The Listening Party

GIG REVIEW: Arthur’s Day 2013

[written by MIKHA CHAN]

Trust me to look for music at a drinking event.

Note to future organisers: the Sepang F1 circuit is a terribly remote place for an Arthur’s Day celebration.

Never mind that it’s bloody huge and capable of hosting ten different shows at once. If you’re going to invite mostly generic pop musicians to Sepang F1 (not that they were bad), you are going to face an atmosphere issue. The response to the musicians was not as good as it should be. Even at its peak, the place was rather undercrowded, with way too much free space available on the grounds. More people were congregated around the beer taps than around the twin stages.

Then again, maybe the problem was that I went to the event primarily for the music.

The music wasn’t bad, though. The three-act lineup this year featured singer John Ondrasik, better known to all as Five For Fighting, All-American Rejects and The Wanted. Personally, I wasn’t as stoked for the last two acts as I were for the first, being as it was Five For Fighting’s first performance here in Malaysia and…you know what, I just love Five For Fighting.

Maybe I’m just used to going to concerts packed wall-to-wall/fence-to-fence with people. The crowd was mostly comprised of EDM kakis and raveheads — I cannot count the number of people I saw coming in full rave kit — which isn’t surprising, given the kind of event this was. And one could tell that they weren’t all that stoked for the acts. Sure, the crowd warmed up quite a bit when AAR and The Wanted performed. But the energy level was nowhere near what I’m used to at concerts.

Eh, I guess the energy just dissipated over the excessively wide open spaces. (physics, dude) And as I said earlier: different kind of event.

This is John Ondrasik, or Five For Fighting’s first visit to Malaysia. And he was good. It’s rare to see an piano-driven country-rock musician like Five For Fighting perform live here in Malaysia to open crowds, and the crowd was predictably unfamiliar with most of his material. To their credit, though, they did sing along to two of his songs, “Superman (It’s Not Easy)” and “100 Years”, the only two singles that have really stuck here in Malaysia. His performance featured classics such as “Chances”, “Slice” and “The Riddle”, all of which this satisfied fan (allow me my one moment of wonder) happily sang along to. He also sang his latest single “What If” and a few songs from his latest album Bookmarks, which he acknowledged tongue-in-cheek to be the few obligatory new songs in every concert (“Now is the time when I play my new songs. Believe me, I know how it feels.”).

asd

“What if I played all my new songs right now?”

All-American Rejects brought their typical brand of energy to the show, all loud and jumpy from the get-go as they blasted into “Dirty Little Secrets”. I swear that lead singer Tyson Ritter had to be on some sort of stimulant; he hyper-performed his way through the act, cameras frequently focused on his wide-open eyes and unshaven, crackhead expression (I am not being figurative in any way). Guitarist Mike Kennerty was equally hyper, jumping all over the place with his guitar. But the man clearly knows his showmanship and put on quite a show to remember. They played most of their old singles from years back, such as “My Paper Heart”, “Stab My Back”, and of course, “It Ends Tonight”, as well as newer songs like “Kids In The Street” which carried things up a theatrical notch with swinging lighted mics and spotlights beams crisscrossing through a darkened stage. All in all, they have maintained their appeal.

Kids in the street.

The Wanted is where my generally positive tone will waver slightly. No, it’s not because they’re a boy band, though I admittedly am as a rule somewhat against towards boy bands. They are talented, but as a concertgoer I cannot overlook their cavalier treatment of The Killers. They effing killed (not the good way) The Killers. In a four-minute travesty against musical history, they rode roughshod through a medley of Killers songs which, I am sorry to admit, I sang along to a little. Their rendition of “Mr Brightside” was a bit more forgivable, but still. Otherwise, they played their usual material, which judging from the many screaming girls, went over pretty well. But as for this reviewer…meh.

We’re here to sweep into your dreams (and ruin musical history, but that’s something else).

Overall, it was more or less a good show. But — and this is from my inexperience, this year’s Arthur’s Day being my first — you do not go for Arthur’s Day for the music. Which, damn it, I already knew years ago.

Still, there was Five For Fighting…heh. And so I regret (almost) nothing.

Photo credits to MSN MALAYSIA and Ashley Yeen.

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