Ben H. Quandt shares with Music Asia, his view on one of Singapore’s biggest F1 parties and ULTRA’s very first edition of Road to Ultra.
September 25, 2015
By Ben H. Quandt
As everyone anticipates how the EDM scene will fare in the city of Singapore, one can never be too cautious especially when you are the ULTRA brand. After numerous cancellation of EDM festivals in the region, safety precautions take top priority at the event with double security. Ben H. Quandt shares with Music Asia, his view on one of Singapore’s biggest F1 parties and ULTRA’s very first edition of Road to Ultra at Marina Bay Sands.
Having been witness to some amazing dance music festivals in Europe, I was intrigued to see what Ultra in Singapore would deliver. A predictably, orderly procession of ‘party-goers’; more seeming to be there because they believe it’s the cool thing to do, rather than because they are really into EDM or the music scene in general.
Then again, being held in the highly prestigious Marina Bay Sands – in the convention centre – somehow doesn’t gel with the whole EDM scene. At best it is a weird marriage. Like second cousins tying the knot; you learn to accept it, but it does unsettle your stomach.
Ultra sterile and Ultra sanitised.
This is Singapore to a tee. And this ‘festival’ was no different. However, I doubt that would be a concern for the producers of Ultra, as the event was a sell-out within the hour. After the last minute cancellation of Future Music Festival, the producers of Ultra were under immense pressure to ensure all their boxes were checked and checked again. And with several thousand paying punters, surely it pumped more than a few dollars into the tank.
In either case, the concert: Thumping, floor shaking beats and an overwhelming visual and lighting display, which is what I come to expect from Ultra. However, what I did not see was really any dancing: I expect to see a few crazies bopping about like nobody is watching on the fringes of the main crowd. The mosh-pit was just packed with kids waving their ‘hands in the air’ when they were told too. And a few dozen glowsticks. There were, naturally, those whose main interest was just standing about on their smartphones; undoubtedly sending selfies to people who didnt make it. ‘Im at Ultra, but Im too busy staring at the back of my phone to actually see the DJ and enjoy being in the moment’. A somewhat sad indictment of the state of the scene here in Singapore. It’s the place to be seen, rather than being part of the culture of the scene.
A guy in a white dragon costume and a few chaps wearing animal-styled hats was about as ‘crazy creative’ as it got, but again, the overwhelming sense was they were far from original. Mere carbon copies of what they think is cool. A guy in a dragon outfit, at any other festival, is the guy who is slightly wasted having random, sometimes incoherent conversations with everyone. He wears the dragon outfit because it is an extension of his eccentricity. And he, and others, embraced it.
The purpose of attending festivals, or gigs, of this nature as youth, is to explore yourself. Explore yourself musically. Explore yourself spiritually. Explore yourself sexually. Express yourself through the magical realm of amazing beats. For a brief moment in time, to just let yourself go. Not here. Not last night. So, was this a success? By numbers I would guess that, yes, it was. By a contribution to the culture of dance music festivals? This writer does not think so.