So, it’s that time of the year again, when music lovers get onto their knees and beg their piggy banks to cough up more coins. Esplanade—Theatres on the Bay’s Mosaic Music Festival, which primarily showcases jazz and world music, is back for a second consecutive year with a stellar cast to draw more lusty people scouring for a cool music fix. Sure, there are many exciting ticketed shows, but there are also many good free acts. Trust us when we say it’s really possible to have a roaring good time with both international and local acts without burning a (big) hole in your pocket.
As Esplanade’s programming officer for Mosaic, Amy Ho quips, “In our inaugural Mosaic Music Festival, we showcased over 200 artists from around 10 countries. This year, we have increased the diversity of genres. We will feature over 300 artists from 15 countries performing across a wide array of musical styles.” Expect an aural treat surpassing last year’s Mosaic Music Festival.
Headlining the festival is the double bill by Japanese pianist Hiromi and the legendary funk musician Maceo Parker (Mar 10). Hiromi Uehara has had her fingers on the piano since she was six. Forget prim and proper suits or elegant evening gowns. Defying the slightly forbidding atmosphere that is usually associated with a piano concert, this spontaneous lady with wild hair bangs on the keys with even wilder energy. We think Maceo Parker blowing on his own alto horn to churn out percussive funk beats is a must-see too. His band has been described as being “as tight as the chewing gum stuck on the bottom of your shoe”, while his collaborations over the years have included such classic acts as James Brown, George Clinton, Ray Charles, Prince, and even the Red Hot Chilli Peppers.
If you are into acid jazz and soul funk, Incognito (Mar 12) is an act that you shouldn’t miss. Hailed as one of the pioneers of the acid jazz and soul funk scene, their chart topping songs have taken them all over the globe for more than 20 years.
Paquito D’Rivera (Mar 12) and his saxophone are also going to try to steal the limelight. Serving up sensual and captivating Latin and Brazilian jazz, this saxophonist, clarinettist and composer promises a riveting concert. No wonder this master has seven Grammy® Awards under his belt. The famed vocal ensemble, The New York Voices, will join him on stage.
Miriam Makeba (Mar 14) has been labeled as South Africa’s greatest musical ambassador. With a voice that soothes and heals, she started out as a member of the church choir and rose to become an international star whose singing and songwriting style reaches across borders and surpasses expectations. Crooning hits such as “Pata Pata,” “The Clique Sing” and “Malaika,” she moves audiences wih her voice of great emotion and depth.
There are some guitar gods that every self-proclaimed guitarist should know, and Pat Metheny (Mar 15) is definitely one of them. Get past his big hair—which so reminds us of the ’80s music scene—and you will be impressed by his soulful and technical playing that is marked by improvisational virtuosity. Grounded in the jazz tradition of melody, swing and the blues, this 16-time Grammy® Award-winner has shared the stage with musicians such as David Bowie, Steve Reich and Herbie Hancook. Joining his soaring guitar riffs and solos in this concert are the groovy bass notes of Christian McBride and the pulsating drum beats of Antonio Sanchez.
Get set for sincere melancholic melodies and honest lyrics when Kings of Convenience (Mar 16), the Norwegian folk duo of Eirik Glambek Boe and Erlend Oye, perform to move you. Their music tugs at your heartstrings, as they gently strum their acoustic guitar strings and sing their brand of intimate and thoughtful songs.
You have probably sung your lungs out and tapped your feet to the songs “The Remedy” or “You and I Both.” Perhaps it’s time to join other fans singing and tapping away in the Concert Hall. The man behind these chart topping hits, Jason Mraz (Mar 17), is going to blow you away with his charming combination of country and rock.
The guys from the four–generation ensemble Afro-Cuban All Stars (Mar 18) are all stars in their own right. Each is talented and together, they are going to deliver the pumping hot beats of Afro Cuban music. Watch them whip up a concoction of classic son montuno, contemporary timba, blero, big band guajira and danzon.
Besides international shows demanding your attention in the Mosaic Music Festival, there are some awesome local acts who want to rock your socks off too. Some of the bands we dig—and to which we willingly offer up our socks—are The Suns (Mar 19), Ronin (Mar 16), Pulse (Mar 16) and Set for Glory (Mar 16).
The outrageous outfit The Suns (formerly Boredphucks), when banned in Singapore, took their rock sound to Australia, made a big name for itself, and now returns home to kick more ass. Sharing the stage with other awesome bands such as Gerhana Skacinta, Heritage and USV, the Suns will be playing all their old and new anthems to thrill fans. As San from The Suns says, “We’re super pumped about doing one of the best shows Esplanade will ever see!” If you haven’t checked them out, where were you?
Ronin doesn’t need much introduction. Guys mosh in delirium to songs such as “Revolution” and “Black Maria” and girls scream with joy as the vocalist Levan throws underwear to the crowd. Good old school rock and roll. “We’re psyched up for the show!” yell its members. We are, too.
Pulse wants to get your pulse racing with their catchy and infectious melodies. As to what the band will deliver in the Mosaic Music Festival, its members let on, “We are going to play songs from our new album Moving On. Our genre lies somewhere in between pop and alternative rock, so expect to hear sounds in this range. We do cover songs from artists such as Led Zepplin and System of a Down too. So yes, we do rock from time to time.”
Pop punk/emo act Set For Glory was formed in 2003, and is all out to stir up a commotion in the local music scene. With a slightly different playlist than their usual gigs, their set in the Mosaic Music Festival will be worth checking out. “Expect something more laidback than what we would usually play as a full band. Catchy, easy listening kind of music. And more uplifting songs!” say its members.
Besides riveting performances by both international and local acts, other fringe events of the 10-day Mosaic Music Festival includes workshops with the artists, film screenings, midnight jam sessions, visual arts exhibitions and an outdoor bazaar along the waterfront. Some of our hottest pubs and clubs are also having special promotions in conjunction with the festival. Jam packed with both spectacular ticketed and free events, the Mosaic Music Festival is affordable and definitely one to block your diary for.
Here’s some advice for the ambitious trying to catch as many acts as possible in the Mosaic Music Festival.
• Read as much as you can about the artistes. To differentiate yourself, nothing beats showing off your depth of musical knowledge to other people going to the same shows as you.
• Eat before the show. Concert goers will find your stomach growls distracting, especially if they echo throughout the hall.
• Be kiasu. Arrive early at Esplanade to secure a parking spot and avoid being late.
• Gulp down lots of coffee if you’re going to hop from show to show. If the show you’re attending won’t give you that adrenalin rush you crave so much, the coffee will.
• Ladies, please ditch those high heels and miniskirts if you are going to rock concerts. Dress comfy to jump wildly.
• If you are so self-conscious in rock concerts that you can’t let go and move your body, bring some lighters to wave around. That way, you won’t be mistaken for a rigid poseur.
• Hold your piggy bank at gunpoint and threaten it to give you more money so you can buy the merchandise of our local bands.