Singapore International Jazz Festival 2016 (Day 1)

Venue: Event Plaza @ Marina Bay Sands, Singapore
Date: 4th March 2016
Promoter: Orbis Festival Productions
Review by: Maisha G.
Special Thanks: Tessa, and the Full Circle PR team
Photos by Alvin Ho (Day 2)

Started in 2014, Sing Jazz has gifted us many amazing acts, year after year. I personally have always been awed by the artistes’ lineup with every installment but I have never gotten the chance to catch it up until now. It only meant that I have missed out on a number of great acts such as India Arie and of course, Allen Stone. I was also thrilled to learn that Hiatus Kaiyote was included in this year’s lineup and made me brood less for not having to catch them a few months back in Kuala Lumpur.

The day started off as early as 4pm, being the first act to start of Day 1. I was not present then for Dru Chen’s set but was not spared with the details of how talented he is as an individual. I personally enjoy his song titled “You Got It Babe”. I was pretty sure he serenaded the crowd with the song and I had to miss that one out because of work commitments.

I made it in time to catch Charlie Lim on stage, however. I have to admit though that I haven’t exactly been following his material or music as much as I have been told to do so. Word has it that he is our very own version of John Mayer. I became a little skeptical upon listening to such comments and it could only be justified, I believe, with both of my own ears. True enough, the very first note he hit into the microphone sends you back to the soul twangs on Mayer’s strat, a familiar yet sultry tune to the music that sets the calming mood. I grew more interested in his voice and it became deepset as I bobbed my head to the strums. His music served as a calming entity, just like the calm after the storm.

A particular band often talked about by many people as soon as there’s mention about ‘post-bop jazz’ genre; a genre not familiar to many but perhaps delved into by experimental music enthusiasts that strive further for just the normal jazz music the masses enjoy. It is of course, BADBADNOTGOOD. Hailing all the way from Canada, this band certainly is the opposite of what their band name suggests them to be.

Clad in shorts and white t-shirts with snapbacks and capturing the image of a teenager, the music that they play is a far cry from the normal stereotypes to portray how the are usually dressed. Their experimental take on the different musical instruments marry well in a symphonic unison as the amalgamation of different sounds fused together to make their music danceable, worth bobbing your head to or even closing your eyes and just taking in all the tenacity of the sounds reverberating through the crowd. A special favourite of mine has got to be the song “Kaleidoscope”. As soon as the familiar tune came on, I was throwing my hands up in the air and just swaying from side to side. I have only had the chance to overplay this song on Spotify and now, having to listen to them live, it is definitely a whole new experience pieced together. It would be amazing if Ghostface Killah were to join them in the bill given the fact that he played a huge part in their recent album titled ‘Sour Soul’. The night just kept getting better and better as the crowd grew, celebrating the goodness on stage.

I am not quite familiar with Taylor McFerrin but at first glance, he reminded me of Lenny Kravitz and also a young version of Laurence Fishburne. I was looking forward to hearing his music and as soon as he started singing, I could feel the tingling feeling running through my veins. I’m not so much into electronic music but his take on it is a total fusion and it is much more interesting than I thought it would be. I never knew I could enjoy such music as much, much more than I thought I would. He took the crowd by surprise when he did a quick acapella stint and left the crowds’ mouths hanging in full of awe and celebrated with a loud cheer that rang massive across the crowd. I think I can dig his music and I look forward to listening to more of his work.

The time came that all of us have been waiting for or more so, I speak for myself. Proudly clad in my shirt that says ‘Multidimensional Polyrhythmic Gangster Sh*t’, this band has brought life into a whole new perspective and how Rhythm and Blues could merry so well with Funk and Fusion Jazz and this band, from a home away from home, Melbourne, Australia, has melted the faces of many people who have had the chance to watch them perform live. They’re none other than Hiatus Kaiyote. I fell in love instantaneously with their song “Nakamarra” when I chanced upon their album ‘Tawk Tomahawk’ in a local record store. Since then, I couldn’t stop listening to them and when they released their second album titled ‘Choose Your Weapon’, it blew my socks off. I never thought I’d enjoy this band as much as I would as opposed to The Strokes.

Nai Palm, the vocalist of the band, clad in her Michael Jackson shirt greeted the crowd with her silver glittered guitar. I stood in front and spent a good five minutes just having my eyes affixed at her. Such a unique character that she possessed and I was definitely awe struck when I bumped into her near the artistes’ tent. And all I was dying to ask was “In the song ‘Mobius Streak’, there is a line in it that goes ‘ancient psychic tandem war elephants’, was that by any chance an Adventure Time reference?’ Her face lit as she answered, “Hell yeah!” There and then, my burning question of three years was finally answered.

I was half hoping that they’ll play “Mobius Streak” but it was a shame how their set was cut to almost half of the duration originally assigned so I was just feeling lucky to have finally watch them after having to miss them twice. And so they say, third time is always a charm and true enough, as soon as the familiar riffs came on, I fished out my phone as Nai sang “Might not get, might not get any better”. The song “Molasses” meant so much to me and it still does and it remains my daily jam. I found myself singing to each and every single word of the song but making sure that it wasn’t loud enough for the rest to hear. I’d much rather listen to Nai singing in my ear everyday than spoiling an amazing song with subpar vocals of mine.

The night ended with “Nakamarra” and it was nothing short of magical. There were all sorts of emotions streaming in from every direction, from each and every person in the crowd. We beckoned for more from the band but the time had to be adhered to strictly. Lucky enough for some of us, we got to meet the band after the whole show and Nai said to me ‘It’s you again. Come here!” and she threw me a hug. I could feel my body resetting as I admire this person so much and it has been such an honour to watch her and her league of extraordinary gentlemen blessing us with their amazing tunes and even more amazing energy. Nai’s voice is God given and she gives everything she’s got into the performance that night. I remember smiling all the way home as I just couldn’t shake off the great feeling the night has bestowed me with.

Thank you Sing Jazz for the amazing festival and a night for us to remember; here’s to the many more years to come.