Date: September 25th, 2011
How time flies. I landed on the 19th and thought “Hmm, I can take it easy, I have lots of time!”. Now it was my last full day in Singapore.
I decided to visit Little India, as last year I had to rush through it. Plus, I wanted to have lunch from a restaurant there.
Instead of wasting time, I decided to go all the way up to Avalon Club at Marina Bay Sands to find out when The Chemical Brothers were set to hit the stage for the F1 After Party tonight. The Linkin Park concert was surely going to end past midnight and I didn’t want to miss The Chemical Brothers. After all, I paid good money to see these both these acts!
I asked around the club when The Chemical Brothers would take the stage for their set but no one could give me a definite answer. They guessed it would be after midnight, and well after the race.
The reason I came all way to Avalon Club is because when I tried calling them earlier, no one answered. I had good reason for concern. When I tried visiting their Facebook fanpage yesterday, it had been deleted. I wanted to know how Friday night’s party (LMFAO and Ludacris) went but there was nothing! (Avalon has a new page now with a different Facebook url)
I went back to the Esplanade Outdoor Theatre where the Forbidden Broadway show had began.
Even though I had never seen a Broadway musical live, I still got most of the jokes. After all, if you watch enough Glee or follow popular culture, one would have found this show funny. I enjoyed it, it was good change from the usual concerts.
I parted ways with Niranjan and we agreed to catch up after the race. I decided to watch the race for a bit.
I got bored and walked back to the concert ground. My opinion about watching an F1 race remains the same. When I watched the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix from a grandstand seat in 2010, at first the prospect of it sounded exciting — but it soon got very boring. Be it seated or even with these walkabout tickets, watching cars whizz by at speeds in excess of 100kmph gets boring pretty quick. Given how loud these cars are too, you can’t even hear the on-air commentary through the speakers until the cars fade away.
But the Singapore Grand Prix is an experience like no other. First of all, the city is the circuit! That too the impressive central business district, which looks even more impressive at night. They don’t set up most of the grandstands until a few days prior to the race week. It’s an event which really showcases Singapore’s glamour — something the government is really good at marketing.
I didn’t record videos because I did enough of that at the Abu Dhabi concert. I wanted to enjoy the show this time, so I only took one video. Here’s “The Catalyst,” from one of my favorite Linkin Park albums:
If you want to see the entire concert, this guy filmed it — but don’t assume the crowd was lousy based on that video. The crowd was much better on my side! It was a better crowd than at the Abu Dhabi concert, all thanks to the Zone 4 ticket prices which made it affordable for real fans of Linkin Park to come see them. Something the mostly younger fanbase couldn’t afford in Abu Dhabi.
For a band that has yet to perform in Bangalore, I feel quite privileged to have seen them twice. The setlist was slightly different (at least the order of songs) from the Abu Dhabi show late last year. Of course, in Abu Dhabi, I actually met Mike Shinoda in person! That luck didn’t repeat itself here in Singapore.
My 2011 Singapore F1 experience was finally over. I truly got my money’s worth! For SG$138 (Rs. 5000/$110/€83) I got to see Linkin Park, Shakira, a bit of Shaggy, 3/5th of K-pop supergroup BIG BANG, Charice, Rick Astley, an off-broadway show, samba dancers, etc. — and cars racing. Beat that for value! Had I not stepped out of the circuit to go around town with Aimee, I would have seen much more. The organizers definitely did a better job this year as far entertainment went. In 2010, they had a pregnant Mariah Carey headline on Sunday. Yeah, don’t ask. My friend Ramesh attended the race last year and he told me how bad it was!
I have my bets placed on Coldplay headlining the concert series in 2012 and even though I would love to go back to Singapore, the same Zone 4 Walkabaout ticket is now SG$178! :-/Update (10/02/2011): A day after this was pushed live, Maroon 5 has been announced as the headliners for Saturday. Now that a band is headlining one day, will it be a female artist like Rihanna or Madonna (or Katy Perry) headlining Sunday? (Please, no Britney!)
As I exited the concert grounds, I bumped into another friend from Bangalore who told me he attended the Friday party with LMFAO and Ludacris at the Avalon Club. He told me the experience wasn’t great. That… didn’t sound to good to me. None the less, I exited the circuit after catching up with Niranjan and his wife.
I said my goodbyes to them and took the MRT to Marina Bay, which was on its last journey for the night.
As I entered the club, there was a sign outside stating an apology for Saturday night’s Sander van Doorn party — which was cancelled. This was yet another sign implying something wasn’t right about Avalon. It was too late for me to bail out though, I had no choice but to go in.
Once inside, I wasn’t too impressed. One, despite its exterior, the dance floor didn’t look that big for a big-name club. Two, what the hell is this?
It really irritated me. It’s as though the management didn’t want us to see if the DJ was even there! I made my way through the smoke and to the DJ stand, where there was no one playing a live set at the moment. I went upstairs because the smoke got nauseating after a while, plus it was really hard to see.
I ended up chatting with a few youth who had come down from Indonesia just to see The Chemical Brothers. We were excited and danced away when any Chemical Brothers track came on. An hour passed and after the popular tracks like “Star Guitar,” “Do It Again” and the epic “Hey Boy, Hey Girl,” I stopped dancing. The smoke machine was still on and I began to wonder if The Chemical Brothers were even performing live!
I bought my tickets for this gig with certain expectations. I wasn’t expecting Glastonbury-level of epicness inside a club, but the visuals are very much a part of The Chemical Brothers experience. When I visited the club earlier in the afternoon, they were running some visuals on the screen. As long as I was in the club, that screen didn’t even come on once! I felt so ripped off.
The Indonesians left after a while and I felt like leaving too. That is until I looked outside…
For something that was branded an ‘F1 After Party,’ I didn’t see many who even remotely looked like they were part of the major F1 teams. No drivers, nothing. Just a bunch of fat men who were ordering pricey vodka bottles and had Asian girls much younger to them on either arm. It wasn’t the crowd I was expecting for a Chemical Brothers gig.
It was nearing 3am, and I wanted to leave so badly. I didn’t care about the SG$83 I paid for this ‘party’ because I needed to get some sleep . I still had things to do before I left Singapore later in the evening of the 26th (which it already was). After Boy George ended his set and before the next DJ began his, I left. It was still drizzling, but I placed my handkerchief to cover my head. I was told by the staff at Avalon I could get taxis in front of the convention centre at Marina Bay Sands. I went through the Shoppes to the bus stop in front and waited.I showed my hand to many taxis that passed by, none of them stopped. Some were full, some were not — and there were quite a few of us in need of a ride home.
Fed up, I then walked to dropping point at the casino, to try my luck there. All the taxis that stopped here were already booked or weren’t taking any passengers. A bunch of Indians from Mumbai were frustrated and said if it were back in their city, they would have already gotten a rickshaw or a taxi in a matter of minutes. It’s true.
I was getting really angry at this point. It was still drizzling, I was wet and sleepy. Past 4am at this point, I then walked to the Marina Bay Sands hotel lobby hoping the reception could call me a taxi no matter what the cost. At the lobby, I was then shown to the dropping point where an snake-line had already formed, and where many like me were waiting an awful long time to get a taxi. An Italian woman who looked like model was frustrated at the notion of waiting this long to get a taxi at an “$8 billion hotel”! Couldn’t help but agree with her to an extent.
Many in line were fuming. Some tried the old ‘slip some money in the hands’ of staff to get an advantage, but the staff declined. But it didn’t matter. Some people saw that and started shouting at the staff over preferential treatment — even though the hotel employee didn’t show any. One taxi that did stop by demanded SG$500 from some Westerners who needed to go the airport. The taxi driver got a “Fuck off!” instead.
I stood there quietly, but very, very frustrated. Eventually I got fed up as the line wasn’t moving as fast as I hoped. I asked the staff when the MRT would open and he told me 5am. Fuming, I walked in the drizzle to the MRT station as it was only few minutes until 5am.
Got the first train, and finally reached Central mall. I didn’t take the overbridge, I just hopped over the divider and crossed the road. Yeah, I jaywalked, I didn’t care! I was so frustrated with how my night turned out after what until Avalon, was such a good day! Never going to make this mistake again. Another lesson learnt? Carry an umbrella at all time when in Singapore.
As soon as I got to my room, I took off my socks and slept. There was little else I was in the mood for.
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