Monasteries and music

 A busy day this one. There was a tour organised by the hostel around the Lian Shan Shuang Monastery. This is the older Chinese Buddhist monastery in Singapore and has quite a history, a lot of it closely linked to the government and its lack of appreciation (until recently) of non-Christian religions. I will spare the waffle, but recommend the tour if you’re in the area and see it advertised. The monastery is free to visit, but we gave our guide (Chan) a donation towards the work he is doing in payment. Chan was a great guide, very knowledgeable and not just sticking to the textbook stuff. Chan – if you’re reading this, can you give me your email address and web details again? I didn’t note them down before I sent all the paperwork home to my folks!

 For the second time, Singapore was holding “a dance music event” called zoukOut. There were some live bands on as well, and the ticket price was only $40 – far below what you’d pay for an equivalent event in the UK. It’s an all-nighter, running from 8pm to 8am, and a goodly portion of the folk from the hostel were going. Karen couldn’t as she had the night shift, but Dylan made it after his shift finished.

Unable to find a cheap booze shop (I was told they did exist) I stuck to the hostel’s Tiger beer until we staggered to the MRT and then hopped on a bus from Harbour Front onto Sentosa. Traffic was chaos as you’d expect for a festival, but the atmopshere once we got inside was amazing. There were five stages, if memory serves, though the live music one was only on until around 1:30am. It breaks my heart to see massive crowds in front of a guy playing his CD collection with a screaming frontman, while a bunch of genuinely talented musicians gets a fraction of the attention. All the live bands I caught were really good as well.

 Of the acts, I’d heard a grand total of one: DJ Jazzy Jeff. Courtesy of exactly one hit in the UK around 12 years ago. And, based on his performance at zoukOut, I’m glad I’ve hear nothing else. He’s awful. I mean, I used to think Ziggy at Rios was dreadful (or at least predictable) but this guy had no clue whatsoever about what he was doing.

I’m not a DJ. I did radio and one or two clubs. But I do know something – you’re meant to gauge the crowd and play to them. “Jazzy” managed to get this completely on its head. The most obvious example was late on. He started up “Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana. The crowd went mental. So he cut the song short and replaced it with a slow blues-ey number. There was an audible groan from the crowd, and the insane jumping mass was replaced by 5000 people stood still while 6 women in the middle somewhere wiggled about a bit.

 Regardless of the naff music and overpaid, over-ego’d CD tray loaders trying their best to ruin the atmosphere the whole place rocked. The people were great (thank you to the numerous ones who’d caught the football score and came up to me to let me know Newcastle had won – yes, I was wearing a Toon top), the free stuff was a giggle (bunjie trampolines, gyroscopes, top end PCs with Quake IV on them), the food was good and cheap (£1 for a festival burger?! I’ll have three, please!)… Sure, there were some organisational slip-ups, especially regarding transport but I hear that this was a vast improvement on last year, and I’m sure they’ll be patching more holes before 2007.

I slipped off at around 5am when the only stage left was the trance/techno one. Partly because I was knackered and partly because I had to pack for my bus trip!

The incredibly kind people at Inn Crowd let me keep my locker to store my laptop in even though I checked out on the Saturday morning. In fact, they actually refunded the night I’d paid for. The hostel is so popular that there was no worries about the bed being sold on to someone else anyway. There was no point paying for a bed when I wouldn’t be in before 6am! I crashed on the beanbags at reception for about 2 hours instead. I think I may have drooled on them. I apologise for this. Posted by Picasa

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