I’m writing this review a lot earlier than I expected to. As with all Linkin Park album releases, their new album has been leaked online more than a week in advance. It shouldn’t surprise anyone – even Mike Shinoda. Although my CD is already pre-ordered, I couldn’t help myself from finding what one of my favourite bands had in store with their follow up to 2010′s A Thousand Suns – an album that brought the band a lot of acclaim, and hate. I loved it, and hoped the band would pushing musical boundaries.
Linkin Park chose to work with legendary producer Rick Rubin again, the third time since ‘Minutes to Midnight‘ (2007). So how does the fifth studio album fare? More importantly, how does it sound?
It's a major tourist draw in Little India, but to most Indians -- we've seen bigger
It was closed at this time
Went to the famous Mustafa Centre
Even though Mustafa Centre is famous for being open 24 hours, I consider it a lousy place for certain goods, especially as far as pricing goes (Read my 2010 experience)
You have enough vegetarian food available in this part of Singapore
I just walked around aimlessly hopping from one shopping centre to another
It was time to find a place to eat
After checking out a few restaurants, I sat at this corner shop. You can buy beer from the Chinese vendor on the right and food from two other vendors on the left.
Had a few phulkas with mutton kheema & peas curry (and a beer). The whole meal cost less than SG$10.
This is the place
I walked back to the MRT station
This place seemed really popular as there was a long queue for takeaways
Shree Lakshminarayan temple
'No Durian' - popular fruit in Singapore, but not allowed in public transportation!
I decided to enter the circuit via Gate 5 as I figured the lines would be smaller than the more easily accessible Gate 4
I made it just before 3pm and I was right, the queue wasn't that long
As soon as the gates opened and the security check was done, I began to run. Because so did many other youngsters! And by youngsters, I mean Linkin Park fans!
Because this was the scene just 10 minutes past 3 'o' clock. Two lines had already formed on either side!
Luckily, I got my Fanzone wristband! Woo-hoo!
Some people were already queuing to get as close to the stage as possible
Just shows how popular Linkin Park is!
I didn't really have anything on my agenda, so I checked out LG's booth where they were showcasing their 3D Tvs
I checked out the demos and left. (That model is really pretty isn't she?)
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 took the MRT and then walked to the club
I saw two guys who resembled Tom Rowlands and Ed Simons (a.k.a The Chemical Brothers) but I couldn't go up closer as they were testing the visuals and the sound. I at least felt good knowing I could expect a good set tonight!
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 left Avalon Club with the notion I may be able to catch The Chemical Brothers in time tonight
Stepped inside The Shoppes for some air conditioning
I took the MRT back to City Hall
I decided to go inside St. Andrews Cathedral as I passed by it so many times but never went in
The Asian touch
Christianity is the second most widely practiced religion in Singapore after Buddhism
By 5:40pm, I went back in
A Thai band called Earth Collide were playing at the Esplanade Outdoor Theatre
Marina Bay Sands was gleaming in the afternoon sun
Took out my 70-200mm lens again
The sun was about to set
I waited for the Forbidden Broadway show to begin
But just then, the F1 drivers parade began
I rushed back to Esplanade Drive and raised my camera over a barricade to try and get a clear shot
UK's Jenson Button
And the obvious guy to win the race -- Sebastian Vettel
I went back to the Esplanade Outdoor Theatre where the Forbidden Broadway show had began.
New York's longest running off-Broadway musical comedy revue parodies popular Broadway shows
Like 'The Lion King,' which ironically, was playing right behind them at the Marina Bay Sands theater
They ripped Walt Disney for its corporatization of Broadway and invading live theatre with their successful film franchises
It was pretty funny
Even Ariel, The Little Mermaid, wasn't spared
Next up was Avenue Q (Poor Elmo, what did they do to him!)
Shows using puppets were ridiculed next
Mary Poppins! Another Disney franchise that was made into a Broadway show.
Next up, the long-running Les Miserables
The actors were funny, but they were great performers and singers too
'Phantom of the Opera'
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 caught up with my friend Niranjan who had also flown down from Bangalore for the Singapore F1
We just sat by the bay and took a break from the heat
Marina Bay Sands had laser F1 cars going up the towers
We walked back to Esplanade drive
Me and Niranjan (Photo was taken by his wife)
I parted ways with Niranjan and we agreed to catch up after the race. I decided to watch the race for a bit.
The 2011 Singtel Singapore Grand Prix was a go!
I walked to the overhead staircase near the Zone 4 grandstand to get a better view
Mind you, blocking the stairs to take photos isn't allowed
Also, I wasn't the only cheapskate tried to get to a better view, there were quite a few
I didn't stay on the bridge for long, just took these photos and left
I walked to another vantage point
I mounted my 70-200mm lens again
Bends are probably the best spots to snap these cars, because that's where they actually 'slow' down
And when I mean 'slow down', I mean taking turns at 90-100kmph
I shot these hand held over the photographers who had placed themselves right in front and set up their tripods
Red Bull Racing has had an amazing 2011 season so far
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.
Watching a race on the big screen is any day better in my opinion. You get to see the cars better, hear the commentary and view multiple angles.
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 went back to the concert grounds and watched the race on the screens there
It wasn't that exciting a race anyway
As expected, Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel won
With the race over, there was one final moment everyone was waiting for
One of my favourite bands, and one of the best bands that debuted in the last decade -- Linkin Park!
Linkin Park hit the stage at around 10:45pm
Took out the big lens for a few close-ups
I don't know how he does it every night, but Chester Bennington's heavy vocals are amazing!
His screaming especially! Undoubtedly one of the best rock vocalists out there!
From their early days when they mostly wore casual black, these days the members look very 'grown up'
The unofficial leader of Linkin Park, Mike Shinoda, and resident DJ Joesph Hahn on the turntables
It was harder for me to take photos of the other members as they remained 'in the shadows'
Bassist Dave "Phoenix" Farrell
The rather quiet Brad Delson on lead guitar
Linkin Park were on the Asian leg of their 'A Thousand Suns' tour, so they played a lot of their new material along with all their hits from albums past
It wasn't easy for me to take photos surrounded by so many people, but I did my best
I had a blast seeing these guys again
This is why I love the Canon 70-200mm lens! Hardly needed to make any adjustments to this photo.
Mike Shinoda's look reminded me of technology editor Joshua Topolsky (Yeah, what a geek am I right?)
The show lasted nearly one and half hours
Chester finally got to rest his vocal chords
The band gave out guitar picks as usual
Drummer Rob Bourdon finally came to the front of the stage
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!
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.
I walked to the Avalon Club
The excitement I initially had for seeing The Chemical Brothers had wore off a bit. I was quite tired and I wondered if it was too much to attend this party as well.
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?
I haven't been to hundreds of clubs, but where have you seen this much smoke/fog?
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 still couldn't see the stage from here, but at least I could breathe better
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!
The Indonesians left after a while and I felt like leaving too. That is until I looked outside…
It was raining so heavily! For the past three days, it was sunny! It's like the deal F1 organizers had struck with the rain gods ended as soon as the race was over.
I was stuck inside the club. I had to wait until the rain subsided as I wasn't carrying an umbrella -- and the roads were a bit of a walk away.
Looked like they floors going a few level below the entrance
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.
The smoke only subsided during Boy George's set. His set was pretty good actually, but I was quite angry reaffirming myself all that smoke from earlier was to hide the fact The Chemical Brothers set wasn't live!
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.
From September 19th to 26th, I visited Singapore for a second time. Here are a few photos:
First order of business, collect my Singapore GP ticket from the Swissôtel The Stamford
I then walked all the way to the Merlion Park for the obligatory 'Yes, I'm in Singapore' shot
Second order of business - head to Funan IT mall to buy a camera backpack. There was a Gear of War 3 launch event going on as Singapore was going to get the game a few hours before the rest of the world did. A few hours early is a big deal to gamers when you go online dammit!
Day 1 went according to plan. Got my Kata Owl DL-272 from John 3:16 for SGD185, nearly Rs. 2000 cheaper.
Day 2, I decided to go to Jurong Bird Park, which I couldn't do last year
Unfortunately, it began raining heavily (dark clouds and all). This was taken on my phone.
But eventually the heavy rain subsided and I continued shooting. It wasn't easy though. Holding my Canon 7D with the heavy 70-200mm lens in one hand and an umbrella in the other hand. I tried my best.
I was nearly done with the park when disaster struck. Because of the wet grounds, I slipped on a downward slope and fell on the ground. I tried to break my fall as I didn’t want to damage my camera… but …
Long story short, this is what my hand looked like at the end of the day. It hurt. But what hurt more was that the filter on my 70-200mm lens dented in so badly that nobody could remove it by hand. Eventually Canon service had to carefully drill two holes on the side without touching the main lens and remove it. Cost SGD130 though.
Day 2, obviously not according to plan then.
Day 3 was supposed to be Sentosa & Universal Studios but with my 70-200mm lens still at the service center, so I couldn't go there without it. So instead, I hopped on a bus and see where it would take me.
I basically wanted to see the inner parts of Singapore and the more residential areas. Not just the usual commercial areas every tourist sees.
The weather looked gloomy today as well
In the afternoon, ended up going to the Botanic gardens because I told myself I can't justify this trip unless I take a lot of photos!
Even though such places aren't really my thing, I ended up liking the gardens a lot
Then ended up clicking quite a lot of photos once inside the Orchid Park. Really worth the SG$5 fee!
Left the gardens and met my friend Aimee on Orchard Road. She's no angel, that's just Photoshop.
Day 4, I got my lens back and decided to go to the Marina Bay Sands Hotel & Casino. Played $65 at the casino — and lost it all Photography isn’t allowed inside the casino, so I have no photos, but take my word for it — it was impressive!
After the casino, went up to the skybridge
The views from up here... worth the $20 fee! The skybridge is even higher than the Singapore Flyer.
Didn't feel like going to the Singapore Flyer after this
From up here, you can see why Singapore Port is one of the busiest in the world. Oh, they're also constructing more attractions at Marina Bay.
The famous pool at the hotel. Hopefully one day I can afford to stay in this hotel, just so I can use the swimming pool
Day 5, met up with Aimee again as she showed me around Chinatown.
Last year, myself & Loiyumba only strolled through Chinatown at night, so I didn't even know about this Buddhist temple
Finally had bread ice cream by the Quay. Durian flavoured ice cream that too!
Oprah loved her, David Foster promoted her and 'Glee' made her even more famous. It was Pinoy fever as Charice kicked off the concerts on Friday night. What a voice she has!
Then I got my K-pop fix with Seungri first taking the stage
And later, fellow BIG BANG members GD&TOP ended the night with a stellar (albeit short) performance
Day 6, had lunch at Boat Quay and had my first taste of Singapore Chili Crab.
After (Disclaimer/just saying: There were three of us at the table)
I was in no rush to enter the gates when it opened at 3pm just to get fanzone passes to be closer to the stage today. But I still ended up getting them at 3:30pm.
Waited for this man to perform at the Marina Bay stage. Yes, Rick Astley. He still sounds great!
He was also quite funny. Drenched in sweat (like the rest of us) he asked for some chilled beer for him and his band. The organizers handed him one bottle of beer, to which he pointed out that it looked like something else
Rick Astley was later joined by racing supremo Eddie Jordan on drums
Mithun Divakaran, officially 'Rick-Rolled'
Next up, the incredibly sexy, talented Shakira. But all her writhing about and moaning got a bit annoying for me after a while.
Four lucky Singaporean girls got a chance to shake their hips with Shakira as well
They also flew in a Brazilian samba dance troupe. Never seen hips being shaken so violently before! I don't know how they do it, but I hope to see the Rio Carnival in person one day.
Finally, closing out Saturday's entertainment...wait for it...
"Singapore! Remember me?.... No? Aw, come on!..."
I didn't bother staying too long for Shaggy's set. As with all rap/reggae/urban artists, half the time it was instructions: "throw your hands in the air!" "say woahhh" "do this, do that!" -_-
"Oh just give it up Shaggy"
Day 7 was the big race on Sunday.
Sunday's entertainment for me began with the off-broadway show Forbidden Broadway. A musical spoofing pretty much every popular hit broadway show from The Lion King to Wicked and more. Pretty funny, if you got the jokes that is!
They mostly made fun of Disney's infiltration of broadway with their properties and how Disney fool people into thinking everything from The Little Mermaid to Mary Poppins (both of which they also spoofed) are any good on live theatre.
Watched a bit of the race from the corners where I could manage to take a few decent snaps
But I headed back to the concert stage so I could get close enough to see the main reason why I booked my tickets in May itself: Linkin Park!
Chester actually had a cast on his arm but performed on stage without it. Needless to say, he was his screaming best. What an incredible vocalist!
This is why I can't do without my 70-200mm lens. Hardly did any adjustments to make this photo look any better.
After feeling great about getting my SGD138 worth of entertainment, I took the last train to Marina Bay to go see The Chemical Brothers perform at the Avalon Club.
After dancing for more than hour to hits like "Star Guitar" "Don't Think" and "Do it Again," I kept wondering why the smoke machine was on until Boy George began his set. Made me question if The Chemical Brothers were even there! I felt cheated in some ways.
Day 8, I went to IKEA for some shopping before heading to the airport at 5:30pm.
Finally had lunch from an IKEA and tasted their famed Swedish meatballs
Anyway, there’s a lot more to say and hundreds more photographs to put up. I will begin this Singapore series once I complete my Philippines series.