Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Metallica In Singapore 2013: Through The Never (No Shit)

Yes, no shit. I mean, it was one of the best concerts I have ever seen. But it was also the worst concert experience ever. And never had I imagined I would go through such an ordeal in super-efficient Singapore.

But let me go back to the start. The first question you might have for me is, "Why tak tengok in KL, bro?" Well, when the Singapore gig was first announced, most of us never actually expected they would be coming to KL too, did we? And as soon as the tickets went on sale, I was online, and settled everything within minutes.

But it was perfectly OK. I mean, it's not really a big deal to be going down to Singapore, and I've done so for a few other big gigs before. But I WAS apprehensive about the venue, the Changi Exhibition Centre. A quick google check, and I discovered there was no MRT station there. No matter, this was Singapore, surely public transportation would be sorted for us, right?

Well, the first sign of trouble was when my uncle cabbie from the hotel didn't really know where it was. He had to call up a few friends to confirm, and even then, we went round and round a bit before actually finding the place.

Getting inside though was a breeze as the lines for the two sections were clearly separated and I was more free-and-easy as opposed to the thouands who had turned up earlier for the opening bands a couple of hours earlier.

Only when I got "inside" that I realised the stage was built on an empty lot on the other side of the hall. Well, no matter. The crowd was pretty huge by then and everyone was getting more and more anxious waiting for band to come on.

I probably stood around for less than 30mins when the huge LED screens came to life and "The Ecstasy of Gold" blasted over the stupendous sound system. The hair on my arms began to stand as Metallica finally took the stage, and quickly blasted into "Hit The Lights".

"This is it," I thought. Years of waiting and wondering if the chance would ever come. These metal legends were fiinally right in front of my eyes. In the flesh. And playing as hard and loud as they could.

But it became even more surreal when the first few notes of "Master of Puppets" filled the air. As they launched into the complicated riffs of one of the best metal tunes ever, I closed my eyes, and almost wept. This masterpiece that I've heard a million times was now being played right before me, and it felt just as I imagined it would be.

The talking was kept to a minimum as the fearsome foursome belted one crowd favourite after another. Of course, there will always be debates on the setlist for any band with such a catalogue of awesome tunes, but I generally had no complaints. Even though there was nothing from the much maligned "St. Anger". Hey, I honestly think there are at least three great songs from the album, OK?

It was also awesome having a glimpse at all the axes and basses that the band used. But here comes a complaint; a couple of years ago, I watched Green Day at the Singapore Indoor Stadium and it was the greatest gig I had ever seen then, not just because of the band, but also because of the awesome crowd reaction and participation.

Unfortunately, and ironically, the metalheads who came for Metallica weren't as boisterious. Seriously, it felt really dead at some points and in fact, I thought the crowd simply couldn't keep up with the band! And I did sense some frustration on James's part who tried some measured provocation to get the crowd going, but never really got the 110% they deserved.

So much so that I felt the band lost focus a couple of times. I definitely did not understand nor appreciate the end to "Blackened". And even during the encore which climaxed with "Seek and Destroy", it was a matter of "hangat-hangat tahi ayam", as the energy was never quite sustained by the 40,000 crowd.

Still, on the music and the band's performance, I give it a 9 1/2 out of 10. But as a whole concert experience, it was a 7, at best. Which became even worse after the band had left the building...

Where do I even begin? Well, it was obviously a shit deal for everyone who depended on public transportation. If you didn't pre-book a shuttle bus ticket to Singapore Expo, that only meant you had taxis to depend on. And immediately I knew I was in trouble as my hp battery died and I couldn't call for a cab pick-up.

The line for the cab became longer and longer past midnight, but it was apparent there were really none coming. I thought about sleeping by the roadside and hoping for a taxi the next morning, but I knew I wouldn't be able to sleep a wink.

So, along with a few thousand others, we started to walk to the main road, which was 3km at minimum. When we got to the main road, it was apparent that it was still a dead end. So, we just walked, and walked, and walked, and walked. In the middle of the night, in the middle of nowhere, hoping for God knows what.

People were dropping like flies. Some were massaging their girlfriends' legs, some just decided to sleep on the grass, totally drained and exhausted. I kept on walking. And walking. For 1hr and 40mins.

That was when I got to the first point of civilisation; Changi Village. I bought a drink and gulped it down and saw many others, still cursing and waiting for some sort of way out.

I then stopped by a food court, had some roti prata, and sat by the roadside, totally down and out. There were some cabs seen by this time, but there were too few of them and too many of us. BUT, one "limo" cab suddenly appeared, and I flagged it down. The driver wanted $120 to go into the city. I told him I have just enough in mixed currencies and he said yes.

I was finally saved.

I reached the hotel at 3am and wondered what had happened. But I knew this would be my last time for that venue, and those organisers. You ruined the dream, assholes. You ruined the dream...

Set List

1. Hit the Lights
2. Master of Puppets
3. The Shortest Straw
4. Ride the Lightning
5. Fade to Black
6. The Memory Remains
7. Broken, Beat & Scarred
8. Welcome Home (Sanitarium)
9. Sad But True
10. ...And Justice for All
11. One
12. For Whom the Bell Tolls
13. Blackened
14. Nothing Else Matters
15. Enter Sandman
16. Creeping Death
17. Battery
18. Seek & Destroy


Anonymous said...

$120 for the taxi fare? You are robbed man!

M.Zul said...

yes, I was. But the cabbie was rather polite : /

Anonymous said...

I'm writing in response to your comment about the crowd energy.

In all fairness to the crowd, there is a lot of apprehension on the part of the fans. There are lots of concerns among fans that an excessive and riotous crowd would have the government "disallow" the act from coming in again.

Now, why MetallicA didn't visit for many years could be attributable to various factors. However, would fans risk the band from being "banned" from visiting because a riot broke out? No. A lot of the fans are pretty mature and older by now. A lot of them would rather see the band regularly than to mosh the crap out of the place.

Also, I've been a few other metal concerts in Singapore, and I can attest that a lot people lack an understanding of moshing ethics. In European and American festicals I've been, there is an unspoken etiquette about forming pits and how to act in a metal concert. People adhere to such etiquettes - e.g. not slamming into the crowd that is not in the circle, not flailing into the crowd.

I've seen punkers and metalheads at local concerts that lack an understanding of these etiquettes and create potential scenarios that could lead to fights. I also saw a few people at the MetallicA concert (both the surrounding audience and the moshers) that did not create a suitable environment for a pit.

Would I have wanted to mosh? Yes.

Would I have felt safe moshing at the MetallicA concert? No.

From my experience overseas:
I've been to death metal gigs where a circle opens automatically for moshers.

I've fallen in a pit and have people around me lifting me up.

I've seen people reach into a pit to help pull out moshers that couldn't get out of the circle.

I've seen girls been protected and helped at pits.

With the crowd at the MetalliCA concert, do I feel any of that would happen? Would the concert goers have helped? No, I did not get the feeling so.

If I felt that way, I think many other metalheads would have felt the same way too.

All of that would have contributed towards the more subdued feeling at the concert.

Anonymous said...

I thought the crowd reaction was great. It's ridiculous to expect a full on mosh pit for 2 hours especially with that many people so if that is what you wanted, well, dream on, that's not reality. I totally agree with you on the transportation arrangements and I complained heavily on the promoter's facebook page only to have a bunch of idiots go off on me for not appreciative and for not planning better. Stupid f--king people I swear.

M.Zul said...

Thanks for your comments.

But still, from where I was standing, it was largely very subdued. Even during the encore, it was mad for the first minute, then things died down again...

Elyantie M said...

Hey, just noticed that 1. you posted this up on the same day I posted my CGK blog and 2. I so remembered the Green Day concert :). I've been to really notable performances incl Bruno Mars & Harry Connick Jr - but considering I'm no fan of Green Day and the ticket was a birthday gift - Green Day was awesome. MEMORABLE. Definitely on the same page with you!

PS: Sorry to hear about your experience with Metallica and I'm sure it wasn't funny while it was happening but... its kind of funny after the read :D

PSS: I'm more surprise that there's a cabbie in Singapore that ask for so much rather than the lack of transportation at the area.


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