Sunday, November 20, 2011
Lepa(r)k! Tiong Bahru!
Say what you will, but we firmly believe in the local folklore extolling the power of onions and chilli to appease the rain gods. However, none of us knew any magic chants, or anyone to set up the mambo jambo. No matter. DIY! We bought the biggest onions and chilli in the supermarket, never mind red or white or chilli padi or bigger, and planted 5 skewers around the perimeter. We patted the skewers, grinned and told them we had faith in them. (Not very different from talking to a stuffed bear.) Faith is all it takes, man. From the weather reports streaming in real-time from all over the island, I understood that Tiong Bahru Park and the surrounding areas were totally spared from a heavy show of thunder, lightning and rain. Luckily the skies held, even after a smirking Ah Pek stole one skewer before 6.30pm.
Lepa(r)k! moved at an awesome pace. Indie gigs have never been held at a public park. Or rather, the matter of gaining a permit for it is near impossible. Fort Canning Park, as a lucrative venue, isn't counted. Of course being this near residential estates, we could count on the number of complaints shooting through the roof about the noise level. But if the iPhone app to measure noise volume is to be believed, then all the iPhones averaged at 95dB rather consistently through the event. Oh well. It's all relative isn't it, in comparison, say, to the noise of your neighbor's karaoke machine.
It was a pretty good line-up of 6 Singapore bands from 5pm to 10pm, there were 2 which I was eagerly looking forward to hear- Run Neon Tiger and Cheating Sons. Thoroughly enjoyable! Confident and tight, the bands will reawaken your interest in the independent music scene in the city. It's flourishing. Indie local bands don't equate punk rock or noisy rock no more.
People brought ground sheets, chairs, drinks and food. Beer too. Beer went down really well. Especially those cold cold cans of Sapporo. Heh. The tiny stall at the side selling drinks didn't do alcohol! But the food was horrible- run-of-the-mill Taiwan sausages, boiled salted corn kernels, typical oily pasar malam stuff. Although the curry fishballs weren't too bad. Luckily there's a convenience store nearby and also the supermarket at Tiong Bahru Plaza which is just a 10-minute walk from the park.
The friends turned up in droves. New and old acquaintances hopped in too. It was a rockin' party! Of course not everyone stayed all the way through. There's no point in that. They turned up for the bands they liked or for those they were curious about, and also at a time of their convenience! The pets came along. WHY NO ONE BROUGHT CATS? Lots of superbly cute indie kids ran around too. The ones that turn up at gigs most often wore headphones and ear plugs. The parents have trained them well!
How did this all begin? It's not just a random event. If we keep complaining about the lack of government support, then we jolly well get out there to seek some. We do something. We'll be able to find someone who shares the vision. To the delight of all of us, Member of Parliament (MP) Indranee Rajah and the Tanglin-Cairnhill Citizens Consultative Committee (CCC) have taken the awesome step of saying yes to having a gig in a public park. It's not just a politically savvy move to encourage community involvement, but it's also a renewal of hope, especially for many of us living in the Tanjong Pagar GRC who never even had a chance to vote for the political team we want. Once Tanglin-Cairnhill CCC bravely and confidently agreed on the broad directions and handed over the details to the organizers to iron out, it signaled a positive start to the partnership.
Don't keep Lepa(r)k! to Tiong Bahru. Take it to every park in Singapore. I'm pretty sure Bishan Park will be an exciting venue next. If this mode of cooperation is termed successful and viable, then there is a strong reason to continue. L'art pour l'art. I believe the organizers of Lepa(r)k! will keep it indie, keep it real, and keep it clean and cool. Please also sell some decent chow at the next one? :)