Music Singapore Writing

5 reasons to watch Muse live


There are certain acts that you have to watch at least once in a lifetime, and Muse is most definitely one of them. They are not one of those typical bands who sound pretty much the same as the CDs, with very little imagination and showmanship. They are also not the band that comes on stage and takes your breath away by just playing. Muse comes on, and puts on a show. And a god damned good one at that. You’re not going to, at any point, be closing your eyes to let the music wash over you. To go to a Muse concert means you are ready to get your groove on and work those calves and vocal cords like you have never worked them before.

5 reasons why Muse performances are awesometastic:

1. Superior technical skills

It is a given that, for all great bands, there is at least one member who is extremely skilled in their instrument. The gem here is that all 3 Muse members are crazily talented in their own area of expertise.

Matthew Bellamy. He is a man entirely in his own world. And I think he enjoys it way too much. Multi-talented with a ridiculous vocal range and crazy guitar skills, the only thing that could go wrong with him would probably be his fashion sense. Or lack of one. Thank heavens that he was only in a simple black shirt and pants, and not one of his crazy get-ups. I didn’t get to hear Supremacy which would have totally made my night, but though you don’t hear every single word, his voice carries the emotion through perfectly.

Bassist Chris Wolstenholme picked up the instrument only in the early 90s to be able to join Muse, and for a guy who used to play drums, he gone on to be voted top bassist of all time in 2011, a mere 14 years since he first started learning. Watching him play, you would have thought he was born with a bass in his tiny baby hands. His ability is sound, and his groove is always spot on. Just listen to Hysteria. I don’t think I need to say any more than that.

And who cares if your drummer cannot carry a tune, if he can control the beats as well as Dom. His drumming is super creative, probably due to the lack of any formal training. No rules for Dom! Even though he was hidden from my view by Chris, you can feel his energy and his passion, holding the band together as one.


2. Insanely energetic performance

90 minutes through the roof energy and song after song, non-stop. Not a moment’s break at all for this trio. No chit-chat to catch their breath, no long breaks in between sections, no moving off-stage except once when Matthew went off-stage for the drum & bass interlude. I honestly have no idea where these guys get their energy from, the adrenalin must be coursing through them by the end of the night.

When you look at the set list, you have pretty much rocked through Psycho, Dead Inside, Hysteria, Citizen Erased, Supermassive Black Hole, Uprising. And ended the night with Knights of Cydonia.

How can you beat that?


3. Solid rock out audience

When the show starts with the MV opening for Psycho and fans start screaming, you instantly know that you are in for an incredible show. There simply cannot be a better way to open a show than 9,000 fans screaming ‘A Fucking Psycho’. And guess what? It didn’t stop at just one song. Fans knew the right lines to sing (or scream) for almost every song! Being part of the moshpit meant that I was at the core of the action, but a look around the stadium, there wasn’t a soul not head banging and rocking out to their songs.

One last thing, UPRISING SINGAPORE!!!!!!


4. They don’t kiss ass

Great bands don’t need to talk too much. Just deliver the goods, over and over again. Never once during the whole session did they introduce themselves, I mean, all of us were there for them, why should they bother to do self introductions? Not a word of how they love Singapore, or how they miss playing here and all that ass kissing shit. Just straight up rocking out all night. The entire duration, I suspect they uttered about 10 words in totality. Maybe even less.

The changeover from their supporting band took almost 45 mins, and they didn’t care that we were waiting. Nothing to apologise for! Some performers love to wait a lifetime before coming back for the encore, but Muse was just gone for less than 5 mins, not even enough time for a smoke. After the final song, it was a quick bow and then off they go, techs come up and stadium lights come on.


5. Balloons

Every. Single. Show. It’s as if they are in love with those damned balloons. Though I have to say, it injects an insane amount of joy and entertainment during the last song. Queuing up for 7 hours, and making it to first row in the standing pen was absolutely worth it. I’d do it again in a heart beat.

To the next Muse concert!!!

Musings Singapore

Singaporeans vs Lee Kuan Yew

I’m shocked that there are so many people who lack empathy and basic decency, to actually wish that someone would ‘just die already’. You may not agree with his policies and actions, but it is impossible not to recognise that Lee Kuan Yew has dedicated his life to what he believes to be the best for Singapore.

At the most challenging of times, where we were in a state of flux, he made the hard decisions. We make many hard decisions in our life, and I guarantee that we have all questioned if we could not have done it better. However, we all made these decisions with the information we had, and to the best of our abilities. But the decisions that we make affect only us, and our immediate surroundings. The decisions that he has to make impacts the entire nation. The stress of that responsibility is not something that everyone has the strength to shoulder. And for that, I respect him deeply.

No government is perfect, and every government has idiots in power. We are no different. Housing is ridiculously expensive, standard of living continues to rise but not salaries, our police force is pretty much useless, among other things.

Where we have fared a million times better than other countries, is that our basic necessities in life has been well taken care of. And I’m not talking about the material stuff. Those are secondary. It is the intangibles that truly matter. Safety, health, family.

It is safe to walk on the streets at night, and we do not have to suffer the fear of being robbed at gunpoint, of being raped, murdered, or any of the horrible things that occur frequently in so many other countries. Air is fresh so I don’t worry about dying because I run or cycle outdoors often. We are small so I can work in the same city where my family is, instead of having to look for work in another state / country.

And we have all these things, because a certain someone made many decisions during his leadership. Because a certain someone took a dictatorial hand in national matters.

Do I think we need to change? Of course I do. We can have debates and discussions about the arts, about homosexual topics, and everything under the sun because we are at a stage where we have the basic foundations and can fight for topics that are not directly related to our survival. Our current administration should relax their hold a little and engage the people more. But that is because we, as a nation, is stable. Do you think we can have these discussions if our primal instinct for survival is engaged? Who cares about the arts and homosexuals, if the nation is in poverty and cannot even feed ourselves?

Even if you do not agree with his decisions or directions, he is critically ill, and may not make it. Can’t people just put the negativity aside and at least hope that he goes in peace and without pain? Don’t these people have even an ounce of empathy in them? Think of his family! How would you feel, if someone cursed your father and hope that he would just die? Seriously, people, seriously.

So many Singaporeans are like frogs in a well looking up and thinking that is all there is to the sky. We all need to stop looking inwards, and start actually seeing what we have already achieved, and how we can continue to move forward. The only way Singapore can advance, is if the entire nation is working towards their own personal betterment.

Review Singapore Theatre

Rant and Rave: A History Lesson

Singaporean theatre has evolved through the decades, much of it I was never involved in, not being born early enough. Not that it makes any difference to my enjoyment of The Finger Players’ “Rant and Rave”.

Running for 90 mins, and broken into 3 broad segments, the show gives a succinct recap of the formative 80s, the tumultuous 90s and the transformational 20th century of Singaporean theatre. Played by 2 amazing actresses, Arts NMP Janice Koh and veteran Karen Tan, both seamlessly weaving in and out of characters, with some characters played with such accuracy it brought a smile to my face the moment the character first appeared. I have to point out that Karen’s portrayal of Alvin Tan (Co-founder, The Necessary Stage) was so spot on that many members of the audience were heard giggling.

The one segment that I felt really strongly about was Arts and the Media. There are many times when I find that much of the arts community have this innate sense of martyrdom, and that they are quick to jump against what they perceive as injustice dealt to them, especially by the media. A recent memory was that of Straits Times Life! writer John Lui’s article where he commented about Ilo Ilo not going to be a box office hit in Singapore, despite all the winnings at various international award shows. So many theatre folks on my Facebook timeline went up in arms, calling Lui a fraud, a disgrace and whatever they can think of. The only thought I had at the point in time was, it’s just his opinion. Right or wrong, that’s up to the reader to determine. The industry complains so much about the government thinking that Singaporeans are stupid and not able to think for themselves, yet this incident shows that they don’t even believe Singaporeans are able to think for themselves and judge if an article has its merits or not.

Watching “Rant and Rave”, I feel really sorry for the art critics who are bashed, judged and scorned for their opinion piece. How can the practitioners expect their audience to have an open mind, if they themselves are not willing to give their audience some credit for having a mind of their own. I also do not believe in a comment that was made by a practitioner that basically judged theatre reviewers for their lack of understanding of the process of putting up a production. Why should they need to have that background or experience? Art is about what it means to the viewer, less so about what the director or scriptwriter wants to force down the audience’s throats. The reviewer’s job is to take his experience and put it into context for the person reading his article. A review is, in its very nature, subjective. The very nature of theatre is also the life it takes on its own, sometimes contrary to what the creator’s message really was. Different aspects of the same show will appeal and stand out to different people, and that has always been what makes theatre truly magical. Maybe, instead of snarling at the reviewers, we can take a step back and see how our works have been interpreted, and seek to understand the rationale behind the interpretation. It could even bring a whole new perspective to the show.

In any case, we have only been growing the arts scene for 30 years, I believe it is still too early to demand for maturity in all aspects. And that includes the arts practitioners, the critics, as well as the audience. All the major arts and cultural hubs around the world have had the vast history and more than half a century’s worth of evolution as their foundation and backbone. I also believe that all the challenges that the arts community currently face, will simply become fodder to continuously feed the public as we grow beyond fulfilling our basic needs of food and shelter, and seeking nourishment of the mind and soul.

“Rant and Rave” is on for one last show tomorrow afternoon as part of Esplanade The Studios Season 2014, and I recommend everyone to go catch it while you can.

Musings Singapore

1 Step Forward, 10 Steps Back

So once again, Singaporeans discuss homosexuality. However, this time round, it’s not a discussion about repealing Section 377A (which I still maintain is archaic and should be abolished), but about our very own Health Promotion Board posting a FAQ on sexuality, and touched specifically on issues / topics surrounding homosexuality.

Screenshot from HPB:



Other than an obvious filter for gays/bisexuals (where are the lesbians in this FAQ?), I was rather glad to see this type of information being available online with a neutral stand. Taking a sample question on “How and when will I know if I’m gay or bisexual?” The answer that was provided is neutral and provides simple & good information. 



So we can now all look to the sky with tears running down our faces, thinking how much of a progress this is for our nation.


A Minister of Parliament has to feel ‘disappointed’

A magic-wielding pastor is shocked and deeply upset

Online petitions to take down the FAQ

Online petition to restore the FAQ

And more discussions online as usual, since this is the internet.

At the end of the day, there really isn’t anything different whether you are homosexual or heterosexual. I don’t even care if you are into bestiality if that’s what floats your boat. (I do judge pedophiles very much)

In a way, I’m glad we are having this type of conversations or discussions, or even moving one step forward at all.

Personally, I see Singaporeans as rebelling teenagers to their archaic parent / government. Some teenagers rebel and fight because they can, and for no particular reason. Most teenagers fight back because they finally see that things are not the way their parents say they are, and they are refusing to just swallow everything that their parents say without questioning. They are finally coming into their own skin and very eager to cultivate their own personality and be themselves for the first time. Those who succeed at changing their parents go on to become strong men and women; those who fail simply slide back into their personal oblivion. Most of us, however, find a middle road and pick the battles that actually matter to us, and let some things go. I think we will get to see who we truly become in the next couple of decades. It took us 50 years to get to this stage, I do not expect us to grow up as a nation in one or two elections. I just hope to see progress before I leave this world.

Musings Singapore

Pawnshops: Sign of the times or just bad spending habit?

Pawnshops hit paydirt as Southeast Asians sweat before pay day | Fox Business.

Sign of bad times? Maybe. I think there is a certain amount of living beyond your means and spending all you have instead of saving when times are good. Thus, when times fall bad, these people lose their ability to maintain their previous lifestyle. However, not being able to adjust immediately, the cab rides continue, the new clothes, expensive restaurants, specialty drinks instead of plain old water… Thus the spending remained high, while the income is not coming in like before.

I still believe that everyone needs to have cash savings that is 2-3 months of our monthly salary. If anything befalls us, like loss of employment etc and we lose a regular paycheck, we need to know that we can live the same way for 3 months, or stretch it out by a few more months if we watch our spending. Before we buy that expensive watch, have we stopped to think if we can afford to pay that if we lose our job tomorrow? Or when we buy that 2,000 dollar bag, do we stop to think if that cleans out our savings? Or if we whip out our credit card to pay for that manicure & pedicure package, are we spending money we don’t actually have? I ask, because folks who have things to pawn, obviously once had the ‘ability’ to purchase these items. I just question if that ability is real or an illusion.

With the credit card companies offering loans and all, or giving the consumers the ability to pay a large sum by installment (with a 5% fee), it is very easy for Singaporeans to get into the easy mentality that it is only a few hundred dollars a month, so it works out to be a small amount monthly. However, when there is no income, a few hundred dollars a month is a massive amount of money, in comparison.

Even though I’m not the most thrifty person in the world, and I do love my little indulges, I do make sure that I have a separate savings account that I transfer money to every single month as soon as my salary comes in. If I intend to travel to somewhere far, like Europe or USA, I draw up a budget, and save up for the balance. I admit, I fall off the bandwagon every now and then and spend a larger sum of money and deplete my funds a bit, but I very quickly replenish them.

I just hope that Singapore do not become like Taiwan, where a majority of the country’s citizens are drowning in debt.


Around Town Singapore Snaps

Subtle safe sex ZoCard aimed at homosexual men


Subtle but clear messaging promoting use of condoms & going for regular medical check-ups in ZoCards that are aimed at homosexual men. Nice.

Musings Singapore

Politics is ugly

Polling day is just round the corner and social media is ablaze with links, tweets, posts, notes and all sorts of activities. Whereas there are a certain number of supporters for the incumbency, the voices for the opposition has risen well above those.

PAP has done a great job over the past 40 over years. We have some great policies and programs that are comparable, if not better than most countries. We have safe streets and rudimentary racial tolerance. I don’t think anyone is discounting that. On the contrary, I believe everyone online acknowledges that we have made amazing progress over the years. I agree wholeheartedly that we would not have been able to achieve what we have achieved without such a parental type of government. But I believe things are changing. The world is changing and our government has to change with the times too. Our government is like a grouchy old grandmother, always using the fact that we would not be what we are without them as justification that we should always do as they say. And when we propose change, or question their actions, they whine that we are ungrateful brutes, and after all that they have done for us, this is how we repay them? When we show them new ideas, they shout burn the witch at the stakes! However, the sickening truth is that all these achievements have not been accomplished by the current batch of ministers, yet the arrogance that they portray disgusts me to the bone.

I am also appalled at the blatant threats and scare tactics that they deploy every time they are questioned about their actions. Are they really as naïve to think that if we have free speech, Singapore will turn into a riot? If they really do believe that, then I think they have failed in their attempts at building racial harmony (reason I said tolerance earlier). If we are all truly harmonious, there is no taking away that mutual respect for each other. If we are truly One Singapore, there is no need to constantly single out different races and making a point that we ‘try to accommodate all’.

I am also fed-up about their treating us like rabbits. Throwing upgrading carrots may have worked in previous elections, but I’m not sure it will be all that effective now. Upgrading has only made the flats more expensive, and more unaffordable for citizens. This is only beneficial to those who have more than one house, because remember, even if we sell our flats at a great price, we need to spend just as much to purchase a new resale flat. Higher standard of living thereafter? Maybe not.

Want to know why we are not making more babies? Maybe a closer look at why our inflation rate is higher than the salary increase. Need to spend more money on basic necessities, such as paying for the HDB loan, means less money to support a larger family.

I always give this example to those who do not believe that PAP just simply does not care about their people.

My grandfather passed away during the rally weeks in the last election 6 years ago. He has lived most of his life in Potong Pasir, and that was where we had the wake. During the day, at every couple of hours, rally trucks would pass by, alternating between PAP and then-SDA Chiam See Tong. We were extremely surprised when Mr Chiam turned up at the wake with only his wife and one other party member, paid his respects to my grandfather, and sat with the family to chit chat for almost 45 mins. During this time, his party member came over to my white gold collection point and contributed a sum on behalf. I was already grateful and appreciative of the gesture, regardless the amount. The real shocker was when Mr Chiam himself came over, took money out of his wallet and gave me the money. I was so touched that I was almost at a loss for words.

And then I waited. The PAP representative has always been extolling his care for the people in Potong Pasir, so I waited. And waited. Finally, many hours later, a PAP party member came by, with cash, saying that he ‘represents Mr Seetoh Yih Pin’. He just made sure I wrote the name down, and left. Is that genuine care and concern for the people? I don’t think so. Similarly, I doubt he was even sent by the rep.

The one thing I find the most hilarious, is that it was the rally period. If you were trying to win, shouldn’t you at least pretend to care more? It still makes me wonder if they really know what the people want. It’s not the abalone porridge nor the never-ending upgrading, it’s the very simple fact that what they do for us, is from their heart.

I really do not think that opposition voices are necessarily anti-PAP. I believe they just want to see some change, less complacency, more accountability and real care. If voting for the opposition is the only way to do it, so be it.

I think it’s very telling that civil servants are afraid to vote for the opposition, for fear of prosecution. I also think it’s ridiculous that civil servants are afraid to say anything about the elections, for fear of prosecution.

Musings Singapore

Singapore – the Education Hub?

I have a few friends who are teachers, and every time we chat about their work, I am worried about our future. I don’t think Singapore’s education system encouraged learning as much as exam prepping. I’m not sure our education system prepares the kids for the real world, and those that excel academically and have never left Singapore could have a harder time adapting to the ‘real-world’. Maybe it’s the reason they join civil service?

A simple example is the NUS theatre studies students of the same graduating batch as me. I am not a major, yet in the three years of university life, I’ve very likely done as many shows as have all of them added together. And the stories I hear from the industry practitioners about their final year project and how inexperienced they were makes me glad I dropped the major and embarrassed for them at the same time. Majoring in TS indicates a certain interest in the industry so I do not understand the rationale of not wanting to immerse themselves in the field. These are the people who come out with a Bachelor’s in Theatre Studies and start to think they are better than others. Now the industry folks look at NUS TS students with distaste and absolutely no respect.

Or there will be Senior Managers of MICE who didn’t know that DHL could pick up goods from Cambodia, and thinks that 1,000 handmade bags can by completed in 1 week by 10 people.

The ignorance of Singaporeans is so appalling that I get surprised everyday. Why complain about the insurgence of foreign labour when Singaporeans want the good life but not willing to put in effort? I have heard people complain about their job and when asked what type of job are they looking for? They want a high paying job with not much to do. This very attitude is what will be the downfall of Singapore!

In a way I think the values we as a whole country have been inculcated is the main culprit. Since the beginning there had been no focus on anything other than the university degree. Granted, that mentality and drive has brought us to where we are now in less than half a century, but it has also created generations of citizens who have all the wrong values.

Give a man a fish and he will be satisfied for a meal; Teach him how to fish and he will not be hungry forever.

All we have been doing is feeding our students fish after fish after fish. When will they ever learn to fish?


Around Town Food Singapore Snaps

Some things never change


Like Seah St Deli. Food is still homely & awesome. Prices have increased but atmosphere’s still the same.


It used to be Jerry Cans for us

and share usage of 2-3 pep bottles… But apparently NPCC cadets nowadays are given 1 x 1.5L bottled water each everyday.

Talk about life getting slacker for uniformed groups.


The flip side of a good idea

Letter from Teo Yong Hua
05:55 AM Aug 07, 2009

LIKE the rest of his schoolmates in the National Police Cadet Corps (NPCC), my cousin attended a three-day, two-night camp in Pulau Ubin recently.

These camps, indeed, give our youth a chance to become independent, and they should be encouraged.

However, I think about the amount of waste the usage of plastic bottles produces at each camp session.

Everyone was given two 1.5 litre bottles of mineral water each day.

With more than 200 students participating, there would have been more than a thousand bottles discarded by the end of the camp.

I understand that the water at the campsite was not fit for consumption, hence the need for bottled water to be handed out.

Nonetheless, there should have been a more environmentally-friendly way of making sure the cadets had drinking water.