With tears in our eyes we waved and cheered as The Great Spy Experiment bade farewell to Singapore music at House of Riot’s triple bill night in June. An evening with iNCH, The Great Spy Experiment & Charlie Lim who displayed local music at its best and most heart-warming.

It was a night filled with honest, grateful emotions expressed both by the musicians on stage and the House of Riot label, and if you were present along with many other enthusiastic supporters on the evening of June 6, then like us you may have returned home with especially mixed feelings.

iNCH House of Riot

Photo by Judith Lam; MOSHIN’ 2015 All Rights Reserved

As avid supporters of local music from day one, we found ourselves moved by the sheer amount of support shown by the crowd as iNCH, The Great Spy Experiment and Charlie Lim performed, reminisced, and sang their hearts out. Yet a heavy atmosphere lingered as we knew it was to be GSE’s final gig.

Each of the three artistes on display are tough acts to follow and iNCH started the night off strongly, soulfully crooning winsome, melancholy-filled tunes. It became progressively clear that the crowd was in for more than just an evening of celebration; nostalgia would also be served by the bucket full.

Recalling her struggles from the start of her musical career in 2009 to her present re-emergence following a two-year hiatus, she expressed heartfelt emotions of gratefulness and appreciation which would later overwhelm the rest of the evening.

This emotional swell reached its pinnacle moments later when stars of the night The Great Spy Experiment took to the stage. Audience members rocked out and chanted along to GSE staples like ‘Dance with Me’ and ‘The Great Decay’, affirming Great Spy’s place in the annals of Singaporean music.

As Saiful, frontman of the band expressed poetically, it was a bittersweet evening for him and the others – indescribably sad yet incredibly beautiful. From deep inside the crowd we were transfixed by the beacons of light reflected by audience members around the hall. It seemed as though we were all signalling powerfully back to them that in this short-lived performance was a timeless memory, an incredible moment paving the way for something much larger.

Great Spy House of Riot

Photo by Judith Lam; MOSHIN’ 2015 All Rights Reserved

Nothing was more moving than seeing the band members and audience move in harmony, becoming one as the band bravely performed their final song, ‘A Class A Love Affair’. And then alas, far too soon, the end of their swan song performance after 10 years of influential presence in Singapore’s local music scene was upon us.

Charlie Lim House of Riot

Photo by Judith Lam; MOSHIN’ 2015 All Rights Reserved

The evening ended on an optimistic note, however, with Charlie Lim and The Mothership’s onstage bravado. Ensuring the night wouldn’t end completely in tears they launched their new double EP Time/Space, and displayed amazing musicianship with make-you-wanna-groove tunes and Charlie’s light-hearted banter, pointing to a greater sense of pride and hope at the greater things in store both for them and the Singapore music scene.

In the end, the highlight of the evening wasn’t the experience of savouring the diverse musical styles of three different performers. Indeed, there was much more delight in watching three artistes with very different journeys reflect upon the various stages of their musical careers.

This evening of local music was indeed unlike any we’ve ever been to because of the depth of beauty and unity expressed throughout. Audience members and musicians alike welcome a new era hand in hand, affirming their confidence in the industry.

And even though tearful goodbyes were said to one band, the warm invigorating liveliness and charm which held the same audience captive would continue to do so for a long time to come, by the two others who shared the same stage, and the many more who call themselves Singaporean musicians.

Judith Lam