Writer: Jocelle Koh
Photos by: Ivan Larin
Wedged comfortably amongst a securely packed crowd at Singaporean live venue DECLINE, I amongst an audience of the island’s most frenetic Math Rock fans eagerly awaited the main act of the sold-out night: Elephant Gym. A math-rock band from Taiwan whose unique take on the genre has earned them a steady following worldwide; the three-piece band were in town as part of their ambitious world tour which is due to continue on until the middle of 2019.
Kicking off the night with local post-rock instrumental band Hauste, the band emerged unassumingly from within the audience and proceeded to play their set; peppered with exclamations of adoration for Elephant Gym and hints of their introverted wit. Matching their vibe with an array of songs featuring frenzied cacophonies of sound and lighter, tropical licks in equal part, they did well as a mood-setter. Some of my favourites include their quirkily titled ‘Church Friends’ and the aptly placed ‘I’ll Never See You Again’.
Then it was time for Elephant Gym. Given the space restrictions, there was no curtain to give the band privacy whilst they set up. And although the venue did announce instructions for the audience to clear the space, most were unwilling to give up their ‘chope-d’ space, preferring to examine intently as the three-piece band diligently checked and set up their equipment. It was bassist KT who took to the stage last during their set-up, and elicited the most cheers from the audience when doing so. Dressed in a vintage green and white frock and a bandanna adorning her head, the petite bassist marched onstage holding a bottle of beer, taking swigs occasionally to the audience’s amusement.
Starting off on a groovy note with one of their most popular tracks ‘Midway’, psychedelic feels infused the crowd as Tu’s drums pushed the song forward, strong and steady, while Tell’s angular, funky guitar licks gave the song bite. KT’s vocals wafting clean and clear across the audience guided their ears towards the second half of the song which was delectably grounded by KT’s bass. Having locked the audience into this rollercoaster ride with their inviting opening, the Kaohsiung-born trio launched straight into another one of their earlier tracks ‘Finger’, and that’s when things started to get a little crazy.
[Live Review] Wang Leehom: Descendants Of The Dragon World Tour @ Singapore Indoor Stadium 5th Jan 2019
Writer: Jocelle Koh
Photos from Wang Leehom's Facebook
Taiwanese-American singer-songwriter Wang Leehom is truly one of the best performers that I have ever seen live. And I’m not just saying this because he’s the reason this website exists, or that I was so excited to see him live for the first time I burst into tears the moment he stepped onto the stage. Or even because I knew and sang along to almost every song he performed that night. As biased as I am, everyone in the indoor stadium that night bore witness to the electrifyingly brilliant live performer Leehom was at his Descendants of the Dragon 2060 Concert, which was a tour de force of creativity and innovation.
I have seen hundreds of concerts and miscellaneous live performances over the years, (including a recent one by a certain Ms Swift); yet none of them have ever held my attention and engaged me so deeply as an audience member as Wang’s has. My expectations weren’t particularly high going into the performance to be honest. All I wanted to do was cry tears of joy for seeing my inspiration live for the first time, sing along to songs that have been part of my adolescent and young adult years over the last decade, and maybe get a T-shirt to commemorate the evening.
But the sprightly 42 year-old delivered much, much more; presenting an immersive, multi-format experience that seamlessly fused the concert, film and musical theatre genres. A gargantuan task in itself, Leehom instead pulled it off with finesse and aplomb. Drawing on the film genre, Wang introduces us to a Blade Runner-esque universe where he and his team of aliens were sent to earth to bring us to the planet ‘Descendants of the Dragon 2060’ where only love, peace and good music exist (teeny bit lame, but stay with me). Drawing on a tried-and-true film formula to come up with a story with highs, lows and an eventual climax, the show incorporated curated components throughout that were displayed on the screens, moving the story along by adding characters, impetus and atmosphere in a way stage setup could not easily provide on a world tour. He then added a creative twist to the live experience; bringing the story to life with the help of his dancers; some playing transitional love interests and even duet partners in some scenes, with others having small parts in moving the storyline along.
The live experience is an important cornerstone of appreciating the diverse array of offerings of any music scene. Check out our live reviews of Mandarin music showcases here!