Well, whaddya know? After writing the previous post, I resigned myself to a quiet Saturday night in. No big deal. I’d divide my time between good movies on HBO and the ton of work I have for next week. Then Ida called, the first time we’d talked for a year (I was there, she was here, we’re both lousy at keeping in touch). In the midst of catch-up conversation she asked if, by any chance, I’d be interested in going to see some German group at the Esplanade tonight. She read about them in the papers and it sounded interesting. WAHOO!
We were both somewhat discouraged by the opening guy. He was hard to describe. He reminded me of the time I was at a David Grubbs gig and couldn’t figure out whether a particular “song” had begun, ended, or gone horribly wrong, except that compared to this guy David Grubbs’s song was a catchy pop gem. We decided it wasn’t our thang and popped out for a drink.
Observatory was next. I haven’t been around for four years and know nothing about the local music scene, but the quality of their performance suggests it’ll be well worth exploring. Again, they’re hard to describe, and in saying some songs were kind of like Air remixed by Thievery Corporation with immensely pleasant male vocals sort of like Calexico and jazzy flourishes on the keyboard, and others were like REM at their best with the occasional harmonica and journeys into shoegazy guitar, I’m not doing the band justice at all. Truly impressive, and a huge incentive for this prodigal daughter to find out more about what her own people are doing rather than buying expensive US indie imports all the time.
Kreidler continued my long-running streak of never being disappointed by anything German. (I clarify: obviously I wasn’t alive during the World Wars.) Interesting sounds that evolved rather than doof!doof!doof!ing on for ages the way some electronica does, endearing crowd manner, and although I was too comfy sprawling on the floor for most of the gig to dance, it certainly kept me bobbing my head and tapping my toes.
But as good as all the acts were, the star of the gig, for me, was the venue. It’s not going to be very difficult to convince me to attend anything at the Esplanade Studios in future, because I have never heard such amazing sound in a gig in all my born days. Crystal clear, wonderfully-balanced, loud enough to dominate the room and send reverberations through the floor, yet not so loud that conversations had to be screamed. A floor so clean you could sprawl on it without having to coat yourself in spilled booze or cigarette ash. Recent letters to the papers here in Singapore have asked if the building of such an expensive concert venue was really worthwhile, and whether it actually makes the arts accessible to the masses or only caters to a certain wealthy elite. I paid $21 (about 8 pounds) for a great gig, with the best sound I’ve ever heard, in beautiful surroundings, and the price even included a drink. All I can say is that I’m an incredibly satisfied customer (mad props to the Government!), I think it really is a world-class venue we should all be proud of, and I’m going to be throwing my money at it fairly regularly from now on.