Saturday, October 17, 2009

Sing, Sing, Sing, Schwing!

So, what the hell WAS I doing in Singapura, anyway?

Thanks to that free junket I mentioned last post, I was in the Lion City (which is literally what Singapura means) to attend the 1st-ever F1 Rocks Singapore with LG! - billed as the only officially F1 endorsed concert during the Grand Prix week in Singapore. F1 Rocks! boasts of featuring name acts from the region and from the world (and by "the world" I mean the U.S., which, whether we like it or not, is the epicenter of all that is pop.)

The line-up for this event - the first in what the Singapore Tourism Board hopes will turn out to be a successful annual crowd-drawer - wasn't too shoddy: N.E.R.D., No Doubt, ZZ Top, Simple Minds, The Black-Eyed Peas, and for the grand finale, The Artist Formerly Known As Beyonce Knowles.

 Formula Fierce.

Now, I'm often nonplussed when it comes to local celebrities, coming from a field that deals with them on a regular basis, but when it comes to international superstars, I can be just as agog as the next screaming fan. Whether they admit it or not, everyone loves a brush with fame, basking in the reflected glow of the spotlight, and the bragging rights to say "Dude, I saw Bono in Sydney, pareeeeee !!!"

F1 fans.

We would be attending what were actually the second and third nights of the three-night extravaganza, thankfully missing the opening night which featured Canto-pop and local Singaporean stars. I'm sure they were great, but ai yah, so sorry, I'd rather clip my hangnails, lah! This second night's headliners were more interesting: N.E.R.D., ZZ Top, Simple Minds, and No Doubt.

The only way to go, baby.

Thanks to heavy media connections (always good to have friends in the media), we had VIP privileges and didn't have to sweat it out with the local and expat peasants on the grassy fields of Fort Canning Park, where F1 Rocks! was being staged.

Instead, we enjoyed the use of several VIP lounges high up in the actual fortress mansion, where a closed-circuit giant screen and vidiwalls projected the onstage action if we were disinclined to brave the stifling Singaporean heat on the VIP viewing deck a level below and actually see the performances live.

Step right up, folks.

Front and center of the fortress mansion was the F1 Rocks! stage, said to be the biggest that had ever been set up for a rock concert in Singapore, and good enough for the demands of just about any world-class act. Sparing no expense, the organizers had it flown in from Australia, but the full glory of its sights and sounds would not be revealed until much later in the evening.

Places, everyone!

The VIP lounges, naturally, had several open bars which served everything from champagne to piss (and by piss I mean Heineken), as well as a constantly-replenished buffet table and roving promo girls shoving pints of Häagen-Dazs down our throats.

The show is about to start.

It was aaaaaaaallllll good.

We were pretty much beat from the harried schedule, coming in from the flight, a hasty check-in at the hotel then a quick dinner before attending to the real business at hand. So we were happy to just hang around the lounge, the other guys taking full advantage of the free booze while I flopped onto an ergo chaise and caught a quick catnap while N.E.R.D. warmed up the still-sparse crowd.

No one. Ugly. Allowed.

The pretty wait staff was very attentive and tested the limits of my doctor's orders to stay away from alcohol. The fates intervened when I, frustrated at being dry all these months and finding myself adrift in a sea of increasingly-drunken revelers at an open bar, tried getting a beer. Both the Singha and Heineken dispensers, which had been working perfectly just moments earlier, started spitting foam instead of lager, while I tried to stop my own mouth from following suit.


I finally gave up, got 7-Up, and snored through the electric guitars of ZZ Top (since I was only half-awake, I don't know if they played She's Got Legs, one of my favorite 80s songs). Simple Minds woke me up when they sang their only hit, Don't You Forget About Me (the theme song from the classic John Waters movie "The Breakfast Club"). It brought back good memories of the 80s and so I deigned to watch them live from the balcony, singing nostalgically along.

"Don't you forget about me," begs Simple Minds' frontman Jim Kerr.

I was probably really bushed - and the other guys with me really buzzed from all the free booze - because we weren't really enjoying ourselves. Well, we were enjoying the smoked salmon and ogling pretty girls of all races (with me giving a few side-eyes to some of the male specimens, as well ), but as far as the concerts themselves were concerned, it was like "Well, we've stayed this long, might as well wait for Gwen Stefani to come out."

So we stoically soldiered on, enduring more Häagen-Dazs alternating with Johnnie Walkers punctuated with vodka tonics interrupted by the occasional bubbly. Well, I mostly suffered through Macadamia Nut ice cream and 7-Ups - everyone else was getting royally soused.

Finally, the giant screen showed this countdown:

The countdown was highly doubtful.

Naturally, it was a solid ten minutes of crowd screaming later when No Doubt strutted onstage and electrified the audience - which by official count had swelled to nine thousand strong by this time - with a roaring rendition of Spiderwebs. I must admit, Gwen Stefani's voice was powerful and in good form that night. She rocked the joint like nobody's business, and for a woman who's given birth twice, her torso, in full signature display, looked impressively taut and tight. The girl was foiiiiiineeeee!

But there was no doubt who ruled the night.

Still, fine as she was, Gwen was no match for our increasing fatigue and the undeniable fact that we weren't 18 years old anymore. So, in an act of blasé pop blasphemy, after hearing Don't Speak, Ex-Girlfriend, and a couple of other songs I wasn't too familiar with, we unanimously decided to troop back to the hotel without waiting for No Doubt to finish their set.

Don't speak! I'm singin' here, I'm singin' here!

 As we lurched down the Fort Canning steps while Gwen belted out I'm Just A Girl, we were met by latecomers coming up to see the show. A ruddy-faced Ang Moh*, who probably assumed we were just a bunch of ignorant drunken fools, asked "Hey, don't you guys know No Doubt is performing tonight?"

"No doubt!" I snickered.

The lights were on, but we were off for home.

After all, compared to a hot soak in the tub and the comfort of crisp linen sheets, Gwen Stefani was just a girl.

*Ang Moh : Simply put, an expat. Specifically, it is a widely-accepted and simple term used to describe Caucasians. The term originated most probably in the 18th century, to denote the British settlers arriving in Singapore for the first time. Ang Mo(h) - literally translated means “Red hair(ed)”


  1. looks like you had a great time. sana next time you share your perks with us your fellow bloggers. =D

  2. @ engel : Mmm! Turned out much better than I expected! I got a REAL unexpected treat the next day, but let's leave that for the succeeding post :D

  3. awesome light show you got there. LOL

  4. Ahh!! Spiderwebs. The only Gwen Stefani/No Doubt song I ever loved.

  5. well it seems rudeboy had a blast in singapore! pun intended.

  6. @ Herbs D. : If only it were Ray of Light.

    @ Eternal Wanderer : Oh, I got 'em, all right. Coming up real soon!

    @ engel : Laid? Oh please, man. The last time I got laid in Singapore was...well...hmmm. Come to think of it, I've never gotten laid in that city-state. Speaks volumes what I think of it.

    @ Galen : I like Don't Speak the best. Followed by Ex-Girlfriend.

    @john stanley : A blast, yes. A big bang - see my response to engel above.

  7. Nice' i love no doubt's song.....

  8. i'm sooo green with envy. i love no doubt!!! fave songs: simple kind of life and running. sana if i ever get to see them in concert, i'll have tons of energy. hehe

  9. @ citybuoy : Yeah, concerts are wasted on guys like me. I'm sure you'd have had a blast. Well, there's always next year ;P

  10. i saw a few photos from that night.. Gwen was in amazing shape! And her low-rising pants... do you think she went commando? XD