Baybeats Day 1 Review
By Carrie Woo
This year’s Baybeats, Singapore’s largest indie music festival, was an epic celebration of electrifying music locally and regionally. It was the first time since the pandemic that music fans were treated to a full line-up of performances across the Esplanade grounds.
Part of the five budding bands to play this year, shoegaze quintet motifs took control of the Arena stage with their incredible reverb-drenched soundscapes as the night's opening act.
The set kicked off with an incredible full house of people, with some even sitting on the steps. Claps and screams were heard as the members Elspeth, JJ, Badrul, Paul, and Jolin walked in – before opening with debut single fluorescent.
The heavenly live vocals of lead singer Elspeth sounded exactly like in the recordings, and the dreamy neon lighting shining on the band accentuated the etherealness of the music. This allowed fans to sit back and enjoy the music while immersing themselves in the setting. I noticed the members in a bit of an awkward stance at first, but they settled in and became more comfortable as the night went on.
Living up to their known resounding reverberation, motifs continued into the second and third tracks summersad and lovelost; with emotive church-like vocals and instrumentals, both songs made me feel as if I was walking through a field on a breezy day.
A band of few words, motifs also unveiled an untitled song from their soon-to-be-releasing debut album. The crowd began to cheer excitedly as emotions ran high with the crowd with both vocals and instrumentals dripping with sentimentality from the support.
Finishing off their set with another unreleased track titled remember a stranger, bassist Paul stepped out of his comfort zone and started jamming on stage.
Accompanied by flickering lights and lilting melodies, I noticed that the last song got the crowd tapping their feet and nodding their heads in unison. It could be because it had more of an upbeat tempo compared to the rest of their songs, evident from how the drummer’s cymbals intensified with the beat. With that, motifs ended their set with a full house.
Pop-rock duo Junas may be newly formed, but you wouldn't be able to tell from the way they interacted with the crowd. Accompanied by keyboardist and fellow musician Kaiser, the band, consisting of Juan and Nasrull, performed a repertoire of well-known Malay songs covers for their set.
Before starting with the hit song Indah, its title translating to “beautiful” in Malay, the lead singer told the audience to sing along with him if they knew the lyrics. Belting out beautifully-hypnotising vocals, and though with some tech issues – which was dealt with swiftly by the crew – the trio hit every breezy verse with effortless charisma.
The next song, Mungkin Nanti, proved to be a hit with the crowd. I could hear cheers and spot some singing along as the crowd started to open up with the familiar instrumentals.
As it was only a 15-minute set, the final song was their debut single Cinta Di Hujung Masa, which means “love, at the end of time”. The lead singer Juan asked if they've experienced heartbreak before – one audience member responded with a hearty yell – and he encouraged us to sing the lyrics to the last verse if we knew it.
Junas gave me a sense of home I had never felt before; it felt as if I was back in my younger years, listening to Radio Warna 94.2 FM with my family in the car. In short, the band’s performance, while simple and in an unpretentious venue like the Open Stage, left me and the rest of the crowd anticipating for more.
The Chillout Stage, situated at the Esplanade Concourse, is a laid-back area where festival-goers can unwind and rest their aching feet under the cool breeze of the central air-conditioning. This made it the ideal venue for IMAN, the lead singer of renowned melodic punk band Iman's League, to showcase his repertoire.
Even though this was their second set of the day, there remained still a sea of listeners waiting to hear their enchanting melodies.
IMAN opened the show with a raw and sincere rendition of Taking Time with his backing band The State of Mind – its members (Ashraf, Fad, Farhan, and Shah) hailing from various bands. He demonstrated his amazing musicianship in this intimate and captivating performance, captivating the crowd with his distinctive vocals.
The bassist Ashraf also glided above IMAN’s vocals with his smooth basslines perfectly, showing that either IMAN prepared a rigorous practice schedule with his band, or that their chemistry together is just that natural.
The second track was a song that IMAN and The State of Mind had been working together for a long time, titled Angry Song (an energetic rock song that was the total opposite of aggressive), before being continued by Unspoken Words. Mozart!, a fan cheered as IMAN played the grand piano for the track.
"This is about a friend who parted ways without any closure." He recollected, dreamy vocals captivating the audience.
His next song This Is The End showed a layer of IMAN that played with country-tinged harmonies. IMAN also mentioned how many “first-times” he experienced that day. “It's my first time playing at Baybeats,” he said. “It's also my first time playing the grand piano.”
Just when I thought their set couldn't possibly get any better, IMAN and The State of Mind gave us the perfect finale with Blinded and Losing Sights. This prompted the audience to sing along and dance in their seats to the more upbeat and infectious tune. With that, the music legends left the crowd begging for more after an hour and a half of a flawless live melodic set.
With their set at the Annexe Studio, the local trademark languid haze FERS delivered their particular kind of mesmerising and otherworldly music to Baybeats. With an interesting brew of indie pop melodies and shoegaze-like atmospherics, the band enchanted the crowd with their setlist of originals.
The band encountered various technical difficulties before launching with an unnamed number – to that, frontman Ferry addressed it with a joke for a receptive crowd, "Anticlimactic, but life is like that right?".
For their set, FERS played a list of dreamy pop tunes with lyrical depth, but not without levity: their third song was introduced with an admission by Ferry, who said she was tempted by using cup noodles to mimic the track’s shaker sounds.
"The best sound of cup noodles is Tom Yum flavour." The noodles were not just for sonic impact: the band then threw brand-new cup noodles to audience members.
Their musicality focused on channelling moody grooves, and that the frontman's voice was instrumental in tying all that together with a beaming, resonant presence.
With their catchy basslines, lush vocals, and guitar riffs that could fill a cathedral, FERS filled the Annexe Studio with whimsy as their stage bathed in cerulean strobe lights. The breadth of their musicality range should not go unnoticed, even if their set ended at an abrupt 30 minutes.
LAYYI – armed with just an acoustic guitar – brought together the youths among the diverse crowd for an intimate performance. Mentioning onstage that she anticipated a smaller audience, she was notably surprised when the whole lawn was filled with people.
Kicking things off with the heart-wrenching lonely, LAYYI wanted to, in her own words, start her set off with a sad song to get over it. I was immediately captivated by her soothing and jazz-infused vocals.
Songs on the setlist also included two unreleased tunes, and the exhilarating energy in the air was more than apparent as LAYYI performed her first-ever written love song, despite her fascinating confession that she's never been in love. Cheers were also heard from the second track Superhuman, a humble tune celebrating the universal aspiration of equality and diversity. "How human I am and how human you are," she declares.
Fans were also sent into a frenzy with the live rendition of Hey Love, her emotive debut single which saw the audience sing along to the heartfelt lyrics.
I would describe her music to be a comforting warm hug, speaking to those who went through a tough time. If you're new to LAYYI, I implore you to check her out on Spotify.
Baybeats Day 1 Review
By Shearerlyn Mok
Making their overseas debut, South Korean trio Hathaw9y warmed up the Annexe as the first festival act to grace its stage that weekend.
Serving up breezy indie pop with their signature blend of dual vocal leads, the Busan-based band kicked off the evening with the understated Love from their debut EP, followed by Woo, which showcased guitarist Teukmin and bassist Kiwi’s effortless and impeccable vocal harmonies.
For most fans who first discovered them on streaming platforms, their rallying cheers that night validated that the band’s live capabilities match up effortlessly.
Despite the language barrier, guitarist and lead singer Teukmin drew cheers and laughter speaking to the encouraging crowd. “Thank you for [the] kindness,” he said before breaking out crowd favourite Scribble, taking the centrestage with an expressive and wistful guitar solo as the band sang about the sorrows of parting ways with a loved one.
Following Twilight, the set took a more lively turn, with lead singer Teukmin weaving in greetings in English during the seamless transition from Sweet to Violet, and the set concluded with an exuberant Hayley. Though the laid-back music didn’t call for flashy showmanship, the trio won over the crowd with their onstage chemistry and instrumental capabilities.
Hijack Hayley brought to the Arena its most exuberant performance of the festival’s opening day, with the four-piece indie-rock band’s massive soundscape seizing the ground from its first chord.
Formed in 2019, the Baybeats budding band established themselves on this stage as a group to look out for, delivering a quintessential live rock experience with captivating theatrics and a thoughtfully curated setlist.
They introduced their freshly released single Hesitate with an extended intro, the guitar trailing off a riff before bursting into a stadium-rich performance, with thunderous toms and guitars reverberating through the fully-packed Arena.
Hijack Hayley’s confidence on stage came through in Inside, a powerfully affirmative number delivered in an equally rousing performance. The compelling frontman bounced around the stage, not worried about missing the first lines of a verse and never compromising on vocal accuracy. It’s this adrenaline-charged spontaneity that makes Hijack Hayley such a riveting live band.
They performed two unreleased songs next, dancing to a groovy bassline and rhythm in Counterpart, after which the frontman, who also played the guitar, was visibly worn out. The band had a good handle on their stamina – the introspective ‘Bottle Effect’ slowed things down for the band to provide space for their crafty musicianship, without losing any of the electricity they drummed up earlier.
Being a relatively new band, their raw joy and excitement in playing in a festival like Baybeats was infectious. “I still can't believe we’re playing at baybeats. This is our lifelong dream since we were young teenagers,” singer Terence exclaimed as he launched into Burning Bridges, the dynamic debut single that started it all for the band. Thrusting the mic stand over the whooping audience, he rallied them with electrifying showmanship that rounded off the set in the unreleased Pedestrian. The irresistibly rhythmic guitar riffs brought the house down into a tight groove as festival-goers clapped and danced along. A Hijack Hayley live show is one not to miss as a packed stadium is where their rich sound and charisma thrive.
Having established their unique, multi-genre sound in their acclaimed 2020 debut album Past is Prologue – finding depth and grandeur between gritty screamo and cinematic post-rock – Naedr’s mesmerising performance at the Powerhouse² featured most songs off the LP, opening with an impassioned Prelude/The Waltz Of Fate.
The quintet’s heavily instrumental sound lends a melodic backdrop to its piercing vocals, while throwing the crowd into an intoxicating whirl of rhythms in heavier numbers like The Sorrow and Ascension, the latter from Rayau, their newly-released split EP with Chicago band Crowning.
Following an impeccable rendition of The Prodigal Son, the band’s singer admits that it’s been some time since the band last played a show, and they’re “a little bit out of wind,” calling on the audience for patience.
The band unveiled the first of three new untitled songs from an upcoming LP – a heavier, frenetic track with driving guitars – before activating the mosh pit with Lacrimosa and Gehena. Naedr’s cohesiveness shone through the latter's dense instrumentation and pounding drum grooves, played by Caracal’s Martin Kong, sessioning for the band in place of their main drummer Shafiq Agoes.
Following Stalker, the set took a turn for mellower passages – when the guitar riffs of Asunder echoed over the theatre walls, the crowd instantly hushed. Some hugged, some closed their eyes: it was a moment of tenderness amidst the brutality.
They closed the set with another unreleased song – a far more direct and energetic number that displayed to newcomers their ability to rattle the heavens while gliding amongst the stars.
At the Arena, Quite Quiet, the solo project of Forests frontman Darell Laser, serenaded the crowd with his relaxed brand of bedroom/dream pop, demonstrating the art of calculated carelessness in a performance featuring older and newer tracks from the 2021 EP fruits bus stops.
The group charmed the audience with wistful numbers like girl in sunny island and second aid kit, and brought the dreamy ambience of a comfortable bedroom to an outdoor stage in forever in bed. Darell’s contemplative sound and lyrics created an intimacy with the crowd, as though he was sharing his secrets with them. Falling for you/ and i scraped my knees/ but i fall and fall again the musicians sang in unison in bruised peach club. They were not concerned with being in time or in tune with each other, as if they were singing just to themselves, in the most candid way.
Darell flaunted his wide range with soaring vocals in the heartfelt ‘should i make noodle?’, before launching into the acoustic number It’s A Nice Day For Self-Loathing to cheers from the crowd. “You make my world a little bit nicer,” the audiences in Arena sang along, faces glowing and head bobbing to the optimistic tune.
Darell’s deadpanned banter reached a fever pitch when acknowledging the excitement: “Don't hype me up so much, I might smash the guitar,” he warned them. The entire band, sporting corpse paint on their faces, made their most direct allusion to their costumes by playing the song future corpse, aren't we all?.
As the audience appealed to the singer-songwriter for one more song, he relented to give the crowd what he promised: not another song, but a literal bang, as he smashed a toy guitar while smoke billowed behind him. Darell may just be Singapore’s quietest rockstar.
The highly anticipated return of Indonesian heavy metal quartet Burgerkill rounded off day 1. At five minutes to midnight, the Powerhouse² was packed and buzzing with excitement, ready for the esteemed band, who have returned after their Singapore debut in 2009. Starting with the instrumental Undamaged, which segued into the groovy United Front, it was the perfect way to ramp up energy at such a late timeslot.
The band displayed their virtuosity in Roar of Chaos – with powerful blast beats and a bold guitar solo delivered with impressive accuracy – and the crowd was fully invigorated, even if some spent time at the festival since its earliest hours. “Sink the pit!” their frontman screamed. “Make it bigger, bigger!” This appeal led into Suffer To Death, a brutal number that metalheads gladly took as an invitation to swallow the venue whole, in a vortex of blurry movement.
It was clear the musicians were veterans as they effortlessly blazed through dizzying guitar runs in Under the Scars. It wasn’t long before the audience found its own groove in Penjara Batin, chanting along with the charismatic singer, who acted as their leader within the trenches of warfare.
After more guitar virtuosity in Shadow of Sorrow – with a blazing solo by guitarist Agung – and pummelling grooves in Angkuh, Burgerkill made their exit. The chants that resounded across the hall were enough for the band to know their return to Singapore cannot wait another decade.
Baybeats Day 2 Review
By Rytasha Passion Raj
Singapore’s largest alternative music festival returned this year in full swing, shining the spotlight on a plethora of talented bands ― both local and international, budding and seasoned ― and exposing audience members to a variety of genres, ranging from relaxing R&B to heavy metal. These bands were given an opportunity to showcase their unreleased songs for a hungry crowd during this three-day festival.
Introduced by the emcee as 1997’s coolest vegetarian, xena giam grabbed the mic and soaked up the sounds of her bandmates’ instruments as she prepared for the first song of the set, Longest Time – a soulful debut song about coping with a breakup. She closed her eyes every now and then to feel the lyrics, and swayed along to the music.
Guitarist Ridz, meanwhile, smiled and contorted his face throughout the set which was truly entertaining to watch – here was one musician feeling every note he played.
The soothing melody was coupled with Ridz’s and Iskandar’s groovy guitar sounds, Xun’s gentle drumming and Sam’s tender keyboard tunes. Backup singer Jaz added pristine vocal harmonies when needed, at times sharing the spotlight with xena during passages that called for a duet.
Every member was in their element, having fun as they made music together – this cheerful energy rubbed off onto the audience, who clapped along with Ridz during the band’s fourth song, Stoplight. The final song of the night, Sleeping Issues, inspired some sing-alongs as well.
I really enjoyed their set, especially because their jovial personalities shone through—from their expressions, their movements, their casual interaction with the audience and the good vibes that sustained their entire set. Their sunny charm was so immediate and radiant, it felt to me they were a band primed for a night-time slot. Add stage lights to that and you’ll have an exceedingly pleasing time.
Baybeats x LUCfest: Go Go Machine Orchestra (Taiwan)
LUCfest, a Taiwanese music festival with its own ear for musical eclecticism, collaborated with Baybeats to bring in a selection of picks from their homeland – the first of the night, Go Go Machine Orchestra, is a four-piece outfit hailing from Kaohsiung, Taiwan.
As the band sports the term ‘orchestra’, I anticipated a modern spin on classical music when I first stepped into the Annexe. Instead, I was greeted by an array of instruments that included a keyboard, xylophone, and electric guitar, among other gadgets. Once the band began playing, I was transported to an otherworldly dimension, a bridge between lush forests and outer space.
The set featured two songs from their debut album TIME; Time Travel and Union Works. Time Travel unfolded with a techno robot-like sound effect, reminiscent of a space ship getting ready to take off. The tune then got heavier and more ominous, with foreboding xylophone sounds that overall made an effective soundtrack for a thriller. The song eventually became lighter and more uplifting, as though we’d braved a storm and emerged safe and sound.
I loved that their music ignited my wild imagination. I felt like I underwent a journey through space and time, and the echoes in the enclosed Annexe building made the experience more immersive. Every member was focused on their tasks. Except for the keyboardist who bore a sweet smile throughout, they all looked very serious.
The keyboardist mainly engaged with the audience in Chinese; those who understood replied, but there were a handful who didn’t. Once they started playing, however, we were all guided on the same incredible voyage.
Their next song, Union Works, started with gentle keyboard sounds, followed by the xylophone and layered sound effects that mimicked a waterfall. The music was warm and comforting – a balm amidst the business of the festival grounds.
Their fourth song Morse Code made me emotional. There was a greater focus on the keyboard sounds and a strong bass in the background. The tune was neither happy nor sad, with the volume fluctuating and instruments getting lighter and heavier throughout to tease my emotions.
There was even a back and forth between the keyboard and the guitar, as though two people were having a conversation, before the instruments combined into one cohesive sound.
The set came full circle as it ended with the same robot-like sound effect, probably representing a return to our home planet. One word: Amazing.
Baybeats x LUCfest: G5SH (Taiwan)
Another LUCfest pick, electronic music duo G5SH took over the Annexe stage at 9:55pm with their electric guitars – soundtracked by a surge of melodic dubstep. If LUCfest’s mission was to confound and challenge minds, they succeeded almost immediately.
G5SH are known for brewing up energetic songs, both originals and covers, that take from different genres liberally – I remember asking myself: Is this pop, techno, drill, R&B… or all of the above? How do I describe this music? Despite their heady and meticulous approach to music-making, it was clear that their songs are best felt and not rigorously explained.
Lead singer M.A.T.H, donning a blue velvet t-shirt that matched his dyed hair, made a constant effort to hype up the audience; shouting into the mic, waving his arms, and bouncing the whole time. His partner DJ LuuX, conversely, had a cool and quiet persona, nodding to the music while clad in black from top to toe, with a gold chain around his neck.
When the background track mellowed down a little, the duo put their guitars aside. LuuX walked over to his turntable while M.A.T.H grabbed the mic and got the crowd to raise their hands. What followed was immaculate clubbing vibes. I was feeling the music and raving on the second floor, unfortunately, the crowd downstairs was relatively dead. A handful of them raised their hands and swayed, but they weren’t as vivacious as I expected.
But when the duo picked up their guitars once again for a short acoustic segment in Chinese, several audience members nearest to the stage sang along. It was a soothing R&B song which they stripped down, then added a strong bass to bring the energy back up for their following mixes. Every song flowed together seamlessly, allowing for consistent bopping, at least on my end. There were even a couple of English pop songs in the mix, like Angel Baby by Troye Sivan, which I enjoyed very much.
Once again, the echoes in the building did the set justice, especially for the drill portions of the mix. If you’re up for a good time, G5SH is one performance you wouldn't want to miss.
Back at the Arena, R&B band Astronauts landed to a full-capacity audience at 10:40pm. Once again I had embarked on a space adventure, this time supposedly to the planet Krypton as the band jammed to their song Kryptonite. The funky and groovy sounds by the three guitarists took centre stage, while the rhythmic drumming paired nicely from the background.
Lead singer BJ then came in with a sort of nasal voice and Bruno Mars-like demeanour. He walked across the stage with swagger, wearing a brimless corduroy cap, red flannel and stylish red shades, and possessed a sense of humour — when one of the guitarists quipped about how hot the stage was, BJ replied: “That’s why I’m wearing glasses.”
The band was good sonorous as a unit; what I admired most about their performance was their harmony, especially amongst the guitarists. Every strum was in sync. Nobody missed a beat.
Their second and third songs, Could You and LMI (let me inside), were overflowing with sensual energy at different tempos – one being propulsive and infectious, the other sparse and hypnotic.
For their fourth song, Impatient, their talented guitarist Benjamin Mah switched to his keyboard, which accompanied his talk box, a type of vocaliser that allowed him to transform his voice with different tones and textures. An experimental stunt that paid off with enthusiasm from the crowd.
Before playing their next song, the band invited singer Vivian on stage for a fun Q&A segment. She tossed packets of crackers to audience members who managed to answer her series of amusing questions like “Anybody’s name is Sarah?” Vivian then joined the band to perform their new song, Peanut Butter Crackers, which was zesty thanks to her lively energy.
The band wrapped the set up with their pop song Come Callin’, which they shared had changed the game for them since it garnered many streams after its release in 2019.
Rudra is known for revolutionising death-metal music with a unique genre they call ‘vedic metal’, which according to the band is “a bridge between the east and the west: incorporating Indian traditional music, Sanskrit chants and mantras into death/black metal”. I just had to catch their performance and see for myself.
I stepped into the Powerhouse2 building about 20 minutes or so before the performance commenced at 11:25pm. The crowd gradually poured in, hyped up even before the music began.
The band, which consisted of one lead singer, two electric guitarists and one drummer, were already onstage, dressed in black with brown beaded necklaces similar to the ones that Hindu priests would wear in temples. They were waiting on the audience.
Not for too long, though. Their first song started off with tranquil sitar music. It was calm, peaceful, pleasant. And then the electric guitars came in… followed by lead singer Kathir’s loud and raspy vocals. It got aggressive.
Behind me, a mosh pit had already formed. People were running into each other, kicking each other, screaming, shouting — and they enjoyed it. The security guards didn’t look too pleased, though, especially after people started crowd surfing near the stage midway through the set.
Kathir reminded the audience to stay safe, teasing that the ambulance might take a while to arrive in case anyone got hurt due to the road closures.
I loved the energy of it all. But I must admit that I was taken aback when the prayer mantras at the start of each song were converted into death metal music. I recall being awestruck each time I recognised a mantra, then found myself reciting each mantra, and eventually started bobbing my head to the music before bouncing along with the crowd.
Metalheads would often liken a metal concert to a religious experience – for someone new like me, it was no less liberating.
Before they left, Kathir threw a couple of his guitar picks at the audience as mementos of this sensational performance.
I could barely make out the lyrics half the time, but I still raved with the crowd all night long.
Baybeats Day 2 Review
By Shay FloReda
Reserate, a metalcore band with a penchant for energetic electronic beats, took the stage and opened their performance with their single CYNIC featuring JJDROY. The band performed their hearts out whilst engaging the crowd – with a dynamite frontman in Linus and plenty of glowsticks in tow.
Joining them mid-performance was singer-songwriter Debbi Koh – they performed an EP released by them just this year, Playground. The band proved their versatility, offering a generous amount of fierce guitar riffs, moments of gentleness, and a euphoric climax that encouraged audience members to dance – surely a rare sight at a metalcore set.
The band’s spirit and camaraderie were most significant when they had the audiences join them in concert. Their crowd engagement made everyone feel like they were a part of the band too – if music offers people a home, they found their family in Reserate.
Taking the open stage with calmer, acoustic tunes, just moments before dusk, was the solo musician jupiterkid. Listeners seated in front of the stage, as well as passerbys, had the opportunity to listen to an emerging voice.
One of his songs, Make it Okay, expresses how change is part and parcel of life, and that when things change, it can feel scary. However, despite the chaos and the great unknown, there would always be someone else who’d see us through the turbulent journey and keep us grounded. That song was dedicated to this person, jupiterkid shared with the crowd.
Another song featured in his set is Lost and Found. This song showcases how we are all on a journey to find ourselves and we would think that we would only be happy when we get to that destination. This song expresses that while we’re on the journey to find ourselves, it’s okay to pause and embrace where we are in the moment.
The atmosphere of jupiterkid’s set was infectious in a different way – mellow and therapeutic. It was great for listeners looking for some rest and introspection amidst the heaviness of the bands at the festival.
Drinking Boys and Girls Choir
Making their way to the Powerhouse stage, all the way from Daegu, South Korea, were the alternative three-piece punk band Drinking Boys and Girls Choir. The band opened up their performance with a powerful drum solo – more effective than simply introducing themselves by name, I’m sure.