The Muse in Music

For one of the most cherished events in my life, I should say that this entry is a bit long overdue.

The short version is I went to see The Beach Boys 50th Anniversary Concert in Singapore Indoor Stadium on August 22, 2012.

The longer version of the story goes like this:

One day in May 2012 I came across a wonderful piece of news in Twitter that The Beach Boys are coming to Singapore as part of their 50th Anniversary tour. At the beginning I was stunned because it seemed too good to be true.. especially when it came only days or maybe a couple of weeks after I got to see L’Arc~en~Ciel’s 20th Anniversary Concert here in Jakarta. Oh. My. God. I need to tell someone about this, I thought, and I could only think of two particular persons right then who I knew would be ecstatic just like me: Joseph (J) and Stella (S).

Now, let’s rewind the story a little to the days before the news came.

The story of how I met J is a bit out of this world for me that I start to think there was some kind of planet alignment or something that enabled us to meet that way. It was about 4-5 months after my husband passed away and I was in this dark hole called depression when a friend of mine recommend this guy to follow on Twitter. I checked his profile and I thought he’s cute, wearing a green tee and hair that was a bit long. The word “anak band” (that’s an Indonesian popular phrase for “a member of some music band” or someone whose appearance resembles one) came across my mind. And of course I clicked the follow button just for the sake of my sanity, which was almost extinct those days. I didn’t (and still don’t) follow a lot of people on Twitter. Mostly I follow my real-life friends and several brands/malls that I often use/go to, so when I added him to my timeline I quickly learned that he was, in fact, into music and had strong opinions on many topics that if you judge him solely by his tweets you’ll think that he’s an arrogant, self-important kind of guy. Which was fine by me because I was used being surrounded by the type and dated some myself. πŸ˜€ Anyway, he also liked to post pictures on Instagram so it wasn’t long before I followed him there, too. There I saw the other side of his life: him playing bass, him posing with his nephews and dog(s), him holding a light saber. Okay, so he’s not that ‘bitchy’ (is there a more masculine word for this?) after all. :)) A close friend of mine, Mike (M), knew that I was following this guy and thought it was fun to actually get me and this guy to meet each other. For what purpose, I don’t know.. Maybe he just thought that it was time for me to get out of the dark hole and meet new people (who happen to be in the form of a cute guy). He went out of his way and unlock his Twitter account so he could mention the guy and he would read it. It went something like this: “Dear @J.., my friend thinks you’re cute. Would you like to have a coffee date with her?” And then another close friend of mine, Ron (R), followed suit and tweet something similar. $h!7 was I doomed. But unexpectedly, he replied “Sure!” etc etc and so we–no, THEY–set up this so-called coffee date. On the actual day of the date, exactly 6 months and 3 days after the passing away of my husband, M and R tagged along as my wingmen (and because they were so responsible for this I was going to kill them if things went wrong). After getting over the initial shock that he was so much more handsome in person, I soon found out that he was talkative but kind and quite funny, he played bass in a band, and had a Celtic cross tattoo on his left arm (I knew this because he showed it to us right then and there that we secretly went “Whoa!”). Anyway, it was a great first impression for me (I don’t know about him) that I still wanted to keep him in my timeline. Only after that first meeting I had the courage to interact with him on Twitter and found out that our common ground was, of course, music. I even went everywhere to look for his band’s first album (and got it of course). We occasionally bumped into each other at the nearest mall (there’s something about us and escalators) and then at a music concert, Roxette it was. We eventually went to L’Arc~en~Ciel’s concert together (who would’ve thought that he was also their fan?)–as I had no one to accompany me–along with his friends. And it was during those months after we met that I actually learned he’s into–no, scratch those, he WORSHIPS–The Beach Boys. I could even hear the influence in his music. He also loves The Beatles, Cole Porter, and Carpenters.

And then came S. Looking back, I knew S way before J. I didn’t realize this when one day a vaguely familiar ID followed me in Instagram. I followed her back and she mostly posted pics of her dog. It was only when she started to follow me on Twitter that the memory started coming back. Hey, I knew this girl from Plurk! I didn’t quite remember if we followed each other on Plurk or we only read each other’s replies in mutual friends’ posts, but I knew for sure who she was. S is a warm kind of girl who quickly befriends everyone that she is like the antithesis of me, the seemingly cold and distant person who’s socially awkward. I don’t have many girl-friends because I hate it when they become clingy. But this girl is different. Amongst others, the two things that stood out to me from her tweets were that one, she was not afraid to speak her mind and laugh at herself, and two, her taste of music was quite eclectic. One day it was Nouvelle Vague.. and then Skid Row.. and then Mew.. and of course, The Beach Boys. I also noticed that after we followed each other, she and J did the same and I could see that they quickly got close. πŸ™‚ Funny thing was, I never even met S in person until one afternoon, when we already bought the tickets and all to see The Beach Boys, we had lunch together with J and my close friend R. After that I saw that S also became friends with R on Twitter. That’s how friendly she is. πŸ˜‰

So back to the day when the wonderful news came.

I quickly retweeted the news and mentioned J and S, and also copied and sent it over to them via WhatsApp, just in case. It was chaos that day in Twitterland and WhatsApp. πŸ˜€ The tickets were not even sold, yet we have started to ‘plan’ our strategy. J, of course he was going. There was no stopping him. S had to get her husband’s permit. Me? Aside from the money, who would take care of my daughter while I was gone? The concert was to be held during Idul Fitri holiday, in which usually my mom’s house assistant would take leave and go back to her hometown. But it was The Beach Boys. It was their 50th anniversary concert! They were not getting any younger. It was a now-or-never decision.

And so while we were waiting for the ticket sale, I started to give hints to my mom and her assistant about the plan and as if the gods heard my prayer, my mom was okay with it and her assistant agreed to hold her departure until I came back. Oh. My. God. This is really happening, isn’t it, I thought.

On the day of the ticket sale, J was the first one to buy. He went all the way and bought 3rd row seat. Yeah, that’s how much he worships them. As for S and me, we were still deciding which section we could afford. πŸ˜€ We eventually bought the tickets separately but ended up sitting next to each other–in row 21. That’s how sad our situation was compared to J. πŸ˜€ But hey, we were going to see them perform anyway and that was enough to justify anything.

It didn’t stop there. Since the concert was held during holiday season, it means it was peak season for airlines & hotels. We quickly secured our one-way plane tickets to Singapore while the price was still a bargain, but couldn’t book the returning tickets at another airline due to our passport problems: J’s to be expired less than 6 months on the date of the departure and mine was expired about two years ago and haven’t got the time to apply for a new one. S had to wait until we both had these problems fixed and meanwhile the price started skyrocketing it was ridiculous. But there’s no way we’re not going! We ended up paying the ticket to come home almost threefold the price of flying out there. Insane.

And then there was accommodation problem. Everything was expensive, even the supposedly cheap hotels. It was a good thing that a friend of mine mentioned a hostel that I started to divert my search toward that area. To cut the long story short, we got ourselves a room for three in a newly built hostel in Chinatown for quite a reasonable price. This was finally settled about 2-3 weeks before our actual departure (so it was already August). And so the countdown began..

On the day of our departure, J and I had dinner before meeting S at the airport. When the three of us finally got together, it hit us that it was really happening! We were giddy all the while, even I forgot the fact that I was supposed to be quite disappointed not to be able to catch Garbage’s performance in Singapore that day (they announced the concert later after we bought our concert and airline tickets). The flight was OK. It was my first time flying JetStar/ValuAir and I had nothing to complain. We landed in Singapore a little after midnight and we went straight to the taxi line.

It wasn’t that hard locating 5footway.inn, the hostel we booked for 2 nights. None of us had been there and I especially was anxious because I was the one doing the choosing and booking of the place. I was afraid that the place didn’t live up to my friends’ expectation and they won’t trust me anymore. Haha. Anyway, J’s initial reaction when he saw the facade was, “Hey, this is very nice!” Phew. So we checked in, paid our due, and decided to get only 1 key for the room. The girl at the reception showed us the common room which doubles as the breakfast place and walked us to our room upstairs, number 14 it was. You should have seen our faces when she opened the door to our room! Priceless. πŸ˜€ The room was veeeeeeery small and there was not a single window seen. Let’s just say that you’d die there if you were a claustrophobic. But after a while, we seemed to get used to the cramped but cozy room. J got the single bed at the bottom while S and I got to share the double bed at the top. Yes, it was a modified bunk bed. Which was actually very cool if the room wasn’t that small and the ceiling was not that low. Haha. But it was very acceptable, considering. The bed was comfy but unfortunately they only provided us with two comforters/blankets. I’m not much of a blanket person, so I let S use our supposedly-shared blanket for herself. But when you slept that high and that close to the aircon, you soon were bound to develop a cold. That’s what happened to me. I had to keep my Avamys nasal spray nearby the next day.

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5footway.inn Chinatown Project 2 – 227 South Bridge Road, Singapore

That first night we only dozed off after 3 am since we decided to take a stroll around the block, had supper at Hong Hock Seafood nearby which later became our usual place for a meal, took a shower, then hung out for a while in the common room. The fact that we only had 1 set of key to our room ‘forced’ us always coordinate with each other. It was challenging but it was also something to remember fondly about this trip of three ‘strangers’.

The next day was the D-Day. We each had a plan on how to spend the morning and afternoon until it was time to go to the venue. S had to go see her surgeon, J wanted to go find some new gadget, and I planned to go see Harry Potter and Andy Warhol exhibitions. S would go with J because their destinations were in the same area. So after making sure that J and I could keep updating our whereabouts to each other, they took off.

It’s been a while since the last time I set foot in Singapore so it took some time for me to get used (again) to their MRT system. After getting my EZ-Link card, I began my underworld journey to my destination: the ArtScience Museum at Marina Bay Sands complex. It was 9-something am when I started at Chinatown and it was nearly 10 when I alighted at Bayfront. The shoppes at Marina Bay were still deserted and after asking around for direction, I finally arrived at the museum. At the ticket booth, when I told the lady that I would need both tickets to see Harry Potter and Andy Warhol, she said that the Andy Warhol exhibition was free if I took a picture by the promotion boxes and showed her the picture. Apparently it was a promotion to commemorate Warhol’s birthday. Whoa! I was lucky enough that the exhibition got extended, and now I could get in for free. *big grin*

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Andy Warhol Exhibition at ArtScience Museum, Singapore

I would not bore you with the details of the exhibitions, though. It’s something you have to witness yourself. I walked out of the museum at around 11.30 and after texting J and told him that I was meeting my friend C for lunch, I took off to the shoppes with only one shop in mind: That CD Shop. I also knew what I wanted to find in the shop: Rumer’s albums (again, it was J who introduced me to this awesome songstress). I found both the first and the recent albums there, alright, but then one of them had to have this red label saying “3 for $49.90” that I got to find 2 more items. Haha. I ended up getting “Across the Universe” and “De-Lovely” DVDs. In case you lived in a cave all this time, the first title is a movie based on songs by the Beatles and the latter is the biopic of Cole Porter. I guess by now you can already guess what the title of this entry has got to do with my story. πŸ˜€

Once again I hopped on the train to my next destination: Tanjong Pagar. Several months ago another close friend of mine, Citra (C), accepted a job offer in Singapore and moved there. So that day I was meeting her, if only for while, to catch up on life. We went to this pork-selling place called The New Harbour Cafe & Bar. It was a nice place and lunch that I felt too bad that it had to end so soon. Strangely enough, it began to rain when she started to walk me to the MRT station. So we ended up spending extra time at a nearby bubble tea shop. Meanwhile, S and J were on their way back to Chinatown, where we were supposed to meet afterward (I was the one with the key to our room).

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Me & C at Tj. Pagar, Singapore

After the rain subsided and saying goodbye to C, I went back to Chinatown to meet S and J. We had another meal at Hong Hock and then went back to the hostel. After shower, it was time for us to start the trip to Singapore Indoor Stadium, where the concert was held. It was around 5 pm at the time and the concert wasn’t on until 8 pm. But we wanted to get there early to get our hands on the official merchandise. Believe it or not, before we left we actually sat and prayed together that the boys that were no longer boys would be healthy enough to play for us that night and that everything went well for us. We also put our hands together and yelled, “The Beach Boys!” before going out. Haha. As if we were the ones to play on stage.

The venue was still deserted when we got there but there were already two Indonesians there, friends of J’s. The official merchandise stand was already open so we went straight there. The three of us got the same tees, the maroon one with the boys holding a surfboard at the front and the list of the cities at the back. It was SGD 50.00 each and after that we were practically broke.. but happy. πŸ˜€

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The Beach Boys’ fans from Indonesia. That’s us!
Singapore Indoor Stadium, Singapore. Pic from J’s cam.

We waited outside the venue and realized that we were probably the only ‘youngsters’ among the concert-goers. One by one and two by two, we saw old men/women/couples wearing striped/beach-themed shirts/dresses came in and passed by. Some of them were even on wheelchairs. It hit me that we all must have waited our whole life for this, except that their whole lives were much longer than ours. It was really a touching scene.

And then of course we got hungry again so we walked to the nearby mall to grab something (cheap) to eat. Burger King seemed like a sensible choice. At the same mall I also found something that all three of us fond of: Milo ice cream! Haha.. It’s like finding a treasure because it’s not available in Jakarta.

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Milo ice cream! Found this at 7eleven Kallang, Singapore. Yum!

When we walked back to the venue it was already swarmed with good vibrations. The doors to the stadium were about to be opened so people have started to queue at their respective gates. The three of us hugged and kissed each other, all the while I’m sure they were thinking the same thought as I was: “This is it!” And so we parted. J to the VIP section while S and I to the tribune.

It wasn’t long until we were allowed to get in. Oh the chills I got when I saw the stage. Quickly we went to our seats and waited anxiously for the show to start.

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The Beach Boys onstage. Brian Wilson was singing.

Them entering the stage was a sight in itself. Our wait was over, our dream was beginning to come true right before our very eyes. Thank God.

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Well done, boys. :’)
Pic from J’s cam.

The first song they played was “Do It Again” and after that everything just flowed. We clapped endlessly and there were moments that I even shed a tear.. especially at numbers that were sung by THE Brian Wilson. They played almost every hit you could name–“Surfer Girl”, “I Get Around”, “I Just Wasn’t Made for This Time”, “Heros and Villains”, “Sloop John B”, “Wouldn’t It Be Nice”, “God Only Knows”, “Good Vibrations”, “Surfin’ USA”, “Barbara Ann”, “Fun Fun Fun”, even “Disney Girls” and “Kokomo”, and two materials from their latest album “Isn’t It Time” and “That’s Why God Made the Radio”–a total of 49 songs including encore with 30′ intermission. People started to stand and danced to the numbers they knew all too well at the later half of the show, it was very uplifting and heartwarming at the same time. My palms were hurting and my legs were trembling but it was all worth it for I was having such a blast. We got out a little after 11. Could you imagine what those boys were made of? They’re not humans, let me tell you. God bless them.

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49 songs!
Pic from J’s cam.

We lingered for a while near the backstage entrance, hoping to catch a glimpse of their holiness. Only one member of the band showed up and greeted us. Well after a performance like that, could you blame them for being tired? πŸ˜€

We thought we missed the last MRT so we started to walk to find a cab. But it turned out we haven’t so we ran to the MRT station and hopped on the last train. Phew. We alighted at Dhoby Ghaut and had to resume our journey back to the hostel on a cab. With the euphoria of the concert starting to wear off, a bit of sadness creeped in: what’s our purpose in life after this epic concert? Haha. Of course we were just being melodramatic, if not exaggerating things to unnecessary extent. We refused to end the good night just yet so we spent it with lounging in the hostel’s common room and had another meal at Hong Hock: the most delicious sotong mee & fried oyster. Blame the food or The Beach Boys, but I think if I were to fall in love that night, it would be forever. That night I think the three of us had all died and gone to heaven.

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J, Me, and S at Hong Hock Seafood having a midnight snack & chat after the concert.

The next day, with really sore hands and legs we woke up early enough. We were supposed to check out at 10 so we got ourselves ready, checked out and had our last breakfast there. Our money was tight so we carefully planned our trip as J still needed to find that gadget and I wanted to buy something for my daughter. We took the MRT to Little India and hopped on a bus to Siem Lim Centre. It had begun to rain by the time we got there. After cruising the floors we had lunch and then walked to Bugis Junction. It was actually a short walk but our luggage were a bit of a burden. When I finally found Cheer Bear (from Care Bears) for Freya at the department store in Bugis Junction, it marked the end of our ‘free time’ in Singapore. It was time to haul ourselves and belongings to the airport. For the last time, we hopped on to the MRT that would take us to Changi.

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Boy, you’re gonna carry that weight a long time. :))

The flight home was quieter compared to when we started off our journey. We fell asleep even before the plane took off. Lack of sleep and the queue at the runway were getting the best of us. We landed in Jakarta around 5.30 pm. After saying goodbye to S, whose husband had already been waiting to pick her up, J and I waited for our luggage to come out. The lady taxi driver that was supposed to take me home was kind enough to drop J off at his place.

And that was it. The end. I was suddenly whisked back to reality. To the same life before The Beach Boys, except that I have already seen The Beach Boys live and then what? *sigh* I missed them already. Days later, I often found myself staring at the pics we took of the glorious days. Tirelessly I scrolled down my Path timeline to revisit those memories; of great music and great travel companions.

At the beginning of this journey I wondered how on earth the three of us could get together in the first place. Now I’m beginning to see that maybe they were sent to help me heal, through the medium that I’m most familiar with all my life: music. I’ll be forever grateful for this ‘holy pilgrimage’ and I’m glad that it was with them I got to share this once-in-a-lifetime experience.

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See you in another adventure! :*

He waved His hand, gave us rock’n’roll.. the soundtrack of falling in love.
{That’s Why God Made the Radio – The Beach Boys}

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4 thoughts on “The Muse in Music

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