Monday, May 30, 2011

Live @ TAS: Singer-Songwriters

It's funny how a series of performances called "Live @ The Actors Studio" is held at klpac. There probably is an interesting story behind it all, and there probably will be a time I would hear it, if I still remember the curiosity.

As I was getting ready to leave for klpac earlier in the evening, my mother suddenly noted that I was going by myself. She didn't like the idea at all, and asked why I didn't ask him to go with me. I had no answer for it. I'm perfectly capable of getting myself there and back, and there is no need to drag along one who's totally not interested, and waste his time. I pacified Mummy by promising a text message the moment I've reached, and I was on my way.

One thing I really like about klpac and TAS productions is their punctuality. The shows always start on time! This was to begin at 8.30pm. I walked into the building at 8.20pm and saw a file of people in front of Pentas 2, going in. I had to use the bathroom first, so I went. By the time I came back out, I could hear Joe's (presumably recorded) voice through the speakers, reminding everyone that the show would begin soon, and no admittance would be allowed once it has begun. I quickly made my way there. I was given a little slip on which I had to sign, as a consent to being "recorded", because the entire performance would be videoed - at least, that's what I think it was. Actually, I was in too much of a hurry to read what was actually written on the slip. I sincerely hope it isn't:

I, my name, IC number: my IC number , am a dumbass who'd sign a slip without reading it first, just because I'm told to.
my signature


The show began with a serious warning about the three cameras set up around the stage (anyone who didn't want to risk appearing in the video should leave), turning off mobile phones (may interfere with recording equipment), no drastic movements (may "disturb" the recording) and no photography (only the official photographer designated by the sponsors had the right to take photos). The last (and ONLY) time I was at a live recording was the time I was part of the "live audience" for the taping of 4 episodes of "Colourful Mixture", starring Joanna Bessey. It was a comedy, about life revolving around two couples of different races - an English girl and a Malay guy, and a Chinese girl and an Indian guy - I think, for I never actually saw the series on TV. I remember at the time, we were only warned to switch mobile phones off - there were no bright, blinking "APPLAUSE" signs or "LAUGH NOW" or anything like that. When the plot got funny, everyone laughed. When a scene concluded, everyone applauded. It was natural and simple. Pardon the digression.

The show was made up of two sets - the first consisted of 19-year-old Devon Chew, hippie duo Markiza and Peter Hassan, and Khairil M. Bahar, the one with very good showmanship. In the second set were Tony Leo (and a backup guitarist whose name I didn't catch), Wani Ardy and The Husband (she said he insisted on being called so) and Ian Chow (and an accompanying cellist whose name I didn't catch as well). Each performer played 3 songs, and took turns doing so. It was the most straightforward, therefore the most boring type of scheduling. The guys in the first set made it awkward as well, as each mentioned at least once "Now, it's my turn".

I don't know how seasoned these performers are, but I presume they must definitely be way more experienced than, say, someone like me (note: people tend to think I don't get stage frights, being in the teaching profession, but that's not true - delivering a lesson is very much different from delivering, say, a song or a prepared speech). I get seriously nervous when I have to sing to a real crowd, and just prior to going on-stage, I'd usually be shivering, in temperatures that otherwise, I wouldn't even require a jacket. It'd happened more than once, and each time, even my teeth were chattering (and I know it's not from the cold!). I don't suppose the musicians would be consumed by nerves, but they sure gave me the impression. The 19-yr-old looked positively petrified to the point of almost talking gibberish when introducing his songs, and the hippie woman moved and spoke like she was high on something! Thank goodness for Khairil M. Bahar - he was a natural, with pleasing (perhaps rehearsed) spontaneity, and funny too. The performers in the second set were much better, perhaps being even more seasoned, or having had more than enough time to warm up and lose the nerves.

It is expected, I assume, that I comment on the music, and be honest doing it. Yes, I have to be honest. I wasn't blown away. Although several songs were engaging enough, most were just plain and repetitive, and a few made me gaze at the intriguing lighting and smoke, and try to make sense of the nonsensical (but very pretty) pattern they formed. I know nothing of songwriting, but if it is anything like normal writing (which, obviously, I do excessively) giving every piece all you can afford, even if it means fewer numbers at the end of the day, means a world of difference, compared to say, just giving enough to complete a piece. I don't know if I make sense. I hope I wouldn't insult anyone saying this - I felt most of the songs lacked variation and the performers who attempted the American accent simply sounded odd. If I have to pick favourites, they would be Wani (love her voice best!) and Ian (I've been previously acquainted with his songs, so I might be partial).

The show ended close to 11pm. There were friends around, so I took the time to hang out and catch up, at the same time to wait for the crowd from another (much bigger) show to jam their way out of klpac first.

I sat on a bench at the Resource Center. My friend got me a cute, little bottle of orange juice, and I was struggling to uncap it when a middle-aged man with his sparse hair pulled back in a tiny pony tail (in school, when one's hair is still too short to make a real pony tail, we'd call it a duck tail!) walked past me and waved a can he had in his hand at me.

"Have a beer!"

I smiled politely and said I already have a drink (which I was still struggling to drink).

He took off somewhere, and then came back and started a conversation with me. Did I enjoy the show? Where am I from? What do I do for a living? What is my name? He said he's the guy who oversees everything with regards to the show and the live recording *laugh*. He doesn't have a proper title, but people have described him as Producer or Executive Producer *laugh*; he is what we'd call one-leg-kick *laugh*; he'd worked every department and undertook every role in his career so he knows how to supervise them all *very proud laugh*; after a hard day's work, the cast and crew always celebrate! *laugh, then gulp gulp gulp the beer down*

He took leave by giving my hand a hearty shake. "Nice to know you!"

I never thought I'd say this, but it was kinda nice to have "known" Bert too. That's his name, and his company, which produces commercials, sponsored the recording. A while after he'd gone back to merry-making with the other crew members, one friend asked who he was and why he was talking to me. The other friend laughed and said I must've looked so lost and lonely, sitting there, that the sight struck some paternal instincts in the man and compelled him to approach me. Ha ha. I no longer know where this post is heading. Ha ha ha.

*Ahem* Now, for the one important question before I end this already-too-lengthy post: would I consider going for more local singer-songwriters shows in the future? Well, given my not-so-favourable comments on the music earlier, Reader, you may be wondering. The answer is yes. Sure, I don't find their music as good as those I'm accustomed to enjoy, and sure, I don't think they sang as well as I'd like singing to be, but everyone has to start somewhere. They may not be anywhere near "international" standards yet, but if they worked hard on improving, they will (I hope) get there someday. Meanwhile, they deserve support for their effort. Also, it's not like I didn't enjoy myself - I did!

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