(4.5 / 5)
Honne, Mumford & Sons, joan, Gus Dapperton, G Flip, Clean Bandit and more – we enjoyed them all.
With such a plethora of feels, food and music at Neon Lights 2019, there really was something for everyone to enjoy.
We danced, we partied, we sang, we drank, we ate and we chilled in the ambience and glow of what a music fest should be.
And while it rained a little, the weather was nearly not as bad as last year’s downpour, or even 2016’s “hill of mud”.
This year’s festival was different from last year’s, with the location of the festival spot at Fort Canning going back to where 2016’s festival was at.
Which meant a bigger festival area and a bigger stage, and therefore a great way to enjoy the main acts, even if you were right at the back.
Saturday’s line-up featured artists like ANDREAH, Shak & The Baits, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, Disco Hue, Honne, Mumford & Sons, and Mura Masa, while Sunday had acts from the likes of MMLD, joan, Cosmo’s Midnight, Gus Dapperton, Badbadnotgood, AURORA, Nick Murphy fka Chet Faker and G Flip.
Of course the list above were just the main stage acts. There were still a smaller Bandstand area which featured artists such as Hot Dub Time Machine, Fleetmac Wood and Clean Bandit, among others.
In light of recent events and recent comments, here are a few points to highlight, before I go on.
While the sudden cancellation of headliner Halsey might have caused some initial flak from disappointed festival-goers who had been looking forward to the superstar, such unforeseen circumstances are known to be anticipated at any festival, event or gig.
Schedules or contracts do not always go through as planned, sometimes even at the last minute, artists fall ill, flights get cancelled or delayed due to natural disasters or things beyond anyone’s control, or it could be a simple reason as an artist changing his or her mind. That happens too.
Throwing flak at the festival organisers really does little to abate the situation especially since they are really trying to get everything together and get another artist at such short notice. There are letter of intents and letter of offers to be pushed out, and logistical issues to be handled.
In addition, throwing “criticism” at the replacement artists is even worse and shows really poor taste.
Furthermore, while entry to the festival being was a bit slow, especially on Saturday, I reckon that it was to be expected.
After all, everyone had the same idea of entering the festival grounds at the same time.
For me, despite the fact that I already had a media pass and wristband to jump the queue and head to the “re-entry” lane, I queued with everyone else.
My starting point? Well… where the shuttle buses of the Singapore Bicentennial Tour were waiting at, right at the other end.
I arrived at around 5.30 and made it in a little after 6pm…just in time for Honne, who actually started at about 6.10pm…
This meant that festival organiser actually “held the house” for a bit too!
So, to the folks complaining about how slow entry was and how they missed Honne because of the festival crew and technical glitch, please do not think you can head to a festival (or huge gig) after 5.30pm and expect to be in by 6pm.
Still, complaints aside, the festival was a blast!
Honne was so good and so charismatic, thanking the crowd whenever they could and promising to be back again soon with new music.
Singapore concluded the end of their Love Me / Love Me Not Tour, but they promised to be back very soon.
Their final song ”Day 1”, a favourite among many in the crowd, was filled with typical “Honne vibes” and had everyone dancing, singing and clapping along to their music.
It was hard not to get involved in the music, especially with equally enthusiastic artists. Right from the start of the electronic duo’s set, singer-songwriter Andy Clutterback came right up to the audience and got a guy near the barrier at the front row to sing the chorus of ‘Warm On A Cold Night’.
“I’m sorry that it took us 12 years to get here,” said a member of British folk-rock band Mumford & Sons before breaking into ‘Below My Feet’ – an incandescent beauty of a song which was further accentuated by the massive crowd on the grass and stage lights that seem to illuminate the trees in the park into a deep blue and green.
‘Blind Leading The Blind’ felt like such a country jam, I could almost picture myself at a country rock music festival, while ‘Tompkins Square Park’ was full of stonking riffs and vibes.
Another beauty came in the form of ‘Believe’ and ‘Slip Away’, the former of which had the band encourage the crowd to shine their mobile flashlights.
For me, it was the latter that lit me up – chords, colours, tones and vocals flowing through my music soul.
Then, as the band left us with encore piece ‘Delta’, I watched from stage right, the young family in front of me, where one of the daughters was wearing a Delta Tour tee of the band, and I am reminded of the beauty of a music festival and music that passes on through generations and generations.
Saturday night ended with Mura Masa’s lit and very versatile set. This dude was literally playing every instrument that he had on stage, and boy were those vibes glowing!
Despite Sunday’s afternoon downpour, and a minor sound system glitch during the start of joan’s set, the duo’s performance was quite incandescent, almost like a flourish of vibrant pink and purple tones to the heart.
The band really did sound like one of those 80s or 90s romantic teen films. Especially the ones that John Cusack was in.
‘i loved you first’ sounded absolutely gorgeous.
Cosmo’s Midnight, Gus Dapperton, and Badbadnotgood brought with them similar tones and colours.
Twin brothers from Cosmo’s Midnight gave us flavours of vibes, while Gus Dapperton dancing and demeanour felt like a party popper on stage.
Known for his song, ‘Of Lacking Spectacle’ which features on the Netflix series 13 Reasons Why, the singer-songwriter, gave us such a set on Sunday afternoon.
He danced wildly on stage, jumping around and waving his arms as he sang songs from his album, with a voice that was quite ineffable to describe. Almost eclectic, yet not quite.
‘Gum, Toe and Sole’ was definitely my favourite.
Over at the Bandstand, Clean Bandit were vibing up the atmosphere as well.
As the jazzy tones of Badbadnotgood seemed to lull us to a chill-out session, with friends and beer on the grass, it also gave us time to prepare for the highlight of the fest.
When I first heard this young artist sing on the very popular and yearly anticipated John Lewis British Christmas advert four years ago, I never thought that I would get to see her live.
I was certainly not disappointed. Neither was anyone in the crowd judging from the happy and entranced faces around me.
Her music was so lovely, and such a treat… And her set was phenomenal!
Her songs and live performance left that warm, poignant, happy, empowered, otherworldly, iridescent feeling in my heart tonight…and I never want it to end…
The young singer, who looked like a magical fairy on stage, connected so purely with the crowd that evening, with her powerful vocals and emotions.
“It’s important to be away from the people that makes you feel pain. And be with the people that makes you feel good,” she said.
“You are absolutely beautiful. My cheeks hurt from smiling,” she told the audience later on, and even blew kisses to us at one point.
Throughout her set, the Norwegian singer continued to dazzle and shine, spreading the magic of her voice and positive vibes to the audience.
See also: Fleetmac Wood – an immersive hommage and art form to one of the world’s best-loved rock bands!
The blue stage lights seemed to bounce off her like magical stardust.
And despite the sound going down during ‘Running With The Wolves’, a powerful and beautiful song with very folk-indie vibes, the audience sang out loud to the song.
And the moment was simply sublime.
While a sound glitch experienced in Chet Faker’s set caused him to walk off stage shouting “Big Love” to everyone after just 3-4 songs, his shortened 15-minutes set also gave us time to check out the other acts, buy some food, have a couple more beers and ciders, without having to bounce from stage to stage continuously.
The array of food and activities that surrounded the festival was as plentiful and diverse as the music acts.
There was kebabs, hotdogs, ice-cream cookies, mini burgers called sliders, truffle fries and of course drinks such as beer, cider, and mixers such as the Highball.
In fact between 1-6pm, the Highball went at half price – $6 instead of the regular $12.
Perhaps my only disappointment was the lack of the Monkey Shoulder Bar this year.
I really enjoyed the mixer from the last one.
Over at the Neon Nooks and Neon Kids @ The Haven, there was face-painting, a magic show and even a Silent Disco for kids.
And if you thought that only the kids had all the fun, well… I even spotted a slide at the Jim Bean Highball stall.
As the festival closed with G Flip – the final main stage act, I was enthralled from the moment that she went up to the drum set and started playing.
Her energy, and that of her band was fantastic and her fans that turned up, truly, truly loved her.
They were singing out loud to every song that she had for them. Every word to the lyrics, really loud and clear.
Her set was equally phenomenal and I am glad that she was the closing act for Neon Lights 2019 Festival.
All in all a good festival. There were a few hits and misses, as with all outdoor events.
Honne was great and so were Mumford & Sons.
Gus Dapperton had the best dance moves and energy, and G Flip’s level of energy was through the roof.
As for AURORA, well… I am still basking in the glow of your music.
Thank you so much….
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