be held on the 26th of May at the *SCAPE ground theatre. Tickets are being sold at $12 each. Be sure to support this talented group and enjoy a night of thrilling performances.
- Numb by Linkin Park
- Zombie by The Cranberries
- The Sky Is A Neighbourhood by Foo Fighters
- September by Earth, Wind & Fire
- Thinkin Bout You by Frank Ocean
- Sex on Fire by Kings of Leon
- Figure it Out by Royal Blood
- ILYSB by LANY
- Canon Rock by Jerry C.
- High Hopes by Kodaline
- Under Cover of Darkness by The Strokes
- Girls Chase Boys by Ingrid Michaelson
- Superstition by Stevie Wonder
- Redbone by Childish Gambino
- Hold It In by Jukebox The Ghost
- You Know It by Colony House
Encore Performance: Starboy by The Weeknd
Janika Oh, 19S05B
Sneha Bobba, 19S06K
Xavier Lim, 19A13B
Joash Ho, 19S03J
Nurin Hasha Jubir, 19A13B
Jonathan Soepadmo, 19S06J
Shane Tan, 18S03T
Kevin Nathaniel, 18S03D
Charlene Ng, 18A01D
Timothy Chin, 18S03B
Sarah Leong, 18A03A
Julene Ngew, 18S02A
Seraphine Loh, 18A13A
Clement Chan, 18S03B
Dawn Wee, 18S03G