The tale of Vampire Weekend live in Singapore lies below in 2 versions: Long & Short
Tonight was the Vampire Weekend gig, one we've all been waiting for for a long time. Got off from work early and made my way there with plans to buy some merch and perhaps, time permitting, enjoy a pre-concert beverage.
There was no merchandise on sale, unfortunately, but there was plenty of unnecessary overexertion of authority from the authorities and overshow of snobbery from snobs.
The way things work in the Esplanade is, if you get a ticket for anywhere on the ground floor, it's free for all, despite the fact that it's quite a grand theatre more suited to orchestras and plays and ballets. Grown-up stuff. What usually transpires: once the band comes on, the front of stage is swarmed with those who couldn't afford front row, or were just smart enough not to bother.
Tonight, however, people in the front row apparently complained that their precious $200 view was obstructed. But really, we didn't care. If you can't see, just stand up like everyone else. That's the way it's always been there.
Tonight was different. The bouncers actually told us to go back to our seats! "Erm.. no," the standing crowd collectively replied. But you know how this herd effect thing works, once one person gives in, everyone else thinks they should too. Which is eventually what happened.
I had a passionate explanation to offer the nice bouncers who tried to remove me. This ALWAYS happens, and yes I suppose it is unfair to those who paid more for a good view, but really, they should know better when attending a rock concert.
Of course, I didn't realise that it was only me and 3 others who were left fighting (at least on my side of the stage). This was seen as a threat, and armed security was called. Seriously? I mean, surely there's nothing more threatening than a girl in a yellow skirt, ballet flats and a tshirt trying to watch a cool band, but I suspected that this was bordering on unnecessary action.
My suspicions were confirmed when said armed authority shook his finger in my face and said, "I want you to leave right now. Can you, or can you not, comply?" I resisted suggesting a wider range of vocabulary that would have had a greater impact.
After trying my best to defend my hard-earned spot at the front of the stage, things began to get heated. He was aggravated that I wasn't listening, I was offended that he was abusing his authority to try and intimidate me.
At this point, he put his hand on his holstered gun, indicated to his blue uniform and said, "I'm in uniform. Can you, or can you not, comply?" Oh, so you're playing that card, eh? Let's see where this goes.
I politely asked what would happen if I didn't comply. I mean, a fairly large man with his hand on his weapon seems slightly more threatening than I could ever be. He then informed me that as he was a "man of uniform", he had the power to "take action against me". Finger wagging was still going on with unarmed hand.
So, back to the key question: could I or could I not comply?
Quite honestly, I replied, I can. But, I don't really want to. Cos I wanna watch the band.
His expression? Priceless.
My three remaining comrades (random strangers who fought the system with me) stuck it out for a while before we advised the armed assassin to remove the stick from his ass, let people have a good time and get over himself; we then moved to our next plan of attack.
After being cordoned off to the side of the stage with barriers and everything, a rich front-row snob came to enquire with the guards who were holding us back, would these people be allowed to stand in front once the band started? No, he assured her. They (we) would not.
Very foolish. You don't need a pHD to realise that now, of course, we HAD to have our way. My comrades were very keen as we plotted our attack. A mutiny was beginning to develop among the masses.
Mr I-compensate-for-my-small-member-with-my-gun tried to get past me, but I informed him I couldn't move out of his way as I had been told to move to this spot and stay right there, and I didn't want to break any rules.
His expression? Priceless.
Anyway, with a common goal in mind, we carried out some barrier-busting rehearsals before VW came on. With these guys in charge, you have to go for it at just the right second. We were all set. Lights dim. Band comes on. Barrier successfully dismantled. Chairs lept over. Guards, quite literally, floored. And all of us exactly where we were in the first place before all this drama took place. Except with a newfound sense of satisfaction and Damn-the-Man arrogance.
All entirely unneccesary had they chosen not to make a fuss, but if you insist on making things difficult, we can work around it. Generation Y, y'know, we're very good at adapting to new situations.
The simple facts are these:
1. Singapore wants to be seen as a vibrant arts hub. Oppressive authorities do not help this. Nobody thinks a rock concert without a mosh pit is vibrant.
2. Despite this, the music starts and the kids don't care about your very silly rules. It's ironic that the society you're trying to create is stifled by yourselves; you already have what you want and you don't even realise it.
3. It did, however, make me happy that we got our way in the end. Not that we did it for the people in power, but here's the vibrant art/music society you wanted, clearly demonstrated by all this passion for music. Can't you see it?
Short Version: Vampire Weekend was awesome.