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.
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!