Dressed in an assembly of casual blazers, T-shirts and jeans, WEAVER may not have had stunning outfits to impress its 650-strong fans at *SCAPE Warehouse for its gig in Singapore on Saturday night, but their soaring vocals more than made up for it.
Back for the second time this year (they first performed here in March) in a combined showcase with pop-rock group flumpool, WEAVER flaunted their impeccable musical talent — with vocalist Yuji Sugimoto on the piano, Shouta Okuno on the bass and Toru Kawabe on the drums.
The three-member piano-rock band debuted in 2007 by performing at live events in Kobe, Japan. Three years later, they hit the road to success when they had their track Hard To Say I Love You featured as the theme song of a local drama.
Onstage, the young talents (all three members are only 24-years-old) were an impressive sight to watch as each paraded their musical flair to great fanfare.
But bassist Okuno was an exceptionally heart-stirring sight to watch — easily winning the audience over with his cheeky grins and deft harmonisation at bass. Since he had the most flexibility to move onstage with his guitar, every step from him towards the crowd also elicited loud screams.
However, it was vocalist Sugimoto who made the most effort to connect with the audience.
The piano marvel was surprisingly eloquent in English as he told the crowd, "Hello Singapore, we are WEAVER! Thanks for coming… didn't know we can come back so soon. Thank you. It's so good to see you. Today we bring you our music to make you smile. Please enjoy!"
The trio also proved to have comedic talent — as they easily tickled the audience with their jokes; mixed with their awkward boyish charm. At one point, the floor burst into uncontrollable laughter when the members started challenging each other to see who had the most dexterity in English and Mandarin.
Music-wise, the band blazed through a 60-minute set list, which was peppered with old favourites like Kanseito and Kimino tomodachi as well as new hits like Tsuyogari Bambi. But it was evident that Sugimoto's pipes shone the best during slower songs like Shine and Hard To Say I Love You.
But it was clear whom the audience was waiting for — as the floor exploded into raucous screams and howls when five-piece pop-rock band flumpool emerged onstage after WEAVER's showcase ended.
Making their long-awaited debut in Singapore, the five-year-old band was nothing short of spectacular — judging by the explosive reaction of the mostly-teenage crowd whenever the band burst into a fresh upbeat song.
Comprising vocalist Ryuta Yamamura, guitarist Kazuki Sakai, bassist Genki Amakawa and drummer Seiji Ogura, flumpool is steadfastly climbing the ladder to success — with their first single Hana mi Nare released in 2008 having reached close to two million downloads to date and their latest album Fantasia of Life Stripe receiving gold certification last year.
The quartet has also proved they could score commercial success — with their single Over the Rain being featured as the opening song for a local drama called Bloody Monday and another track, two of us, being used as the theme song for hit Japanese drama Ainori 2.
Deafening screams from the floor accompanied flumpool each time they launched into a new song. Many fans were also jumping in rhythm with the melody, complete with typical head-bobbing and hand-swaying.
Lead singer Yamamura was clearly excited for the band's first performance in the lion city, as he repeatedly engaged the crowd and encouraged them to scream louder.
Sakai, who was on the guitar, was also a ball of energy as he pranced around the stage and made a variety of monkey faces to the crowd. The goofball even brought a bowl of local delicacy bak kut teh onstage to eat — in an apparent showing of his newfound love for Singaporean cuisine.
Amidst up-tempo tunes like Calling and Labo — where Yamamura showed off his unbelievably strong and steady pipes — the band also engaged in small talk with the audience in a splattering of halting English and (a tad more fluent) Mandarin.
Like WEAVER, the band continuously showed their gratitude and appreciation for their Singaporean fans as they repeatedly thanked the audience for their attendance. Said Yamamura in Mandarin, "Thank you for coming to our concert. We're very touched to see all of you. Let's get 'high' until the end!"
The energy of the fans then rose another level as Yamamura's youthful zest and punch infected the crowd. The 650-strong audience also effortlessly mouthed the lyrics to the band's favourites like Hoshi no Negai and Because... I am.
Slightly marring the three-and-a-half hour-long event were the distracting and blinding strobe lights which shone into the audience's eyes intermittently. Chairs that filled the VIP area also may have stopped some fans from losing themselves entirely in the music — as some stood awkwardly, listening at full-attention stance.
Nonetheless, fans seemed very satisfied as the showcase drew to an end.
22-year-old Melissa Chan told this reporter that she was blown away by both bands' performances. "I loved how they really engaged the audience and genuinely wanted to play for us — and not just because we are another paying audience. It was worth all the energy and my friends and I left with a warm fuzzy feeling," she said.
The local undergrad also added that even though she was initially only looking forward to flumpool's showcase, WEAVER had thoroughly impressed her with their sincerity and raw talent — hence ultimately leaving her a "bigger fan of both [bands]".
Another fan, 24-year-old copywriter Alicia Tan — who has been following both bands since 2010 — agreed with Chan and applauded WEAVER's effort to interact with the crowd; adding that she appreciated both bands' attempts to speak in English and Mandarin to the local crowd.
When asked about the possibility of J-pop/rock making a successful comeback in Singapore, Tan said that it is only possible if local record companies were willing to stock Japanese music in their stores to expose more people to the genre.
But she added, "I think smaller, more controlled showcases are the best way to start, and to expose existing J-music fans and non J-music fans to the bands. You cannot expect the fanbase to grow by simply importing their music alone."
"In a way I think Singaporeans (and neighbouring regions) are ready for J-music [as] the previous L'Arc-en-Ciel concert showed that South East Asians are willing to travel to Singapore to see their favourite bands."
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