There’re few things more exciting than stumbling on an underground indie band that you find you really enjoy. With 42 bands from 15 countries playing 150 shows in 8 different spots in Clarke Quay from May 24 to 26, Music Matters Live dangled this chance of discovery again and again. The dilemmas were just as tough to handle. Do you go check out that intriguing new band that sounds promising, or do you go catch that big amazing band rocking it out on the main stage?

Organised for the second time in Singapore, this year’s line up included a special K-Pop Night Out, Canadian and Australian showcases, and bands including local darlings The Great Spy Experiment, and Inch Chua. While we couldn’t cover all 150 shows, UrbanWire is happy to share about the 2 most noteworthy performances.

Drunken Tiger & T (Bizzy & M.I.B)

Thursday night was K-Pop Night Out at the main stage, one of the most anticipated  highlights of the music fest. Throngs of fans – mostly teenage girls – crowded in front of the stage, holding banners and waiting anxiously to watch their favourite stars perform. For many, this was the closest they’ve come to the artistes.

“I love Drunken Tiger and T, as well as Clazziquai, and I never thought I would be able to see them live. It’s usually the mainstream Korean bands like SNSD and Big Bang who get to perform in Singapore so when I heard about K-Pop Night Out at Music Matters, I was really surprised and excited,” quipped Stacy Tan, poly student, 17.

Jungle Entertainment’s founder Drunken Tiger, and its artistes T Yoonmirae, Bizzy and M.I.B were slated to perform together as the last of the Korean acts. First up was M.I.B, short for ‘Most Incredible Busters’, whose music sounds like a fusion of hip hop, electropop and dance. Despite being relatively new (the band debuted last year), the male hip-hop quartet has a surprisingly extensive fan base here, with many fans in the crowd singing along to their popular hit single, ‘G.D.M. (Girls, Dreams, Money)’.

Bizzy took the stage next. Fans of Drunken Tiger know that the sight of Bizzy on stage usually signifies that the legendary hip-hop artist himself is about to appear, followed by Yoonmirae. Sure enough, after 2 songs, Drunken Tiger joined Bizzy on stage for a duet, making the crowd go wild.

Drunken Tiger was in fine form, bringing the party vibe up as he always does with his impressive rapping skills, occasionally making the crowd echo verses after him.

“Somebody might come out,” he warned in fluent English, pointing to the side of the stage before launching into ‘True Romance’ with Bizzy.

The crowd went erupted into cheers when Yoonmirae strutted onstage midway through the song, singing her verses. The chemistry between the real-life lovebirds Yoonmirae and Drunken Tiger was sizzling, unsurprisingly. The married couple also have a 2-year-old son, Jordan. The trio then led the crowd into the next song, “Let’s Dance”, which got the fans jumping along.

What really tore the house down, though, was the combined performance by Yoonmirae, Drunken Tiger and Bizzy, of ‘Get It In’, Yoonmirae’s hit single. “Singapore, are you ready to get crazy?” she boomed. By the sounds of their screams, it appears that the fans there were already insane over them. M.I.B. came on stage once again to perform alongside Yoonmirae, Drunken Tiger and Bizzy.

The last song of the night, “Monster”, instead of cooling everyone down, infused the crowd with an energy level that was almost off the charts. That Jungle Family performance left the crowd high and begging for more, and we certainly hope they’ll be back soon.

Midnight Youth

Midnight Youth has played big festivals such as SXSW and Big Day Out, and won Best Rock Album and Best Group at the 2009 New Zealand Music Awards, This 5-piece rock band from New Zealand is the prime example of a hidden gem of the festival that deserves much more recognition and attention. Too bad about the venue.

Thursday night saw the band performing at China One, a bar on the fringe of Clarke Quay adorned with oriental furniture and décor. The small interior and laser lights don’t seem to suit Midnight Youth’s brand of rock and roll.

Hardly inspiring was what seemed like fewer than 30 people, mostly 20-somethings nursing drinks as they gathered around the bar. Not your typical rock concert-goers. Some of them stood awkwardly along the sides of the open space in the centre of the bar where the band was playing.

Photos Courtesy of Genevieve Chan and Music Matters Live 2012.

Despite the rather disappointing turnout, Midnight Youth still treated the crowd to a high-energy set featuring songs such as “Calvary”, “Benjamin”, “Who Said You’re Free?” and the title track from their latest album, “World Comes Calling”.

“The song actually came together from 2 different ideas. We had a great chorus in one song with a crap verse, and another song with a great verse and crap chorus. At some point, I think our bassist said, “Hey, why don’t we try this verse with this other song?” We didn’t change the lyrics but it totally worked,” lead singer Jeremy Redmore told UrbanWire.

“[World Comes Calling] became this sort of appeal to people to get some perspective… on what they’re doing in life…I’m very big on making an impact on living. Am I making people happy, am I making people sad? It’s a reflective song, it’s a question to people: ‘What are you going to do?’”

The crowd that day may not have known it, but this band, with their brand of enticing pop melodies mixed with dirty rock and roll, is not far from the day they’ll make it big worldwide. And maybe then, when (and if) they come back to Singapore, people will give them the attention they rightfully deserve.