Baybeats 2023

6 – 8 Oct 2023

Three days of indie rock and alternative music on the bay, featuring the best of Singapore and beyond.

Baybeats Recap

Baybeats Day 1 Review

By Riqqah Hamjuri

Count Vernon

 

Opening Day 1 of Baybeats Festival at the DBS Foundation Outdoor Theatre, Count Vernon enthralled the crowd with a seven-song set that included their most recent release, Sisyphus. Presenting a mix of both old and new songs, which will be a part of their upcoming full-length album The Nomad Diaries, this marked their first time playing as a full band this year. Despite being a Budding Band, the stage presence of the band’s frontman, Eli, made him seem like a natural performer–ably commanding the audience with a poise beyond his years. Since it was only the beginning of the festival, the diverse crowd at the Arena took awhile to warm up. But by the time the band was playing their hit Technicolor, audience members couldn’t help but get on their feet and dance in front of the stage. As the set drew to an end, the crowd was seen forming conga lines and even crowd surfing, truly kickstarting Baybeats with a bang.  

Photo by Baybeats Budding Photographer 2023, Rista Amelia

The Jansen 

 

Bringing their hit songs and high energy all the way from Bogor, Indonesia to the Powerhouse at the Singtel Waterfront Theatre, The Jansen opened the night with their upbeat, well-loved hits like berkelana dalam ruang dan mimpi. Being the first act of the night at the stage, the crowd took awhile to liven up. Though it didn't take long for the moshing to begin, thanks to exhilarating performances of tracks like I Wanna Be With You. While the band’s more avid fans were fired up in front of the stage, those who were new to their music like families with children, chose to enjoy the show seated from the comfort of the steps at the back of the venue–the perfect encapsulation of what makes Baybeats such an inclusive experience. 

Photo by Baybeats Budding Photographer 2023, Rista Amelia

Tres Empres

 

Malaysian post-hardcore band, Tres Empres, took the stage at the Esplanade Concourse’s Chillout Stage on the first day of Baybeats. Performing stripped down renditions of their otherwise loud and hard-hitting tracks, they serenaded an enrapt audience made up of all ages and backgrounds. The band’s vocalist, Eddie Edzuan expressed the band’s excitement to be playing in Singapore and gave a glimpse of what the audience could expect of their set at the Powerhouse on Day 2. The acoustic versions of their songs like Silau Berhana were an easy listen for those who were looking to relax at the concourse, allowing the audience to be immersed in the vocals and meaning of their songs, thanks to the more austere presentation of their high-octane originals. Even audience members who were simply going around perusing the different sets on the festival grounds were overheard mentioning, “This was the best set I’ve heard so far. The vocalist has so much personality, even down to his posture and attitude.” 

Photo by Baybeats Budding Photographer 2023, Goh Shu Ching

MASS OF THE FERMENTING DREGS

Photo by Baybeats Budding Photographer 2023, Goh Shu Ching

Hailing all the way from Japan, post-hardcore trio MASS OF THE FERMENTING DREGS graced the stage as the final act of the night at the Annexe. Their performance racked in a full house of audience members who were more than eager to watch the iconic band perform their hits like Kakuiumono and Dramatic. Despite having a slightly shy and modest demeanour, the vocalist-bassist of the band, Natsuko Miyamoto showed a rather eccentric side of herself as she appeared barefoot on stage. That was not to say that the rest of the band was lacking in energy in any way as the guitarist, Naoya Ogura, came up front to rile the crowd up. Just when fans thought that it was over after the band played their encore song, MASS OF THE FERMENTING DREGS came back onstage to serve another rapturous encore to end off the night.

Photo by Baybeats Budding Photographer 2023, Goh Shu Ching

Cesspit

 

Local six-piece ska band Cesspit’s return to Baybeats at the DBS Foundation Outdoor Theatre Arena stage brought a set full of festivity and audience participation. Playing their well-loved hits like Punkrock Gangsta and Meanah, their set warranted a spontaneous reaction from the audience who were seen two-stepping and dancing in front of the stage for almost the entire show. Not forgetting to express the band’s gratitude for being able to stand on this stage once again, the vocalist gave shoutouts to the audience and the Baybeats team, as well as other Baybeats acts. He also injected humour into his interactions with some hilarious banter, like when he asked “Everyone stand up and lose some cholesterol.” The band surprised the audience by inviting a large ensemble of horn players to complement their original six members, dubbing them Cesspit 2.0. As they kept teasing the audience by saying that they would be playing their last song, they just kept giving more and more. As their set went on, the band’s infectious energy had the crowd skanking, with some audience members even climbing onto the stage to dance with the band.

Photo by Baybeats Photographer, Danial Halim

Baybeats Day 2 Review

By Wayne Lim

 

A nervous excitement permeated the air on Saturday evening, with crowds packed shoulder-to-shoulder before each stage. Serendipitously, three separate calls for a “hell yeah” tied together a night oscillating between tender harmonies, hip-hop rhymes, and emo yelling.  

Sun Cell’s Tender Acoustic Harmonies 

 

Kicking off the evening at the Chillout Stage, Sun Cell (Daryl Hor) brought early festivalgoers through seven acoustic renditions of his dreamy catalogue. Backed by four other band members, all dressed in black and tapping their feet in sync, he opened his set with debut single New Year and followed up with his latest track down, released in August. The yearnful lyricism of Close Enough then gave way to Hor’s emotional tenor range belts. Lending the band her wispy, airy voice, 2022 Baybeats Budding Band motifs’ lead singer Elspeth Ong joined them onstage for Landline and Away. Easing out of the tender set of harmonies peppered with awkward banter, the band aptly closed with 2022 single At Last

Photo by Baybeats Photographer, Anaqi Anzari

The Workshop’s Masterclass on Audience Participation

 

Hard-hitting drum fills announced San the Wordsmith’s dramatic entrance, chuckling to his bandmates as he asked: “Can I get a ‘hell yeah’?” While audience members present at the five-piece’s live audition remembered the call and response from sorry, who?, those new to The Workshop also took little practice. All in overalls again, the Baybeats Budding Band captivated festivalgoers with a charismatic stage presence and boisterous, funky energy. San jumped, squatted, and took laps across the stage, as drummer Francis Koh and bassist Jack Gan duelled mid-set, firing frenetic fills and fiery licks respectively. All the while, guitarist Cusco Ng and keyboardist Shan Tianyu fed steady riffage and trills, making for a solid workout for the entire band. To close, the band brought out guest rappers Martin Spacely and Opus Renegade for Bedside. “We won’t be here without you, and that means…” San thanked the crowd, segueing into a closing refrain: “I won’t give you up.” 

Photo by Baybeats Photographer, Alvin Ho

SOS’ Nostalgic Return to Baybeats 

 

The first time alt-rock quintet SOS (fka She’s Only Sixteen) played outside of the Philippines, they found themselves rocking out on the Arena stage at Baybeats 2015, with only their self-titled EP to show. Playing on the Annexe stage eight years later, the band returned to a full, loud, and welcoming crowd. Between twinkling synths and slurry vocals, the band rocked their way through picks from their 2017 album Whatever That Was. But the energy peaked when they interrupted their set for a “Can I get a ‘hell yeah’?” that echoed The Workshop’s familiar request, before throwing free t-shirts into the crowd. From the jangly riffage of Conversational Liar to the mellowed nostalgia carried in Just A Bit Of Rain, SOS flexed range and a seasoned ability to captivate their audience.

Photo by Baybeats Budding Photographer 2023, Tan Jing En

Forests’ Math/Emo Recipe 

 

Here’s the recipe for a Forests song: a scuttling math riff, some yelling, and maybe a tempo change-up at some point. The Singaporean emo trio cooked up 11 servings, plus plenty more jokes, on the Powerhouse stage to a crowd already breaking into a mosh pit. Drawing mostly from their 2022 album Get In Losers, We’re Going to Eternal Damnation, the trio thrashed out onstage against visuals of quirky, googly-eyed monsters reminiscent of the album’s cover art. Standout picks included Saint Loser and Fool of Hell. When an audience member pointed out frontman Darrell Laser’s black nails, he revealed that he had painted them himself before proclaiming: “Slay, queen!” The sudden quip segued perfectly into 2019 fan-favourite Kawaii Hawaii. Forests were the third band to emulate Stone Cold Steve Austin when Laser cried out: “When I say, ‘Gimme a hell yeah,’ can you gimme a ‘hell yeah’?” Launching into closer Tamago, Laser called for a circle pit, also stressing it was the last chance for audience members who’d never crowdsurfed before to give it a shot. Seizing the opportunity himself, he ended the song by diving into the crowd. 

Photo by Baybeats Budding Photographer 2023, Tan Jing En

The Panturas’ Blend of Surf and Psychedelia 

 

Blending surf rock and psychedelic atmospherics, Indonesian band The Panturas never lowered their theatrics throughout their 40-minute set, as closers of the night at the Arena stage. While audience members crowdsurfed against the backdrop of intense tremolo picking, band members swung their instruments onstage, bending forward, leaning backward, as if in a fencing match. This marking their second time in Singapore, the crowd’s enthusiastic claps as they shredded onstage proved indication enough that they’d be welcome for a third time. And as I ran towards the Powerhouse stage to catch Wormrot to close my night, laser-like feedback droned on in the distance. 

Photo by Baybeats Budding Photographer 2023, Rista Amelia


 

Baybeats Day 2 Review

By Swarnabho Sarkar

Wormrot

 

Wormrot showed their Baybeats audience why they are internationally regarded as grindcore legends by subjecting them to an unforgettable night of mayhem and extreme music. 

 

The performance kicked off with feature vocalist/banshee weish’s haunting singing that had completely silenced the rowdy and restless audience. The whole venue was entranced as she built up the tension before eventually giving way to the sonic overload that is Rasyid’s blistering guitar playing and Vijesh’s breakneck drumming which weish, at center stage, coupled with shrill screams. 

 

Pandemonium broke out as fanatics began moshing and slam-dancing to the intense, deafening noise. Flashing red lights added to the hellish atmosphere. The chaos intensified when Gabriel Dubko, Wormrot’s current replacement for founding member and ex-vocalist Arif who left the band in 2022, entered the stage and burst out in his epic, guttural growls. At no point did any of the members falter–blessing the audience with an onslaught of punishing grindcore in maximum volume and aggression from start to finish. 

 

Unfortunately, the sound quality, to no fault of the band, did not fully do them justice. The vocals, especially weish’s, were drowned out in the fuzz and overpowered by the drums. Nevertheless, weish’s vocals are an exciting, new element that I hope to hear more of as they pair with Dubko’s assaulting screams and growls perfectly. 

 

Overall, the band put on a vigorous display of their musical expertise with a brutal and exhilarating set. Wormrot has nothing left to prove. 

Photo by Baybeats Budding Photographer 2023, Faris Arafat

nkei

 

Alternative R&B duo nkei, made up of Raizel and Ian, performed their nostalgic tunes of heartbreak and loss with an ensemble of musician friends, showcasing a more full-bodied sound for their Baybeats set. 

 

Raizel’s soulful vocals were accompanied by instrumental arrangements which included the trumpet, saxophone, flute, and an assortment of percussion, just to name a few. 

 

Another fresh addition to nkei’s set was Ian’s vocals which garnered encouraging cheers from the crowd as the producer and guitarist sang sincerely, intertwining with Raizel’s gentle but strong voice perfectly.  

 

The audience was enamored with nkei–dead silent during the slow, melancholic songs and dancing around during the happy ones. The duo should undoubtedly continue to perform with a live band and Ian’s singing is a very welcome new feature. Both add beautiful sonic textures to their already entrancing music.

Photo by Baybeats Budding Photographer 2023, Goh Shu Ching

Krunkle

 

Krunkle’s first ever acoustic set at Baybeats 2023 presented refreshing and mellow renditions of their ‘90s alternative rock influenced tunes. The set was opened with Encore,' which will be included in their debut EP set to release in December–a much awaited record as the band has been growing a local audience through live shows without any songs available for streaming except their recently released single Philia.  

 

Frontman Truman’s vocals were swoonworthy and expressive, while the clean, acoustic lead guitar lines were tasteful. In fact, the lack of distortion from overdriven guitars did not discount Krunkle’s ability to immerse listeners in their music. The set showed Krunkle’s versatility within their alternative rock and noise pop leanings which is surely to be reflected in their upcoming EP.  

Photo by Baybeats Budding Photographer 2023, Austin Lim

M.Y.T.H

 

Baybeats Budding Band M.Y.T.H commanded the DBS Foundation Outdoor Theatre in their debut live performance as a six-piece instrumental progressive metal band.  

 

M.Y.T.H played their guitar-led, anime-intro-esque music with instrumental expertise, winning the crowd over instantly. The band’s unique ability to blend genres resulted in an eclectic mix of melodies without sounding muddled. M.Y.T.H’s performance of their recently released debut single Spice Rice had a jazz-influenced keyboard solo in between heavy guitar playing which invoked cheers from the audience after they fully processed the surprise..  

 

Founding member and guitarist Matt had the makings of a frontman with his showmanship. Stepping up to the edge of the space, Matt’s crowd pandering and flexing of his intricate solo-playing abilities drove them wild.  

 

Given M.Y.T.H’s apparent technical skills and energizing music, it’s no surprise the audience was hooked.  

Photo by Baybeats Budding Photographer 2023, Austin Lim

Baybeats Day 3 Review

By Colette Hu

Mary Sue

 

Kicking off at the Annexe for the last day of Baybeats was Mary Sue, who has made a name for himself in the local hip hop scene, and tremors throughout the underground worldwide. At the start of the set at 6pm, the venue was half empty and energy was uncertain. He started off with a chill, atmospheric song, easing the crowd into the mood. Right off the bat, he surprised the crowd by inviting BGourd on stage, who immediately captured the audience with his insane energy—both in his rapping and his eccentric dance moves.  

 

This foreshadowed how the rest of the set would go, with Mary Sue bringing out one guest appearance after another. Slowly but surely, more people started to trickle in and by the middle of the set, a good crowd had gathered. For the third song, Mary Sue brought out Zakir of 730BEDSIDE. The crowd moved pensively, absorbed in the music, but Mary Sue wasn’t having it and hyped the crowd up proclaiming, “You’re not moving enough!” The energy of the crowd peaked when ABANGSAPAU was brought out to perform the tracks the two had collaborated on. Finally, he ended with one of his biggest hits, Calvary, a song you would definitely know if you have followed him for a while.

Photo by Baybeats Budding Photographer 2023, Loo Wen Xin

Thy Howler

 

The five-piece alternative rock band started their set with a slow song—featuring their vocalist Joseph singing a soft melody while Reuben on the drums played a simple muted beat to Alex’s lulling guitar. The crowd eased into the romantic opener, perfect for the amber, pearlescent sunset that illuminated the city skyline that backdropped the Outdoor Theatre. However, the song takes a sudden turn when the drums start thrashing loudly and Joseph breaks out into screams. Now the audience knew what Thy Howler was all about. Aptly, this song is titled Are You Listening?, and boy was the audience listening.  

 

A crowd had gathered at the front of the stage by the time the band started their next song, Rock Bottom. Now, the band was at full force. They showcased their newer, heavier material like Candy and iPhone, which got the crowd headbanging, jumping and dancing energetically.  

 

If there was one word to describe their set, it would be “electric”. Much of the crowd's captivation can be owed to the sheer stage presence of Thy Howler’s frontman Joseph. Though his vocals were inconsistent at times, the audience was enamoured by the strength and range of his voice, which accentuated the complex melodies of their songwriting. From kneeling down to shred on the fretboard, to touching the audience members’ hands, Joseph and guitarist Alex dazzled the audience with their showmanship  

 

After closing with their latest release, Groom Lake, the band justifiably received roaring applause and cheers. The crowd at the front of the stage was fully enthralled from start to finish, dancing the entire time, and I am confident they gained many new fans by the end of their short 30-minute set.  

Photo by Baybeats Budding Photographer 2023, Tan Jing En

Club Fiasco

 

As I sat down to catch the last set at the Chillout Stage after three days of Baybeats, the fatigue in the air was palpable. Unlike the previous sets at the Esplanade Concourse, attendance was sparse. It seemed like most of the audience were not here for Baybeats itself, but rather found themselves settling down to catch some performances by chance.  

 

With this weary mood in place, a single member, Fiasco, started with some unassuming organ music while the other member was nowhere to be seen. He added in beats and some distorted vocals—an atmospheric start to ease the audience into the set. Then, the singer, Kenneth, jumps on stage donning a pair of reflective sunglasses–heralding their second song, Zero Hour, which climaxes with an impressive guitar solo. 

 

In the next song, he sings the phrases, “Summer boy/Summer boy/Summer girl/Summer girl,” repeatedly with electronic distortion. Kenneth embodies an energetic and dramatic persona as he sings, hoping his energy would translate to the crowd. At some point, he asks the audience to sing along, which few oblige. The crowd may have waxed and waned in size but those who stayed were fully engaged. Finally, Club Fiasco closed strong with a funky and synthy drum and bass number entitled I’m Okay.  

Photo by Baybeats Photographer, Anaqi Anzari

Death Of Heather

 

As the shoegaze band hailing from Thailand took the stage to perform the last set at the Arena, you could feel the crowd’s excited anticipation. The first strums of the distorted guitar sent reverberations through everyone's bodies. The volume from the speakers were incredibly loud, more so than any other set at the Arena. It enveloped the crowd and soaked them in the atmosphere completely—like time had stopped and they were in a different dimension.  

 

The band alternated between noisier songs that featured heavy distortion on the guitars and softer ones that had melodic riffs and dreamy vocals. A crowd favorite was their newest single, Gaze at the Ceiling, with its dreamlike melody inducing the audience into a floating trance. The crowd around the seats slowly dwindled as the night drew on, but the audience up front was fully captured throughout–dancing, jumping, and headbanging to the music with smiles on their faces.  

 

When they had finished their set, the singer, Tay, thanked the audience and invited them to join in a photograph together to immortalise this memory.  

Photo by Baybeats Budding Photographer 2023, Rista Amelia

Urbandub

 

The final act of Baybeats 2023 was delivered by one of the most iconic rock bands in the Philippines, Urbandub. Active since 2000, they were the first indie band in the Philippines to release albums nationwide. Despite being the act to round off the end of three long days of Baybeats, it seemed like most of the crowd were not regular patrons of the festival throughout, but rather turned up especially for this band itself.  

 

The fact that the crowd was full of dedicated fans was obvious. Every time I thought the crowd couldn’t get louder, they did. Their song, Soul Searching, stars a darker rock verse which transitions into an uplifting chorus with the crowd singing the phrases, “So you go for miles and miles/Soul searching, soul searching,” again and again while swaying. In the middle of the set, the charismatic frontman, Gabby Alipe, finally addresses the crowd by thanking Singapore for having them. He then switches to speaking in Tagalog, which earns the whoops and cheers from the crowd who throw phrases back to him. There is a mutual understanding and shared solidarity amongst the crowd whose make-up is, now apparent, predominantly Filipino—a sense I cannot take part in but can appreciate and feel the warmth of.  

 

Just when I thought the crowd was at its peak, the song, First of Summer, comes on and the crowd erupts into an even more rapturous high. The voices in the crowd were deafening and everyone knew the words to the songs. Their collective singing, “Woah-oh-oh-oh,” echoed through the large confines of the Powerhouse. With Urbandub, Baybeats 2023 capped off with a joyous chorus.

Photo by Baybeats Budding Photographer 2023, Faris Arafat


 

Baybeats Day 3 Review

By Fidel Tan

Taledrops

 

As part of the five Baybeats Budding Bands this year, Taledrops dominated the Arena Stage on Day 3 with their spellbinding set. The band kicked off their performance with the new single Kafka. The theatrical anthem was the perfect opener, inciting many in the audience to tap their feet along to the song’s infectious rhythm. Fans cheered on passionately, and some were even spotted holding banners to show their support. 

 

Each member of Taledrops gave nothing short of their best. From Zee's intricate guitar work and Jingmin's resonant basslines, to Qian Shan's passionate keyboard melodies and Kiara's dynamic drumming–the synergy within the band was clearly something special. Main vocalist Pearly charms not just with her emotive vocal delivery but with each expression and movement, bewitching the audience with her stage presence. Judging by the crowd’s fervent response, I reckon it worked. 

 

In between songs, the band momentarily shed their theatrical personas to express their heartfelt gratitude. On behalf of the band, Pearly thanked everyone who has helped them on their Baybeats journey, including their mentor Rasyid of Wormrot and producer Leonard Soosay.  

 

Taledrops' Baybeats debut marks the beginning of what promises to be a remarkable journey, and I am excited for what they will bring to the table next.

Photo by Baybeats Budding Photographer 2023, Goh Shu Ching

Capt'n Trips and The Kid

 

Hailing from Kuala Lumpur, the psychedelic alt-rock band Capt'n Trips and The Kid delivered an intimate acoustic set at the Chillout Stage. In contrast to their high energy set at the Arena on Day 2, this stripped-back performance showcased the band’s versatility and allowed audiences to connect with their music on a more personal level.  

 

Their 2020 deep cut In My Day was a striking highlight, quickly drawing in crowds who poured in after another show at the Esplanade Concert Hall ended. Frontman Jes Ishmael's silky voice blended beautifully with the band’s rhythmic guitars and striking percussion, creating a warm and candid atmosphere that facilitated genuine musical connection. 

Photo by Baybeats Photographer, Danial Halim