Monday, January 29, 2007

Hoobastank Concert Review

Hoo: Hoobastank
What: Every Man For Himself Tour

When: 28 January 2007, 8pm

Where: Fort Canning Park

LA outfit Hoobastank descended on Fort Canning Park last night and gave a rockin' good time to the 2000-strong (estimated) crowd. I had won a pair of tickets from my favourite radio station, Power 98FM, after calling in and singing the chorus of The Reason on national radio. Luckily it was good enough to win me the pair of tickets.

After packing dinner from Plaza Singapura, KT and I made our way to the park. We entered the gates at 6:20pm and were given a bottle of mineral water and groundsheet each (sponsored by StarHub of course). There were fewer than 40 people at that time.

The first thing I looked out for was the merchandise booth, which wasn't there. The only merchandise they were selling was the tour poster at $10, which I wasn't interested in. Where were the T-shirts and tour books??

It's quite strange because merch sales is the best way to earn money. You can sell a band T-shirt at $40 and it will still be sold out. I went to Hoobastank's website and had already earmarked which T-shirt design to buy, but unfortunately I didn't get to spend the money.

KT and I occupied a central spot in front of the stage and had our dinner. The only worrying thing was the weather, which threatened to pour any minute. But thankfully it didn't.

When 8pm came, the opening act was introduced and the band was called The Sexys, or The Sexist, I don't know. There was a competition organised by StarHub to be the opening band for the concert, and they beat all the rest to win the spot. Here they are in action:

After ripping through only 3 songs, they left the stage. They were ok, but they lacked a certain charisma and X-factor. They didn't leave us wanting more from them. But it's a good effort.

After they left, we folded up our groundsheets and made our way to the front of the stage. The tech crew came up and did soundcheck for about 15 minutes, before the guys themselves appeared. Vocalist Doug Robb wore a tank top with the words "Ugly", which was quite an irony because he certainly wasn't ugly.

I was expecting them to open the show with a song from their latest album, Every Man For Himself, but instead, guitarist Dan Estrin played the riff to Crawling In The Dark and the crowd went mad.

At this point in time, I must confess that I'm not a super huge Hooba fan and I only own their second album, The Reason, as well as a few mp3s of their hits. As such, I didn't know what songs they were playing half the time.

But regardless of whether you knew the songs or not, the people at the front of the stage all bobbed their heads and punched their fists enthusiastically in the air throughout the entire show. There were people further back who chose to remain seated on the ground, but that didn't damper the spirits of those in front. Hooba's high energy songs such as Out Of Control, Just One and Never There roused the crowd and kept those hands up in the air.

Hooba tore through their set for about an hour before leaving the stage for a while. The fans chanted "We want more!" and the guys duly obliged.

(Look at those socks!)

A high point of the concert came when Hooba launched into their version of Pink Floyd's 1979 classic, Another Brick In The Wall Part II. I didn't know the song, but the rest of the audience lapped it up and sang along to the famous line "We don't need no education." A lesson in rock history indeed.

They followed it up with another classic, this time with bassist Josh Moreau (who replaced Markki Lappalainen after he left in 2005) pumping the bassline to Bon Jovi's Livin' On A Prayer. It was a surprise to hear them covering these classics, but there was more in store.

After Prayer, Robb asked the audience, "Does anyone know this little ditty?" We were expecting part 3 of classic rock quiz, but instead, the instantly recognisable piano intro from The Reason sprung up (the piano part was pre-recorded and played back).

This was the song that launched Hooba into stratosphere and it was the song everyone was waiting to hear. As expected, everyone sang along to it and brought it to a rousing finale.

They closed the show with Same Direction, not before thanking the fans profusely for taking time off to be there. Earlier in the show, Robb said that he didn't care whether we bought their CDs or downloaded their songs. Just frikking get the songs somehow! Which I thought was very cool.

All in all, it was a satisfying show. The sound system was quite good, not as bad as I expected, though I was just a little deaf after that. But there wasn't ringing so it's not so bad.

Frontman Robb was charismatic and your eyes would follow wherever he went. He was also sincerely appreciative of our presence and it showed. New addition to the band Moreau was also super cool on the bass, totally absorbed in his playing and not breaking a sweat at all. The guitars and drums were tight too.

Too bad their third album didn't spin off as many hit singles or I might have given it a shot and bought the album, and I would be more familiar with their songs. But truth be told, if you've never heard any of their songs except for The Reason, the songs would start to sound the same after a while.

But Hoobastank managed to keep the energy level up with their musicianship and stage presence, and it was an evening well spent at the park.

Here's bassist Moreau getting ready to throw his pick to the crowd...
And KT picked it up!

So we did leave the concert with one piece of merchandise. And it's more valuable than what they'll ever sell at the booth!


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