Her eye-catchingly quirky dress seemed to be fashioned out of turquoise wigs and assorted streamers. Kimbra, whose studio album Vows came in number 14 on the billboard charts, put up a spectacular performance, singing volubly and gyrating wildly to the music, rendering her performance possibly the most energetic in the lineup of the annual St. Jerome’s Laneway Festival on Jan 26.
In its 3rd outing in Singapore, the music fest known for indie bands, played out at the newly-constructed Gardens By The Bay. The beautiful sunny weather and clear blue skies throughout the day, were a fortunate contrast to the previous year’s run, nicknamed “Rainway Festival”.
The 8,000-strong audience was decked in appropriate band tees, sunglasses and hats, ready to battle the scorching heat with bottles of sunblock in hand and a picnic mat beneath their feet.
Framed by the backdrop of Singapore’s skyline and Marina Bay Sands on either side of the stage, the showcase of all 14 bands was truly picturesque.
The festival began at 12:40pm, and the opening act was an acoustic duo from Norway, Kings of Convenience, who played delicate tunes like “Mrs Cold” and “Misread”. Their set ended with “I’d Rather Dance With You”, a hit from the album Riot on an Empty Street released in 2004, accentuated by Erlend Øye’s animated dance moves that humoured the crowd.
Poliça performed next, with rhythmic indie-pop songs such as “Leading To Death” and “Amongster”.
Adoring fans squeezed as close as possible to the stage eagerly as Of Monsters And Men picked up their instruments. The crowd went wild when percussionist Ragnhildur Gunnarsdóttir blared out a trumpet solo during “Little Talks”. Of Monsters And Men’s merchandise sold out the quickest; and many fans were seen hastily throwing on their newly-purchased tees before their show.
Even the musicians were there to catch their own favourite acts. Eirik Glambek Bøe from Kings of Convenience even blended skillfully into the crowd to watch Kimbra perform, but inevitably drew attention from fans who jostled for his attention and requested for autographs and photos. He casually shrugged and obliged while a group of fans huddled together for a quick picture.
“Kimbra is amazingly good,” said Jerrold Ng, an awestruck 21-year-old fan. “Her vocals are as strong as on her studio album. I’m glad I caught her live, it was worth every cent!”
Despite a technical glitch that interrupted Alt-J’s performance, causing them to start all over and delaying the schedule by about 15 mins, the crowd waited patiently without much hoo-ha for the British quartet to re-introduce themselves with their very first song, “Tessellate”. Their psychedelic tunes lulled the audience into a unified sway.
Bat For Lashes drew a collective cheer from the crowd when they stepped up onto the stage. Lead singer Natasha Khan donned a white cape-like shirt, resembling an angel, was simply captivating as she moved in time with the rhythm of songs like “What’s A Girl To Do” and “Oh Yeah”.
Tame Impala took to the stage with a yell, greeting the audience with an enthusiastic “Hellooooooo, Singapore!” before lead singer and guitarist Kevin Parker sprayed a bottle of water onto the unfortunate (or fortunate) fans. They proceeded to play “Half Glass Full Of Wine” and “Feels Like We Only Go Backwards”, psychedelic rock songs vaguely reminiscent of old school hard rock bands like The Who and Led Zeppelin.
The night ended with Gotye, featuring Kimbra, who appeared on stage midway during “Somebody That I Used To Know”, the hit song which topped the charts in 2011, ending in profuse screaming from the excited fans.
The 12-hour long music marathon, left everyone exhausted, and sporting odd tan lines (or in some cases, severe sunburns). Without doubt, however, it was a thoroughly gratifying music festival experience, an annual treat brought to Singaporeans that they will count down towards next year.
All photos courtesy of Asyraf Rasid (Klix Photography).