What should have been a trouble-free travel day and luxurious evening off was rather badly dampened by a missed flight. We spend countless hours figuring out how the Hell to get from Chiang Mai to Singapore. Though I am still palpably annoyed by the experience, the details are exhausting and boring. At midnight, our skin visibly dry and our lungs irritated from air conditioning and flight take-offs and landings, we finally unroll our limbs onto a cushy queen-sized bed and order noodles.
SINGAPORE. August 22.
Singapore is known for being populated by sticklers for rules and, though I am usually fucking hateful of unyielding natures, it certainly makes for efficient sound checks. There are occasional moments when I’m not sure which taskmaster to listen to but within an hour we have set up and sound checked two different stages and feel ready to play two different shows in one day at the formidable Bay Beats Festival at the Esplanade Theatre. It goes so smoothly it’s not hard to see why this dogmatist nature has been so successful for the republic. The city feels shiny. Positively more modern than modern. Hip people I know tend to hate that aspect of Singapore but I’ve always been curious about what the future looks like. This is the covetable one – the one from the happy movies, the movies that don’t foretell of our more likely apocalyptic frontiers. I like to imagine that it’s possible for many ethnicities to be very wealthy and in well health and suitably fitted in Chanel’s most demure patterns. Like I said, it might not be what I envision for myself but it’s certainly a fascinating mirage. Plus, like anything good-looking, it’s just a façade and underneath there is grit and damage and chaos in equal measure. The fans and the bands at this years’ festival are living proof. de-connector, the Brandals, Mixhell, Hedgehog just to name a few.
After our early set at the Concourse stage, at which we actively banter against being a band that can perform the expected “Chill Out” music, we eat Nasi Lambek and skewers at a street market stall and then idle a while in the green room with costumed dancing girls.
We head to Sim Lam Electronics Mall to inspect all the newly-designed things we can’t bear expenses on. I shrug Dan’s puppydogeyes off by saying, “The future isn’t always affordable, honey…. But maybe it will be one day.” Therein lies the rub: you always have to wait for the future. (I can already imagine readers challenging me with “the Future is Now” speeches so save your thoughts unless you’re willing to spare your dimes on my specific shiny future.)
Back at Bay beats, we watch the explosive Atom pound her drum kit and squeal out lyrics when China’s Hedgehog takes stage. Then, Indonesian rockers, The Brandals, attack the crowd ferociously. We come from the City of Terror, Edo Wallad screams with vampiric delight, while thrusting his crotch into the crowd. As he whirrs the fans into a total frenzy, he demands answers to invasive questions: Are you angry? Are your cocks hard? Are you in trouble? Are you polluted and drunk? Dan and I raise our drinks and promptly get kicked out of the crowd. Apparently we’re not allowed to have glasses within the painted yellow lines in front of the stage. Before Dan can say, “What yellow lines?” I can’t repress the yelling of “You don’t know what my future holds!” Fuck you Singapore and your stupid rules. You can’t control the future.
And they don’t. In fact, no one stops us from having one of the best shows of the tour. As fireworks blare over the bay behind us, Singapore’s notorious stiff crowd lets loose. There is stage-diving and everything. Even despite my brash commentary, our promoter friend Esther (who has earlier joked about her “prudeness”) tells us the show was an immense success. When she says, “It’s the first time we’ve had an encore like that,” I say, “We just stole your “prudity.”
Dan wrestles me to the concrete promenade for being in such a jocular mood but later, lovingly, says, “You dimwit. All you need to know is that the future is ours.” And because it is timed so well and he looks so sweaty and cute, I overlook our combined saccharine dorkdom and fall asleep thinking, “Well if the future is now, it’s pretty dang shiny already.”