It always comes as a pleasant surprise when an underground festival is held here in Singapore, with four bands off the acclaimed Vans Warped Tour circuit no less. So when it does happen, you can bet it’s a show you’d be foolish to miss.
Doors opened at 2pm and the day included some quality homegrown music from the likes of Tell Lie Vision and Forests, as well as Thirds from Manila, Philippines, Sekumpulan Orang Gila from Batu Caves, Malaysia, and Defying Decay from Bangkok, Thailand. With the crowd obliging to friendly circle pits and singalongs all the same, it was serendipitous in a way, and actually felt a lot like home.
As the room filled up even more, and the guys from ROAM, hailing from Eastbourne in England, soundchecked their instruments, it was evident the night was only just beginning. The band consists of vocalist Alex Costello, bassist Matt Roskilly, lead guitarist and backing vocalist Alex Adam, rhythm guitarist Sam Veness, and drummer Miles Gill, and they all were in their own element, never once flatlining.
“You guys ready to party with us yea,” Costello quipped after they engaged in some lighthearted chatter about visiting Gardens by the Bay, which was “basically avatar” according to them. The band performed tunes like “Guilty Melody”, “Playing Fiction”, “The Rich Life of a Poor Man” and “Left For Dead”, all off their second studio album titled Great Heights & Nosedives. All that glitters isn’t gold but their performance alone proved that the UK lads must truly be gems of some sort.
With Confidence were next on the lineup, with everyone situated right where they wanted to be. Consisting of lead vocalist and bassist Jayden Seeley, guitarists Inigo Del Carmen and Scotty Mac and drummer Joshua Brozzesi, as an entity, they held it steady and most definitely set it all alight, as they churned out song after song, including “Keeper”, “Arches”, “Here for Nothing” and “Moving Boxes”.
Having been a band for about seven years now, it comes as no surprise that the Sydney natives held their own and delivered all their hits with the fiery pop punk attitude we’ve all grown to love listening to many other bands from the scene. Almost everything they did was in sync, even the headbanging and the jumping, and you just know the audience lapped it all up without complaint.
Next up was Set It Off, whose set was – dare I say – actually better than the headliners’, and it started with meticulous soundchecking of all instruments and mics. The quartet from Tampa, Florida turned it upside down the moment they stepped on stage, with Cody Carson, Maxx Danziger, Dan Clermont and Zach DeWall putting on a solid performance which undoubtedly managed to convert all the non-fans in the house.
The blue-haired frontman surely stole the show, doing an incredible job on the vocals, and even went into the crowd at one point, only adding to the spectacle. Their overall theatricality was also mesmerizing and simply stood out from the rest of the bands on the bill. He also took some time to have a heart-to-heart with the fans.
“One thing that we care about the most is that at shows like this, this is our chance to vent, this is our chance to be free, our chance to let go without judgment. This is where we go. There’s a lot of stress and anxiety in the world, we’re gonna feel it every single day. The hardest part is about learning how to bounce back from it,” the frontman spoke, before they launched into “Why Worry”, off their second studio album, Duality. There was a tangible weight to his words and you could tell it hit close to home for a lot of people.
Finally, after some quality hours of pop punk paradise, it was time for the headliners and pop punk stalwarts from Tallahassee, Florida, Mayday Parade. Made up of Derek Sanders, Alex Garcia, Brooks Betts, Jeremy Lenzo and Jake Bundrick, the quintet emerged from the shadows ready to burn the city down with guns ablazing (and hair always on point too).
They performed favourites spanning their 14-year career like “Never Sure”, “Jersey”, “Black Cat”, and “It’s Hard To Be Religious When Certain People Are Never Incinerated By Bolts Of Lightning”. We were also treated to heart-wrenching versions of “Miserable At Best” and “Stay” towards the latter part of their set, which were sheer tearjerkers in their own right. The guys put on such an energetic performance bouncing all over the stage and interacting with their fans that the time seemed to pass by quicker than usual.
It was just three years ago that the band ended up having to play an acoustic show here instead of a full-blown one, so it was nothing short of a treat to have been able to hear the songs which were the soundtrack to all the heartbreak and pain we all grew so accustomed to but at the same time fueled us to become the people we are today.
And you can bet we’ll be putting all these memories in a mason jar left to rest on our bedside table.