The semester is over and how do I celebrate? By drudging through mud on festival grounds. Only for Neon Light’s stellar line-up would I ruin my new shoes. I read someone’s review about the festival somewhere about how he wasn’t into ‘indie’ music and thought that the festival would only attract a small crowd of hipsters and I was baffled. Neon Lights had an amazing range of acts being featured on their stages and I was extremely grateful to soak in some jazz, funk, hip hop, pop, RnB, folk, electronic, post-rock and of course, indie rock during the weekend. Whoever claims Neon Lights to be only an exclusively hipster event clearly did not enjoy the festival as a whole, or in the words of The Sugarhill Gang (one of the acts featured), they did not JUMP ON IT. Sure I saw a good amount of flower crowns but I’m pretty sure those got destroyed in the rain and mud.
Speaking of mud, it was probably the most prominent guest of the festival and many people had to say goodbye to their new shoes (that includes me) and festival outfits. But I kind of think that the mud made it more enjoyable cause what’s a music festival without rain and mud? (Probably clean shoes and feet).
Neon Lights had a seriously mind-blowing line-up but since I’m just one person with no cloning abilities, I wasn’t able to able to catch everything. I did do my darndest (through the mud I might add) to catch a glimpse of every act over the two days and I came out more than fulfilled.
It rained on the first day but that didn’t dampen anybody’s mood, except maybe my shoes (I really loved my shoes sorry I can’t stop mentioning them). The rain may have delayed some of the sets like Lucy Rose’s, but she was so sweet about it her endearing personality just made it all better (like a mom tending a wound). Her songs felt so comforting during the rain and when I saw her tear up during ‘Shiver’, so did I. I even managed to get a picture with her *squeals*. Shura came on next and damn, I didn’t know you before but I do now. The energy she brought on stage was magnetic. She gave everything during her final song and I was left petty much impressed. Of course I couldn’t miss the headlining acts; Foals and Crystal Castles.
And oowee did Foals get me all hyped. Yannis is a born frontman and the rest of them were just on fire (looking at you Jack Bevan). Foals’s discography boasts a good range of indie rock, but songs from ‘Antidotes’ in my opinion, is where Foals truly shined. When I heard ‘Cassius’ live, I lost it. That song is so good, and even better live. That guitar solo near the end of the song probably made my shoes even more muddier, but it was worth it (just for you, Foals, just for you). Just when I thought Foals were the highlight of the day, Crystal Castles shows up and blows my mind away, while attempting to blind me with their strobe lights (thank god I made it out alive). I can’t say that I’m too fond of their songs from ‘Amnesty’ but their old hits still hold up even with Edith fronting the band. She does such a great job imitating Alice (if that’s what she’s going for), someone beside me kept mistaking her for Alice and even screaming Alice’s name (poor Edith). Crystal Castles’ set was a completely immersive experience, I even lost my voice without even realizing it, mostly because I was actually screaming “THIS IS YOUR BAPTISM!” Their set was intense, exhilarating and I don’t mind risking my eyesight again for them.
When we rolled into day two of the festival, we came to find that the mud has just overtaken the grounds of Fort Canning Park and I was grateful to trade in shoes for sandals that day (RIP new shoes though). I stumbled upon Pumarosa’s set and was pleasantly surprised, they had some solid songs that were easy to get into and the singer had a personality that you just gravitate towards. Shame they had such a small crowd. The Tallest Man on Earth, not so tall after all but still amazing nonetheless. He shared some similarities with Lucy Rose, sweet, endearing and he even managed to take the stage even without a full band. It felt like a full set with drummers and everything even though it was just him (I mean, who else could do that?). When he shared to audience about his divorce, it just made his songs feel a lot more sentimental and meaningful ( chin up Kristian, your music’s amazing). He made enduring the mud a lot more easier.
I have to say that it was kind of jarring to go from folksy Tallest Man on Earth to post-rock 65daysofstatic. But the foursome are an incredible band that has a way of transporting you into another universe. Listening to them live was like being completely immersed in a good book. The four of them were entirely focused on their performance, moving at lightning-quick speed (almost impossible to take a photo) and I was just swept away by their live music. After that, I went to catch a quick look at Yuna and she was just stunning. I’ve never actually listened to her music but she sounded so smooth that day that I couldn’t help but sway to her songs. She was charming, delightful and had such a lush, rich voice and I had no regrets catching her even when I had to rush on over to Jose Gonzalez’s set. That man can serenade me any day, cause the moment he was on stage, I was captivated. His closing song ‘Heartbeats’, just made me want him to play forever.
Sigur Ros closed the entire festival and they blew my mind away. Even as a three-piece, their sound still felt powerful and moving. Jonsi’s falsetto was unyielding and did not let up (damn did that man had some impressive pipes on him). His voice made the entire performance that much more breathtaking. His band members Georg and Orri were also forces to reckon and their high energy could be felt throughout the park (I could almost feel the ground shake for some reason, or maybe my feet were just tired). Their set felt surprisingly short and I was already feeling sad that Neon Lights would be coming to an end.
It was truly one of the best weekends I have ever had (really). The people weren’t packed in like sardines and nobody gave me the up-down glare, judging me on how I look. The mud may have been a shortcoming but it was kind of a fun one (not exactly fun washing it out though). The line-up was amazing and its range attracted not just hipsters, but almost everybody who is basically a fan of music and having fun.Can’t wait for next year.
On a side note, I did manage to hear The Surgarhill Gang and BADBADNOTGOOD from afar and both of them still sounded splendid, my only regret was not being able to catch them.