Archive for July, 2002


Monday, July 1st, 2002

Another packed gig on a week day. Gorgeous. At this rate, I will never convince Scary Evelyn to schedule me a weekend gig ever again. Poo. Anyway, thanks to all who came down. There are many things far more important than going to gigs, yet there are very few things more discouraging to performers than playing to an empty hall. One of life’s paradoxes, I guess. As it was, the Round played to yet another standing room only house last night. Ladies and gents: champions be all of you.

I knew it was going to a pretty heart-warming night as soon as Daryl’s parents walked through the door. They came with assorted relatives and friends and colleagues from the workplace. One of them brought a stills camera. Another a video camera. All came to chronicle their beloved Daryl’s first ever gig. All came except Daryl’s pet gold fish – and that’s only because it had flu. It was wonderful. And when Daryl was playing his tunes in his halting manner, you can see the sparkle in Mr & Mrs Kho’s eyes all the way from across the proverbial generational gap. Proud parents. Sigh. Nice. Enough to make the ladies go all gooey and broody. And didn’t their Daryl do them proud? In spite of being mic-shy, rhythimcally challenged, and as nervous as a bedroom singer writ large, he charmed us with his refreshing earnesty and disarming candour – a trait so rare in these days of affected but ultimately boring hip cats and prevaricating cool dudes.

The show started at about 9.30pm as the house filled up. Rafique got the ball rolling after my introduction with a little warm-up skit. Then for 2 sets, the house were treated to a wealth of funny, sad and bizzare original songs of various themes and styles. My personal favourite was Sherry’s ‘Babi’ song. He started by burping…

Yes he did. Three times. Into the mic.

Each time Sherry burped into the mic, the song that followed it was brilliant. What was even better was the fact that he relaxed into the night with timely quips and funny remarks that belies his normal silent stage persona. Given the intention of the show is precisely to eschew one’s ‘stage face’ as much as possible, Sherry examplified it perfectly and to great effect. Rafique too, deviated from his normal satirical routines and largely presented ‘serious’ songs that he seldom plays in public. I’ve had the honour of hearing some of these songs in our private late night jams at NBT, and it is wonderful to have Rafique finally playing them in public. And with Ariff and Daryl more than doing their billing justice as the new acts, it was quite a show. If Daryl was endearingly raw and hesitant, Ariff proved to very polished – which is great. Overall, the differences between the 4 performers seemed to work really well. Contrast and similarity exchanging places all the time. Sherry edged between intense and cheeky; Rafique was seasoned and well-greased; Daryl nervous and sweet; and Ariff assured and serious. It was a fun show.

One significant departure from the previous Round was the fact that all four performers were present at the sound check at the same time – which meant that there was time to rehearse and think out collaborations. Thus, every one of the performers got one song played in a ‘band’ format – with either Raf or Sherry doing the honours for ‘solo’ breaks and so on. Although not the most polished of collaborations, given the time constraint, it was highly satisfactory.

After the featured acts were done, Julian Mokhtar (who appeared in the last Round), Mei Chern, Ian, Marcus, Wolf, Lisa (piano recital), and Mumbai aka ‘Hassan Sas’ came up to play open mike. All did really well – but a special mention goes out to Mei Chern and Lisa, who only played one song each, but exhibited fantastic sensitivity and tremendous charisma. I would love for them to be featured in one of the future Rounds. Lastly, if Mumbai has more tunes than the two brilliant ones he sang, he’d be wasted playing football for Turkey. Ha.

Oh, and I also played a couple of songs when most people had left, but I was awful. My detractors may have something else to say about that, but I blame it on flu. Either way, good job I didn’t play in the main part of the show.

And so it was alcohol time after the show. It was Marcus’s birthday too – and I blew a big hole in my pocket by buying him something like 5 Tequilas. He was a very happy boy as a result. A couple of hours later, all of us were fairly happy too. And hungry. So it was off to Jalan Alor for a spot of grub. There were 5 of us – and the conversation was about: (i) how to improve the lighting ambience of the show; (ii) how much to charge in the future – with the consensus favouring lowering the cover charge despite the ‘packed’ nature of the first two shows; and (iii) how to broaden out the participants of future Round to include more people who write original tunes but who don’t otherwise have a platform to play them. Thus, although it is envisaged that we will continue to invite ‘names’ to play, we felt that it was equally important to widen the participation into the community. Hopefully, people will continue to put themselves forward in the future.

The next Round is expected to be sometime late July or early August.