THERE’S always something to talk about at the annual Music Matters (MM) forum, and it doesn’t necessarily have to be what’s happening up on the stage either.
On Tuesday (Dec 8), organisers held a special one-day Music Matters Advertising Forum (MMAF). It was different from the regular MM forum in that it lasted only one day; there was only one overall theme for said day (how brands and bands can get together to best reach out to fans); and it was held in Singapore (MM is usually held in Hong Kong.)
Of course, some things still remained the same. MM president Jasper Donat once again imposed the $100 fine for anyone who cursed while doing their presentation. He’d first implemented this rule in June this year at MM in HK, because apparently some of the more sensitive delegates objected to the expletives being used on stage. The surprising thing was that people actually bothered to comply.
And there was a special artiste segment, this time featuring Chinese soul singer Khalil Fong (above right) one of the best musicians to come out of the Hong Kong music scene in recent years, talking about how he made it. Other artistes featured in the discussions were the very babelicious Chloe Wang and our very own Electrico frontman David Tan.
But what I really like about MM is the showcase. MMAF didn’t disappoint, with singer-songwriter Inch Chua, singer-producer Don Richmond, Khalil Fong, rock bands Leeson and Electrico, and hardcore unit Stompin’ Ground all taking the stage at Bar None at the Marriott.
Inch Chua’s set started almost inconspicuously. A very quick “hi, I’m Inch Chua” and she was on. With Allura’s Mark John backing her on guitar, Inch performed tracks from her The Bedroom EP, all the while playing with her PSP unit. (Okay, it wasn’t really a PSP. Inch explained what it was but I was too busy drinking to listen. My bad.)
Then it was Don Richmond’s turn. He’s better known as a producer these days, and for many people were concerned his time as an artiste consisted of that single he did with ol’ partner-in-crime Drew, Bouncy Bouncy Smack Smack. Backed by a drummer and bassist, Don cleverly got Drew to do the introductions, so everybody actually paid attention. And he even got people to sing along to a song no one apparently knew. So good job, Don!
Leeson was up next. Now, I’ve seen Leeson perform a few times, and they’ve always struck me as a rather interesting act. Not because they’ve got an ang moh fronting the band, but because their music has great potential to be hits and the enunciation is nice, but no one seems interested in plugging it. Why, why? Well, here’s a plug for you guys (http://www.myspace.com/leesonsg).
The star turn for the night had to be Khalil Fong, whose four-song set showed why he’s one of Hong Kong’s rising stars. The prolific musician sang two original compositions (including one of my faves 1,2,3,4,5,6,7) and then covered Bill Wither’s Ain’t No Sunshine and Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean. I only have one word – WOW.
Then came Electrico. Just before they got on, someone told me that a thief broke into Dave Tan’s car recently and stole his guitar pedal board. Which was a stupid thing to steal – especially since I’d specifically told the dude I wanted the guitar, not the guitar pedals. JUST KIDDING DAVE! But back to the show…
Now, I love watching Elec-trio perform, but for some reason, someone decided to turn up the volume – I mean, dang, this was the loudest I’ve ever heard them. (It was also evident by the fact that the people who’d flocked to the front for Khalil Fong, moved two rows back during their set.) Eardrum-blowing decibels aside, Electrico still managed a great set.
Rounding up the night was Stompin’ Ground, one of Singapore’s pioneer hardcore bands still blasting away after more than 15 years. But it was business as usual when they unleashed their sonic blitzkrieg. To the uninitiated, Stompin’ Ground may sound like someone bludgeoning you with a blunt tool, but hey, it’s a well-crafted tool.
Two things stood out for me: One, that guitarist Suhaimi was showcasing the Dusk Tiger guitar (above), Gibson Guitar’s latest addition to their popular but very expensive Robot Guitar series; and two, they were actually softer than Electrico.
And in the end, I have to say that I was suitably impressed. I’d been feeling a little indifferent to local music lately, but thanks guys, you’ve fuelled my belief that music does matter to you; and that our Lion City rockers can stand up there with the best of them from the rest of the world. Here’s hoping for better things in 2010.