Camp Symmetry 2013 in Singapore Recap

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Symmetry Entertainment’s latest brainchild, Camp Symmetry, made a hot and wild debut last November 2 at Gardens by the Bay, Singapore, boasting top foreign acts Explosions in the Sky, Best Coast and Mew among the few. With a line up catering to indie/dream pop and post-rock fans, the SG-based organizers successfully put up another platform for young and old festival goers from this side of the planet. Singapore has been considered by many as the Mecca of music festivals in South East Asia and with that in mind, Camp Symmetry just proved itself as the youngest but most promising brat amongst the pack.

It was a sticky and muddy Saturday resembling one of those dog day noons in between summer and monsoon seasons. From the entrance we were greeted by Khaki scouts, inflatable playgrounds, ping-pong tables and a small crowd cheering as London-based Veronica Falls kick-started the festival with their signature twee jams. Early birds didn’t mind the heat as they stormed in front of the stage basking in the warm reverb tunes of “Beachy Head” and “My Heart Beats”. The London-based indie pop outfit kept the summer vibe afloat while they played tunes from their latest album, Waiting for Something to Happen.

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More flower-crowned fans flocked in front as Last Dinosaurs started gracing the fest. The Australian quartet held the stage rocking when they began playing tracks from their 2012 release In A Million Years. Young boys and girls kept jumping and singing along the band’s own brand of sugary pop songs until they played “Zoom” when the crowd suddenly lost it. I wasn’t surprised that I found myself awkwardly swaying in high spirits as I really thought it was one of the most fun performances throughout the day.

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The sparse amount of people close to the stage went thicker and thicker as the equally fun band San Cisco took over. Diehard fans went ablaze as the Aussie group warmed up their set with fan favorites “Golden Revolver”, “Stella” and “Metaphors” then ended their forty-five minute stellar performance with the stand-out track “Fred Astaire. I have to say festival lovers should watch out for these new comers as they are just but terrific live performers.

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The overcast sky grew dimmer as if heavy downpour was upon us but people didn’t mind since more mats kept filling the muddy festival grounds. Wild Nothing fans quietly sneaked in front while the band took positions on stage. Despite technical problems that kept the downtime wait longer, Jack Tatum and the band maintained a tight performance starting with the dreamy opener “This Chain Won’t Break”. Even though the set was marred with issues, I was just glad the weather made the experience as fleeting as I imagined it would be.

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A bearded lumberjack with an acoustic guitar suddenly came into view when the people realized William Fitzsimmons was about to open his set. While people sat and stood in line for beer and food, the Chicago-based folk singer modestly serenaded the crowd with intimate folk pop goodness. I swear he sounded like his record which I found very impressive. Thankfully, it was the perfect break from all the jangle madness that occurred in the last three hours.

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The shocking revelation of the afternoon came when I found myself the only person frantically jumping up and down to Ra Ra Riot’s “St. Peter’s Day Festival” and “Too Dramatic”. I stood there for a moment asking myself “How come no one’s having fun?” Amidst the stoic crowd, I rose up and sang hard regardless of my numbing legs. Indeed, the American indie rockers were one of the highlights of the festival, though regrettably, didn’t get as rowdy as I was expecting it to.

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Then, Best Coast stole the show. A bright orange Pearl drum kit and an Orange amp rolled up on the stage before a gorgeous Bethany Consentino came in wearing a Metallica shirt. The vigorous performance that lasted almost an hour and a half never stopped the ecstatic crowd from singing along to tracks from well-received albums “Crazy for You”, “The Only Place” and “Fade Away”. One noteworthy part of the performance was when the mood suddenly shifted as Bethany bursts “You guys. This is the last show that I’ll ever play…as a twenty-six year old woman.” The crowd cheered and sang Happy Birthday which she gladly acknowledged saying “I almost cried, I’m not joking.” The California lo-fi rockers bid goodbye then finished strong with one of my favorite 60’s throwback, “Boyfriend”.

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Day turned into night and fatigue has set in and so we take a break from all the awesomeness that had happened so far. The Cribs took the stage and from where we were resting, we saw how the stage lit countless people awaiting their performance. The English indie rockers made their presence heavily felt when they opened with the pulsating punk track “Chi-Town” followed by “I’m a Realist”, “We Share the Same Skies” and ended their powerful set with “City of Bugs”.

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Everyone who was there just felt how excited Mew was that they were able to finally play in Singapore. Vocalist Jonas Bjerre even took a photo of the audience out of sheer enthusiasm. Fans matched the Danish rockers eagerness on stage as they swooned along symphonic tracks like “Making Friends”, “Special” and “The Zookeeper’s Boy”. I’d say it was the most visually appealing performance of the night. Props to the lighting person who made sure everything were in sync with the band as they played to a memorable conclusion.

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The festival was about to come to a finish and from where I was seated, I took a final panoramic glimpse of the blinding stage. What better way to start an end with Explosions in the Sky opening their performance with “First Breath After Coma”. We finally got up. Everyone waltzed in the dark as the dazzling lights led people close to the stage. I can’t even explain how beautiful the guitar intros were, calmly resonating throughout the festival grounds. We stood next to the inflatable joust, spent our last remaining energy and watched how the band stole everyone’s breath away. As expected, they did it as climactic as how it should be. Behind the towering Marina Bay Sands, the Singapore Flyer and the beautifully lit Supertrees, rose a secret world that wasn’t known to me. It was indeed one of the best camps I ever attended.

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