A Happy Ever After: Rockout 2019

By Chloe Wong (19S07C), Ina Song (19S07C) and Qiao Ying (19S03K)
Photographs courtesy of Chloe Guai (20A01D), Kevin Lee (20S06T) and Koh Jia Hao (20S06M)

While the performers in the dressing room dolled themselves up with final touches of make-up, a queue had already formed outside the *SCAPE Ground Theatre, snaking all the way out of the venue. After the well-crafted publicity video and highly exciting morning announcement, it was no secret that on 18th May 2019, many were going to go f-f-f-for ROCKOUT: EVERAFTER. The theme, Everafter, was chosen with reference to the Disney movie “Coco”. Its concept was inspired by the Mexican festival, the Day of the Dead.

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The EverAfter setup before the performance.

Just like previous years of Rockout, the sets did not fail to disappoint. Four stunningly painted Sugar Skulls stood across the stage, decorated with striking bright colours of red, blue, pink and orange, and adorned with designs of roses, vines and stars. In the centre, a grand Mayan Pyramid stood. To complete the set, colourful lights were hung across the stage and on the pyramid. It should be noted that the construction of the set was no easy task, which was evident in the making of the pyramid, as a scaffold was necessary to prop up the whole pyramid, which stood at 3m tall. It was worth it though, as the dazzling sets set the ambience well for the night to come.

As concert-goers slowly streamed into the theatre, music was blasted through the speakers while the audience looked for the best spots from which to watch the concert. People were singing along to the music, eagerly anticipating the appearance of the stars of the night. The audience didn’t have to wait long, as Club Soda, the Y5 band, made a grand entrance, prompting screams from the audience. Club Soda began their act with ‘A Head Full Of Dreams’ by Coldplay, with the vocalists Lwynn Ng (20S06T) and Sarah Ooi (20S06F) delivering a wonderful rendition of the song, and effectively engaging the entire audience for the rest of their performance.

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Vocalists Lwynn Ng and Sarah Ooi delivering an impeccable performance.

The addictive melody of ‘Higher Ground’ by Red Hot Chilli Peppers started playing, and the vocalists effortlessly nailed every note. Before the hype had any chance to dampen, the next song, ‘I Write Sins Not Tragedies’ by Panic! At The Disco kicked off with a familiar jumpy tune played by Goh Ling Yi (20S03A) on the keyboard. The audience went hysterical again when the vocalists began singing the verses of the song in a mysterious tone, just like in the original.

Next was a more sentimental song. ‘Run’ by Snow Patrol got the crowd waving their hands or their phone torchlights in the air. The singers synced well with the emotional flow of the song, a perfect display of what it means to be immersed in music. The sad vibes were short-lived, because immediately after came ‘Thriller’, a classic by Michael Jackson, in which the keyboardist and bassists’ talents really shone as they brought out the electrifying energy of the song. Joining the Y5 band for the piece was Janika Oh (19S05B) from afterhours playing the drum pad, adding yet more depth to the song.

Ending off their segment of Rockout, Club Soda performed ‘Saturday Night’s Alright’ by Elton John. They were certainly making their last piece in Rockout 2019 count, jumping to the beat and doing their best to hype the audience (which wasn’t hard, considering how excited the audience was already at this point). As the lyrics go, “Saturday night’s the night I like”, and indeed, Rock has shown us how we would like to spend our Saturday night each year—at Rockout.

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Club Soda concluding their debut.

As Club Soda left the stage, the lights dimmed in preparation for the arrival of afterhours, the Y6 band. Despite the technical difficulties, the audience waited for the next performance patiently, and one could feel the anticipation amongst them growing as time passed. afterhours eventually came on stage, and judging by the volume of the cheers which sounded out, the number of friends who came to support the Y6 batch definitely rivalled that of the Y5’s. With white light as the backdrop, afterhours kick-started their opening act, ‘As I Am’ by Dream Theater. Starting off peacefully with the melody played by Kathryn Thong (19S03T) on the keys, she was joined by drummer Janika and guitarists Joash Ho (19S03J) and Xavier Lim (19A13B) with a dynamic rhythm. In perfect unison and with flawless synchronisation, afterhours showcased an intriguing display of rhythmic head-banging, which only served to excite the audience further. With the addition of Manish’s (19S03T) top-notch vocals and stage presence, the Y6 band could not have begun their segment any better.

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Passionate singing and guitar-strumming on display.

“This song really slaps,” Manish tells the audience before the band begins their next song, ‘Bring Me Back To Life’ by Evanescence. Sneha Bobba’s (19S06K) and Manish’s vocals, along with the guitar strumming, blended seamlessly throughout the song, while audience members jumped, fist pumped and screamed along to the iconic line “WAKE ME UP INSIDE”. They followed this thrilling piece with the encouraging and cheery ‘Livin’ on a Prayer’ by Bon Jovi. The audience sang along to the pre-chorus and chorus of the song, which was very wholesome with encouraging lyrics that matched the lively beat of the song.

The next, well-known piece, ‘Another One Bites The Dust’ by Queen, stirred the crowd even further. Vocalist Manish led the crowd in a notable repeat-after-me singing that went a little like:

“Another one bites the dust
Another one bites the dust oww
Another one bites the dust hey hey
Another one bites the dust eh eh”

The band then performed their own rendition of a mashup of two iconic Michael Jackson songs, ‘Love Never Felt So Good’ and ‘Pretty Young Thing’. The occasional shouting of “P.Y.T.” and “T.L.C.” from ‘Pretty Young Thing’ added an interesting, fun spin to the love song, ‘Love Never Felt So Good’. Furthermore, another singalong with “Na, na, na” ensued, keeping the audience highly engaged and entertained.

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Vocalists Sneha Bobba and Manish encouraging audience members to sing along.

‘Joker and the Thief by Wolfmother’ really allowed Janika and the guitarists’ talents to shine through, as her drumming and their strumming highlighted the upbeat tune of the song while the vocalists delivered the cheeky lyrics. A remarkable piece, the energy of the performers were infectious. This number did not seem like a one-way performance, for the audience gave their full participation once again. Perhaps many were waiting for the next song—‘Demons’ by Imagine Dragons, one of the more well-known songs performed in the concert. With its lyrics known to most, the crowd favourite ‘Demons’ got an outstanding and resounding singalong from the audience. Noticeably, a large part of the audience had their arms around their friends’ shoulders, swaying from side to side as the song progressed.

Following this was ‘Afterlife’ by Avenged Sevenfold, a dynamically exciting song filled with heavy and loud verses, in contrast to the emotional sounding chorus. ‘Afterlife’ also contained an exhilarating display of drumming and guitarwork, dazzling the audience. Towards the end of the song, the band tricked the crowd into thinking the song had ended, but surprisingly screamed, “Are you ready?”, starting up the crazy guitar runs and riffs again. afterhours has undoubtedly grown in their journey in Raffles Rock, from fledgling musicians to seasoned entertainers and performers who know how to keep the audience on their toes.

Up next was yet another popular hit, ‘Sign of the Times’ by Harry Styles, which once again brought out swaying flashlights from the crowd. The emotional piece starts off with the lyric “Welcome to the final show”, synonymous with afterhours’ time on stage coming to an end in just a matter of a few songs. Against the mellifluous piano and guitar accompaniment, the song really showcased Sneha’s all-roundedness, in terms of range, agility and stability.

Before the show came to a close, Raffles Rock took the opportunity to thank their teachers Dr Lena Lui (or Mrs Teo) and Ms Ng Pei San, and their mentor, Sir Ian Toh, by presenting them boards with notes of appreciation. The teachers and mentor were all smiles upon receiving the boards, and seemed to be extremely proud of the performance pulled off by both bands that very night. A few misty eyes were seen as Kathryn and Jonathan Soepadmo (19S06J) played sentimental background music on the keys.

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Raffles Rock’s mentor being thanked by his mentees.

‘Best of You’ by Foo Fighters was the last second song performed by afterhours that night. Personally, we felt that the song was symbolic in showing how the Rock members brought out the best in one another. The mood turned sentimental as Chairperson Joash thanked his batch mates for joining Raffles Rock and being amazing friends, and confessed that he loved coming to school because of Raffles Rock. This elicited many “aws” from the crowd, and although he claimed not to normally have emotions, Joash gave a final heartfelt and teary-eyed “I love you” to his fellow band members.

The audience passionately called for an encore and afterhours delivered with ‘Welcome to the Black Parade’ by My Chemical Romance . It was the one emotional yet pumped up song that was fit to end the night on a high, as the audience sang along with the raw vocals from the vocalists. The song ended with “We’ll carry on”, signifying the end of the Y6s’ time in Raffles Rock, but we have no doubt that Club Soda, the Y5 batch, would continue their amazing legacy and deliver more thrilling rock performances in the months to come. With that, afterhours proceeded to take a group bow to prolonged cheers from the audience. Rockout 2019: Everafter had come to an end.

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afterhours group bow after their swansong.

To quote Janika of afterhours, “I think performing for the last time together on stage was really bittersweet. All our 1.5 years of hard work led us up to having a successful Rockout and having been able to perform in front of such a big crowd was amazing and exhilarating!” She concluded that joining and performing with Rock was a great experience and found it sad that after Rockout, there may never be a chance to perform in such a setting and venue with one another again.

When asked about their feelings after the performance, Y5 band Club Soda said that they were really nervous before the concert even began. They worried about making mistakes and had freaked out backstage, but said it was heartwarming when they huddled together and hugged each other to give encouragement before the performance. After months of practice together, their chemistry as a band had improved, and this gave them the confidence to go on stage to face a crowd they have never interacted with before. Looking ahead, Club Soda closes by saying, “We’ll keep working on creating a better performance as a band and we’re looking forward to Rockout 2020!”

Club Soda
Lwynn Ng, 20S06T
Sarah Ooi, 20S06F
Yu Yiwei, 20S02A
Goh Ling Yi, 20S03A
Jordan Aw, 20S06D
Kashfy Zul, 20S06T
Shiv Dhar, 20S06G
Chester Chan, 20S06Q
Rohan Kulshrestha, 20S06A (Absent for performance)

afterhours
Janika Oh, 19S05B
Sneha Bobba, 19S06K
Manish, 19S03T
Jason, 19S03D
Xavier Lim, 19A13B
Joash Ho, 19S03J
Nurin Hasha Jubir, 19A13B
Kathryn, 19S03T
Jonathan Soepadmo, 19S06J

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