An Acappella End to the Singapore Arts Festival 2012

After 16 days of various performances, some 300 of them free, the Singapore Arts Festival 2012 has finally drawn to a close on 2 June 2012. The closing act is a performance by Singapore’s own acappella group Budak Pantai, which I later found out is Malay for “Beach Boys”.

I arrived earlier than 10pm which they will be performing at, so I went to check out what has become one of my favourites of the Festival Village – The Bridge Café Project. Despite being the last day of the Arts Festival, the Oyajis young and old are still as full of energy and passion as they do their dances or when they served food and drinks to the café customers.

One of the Oyajis demonstrating a move from the dance they are about to perform.
Another Oyaji dancing happily to the music.
Two girls dancing to the music

One of the songs the Oyajis do every evening is Di Tanjong Katong, an old Singapore Song. Audience participation is highly encouraged, with the emcee and the Oyajis teaching them about the dance moves before getting them to join in the dance. It’s both fun to watch and film. Here’s a video of the whole thing. Pardon the camera shake, I don’t have any form of stabilisation on my camera.

Next, having watched several matches of XII – In Search of 13, I just have to catch the very final match to see who’d win the mighty iron-fisted Merlion. This time round, the role is played by a female actor. The story revolves around the news of the residents of the Rochor Road flats being evicted so that their flats can make way for a new highway. The icon chosen to fight with Merlion is Ah Beng.

Rochor Road Uncle, compere and Ms Merlion.

Here’s a video of the decisive match. Unfortunately, right up till the last match, the iron-fisted Merlion still cannot be beaten.

Something caught us by surprised after the end of the match. A Yam Ah Mee lookalike appeared to announce the results of the voting contest for the most popular Singapore Icons. Speaking in the style of his likeness as he announced the results, he drew rapturous laughter and applause from the audience.

A Yam Ah Mee lookalike announces the voting results for the most popular icon.

It’s finally time to watch our very own acappella group Budak Pantai at the main stage. They entertained the huge audience with songs covering such topics a “Why Do Men Have Nipples?”, Pedra Branca (to the tune of Una Paloma Blanca), “Plastics Are Forever” (to the tune of “Diamonds are forever”), and even paid tribue to late Taiwanese singer 风飞飞 by doing a mashup of The Police’s “Every Breath You Take”, “爱你在心口难开” and “敲敲门”.

The most impressive (to me anyway) is the mashup the group did of 2 very different songs – A popular Hokkien song from Taiwanese movie 搭错车 titled ” 酒干倘卖无” and Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance”. A very unusual combination indeed.

Budak Pantai's Gordon Ng
Budak Pantai's Gordon Ng and Michael Loh
Ho Kah Keh and Danny Lai (on guitar)
Joseph Wong

I thoroughly enjoyed myself that night. It’d have been great if the performance was longer, but another group was scheduled to perform on the main stage so Budak Pantai gave us an encore, drawing cheers and a big applause.

The Singapore Arts Festival will be taking a break in the year 2013 before returning in 2014. I’m really happy to have covered the this one. Many thanks to Belinda Tan and Ma Yan Ling for giving me the opportunity to cover the media preview and the Flight of the Jade Bird rehearsal as well. Here’s to a great Singapore Arts Festival 2014!

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