Rantglass - because that's how things are.


Dodge this.

Digital rain.

There was that fond sense of familiarity usually associated with finally meeting a long-lost friend, but goosebumps continued to race along my skin during that recent one weekend.

I could still remember the lines as clear as day, right down to the exact words that they would say.

I could still recall the scenes that would come next, aside from some nagging moments that left me perplexed.

And yet, it felt as though I was watching the movies for the very first time. There was plenty of noodle baking over outright fiction, despicable truths and virtual realities; some mind-numbing dialogues paired by countless jaw-dropping visuals; and the occasional adrenaline rush that came with gravity-defying stunts seemingly reserved only for super flexible yoga practitioners.

It could be that I was looking at them from a different perspective; with the eyes of one that is now older, wiser and burdened with all the worries in the world – in stark contrast to the younger, careless and unscrupulous teenager I once was.

But watching the movie trilogy at one sitting, back to back, makes it a wholesome new experience from start to end – like a secret coming of age, or the completion of a certain rite of passage. Of course, it soon became apparent that I had invested more than just six hours of my time, for at some point, it finally dawned on me that it has been fifteen years since the release of the first movie.

Fifteen long years.

Was I ever that young once?

Now that was mindblowing.

Details of this entry.Monday, March 31, 2014, filed under Personal.
Recent tracks played are displayed on Last.fm.In Reverse, The War on Drugs


About today.

Outdoor music festivals. Hot and sweaty gig goers danced together, twirling clumsily under the bright moonlight. Miserable music lovers drenched to the skin, huddling under tiny umbrellas in their oversized yellow boots. Empty water bottles littered in the aftermath, creating a sea of trash that is bound to propel tempers through the stratosphere.

It can be quite a sight, I am sure, but now that I have actually been to one, I think I can brave through them all again just for one band.

When news was confirmed that The National will be playing at the Hostess Club Weekender at Fort Canning Park, Singapore, on 22nd February 2014, I did not know what to make of it. While I really wanted to experience for myself selected live versions of the tracks off the band’s latest album Trouble Will Find Me, I was not particularly enthusiastic at the thought of having to literally rub shoulders with complete strangers and impatiently sit out a few other acts until the festival headliner’s set later that night.

But as always, beggars cannot be choosers.

Pink rabbits.

The highlight of it all was actually getting to meet and talk to the band members – charming frontman Matt Berninger, and identical twin guitarists, Aaron and Bryce Dessner – during a signing session. Of course, “talk” is an understatement: I only managed to mutter unintelligible nothings and thanked them for coming, before making a quick getaway lest I end up embarrassing myself further in front of my favourite band.

Yes, I finally knew the meaning of starstruck.

I think I had that sheepish look plastered on my face for the next hour or so, at least until The National finally made their way onstage at 10pm, when it was swiftly replaced by a passionate sing-along session that would last the entire night.

As expected, their set was heavy with tracks from new album Trouble Will Find Me. The temperature was raised way up high from the start thanks to energetic opener “Don’t Swallow the Cap”, which later prompted Matt to casually shrug off his suit jacket (or it could be that he had simply surrendered to the heat of the tropics in this part of the world).

“This is the Last Time” turned into a mesmerising ballad, with “Sea of Love” and “Graceless” destined to become forces to be reckoned with thanks in part to Bryan Devendorf’s intense drumming and the Dessners’ blazing guitars, which probably led Matt to keep knocking his head against the microphone and at times coolly shove away the microphone stand.

The setlist was also peppered with goodies from their older albums, but sounded fairly reminiscent to their previous outing in Singapore in 2011. There were the usual staples ranging from crowd favourite “Mistaken for Strangers” and powerful “Squalor Victoria” (from Boxer), to the forlorn “Sorrow” and instant classic “Bloodbuzz Ohio” (High Violet).

Graceless.

This time around, however, stage banter was kept to a minimum; Matt seemed subdued and kept his thoughts to his own, only introducing their additional touring members and pointing out that bassist Logan Coale was temporarily filling in for Scott Devendorf, who was away on paternity duties.

It was also on this night that I finally got to hear my longtime favourite “About Today” played live; the crowd was eerily quiet as they took in the emotional rendition of the song made of heartbreak and pure magic.

The encore set offered nothing new as well: as usual, Matt dove into the crowd for “Mr November” and made his precarious walkabout during “Terrible Love”; at one point he was evidently distracted, singing the wrong lines to the latter while his other band members played on with as much nonchalance as they could muster. (This was also when I nearly got squashed in the process as everyone tried to get a piece of Matt whenever he hovered nearby.)

But I doubt I would ever get tired of adding my voice to the chorus of thousands in the massive sing-along to “Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks”, thus capping yet another solid triumph for the night.

It's a terrible love.

So others may have been fortunate enough to score miscellaneous souvenirs, freely discarded for them to remember the concert by: guitar picks, crumpled setlists and even Matt’s lime green bucket, which was used to keep his bottle of wine chilled.

But I am glad that I got to show to Matt, Aaron and Bryce my “Pink Rabbits” t-shirt during the signing session (“This can be a kid’s t-shirt!”, Aaron had suggested), and this brief but close encounter with band members of The National will be mine alone to cherish forever.

The setlist – Hostess Club Weekender, Fort Canning Park, Singapore / 22nd February 2014:

  • Don’t Swallow the Cap
  • I Should Live in Salt
  • Sorrow
  • Mistaken for Strangers
  • Bloodbuzz Ohio
  • Sea of Love
  • Afraid of Everyone
  • Squalor Victoria
  • I Need My Girl
  • This is the Last Time
  • Abel
  • Slow Show
  • Pink Rabbits
  • Graceless
  • About Today
  • Fake Empire

Encore:

  • Mr. November
  • Terrible Love
  • Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks

More pictures from my Flickr set are available here.

Details of this entry.Sunday, March 16, 2014, filed under Reviews.
Recent tracks played are displayed on Last.fm.Hard to Find, The National


For the kids.

Another magical night.

“Look, I even did a t-shirt for you guys! You know what this is, right?”

When he came out from his brief but penetrating gaze with a knowing smile, I swore I could have seen a bulb light up at the top of his head.

“… a pink rabbit!”

Ah, what I would do for another night with you. Thank you so much for the memories, Mr Berninger.

Coming next: yet another biased review from a starstruck fan.

Details of this entry.Tuesday, February 25, 2014, filed under Personal.
Recent tracks played are displayed on Last.fm.,


Waters on the rise.

This could either be another denial of sorts, or a rite of passage that distorts.

Three months is a considerable amount of time to give it more than just a broad overview, and speaks volumes about what it can or can no longer do.

It may be a mere flash in the pan, designed to hold back that dash of triumph long coming into plan.

It may drown you under the bright white February moonlight, where dancing stars shower on you with all their might.

It may even twirl you around in a lovely waltz, finishing neatly with a leaping somersault.

But you know it has become a mistake when things no longer feel right, affirming the doubts that previously lingered at first sight.

Love will lead us all to smithereens.

Details of this entry.Saturday, February 15, 2014, filed under Personal.
Recent tracks played are displayed on Last.fm.Lean, The National


Divulge to indulge.

We let on far more than we intended to.

Those first impressions and second guesses become one with the wind after one mere harmless peek at a social network profile; from marital status and age, to preferred fast food joint and favourite childhood toy, to the finest red wine ever had – it spills exactly everything and hides absolutely nothing.

While I must admit that I hardly feel guilty at having done my due diligence, I am getting increasingly troubled by the overloading of such trivial details into my already-tired brain, and the emotional anxiety that is soon to begin in the lead-up to the next four-eyed meeting.

Because all I can see before me now is a big, shiny bottle of pinot noir – uncorked and slightly chilled, ready to be drunk on a balmy Sunday evening, because apparently that is how you like it best.

Likewise, the same could actually be said about these many written words here, which have (mostly) been carefully crafted over a period of twelve years and more. I am aware that they may either portray me as an individual so tellingly vulnerable that you could have pointed me out from a police line-up without any hesitation whatsoever; or simply paint me as a translucent and nameless online being that ceases to exist as soon as you hit the exit button of your browser.

And I am quite happy to live with knowledge of the latter.

Details of this entry.Monday, February 03, 2014, filed under Personal.
Recent tracks played are displayed on Last.fm.Pink Rabbits, The National


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