The Jakarta Post
Danceable: With performances by popular bands like Caribou, Neon Lights promises to be Singapore's premier music festival. (Courtesy of Caribou/-)
Singapore’s annual Neon Lights festival returns with even bigger names than before.
Now in its third year, the festival will again feature an eclectic mix of Asian and Western acts.
Indonesian music fans would take particular interest in the inclusion of the big names – in this case suave New York post-punk revivalists Interpol, noir-pop band Cigarettes After Sex, electronic soloist Caribou, indie rockers The Vaccines and R’n’B artist Rhye. In total, more than 50 performers are scheduled to perform.
The festival is to take place for three days at Fort Gate, Fort Canning Park from Nov. 9 to 11.
Neon Lights’ festival director Declan Forde said the organizers are thrilled to return for its third edition. “We’ve put a lot of thought into the lineup to ensure quality and range for everyone. This includes international and regional acts playing in Singapore for the first time, as well as musicians from Singapore with new releases.”
Forde is also particularly happy about the inclusion of two bands.
“Interpol and Caribou are two acts who have been top of our target list since we started Neon Lights. Both are groundbreaking and iconic acts with a rich back catalogue but who are always pushing the envelope with new sounds. […] As a general rule, we try to blend quality and diversity with our music bills.”
The festival is also unique in its inclusive quality, being particularly family friendly.
“The idea for Neon Lights came about as there was a gap in Singapore’s cultural landscape for a world-class outdoor music and arts festival for all ages. Neon Lights is unique in its stellar music line-up coupled with a diverse arts and all-ages program, created alongside a community of local collectives and partners,” explains May Leong, the festival’s director of partnership and arts.
Asia’s top talent: Malaysian singer-songwriter YUNA will sing her hits and new songs in a 75-minute set on the first day of Neon Lights on Friday. YUNA’s popularity soared following her collaboration with American singer Usher on her single “Crush” in 2016. (Courtesy of YUNA Music)
Friday’s lineup will be headlined by Malaysian pop-singer YUNA who is particularly known for her energetic live shows and garnered popularity during the MySpace era of music sharing. YUNA’s popularity rose further when she collaborated with United States singer Usher on her single “Crush” and later with Pharell, who produced the single “Live Your Life”.
Other Friday performers include Singaporean electronic group Mantravine. The group’s lively grooves and mix of Arabic flourishes and psychedelic elements has made them a reliable festival act. They are also known for the unique ethnic makeup of their members, which includes a Singaporean vocalist, a Japanese Trombonist, a Malaysian violinist, a Cuban rocker and an Indian music producer.
Also on the day’s lineup is Thailand’s Paradise Bangkok Molam International Band, which has performed international concerts including at the famed Glastonbury Festival. Having previously only played DJ sets in Singapore, this will be their first full-on concert in the country.
Saturday’s set will include Cigarettes After Sex’s hushed dream-pop, which has garnered them an ardent fan base, including in Southeast Asia. Their patiently paced rhythms and Greg Gonzalez’s androgynous vocals delivers fitting songs of romance and lust, making them a rare “quiet” act that has managed to reach a wide audience.
British band The Vaccines is also to make an appearance and those into punchy indie rock should already be familiar with the band’s four well-received albums.
Saturday’s headliner Interpol is arguably the biggest draw here, as this would be their first Southeast Asian concert ever since the release of their much-lauded album Turn on the Bright Lights in 2002.
The band’s visit is part of the tour for their most recent album Marauder, which was released in August, although it would be hard to deny that the region’s fan base would most eagerly be awaiting tracks from Lights and its 2004 follow up Antics.
Known also for their incredibly stylish get up, the band is certain to present its mood-driven post-punk-via-dreamy-indie songs while looking fittingly suave even in the tropics.
The festival’s final day will feature headliner Caribou. The solo project of Canadian musician Dan Snaith (he has also worked under the moniker Manitoba), Caribou is another major draw.
Snaith’s music is electronica with flourishes of many other musical elements including indie rock, neo-psychedelia and folktronica. Although very danceable and club/festival friendly, the music is infused with a dreamy texture that is unique to Snaith.
The day will also feature performances by R&B sensation Rhye, who has already performed in Indonesia, as well as Australian house/electronica duo Peking Duk, reggae group Sticky Fingers and Brooklyn-based art-punk group Bodega.
The festival organizers promise an “incredible array of live art performances, roving acts and projection mapping scattered throughout the festival grounds”.
“We hope the mood will be one where all senses are invigorated, celebratory and joyful and a ton of fun, of course,” Leong says.