[Live Review] Calling In::Music Feat. Waa Wei魏如萱, Hello Nico, Boon Hui Lu文慧如 & More @ The Esplanade Singapore (9-10/6/18)
By Stella Soon
Photographs by Jenn Seah and Stella Soon unless otherwise stated
Kowen Ko (柯智棠)’s raspy, soulful vocals. Hello Nico’s throbbing rock tunes. And Waa Wei (魏如萱)’s hit songs that roused everyone to a head-bobbing, torchlight-waving crowd.
Those were the highlights of Calling in::music (呼叫好 in::樂), a Mandarin indie pop music showcase held at Singapore’s Esplanade Annexe Studio on 9 and 10 June.
A first-time collaboration between Singapore’s in::music and Taiwan’s Calling Music Festival, the two-night showcase saw eight Singaporean and Taiwanese musicians take to the stage for an hour each.
Day 1 - Kowen Ko, Hello Nico, Boon Hui Lu, Zooey Wonder
Kowen Ko (柯智棠)
Leading the night’s performances was Kowen Ko (柯智棠). The 28-year-old’s husky, soulful voice rang out tunes to crowd favourite songs and his new jams alike.
But while the Taiwanese singer-songwriter’s popular tracks, like “If You Still Wander 你不真的想流浪” and “It Was May”, were met with loud cheers from the enthusiastic audience, it was songs on his new album that got me excited. Look out for “Man Without A Mission” when it drops next month!
Zooey Wonder (黃玠瑋)
The Taiwanese musician’s first time in Singapore, Zooey Wonder (黃玠瑋) brought her folktronica and ambient influences to life with the synthesizer and electronic drum.
Sometimes backed up by a band; other times taking to the stage solo, her unique musical style rang resonant through the studio for all to hear.
Boon Hui Lu (文慧如)
Between sharing the stories behind her self-written songs and wowing the audience with her dreamy, ethereal voice, Singaporean Boon Hui Lu (文慧如) hyped up the crowd with her lovable personality.
And if her name sounds familiar, she’s the musical brain behind Hebe Tien’s hit songs “Your Body Speaks 身體都知道” and “Every Day Is A Miracle 人間煙火”. Moving between notes smoothly, the 24-year-old jammed to those familiar songs, alongside some unreleased self-written tunes. At points, her voice reminded me of Hebe’s - sweet and soft.
Photo by Alvin Ho, courtesy of Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay
This was the act everyone was waiting for. Despite technical difficulties, Hello Nico’s entrance was greeted with rousing cheers and handphones eager to capture every moment.
Throbbing drumbeats, sick electric guitar riffs and vocalist Yu-Ting Chan (詹宇庭)’s expressive dancing aside, the 4-man band got everyone on their feet, heads bobbing away to the beat. Some describe their musical style as alternative rock; I’d describe it as catchy and rave-worthy. Their energy and unique style truly blew me away.
Day 2 - Waa wei, coconuts!, ruth Kueo, Ling Kai
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!