By: Ashish Rudola
Photos: Cao Ying
On a sleepy Saturday, the unlucky (or lucky, depending on how you look at it) residents of KR and RVR were loudly awakened. Why? ‘Cause it was time for the annual Rockfest! Rockfest is an annual event organized by Sheares Hall which serves to provide a few hours of the best non-stop rock music that all Halls of residence can come up with. This year, this event was held in the newly made YIH amphitheatre.
Since early morning, the various Hall Bands started sound testing, trying to get exactly the right notes they wanted, a process that is definitely not pleasant to the ears. Besides the occasional bursts of uncontrolled distortion, the irritating “twangs” of untuned guitars would give anyone earaches. Our own Band (which, by the way, has settled on a new name: AFK) started their sound check at 9am. After a 20 minute period, it was all over relatively noiselessly. RELATIVELY. By the time the KE band left, it would be quite safe to say that all sleeping students in the area would by now know that Rockfest was going to take place later, which is, among other things, excellent for publicity!
The KE band played second to last, right after a hard-rocking performance by Sheares. They first tried to mellow out the audience after all the hard-rock, hence started off with an acoustic set: the song “Everybody’s Changing” by Keane. With Joel on vocals, Alvin on the cajón, Yannick on the guitar, Praveen on the bass guitar and Mae Yue on the keyboard, the first chords brought huge applause from the very appreciative crowd, which featured many non- KEVIIans. This was followed by the classic Train song, “Drops of Jupiter”. Since the original version features a big orchestra, the band decided on playing an acoustic version of the song, and the end of it, it was clear that the audience were really in sync with the chilled-out tone set by the KE band. So, when Joel announced that the next song would be the popular track “Sunday Morning” by Maroon 5, there were cheers of anticipation. And sure enough, the band did not disappoint. You could see a few members in the audience humming along with the band, while the members themselves seemed very happy with the performance, most prominently Yannick, who could be seen beaming like a doting mother. The most memorable moment of the song was undoubtedly the bass solo performed by Praveen which drew a huge round of cheers from the crowd. This song was followed by another crowd favourite, the very popular Coldplay song, “Clocks”. The band did a great job in mellowing the song to make it smooth to the ears, since this song can carry a lot of energy if played non-acoustically.
After finishing these four songs, Craig came on stage and as per normal, promised to up the ante by “just a little bit”, for it was the turn of the non-acoustic set to showcase what they had. The first song that was performed was “21 Guns”, by Green Day, with Craig on vocals, Siyuan on the rhythm guitar, Chongyu on the lead guitar, Praveen on the bass guitar and Asher on drums. Just a few seconds into the song and the atmosphere change was obvious. The loud vocals of Craig, heavy distortion of the guitars and fierce pounding on the drums by Asher sent a bolt of energy throughout the entire place, jolting everyone out of the relaxed ambience brought on by the acoustic songs. The solo by Chongyu really set the energy to a whole new level.
After this, Wai Kit took over vocals while Ashish played lead guitar. The next song was “Big Machine” by the Goo Goo Dolls. The song maintained the high level of intensity brought on by 21 Guns, ending very heavily with Siyuan’s guitar on full distortion while Wai Kit screaming away to rock-and-roll Hall of Fame. The next song was probably the most demanding non-acoustic song, so much so that Wai Kit even made a disclaimer about it! Upon Asher’s cue, Ashish started the famous tune of “Vindicated” by Dashboard Confessional. A song which comprised heavy screaming choruses with very mellow verse parts, the song drew huge rounds of applause from the appreciative crowd. This song was followed by the last song of the day for AFK. Craig came back on stage to sing “All the Right Moves” by One Republic. Siyuan departed in place of Chongyu, Mae Yue came on the keyboard and Yannick replaced Praveen on the base guitar. Mae Yue started off the song with Asher coming in with a complex beat. And immediately after that, the fast paced chorus began with Craig yelling into the microphone, while those who knew the words in the audience sang along. The song finished with a mini solo by May Yue and Ashish, while the audience applauded the great show of rock put on by AFK.
It’s quite safe to say that AFK, despite being in existence for a mere few months, really brought the house (or should I say the amphitheatre) down with some solid performances. The band head and the maternal figure in the band, Yannick, on being asked his thoughts about the eventful day, had this to say,” I am very proud of everybody’s performance. We clearly rocked the crowd. Good job AFK!!!”.